What Are You Excited For? April 9th – 13th

The tragic events that occurred this past week involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team has given us all a reason to pause and remember the important things in life. As I began to learn more and more about the accident that has claimed the lives of 15 people, I felt a need to hold my kids a little tighter, to hug a little longer. The kids that were on that bus were sons, brothers, nephews, grandsons, and friends. They were teammates, doing what they loved to do, and were taken from the hearts of loved ones much too soon, and for those people, life will never be the same.

As we return to work this week, it is important to remember the why when we think about what we are doing on a daily basis. The kids we are blessed to work with are going to be coming back to school with mixed emotions on Monday. Some kids will be excited to be at school, for some it’s a new beginning with our restructured classes in grade 3, 4, and 5. Some kids will be excited to see their classmates, and get back to the routine a school day brings with it. Some will be excited to get back to the challenges of finding just right books, working with fractions and decimals, building or sewing their projects, grappling with issues, solving equations, or figuring out just how the heck to calculate molarity! Some kids will come back with other feelings, for them, school can be a tough place to be. This is where we, the adults in the building, come in. How are you going to welcome each student back to your class this week?  Our school goal is to develop a deep understanding of every student we work with, and this week presents another opportunity to do this, will you take advantage of that?

I’m very excited to be coming back to school tomorrow, there are so many things I’m looking forward to, but there are few that stand out as special tomorrow:

  • Seeing Dwayne back where he belongs
  • Watching David build a culture in his new, makeshift classroom
  • Connecting with some of the vulnerable kids to see how their week off was
  • Learning from Amy, Brittney, Evan, and Krisinda at our staff meeting
  • …and most importantly, getting in each and every one of your classes to watch the magic you do every day!

Get a good rest tonight, we’re into the home stretch, let’s make the last 3 months of this school year the best they can be for every student and for each other!

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday

  • staff meeting, learning side-by-side with Amy, Brittney, Evan, and Krisinda

Tuesday

  • MyBlueprint presentation to grade 9 class
  • Classroom visits: reconnecting with kids

Wednesday

  • Classroom visits: reconnecting with kids

Thursday

  • Classroom visits: reconnecting with kids

Friday

  • School dance (7 – 12)

As always, create a great week!

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One Eye Open. March 26 – 30

A very quiet long weekend here, we found ourselves busy with the day to day that is our lives with four kids and a dog. I did manage to get out a couple times for coffee with the kids to their favorite place in Martensville, and we did spend a lot of time playing with Bella inside and out, especially on this nice Sunday. Hopefully you were able to rest and relax after two busy nights connecting  with parents and students during our conferences.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we look at our learning in our school through two lenses of the same binoculars, one is focused on the here and now, while the other is focused on the long term, years into the future. I wonder, sometimes, do we spend too much time with the same eye closed? I recall a particularly challenging group of students I worked with years ago, and as a beginning teacher I was solely focused on getting through the year, not only was I looking just through one eye, I didn’t even consider the long term view! What I found was that I was in survival mode, a place that wasn’t much fun for me, and likely wasn’t too great for the kids. What I realized years later, was that I simply passed on a group of students that presented the same learning challenges for their next teacher, I spent the whole year with one eye closed.

I’d invite you to think about where you are right now with your learners and the journey you are walking with them. Are you looking to survive the year, or are you thinking about what each student needs to be a graduate of Waldheim School? If you were to have a transition meeting tomorrow with next year’s teacher, what would you tell them about each student? What work still needs to be done? What are your greatest celebrations? When I think about the things I’m seeing in our school, I would celebrate the way each of you are finding ways to challenge your learners as you help them grow. Nothing illustrates this better than this image from last week:

Gr. 5 Hardy Genius Hour Presentation at #WaldheimSchool

Looking at this picture:

  • What kind of learning are you seeing?
  • How is MPSC alive in this image?
  • What does this say about how the teacher knows her students?
  • What insight did future teachers of this group gain by participating in this event?
  • What are you wondering?

I’d love to hear some thoughts.

