January 8th – 12th

As they always do, the holidays have quickly evaporated, and it’s now time to come back together and continue the learning and laughing at #WaldheimSchool. I hope everyone had an amazing break, even though the weather was less than perfect we did have some nicer days in January. We had a great trip to Elk Ridge (from the 23rd to the 26th), and I have a feeling this might become an annual thing. The kids had so much fun during their break, the highlight for them was spending time with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and their cousins. What was the highlight for you?

A holiday tradition with my brother and Bobby.

I know it’s going to be tough for everyone to get back into the routine, which includes making lunches, picking outfits, getting back into healthy sleeping patterns, and getting back on a regular eating schedule, but I’m sure we’ll all survive. As you return, what are some ways you’ve thought about getting your students back into their learning? What are some neat things you are planning for Monday? I’ve seen many variations on the morning meeting in our elementary rooms, I wonder if this video can compliment what you are already doing? What about for high school classes? Do you have an opening routine to help get the students set up to learn as they transition from class to class? Have a look:

https://www.edutopia.org/article/morning-meetings-building-community-classroom

Looking at the calendar, it’s only a short 2 1/2 weeks until our students in grade 10 – 12 begin writing final exams, which means the semester will be wrapping up in 3 1/2 weeks. As you look towards the end of the semester, who do you already know will need a little extra help? How will you communicate this to them and their parents? What can you put in place to give them the opportunity to do the work and show you what they know?

Those were some chilly days!

I’m very excited to get back to work, and back with the #WaldheimSchool family as we continue to write our 2017/18 school year story. The new year is going to give us a chance to dig into our results from the OurSCHOOL survey and keep looking for ways to take our school to the next level for our students. We will also begin our staff presentations at our staff meetings as we share what we’ve been reading, what we’ve been trying in our classes, and how we’ve been growing as professionals as we continue to strive to improve our understanding of our students as learners.

There is nothing formal planned for the week ahead, so Jesse & I will have many opportunities to pop in and visit classes this week.

As always, create a great week!

 

 230 total views,  1 views today

December 18th – 22nd

Another busy weekend has come and gone, this one was extra special, as my brother Brad has arrived from Vancouver to spend time with the family over the holiday season. We spent Saturday together celebrating Bobby’s 11th birthday, and then Sunday together celebrating my sister Sandy’s birthday, needless to say, I’ve had my fill of cake this weekend. Whenever we get together as a family, it reminds me of the important things in life, and I reflect on how blessed I am to be surrounded by such loving people, both at home and at work. This week my message to you is one of thanks, and a wish for each of you to be surrounded by those you love during this time of year.