Here’s what lies ahead for this shortened week:

Monday:

  • Ken Dueck workshop for grade 4 & 5 (parent & teacher workshop after school ~ all are welcome to attend)

Tuesday:

  • Greg McJannet (U of S) here to observe student teachers

Wednesday:

  • Library to classroom transition work

Thursday:

  • Locker/classroom clean up
  • Library to classroom transition work

Friday:

  • No school ~ begin Easter break

As always, create a great week!

 

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What Will You Hear? March 19 – 23

Last week Brittney and Amy hosted a Read-a-thon for the students in their classes, and the result of opening the doors and inviting the community in created an incredible buzz in their wing of the building. As I walked around, there were kids with parents and grandparents sitting side-by-side enjoying a good book. They were on the couches, at tables, on the floor, in the hallways, they were everywhere! And while the group was free to move about as they wanted, it was not chaos, rather it was a relaxed atmosphere where kids and adults were fully engaged in the activity. As I watched, I wondered:

  • what are the parents learning about their kids as readers?
  • what are the kids learning about their parents as learners?
  • what are Brittney and Amy learning about their students as they strive to meet the goal of developing a deep understanding of every student in their class?
  • what are other teachers in the building learning about risk taking?

This week we have another opportunity to invite our families into the school as we open our doors for our parent/student/teacher conferences. When I think about the way we have typically conducted these conferences, I wonder  if there are more opportunities for #Innovation as my friend George Corous (@gcouros) would ask. Do these conferences need to be a time for parents to sit and hear from you, or is there an opportunity for more side-by-side-by-side learning to occur? One such innovation that we will see is in how Leah is going set up learning stations for the parents, basing these on her students’ #GeniusHour creations. What she is doing is taking the typical parent/teacher interview and flipping it on it’s ear, allowing the students to lead the conversation through a celebration of their work. Another unique approach to sharing student learning that I’ve seen is how Sharlene has used #FreshGrade to showcase the work her students are doing as readers, as writers, as mathematicians, as wonderers.  This article may offer you more ideas or things to try for your time together with parents. As you prepare for Wednesday and Thursday, I’d invite you think about:

  • evidence…how do you know your students as learners, and how can you share this with their parents?
  • voice…will you drive the discussion, or will you facilitate a discussion between parent(s) and student?
  • goal…how can the time we are sharing be as valuable as possible to the success of each learner?
  • feedback…how will you know if the parent(s) have a deeper understanding of their child as a learner?

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting, an opportunity to learn alongside Katharine, Marla, and Cara
  • classroom visits: what does side-by-side learning look like, sound like?

Tuesday:

  • classroom visits: what does side-by-side learning look like, sound like?

Wednesday:

  • classroom visits: what does side-by-side learning look like, sound like?
  • P/T Conferences (supper provided)

Thursday:

  • grade 6 basketball tournaments (girls to Stobart with Jesse, boys hosting here with Bruce)
  • P/T Conferences (supper provided)

Friday:

  • Day in lieu

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What’s Good for Some…March 12 – 16th

Every adult at Waldheim School will have a deep and thorough understanding of every student they work with as learners in their subject area(s). A goal like that can seem quite daunting,  however I’ve been so excited to witness this coming to life everyday in our school.  Some of the things I saw last week speak to how you are getting to know your learners. I watched as students talked about their  favorite animals and the teacher learned about them as researchers and  presenters. I watched as students sat beside their teacher discussing how to potentially solve their math problems, all the while the teacher learned more about them as mathematicians. I watched as teacher and student problem solved how to fit a lid on a beautiful jewelry box, the teacher learning about the student as a problem solver. I watched as a teacher worked with a small group of students as they shared what they noticed in a picture from a big book. I could go on and on, because everywhere I look everyday I see all of you getting to know your students as learners. It’s an incredible thing to watch.

I was thinking about this today as I made another trip to Table Mountain, however this time Eva joined the twins, and this would be her first time ever skiing. I quickly learned that how I helped the twins learn to ski was not going to work for Eva, as she was much more tentative. After her second run down the hill, with tears in her eyes, she said she’d had enough, and wanted to quit. The lift operator saw this conversation, and offered me a ski aid (just a reinforced hoola hoop), which we used for quite a while. I was hoping that she’d be able to start skiing on her own, however she remained very dependent on me and the ski aid, to the point that I wasn’t sure what to do to help her, after all, I can only say “pizza skis, pizza skis” so much. One of the great things about Table Mountain is the many volunteer instructors who are on the bunny hill, and one of them, Dave, happened to spot us getting ready to go for another run down the hill. He asked how Eva was enjoying it, and she sheepishly replied that she was having fun. Dave offered a couple of pieces of advice for her, and as he modeled this for her, I was able to pick up a few things I could use as I continued to help her. It was amazing how quickly what he taught her had her swishing down the hill on her own, I was amazed! The day wound up with her cheering about how much she loved skiing, and I was so happy for her as she called out, “dad, I’m doing it, I’m skiing”! I just wish I could have found Dave to thank him.

On the way home I started thinking about how sometimes we get stuck as we work with our learners, just like I was stuck with Eva today. It took the advice of someone else, in this case it was an expert instructor, to help get us out of the learning rut we were in. Tomorrow we get to learn together as Jesse has worked hard to tailor the PSSD PD to meet the needs of Waldheim School. We get to learn together, and in the process have an opportunity to ask each other for the help we may be needing. As you come into tomorrow’s PD, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will someone else learn because you were in the room?
  • What are you hoping to learn?

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • PD/Prep Day (pot luck lunch)

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Jesse at ALT (Steve acting admin)

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits: What would you like us to notice?

Thursday:

  • Classroom visits: What would you like us to notice?

Friday:

  • Classroom visits: What would you like us to notice?

As always, create a great week!

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I Know Some of You: March 5 – 9

“I just feel I need to get to know you better”. This was a piece of feedback I received last year in my year end survey that I sent out to all of you as I was looking for indicators of things I was doing well, and areas in which I need to grow. When I read that response, I just feel I need to get to know you better, I was taken a little off guard. I thought that I was doing very well getting to know everyone on staff, however my perception was not, in fact, reality. When a person gets a piece of feedback we are left with a variety of choices, and we need to decide how to proceed. I really appreciated that feedback, along with the rest of it, but it was that sentence that has continued to guide some of my work this year.

At the start of the year we spent some time working on our goals, and developing our own personal learning journeys. This week we get to listen to June, Sharlene, and Jesse, and  I’m so excited to hear about the work they have been doing with and for their students. I wonder how they are getting to know each of their students as learners on a deeper level? As you listen and wonder on Monday, I’d invite you to reflect on how things are going for you. How are you getting to know each student you work with? Would their reality mirror your perception? How would you know?

During the February break, I had an opportunity to take my twins skiing to Table Mountain. I was very worried about taking two 4-year old kids to the hill alone, but for some reason I mentioned  it to them, and after that, there was no turning back. So, we loaded up the van and headed to North Battleford. We spent close to four hours on the bunny hill, and initially, I was so scared that the kids would either hurt themselves, each other, or someone else. We locked on our skis, headed for the lift (the magic carpet), and the fun began. I tried to tell them a few things, but they needed to feel how the skis felt, they needed to experience the speed, they needed to figure out how to control themselves. I could ski beside them, but I couldn’t ski for them. In the end, it was one of the most amazing days I’ve ever spent with them, and I was almost brought to tears of pride as I watched Charlie blaze up and down the hill completely on his own.

Charlie giving Maggie the final instructions, lol

Posted by Bruce Mellesmoen on Saturday, February 24, 2018

Maggie did very well too, but it came much more naturally to Charlie. When I think  about the people who helped him learn that day, I think  about myself, but I also have to consider the help he received from the lift operators, and how he learned by watching other kids skiing with their parents. Having watched them, I now have a much better understanding of my twins as skiers, but had I not been there, talking with them, observing them, and celebrating with them, my understanding would not nearly be as great.

So, I go back to the question, how do you know? How do you know each student as an artist, a mathematician, a reader, an author, a programmer, a designer, an athlete, a singer, a dancer, a leader? As you read this, I’d challenge you to think about a student you haven’t connected with in a long time (maybe never), and think about how you can share the gift of time with them this week. We all know some students are tougher to connect with than others, but we also need to remember that they may be the ones who need our time the most!

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Staff meeting

Tuesday:

  • Classroom visits: What would you like us to notice? (you can e-mail Jesse & I,  you can post it outside your door)

Wednesday:

  • School hockey tournament

Thursday:

  • Classroom visits: What would you like us to notice? (you can e-mail Jesse & I,  you can post it outside your door)

Friday:

  • Classroom visits: What would you like us to notice? (you can e-mail Jesse & I,  you can post it outside your door)

As always, create a great week!

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Our Kids Are Problem Solvers: February 12 – 16

Between forts in the basement, new toys for the dog, cold weather, and a Costco shopping trip, it’s been a whirlwind of a weekend. The kids were busy today playing with Bella and making their Valentines Day cards for their classmates. It reminded me of when I was a youngster, the 14th was always one of my favorites, as everyone in class was anxious to pass out their cards and then equally as excited to empty their boxes to see what well-wishes they received. It was a great exercise for Charlie and Maggie as they practiced printing their names over and over, it was cool to see Charlie celebrate after each successful card.

This week we get to learn from each other again, as Trace and Glen will be presenting at our staff meeting on Monday. As you may have seen on the agenda I sent out Friday, Trace will be discussing student engagement, while Glen is going to share some of the research he’s been doing in relation to his subject area. I love the opportunity to learn and listen from everyone, and am constantly reminded of the amazing work that is going on in our school. As you come into the meeting tomorrow, what role will you play in the learning in the room? What are you prepared to give as a leader on the staff? What are you hoping to learn? As Glen and Trace share their work, how is their work supporting our over-arching goal of getting to know each student as a learner on a deeper level? How will you share your thoughts with them in the days that follow?

Last year I was lucky enough to get to meet, and spend some time chatting with a presenter at a conference I attended in Prince Albert. His name is Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy), and in his latest blog (found here) he asks the readers if they are fixing or teaching. The article is geared towards administrators, but certainly applies to the classroom, and how we are teaching kids to be resilient, problem solvers, and how we are inviting teamwork. He writes,

Here are 10 things to consider to help propel your team(s) to becoming more independent and eventually more successful in resolving their own issues so they can help others resolve theirs.

  1. See yourself and others as learners first.
  2. Listen to concerns with the intent to understand, not respond.
  3. Ask questions to gain more clarity. Don’t lead off with possible solutions. (Asking better questions will only come as the result of you being a better listener)
  4. Spend more time in conversation. This shows others you value the relationship too.
  5. Bring a third or even a fourth party into the conversation to model the importance of team resolution.
  6. Value all opinions in order to help nurture an environment that values curiosity.
  7. When others struggle to resolve their own issues, don’t stamp them with a label.
  8. Provide ongoing support, time, and resources needed for a successful resolution.
  9. Follow up with an encouraging word or note and then check-in again to recognize and celebrate the progress.
  10. Encourage them to repeat the process with other similar situations they encounter to support and honor them in their growth as learners, teachers, and leaders.

For the most part, almost every dilemma you will encounter as a classroom teacher or a school or district leader will have a solution, it just doesn’t have to be you who comes up with it.

As I read that, I thought about how nervous I was when I came over from Hepburn last year. For a while I felt that, as principal, I had to solve every problem that came my way. Thanks to everyone on staff, I quickly learned that we are much smarter than me. I’d invite you to pause for a moment and think about the team you work with. It could be your students, or your colleagues, but ask yourself, how are you working together to solve problems?

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • 9:00 ~ covering Amy’s class
  • 11:00 ~ team meeting regarding new student
  • Classroom visits: what questions are the kids wrestling with?
  • Staff meeting

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Jesse away at ALT (part of the learning focus will be on our data from the OurSCHOOL survey)

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits: what questions are the kids wrestling with?

Thursday:

  • Jesse away (Following Their Voices PD)
  • Locker clean up (schedule to be developed Monday/Tuesday)
  • Classroom visits: what questions are the kids wrestling with?

Friday:

  • Trips:
    • 1 – 3 (Saskatoon for bowling, then back to school for winter carnival style games)
    • 4 – 12 (skiing at Table Mountain)

As always, create a great week!

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What Language Are We Choosing To Use With Our Kids: Feb 5th – 9th

If you are a fan of football, or frigid weather, this weekend was certainly for you! I’m not a big NFL fan, and as such I’m not sure if I’ll catch the game tonight or not. I will likely tune in to try and see the halftime show, those are usually quite enjoyable, if they can stick to entertainment and leave politics on the sidelines. We had a wonderful weekend as the kids are getting used to our new dog, Bella. They are busy learning how to live with a pet, how she reacts to things like running in the house, or dropped pizza on the floor. Like I’ve been saying, getting a new pet is not so much about training the animal as it is about training the kids.

Our new friend Bella.

Last week I indicated that during my classroom visits I’d be curious about big ideas, and how these ideas were being made explicit to the kids. Some of the things I saw involved inviting kids to expand their thinking as they developed machines in grade 6, or how the kids were using their imagination through words and pictures in grade 2/3, or how the kids were relating perimeter and area in math. These were just three of the many things I saw, and that was during a short week with final exams kicking things off! As we head into our first full week of the second half of the school year, I find I’m reflecting on some of the words from Choice Words that Steve shared with us last week.

…the language  that teachers (and their students) use in classrooms is a big deal…[t]hese words and phrases exert considerable power over classroom conversations, and thus over students’ literate and intellectual development

-Peter Johnston

This week when you engage with students and are trying to be aware of #20/80, what are some ways you can be intentional about the words you choose? What are you hoping the students hear? Is it the same as what you are saying? As I visit classrooms and pose questions I will try my best to be intentional in the words I choose as well.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Steve away marking provincial ELA exams
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

Tuesday:

  • Steve away marking provincial ELA exams
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

Wednesday:

  • Brenda & Joanne away at SERT meetings
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

Thursday:

  • Grad photos in the library all day
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

Friday:

  • High school career fair (in gym all morning)
  • Bruce away (am only)
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

As always, create a great week!

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Sharing Learning With Our Parents: Jan. 29th – Feb. 2nd

A fresh blanket of snow always looks so nice, even if it means the streets are a little more slick than we are used to lately. My kids had a great time helping me shovel, although it did add a little more time to my job as they usually left more mess behind them. Oh well, quality time, right? As Krista was working nights this weekend we needed to keep the house quiet, so we took advantage of the free fun at the University checking out the fossils, fish, and other cool features. My kids are still as excited about elevator rides and automatic doors as they are with the t-rex or the koi fish, but the highlight for them is always going for a little treat downstairs at Lower Place Riel and playing the piano in the Arts building.

Rooooaaaaar!

Something I began to notice at the U of S on Saturday was the role my older kids were taking with the 4-year old twins. Charlie was quickly following Bobby, asking him questions, pointing exciting things out to him, occasionally annoying him, but ultimately learning from him. It was cool to hear Charlie ask him, “why is there a dead snake in there Bobby?”, only to have Bobby explain that what he was seeing was, in fact, discarded snake skin. #Sidebyside learning! What was just as cool was to see the approach Eva (7) was taking with Maggie, Charlie’s twin sister. The two of them were playing field trip and Eva was leading Maggie through the different areas, reading her the information she could and then asking her questions just like her teacher would do with her. #Engagement! The kids were creating their own learning based on their interests, and they were really into it. I wonder what would have happened if I gave them a test after? What would happen if I told them to go discover 5 facts and then report on those facts? I worry it would suck the fun right out of the afternoon.

Seeing the kids learning in action caused me to think about the ILO Sharlene was a part of last week discussing #assessment with other educators and the potential of online portfolios. When I can see my kids exploring and wondering, and when I can hear them asking questions and having discussions I am part of their learning experience. This is what Sharlene is trying to capture with her students. Obviously it is much easier with 4 kids on a Saturday afternoon than it is with 20 – 30+ kids on a hectic Tuesday morning, but does that mean we don’t try? I’m seeing more of this in other places too, like Genius Hour open houses, numerous tweets, Instagram posts, e-mails home, literacy cafes, parent volunteers, and assemblies (I know I’m forgetting others). We have so many more ways to bring evidence of our students’ learning to their world than ever before, I certainly remember the days when my parents had no clue what I was learning at school. I wonder how different my learning would have been had they been more involved? I wonder if my parents would have made different parenting choices had they known more about me? When you think about the intentional choices you make when sharing the students’ learning with their parent(s), what is working? What else do you want to try? What do you need to take that next big risk?

I’m so excited about the upcoming week, semester turn around is always a great time to reflect on how things are going and to re-calibrate as we head into the back half of the school year, much like a golfer thinks about their round after 9-holes. Hopefully you aren’t like me as a golfer, usually after 9-holes I was ready to throw in the towel! We do have an exciting week of learning though, starting with our staff PD meeting on Monday afternoon where we have two presentations taking place. Trace is going to share what he has been working on and Steve will be leading us through a book talk.

Here’s what lies ahead:

Monday:

  • staff meeting (see agenda e-mailed  on Friday)
  • final exams continue
  • classroom visits: what are the big ideas? 

Tuesday:

  • assembly with grade 3/4’s from 2:30ish to 3:00ish
  • classroom visits: what are the big ideas? 

Wednesday:

  • Prep day (EA’s at PD in Warman all day)
  • Staff supper @ 4:30pm

Thursday:

  • Semester 2 begins
  • classroom visits: what are the big ideas? 

Friday:

  • 7-12  progress reports sent home
  • Bruce in a webinar learning about My Blueprint 11:30 – 12:30
  • classroom visits: what are the big ideas? 

As always, create a great week!

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Jan. 22nd – 26th

For the past few years my oldest, Bobby, has enjoyed playing Minecraft and it is quite common for him to come to me with his latest creation. This weekend he surprised his sister, Eva, with one that was made just for her, a Minecraft pet store. Bobby was so excited to walk me through this, from the big sign he had made, to the double doors, to the different animals, to the lighting, everything was well thought out. When Eva returned from her play date with her friend from down the street, Bobby could not wait to share the pet store with her. She was so excited, and it was nice to hear things like, “thanks Bobby!” and, “that’s so cool!”, as opposed to some of the things siblings say to each other. This is one of the things I like about Minecraft, it allows Bobby to be creative in meaningful ways, he knew Eva would love a pet store based on what he knows about her.

Don’t get me wrong, Bobby isn’t always this altruistic, most of his creations reflect his interests, and it is very interesting to look back at his early worlds (as they are called in Minecraft) and compare them to where he is now. We were laughing yesterday at the very first time he logged on to Minecraft, all of his hockey buddies at the time were into it and he felt he needed to see what all the fuss was about. He struggled away, and we chuckled that his first great accomplishment was digging a hole. That’s it, a hole. Fast forward to today and he’s built a myriad of worlds, like Cruise Ship World, Roller Coaster World, Farm World, Hotel World, Mansion World, and Hill Ride World. In between digging his first hole and creating his interactive pet store, most of his work has been saved and his growth can be seen. Without even thinking about it, he has created a portfolio of his work, and could speak to each world if asked about it.

Do you only share one picture with students, or are you creating a photo album for them?

Do we do this with our learners at school?

On Friday, Brenda and Ellen were discussing effective assessments for her science classes, and they were looking for ways to go beyond traditional, teacher lead assessments. Ellen was asking questions about how to get the students owning more of their own learning, and being able to talk about it in a way that adds to the overall picture of a student’s understanding. This discussion and Bobby’s Minecraft work make me think about an article I read the other day about creating a more complete picture of our students as learners. In the article, the author talks about how we are using formative and summative assessment to develop a better understanding of our students. When you think about how you know your students as learners, what are some ways you are going beyond using only summative assessments to inform students and parents? What are some ways you are using observations and conversations to support what you are seeing in more formal assessments? When I think about assessment, I often reflect on what is going on in Glen’s workshop, and think about how authentic his assessments are. If you ever have a chance on one of your prep periods, and Glen is okay with it, I’d invite you to pop into the lab to watch him work side by side with his students.

The end of semester one is always a natural time to stop and reflect on how we are doing with our students. You had a vision in August, looking back, what do you think? Did you meet your goals? How do you know? Will your teaching in semester two be any different than semester one? Why?

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • fire panel  inspections (there may be the odd alarm going off, we’ll share more details in the morning announcements)
  • classroom visits: what does collaboration look like in your room?

Tuesday:

  • Bruce away at an ILO in North Battleford
  • Sharlene away at division ILO, enjoy!

Wednesday:

  • Sharlene away at division ILO, enjoy!
  • classroom visits: what does collaboration look like in your room?

Thursday:

  • 10-12 Final Exams begin (please remind students to keep the noise in the sr. wing to a minimum)
  • classroom visits: what does collaboration look like in your room?

Friday:

  • Final exams day 2
  • classroom visits: what does collaboration look like in your room?

 

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Jan. 15th – 19th

I’m sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, a Tim’s double-double in hand, after a fun trip to the skating rink with 3 of my 4 kids. It’s been a quiet weekend after everyone had a successful return to school last week, but everyone is noticeably tired. Hopefully you had a relaxing weekend and are ready to go for another week ahead. Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, I’m excited to announce that after some restructuring at the division office level, Brad Nichol is now our Learning Superintendent as Jon Yellowlees has moved into an HR position with the division.

As I said, I was at the rink with my kids today, and I was having fun watching them learning at their own rate. Bobby has been skating for years, and continues to improve each time he’s on the ice. Today was exciting for him as he donned a brand new pair of skates and took them for their maiden voyage. By all reports they worked very well. The twins are the ones that are the most fun to watch right now, as they continue to push their limits as they get more and more comfortable on the ice. Maggie seems a little more brave than Charlie, and as a result she spent a lot of time picking herself up and dusting herself off. I also realized how much they help each other learn. As Bobby took his time coaching the little ones, he’s was forced to stop and change how he was skating, making him better in the process. As Charlie wrestled with the skating aid, he watched his little sister zipping around, occasionally trying his luck hands free. It was the free, risk taking fun that was helping build their skills. After we were done, and the kids decided when they had had enough, we all celebrated with a treat. There were no formal evaluations as they were changing into their boots. No marks were given, or comparisons made. The twins were quick to comment about how much fun they had, repeatedly asking me if I had seen how fast they were. Bobby was a little more “cool”, simply saying he was tired, but that the new skates were good.

In her comfort zone.
Taking a risk.

We’ve all done this, be it skating, skiing, swimming, driving a car, writing poems, painting pictures, building a deck, cooking, etc. We’ve done things we enjoy and were the owners of our learning and through trial and error, and a variety of feedback, we became better. So, how are we doing this in our classrooms? How are we allowing our students to play with light in the science lab, water colors in senior art, fabric in home ec, manipulatives in math, books in their reading time, or roles in drama? How are we doing as a staff? Are we playing around with learning as adults? This Monday we will get a chance to look at the data from the OurSCHOOL survey, and from first glance, it seems that the playing we are doing with our adult learning is paying off. The students have told us they are happier and more engaged. There is a feeling in the building that is hard to measure, other than knowing it’s there. You are doing incredible things in your classrooms, and I’m so excited that, as the journey continues, we are getting some of that positive feedback.

I’m looking forward to our meeting Monday after school, here is what else lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting
  • classroom visits: what do the smiles and laughter say about what’s going on in your room?

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Jesse away at ALT, Trace is acting admin

Wednesday:

  • classroom visits: what do the smiles and laughter say about what’s going on in your room?

Thursday:

  • EA meeting (8:00)
  • classroom visits: what do the smiles and laughter say about what’s going on in your room?

Friday:

  • classroom visits: what do the smiles and laughter say about what’s going on in your room?

As always, create a great week!

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