To Priscilla, Cora, Kimberly, Krista, and Jamey, a very special thank you for all of the hard work you do with many of our most vulnerable students. Your patience and unwavering belief in the students you work with is both humbling and encouraging. You all are such a vital part of our family of learners, and for that I’m truly grateful. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Jamie, Ed, and Brandi, our amazing caretakers, a very special thank you for all of the hard work you do behind the scenes that makes our learning environment the best it can be. Too often we forget how important you are to the learning that occurs everyday in our building as so much of what we do depends on the work you do after school and during the breaks. One of the best things I can say about our caretakers is that the students know who you are, you are part of the fabric that makes up Waldheim School, and that is important! All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To June and Steve, our dynamic duo that bookends our school, a very special thank you for the work you do introducing our students to the school and getting them ready for the real world upon graduation. When I think about teachers who are exactly where they are supposed to be, I think of the two of you. June, you have that special gift to meet kids where they are every single day, and you always have a smile on your face. Steve, your ability to read your students and adapt your teaching to meet their needs is incredible. You both are such an important part of our school, and I can’t thank you enough for your amazing contributions beyond the classroom. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Sharlene, a very special thank you for the work you do with that incredible group of grade 1’s under your watch. The way you set up your learning environment to reflect who you are as a teacher is awesome! You teach so much more than reading and writing, there are constant lessons about what it means to be a good person woven into everything you do, thank you for that! All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Shantel, a very special thank you for the work you do with your split class. I admire the way you pour your heart into your group of kids and am always amazed at the dynamic learning that goes on in your room on a daily basis. You are such an important part of the K – 3 learning team, and the leadership and expertise you have brought to our school is making us better everyday. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Cara, a very special thank you for the work you do with the grade 2’s, I am so thankful for the calm, gentle nature you have brought to our school. I really admire the quiet contributions you have made to our staff this year, you are an integral part of our adult learning team. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Amy, a very special thank you for the work you do with your split class that brings it’s own unique challenges on a daily basis. I truly admire the way you lead with your heart, making sure the kids feel safe and loved every day. It’s amazing to think you are just starting your career and have already realized what the important things are in this role. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Brittney, a very special thank you for the work you do with the 4/5 class that has blossomed under your care. You have shown a commitment to your students and their learning, and have worked tirelessly to make everyday a celebration for them. I am so thankful for your leadership and dedication to improving your craft, you are making Waldheim School a better place everyday for our learners, both young and old! All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Brenda, a very special thank you for the work you do as SERT and learning facilitator. You are the rock of the elementary school, and are absolutely vital to the day to day learning that happens with our little ones. I have been so blessed to learn from you, and am so thankful for your willingness to sit and listen to me and help me walk through many different situations. I hope the holidays bring many chances for a good cup of coffee, lots of time with your family, and maybe some time alone to enjoy a good book or two. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Leah, a very special thank you for the amazing work you do with your grade 5 class. I am truly inspired by your commitment to adapting what you do to meet the needs of your students, you are constantly striving to make your class the best it can be for your kids. I hope that you, Todd, and the girls have an amazing break full of love and laughs…and maybe even some rest and relaxation! All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Joanne, a very special thank you for the amazing work you do while wearing so many different hats at our school. I am so thankful for the endless commitment you have shown to your kids, never, ever giving up on them when even they themselves may have wanted to throw in the towel. Hopefully the break will present a chance for you to rest, relax, and spend lots of time with your loved ones. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Krisinda, a very special thank you for the great work you do with all the kids, not only from Waldheim, but from Hepburn and Laird as well. I love the way you have created an environment for your students to be creative, independent learners, it’s amazing to see how well they work in the lab everyday. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Trace, a very special thank you for the incredible work you do with all the kids, both in and out of the classroom. You bring so much more to our school than just amazing teaching, you are a connection to the community, and are such an important person to so many students. I am constantly learning from watching and listening to you as you work with your students, leading with love, but always maintaining a commitment to excellence. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Katharine, a very special thank you for the amazing work you have done in your new role this year. I am so incredibly thankful for the extra mile you go everyday for your students. You have taken the time to learn about each and everyone of them, and have been so instrumental in helping every student feel safe and important as they navigate their way through the middle years. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Dwayne, a very special thank you for the tireless work you put in with the grade 6 class that seems to never want to stop growing! I am so thankful for the way you are able to connect with our most vulnerable students and help them find a special place in our school. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Glen, a very special thank you for the endless hours you pour into the shop and the dedication you have to every student you work with. Many students find the shop to be the one place they can truly be themselves and express themselves as learners, and that has more to do with what you have created than it does with the subject you are teaching. You are a vital part of our school, and I am so thankful that I get to work with you. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Ellen, a very special thank you for all the amazing work you do with each and every student from grade 7 to grade 12. You have a special gift for making learning fun while keeping the bar high. Your students know how much you care, and I appreciate that more than you can know. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Marla, a very special thank you for all the great work you do in the home ec lab as you work with the students to not only help develop their academic skills, but to help them grow into responsible, caring young adults. I have really appreciated our conversations and you have helped me reflect on the work we are all doing here. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Evan, a very special thank you for all the amazing work you are doing with our kids as you help them develop not only as mathematicians, but as people. So many of our young male students look up to you as a role model, and I am so thankful for how you carry yourself and the example you set on a continual basis. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Lori, a very special thank you for the incredible work you get done in the one day a week you are with us. You are such and important part of our school family, and your contributions are greatly appreciated. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Corinne, there are not enough words I can say to express how much I appreciate everything you do for our school. You are the glue. You are there to help guide my decision making, be it budget related, credit related, or as a connection to the history of the school. What I appreciate the most is your willingness to have a good laugh and your belief that everyone should do an honest days work, everyday. Have an amazing holiday season, hopefully it includes a citrus tea or two!

To Jesse, my right hand man, thank you so much for every thing you have been doing since coming on board. There are so many amazing things you have brought to our school, but what I’m most thankful for is your approach to student learning, and your belief in each and every student and their ability to do great things. I love our learning conversations, and you have been able to push my thinking, helping make Waldheim School an even better place. I know it will be a busy Christmas break with your travels, but I hope you can find some time to get some rest and relaxation in.

To each and every one of the amazing staff members at Waldheim School, thank you for believing in me, questioning me, supporting me, and laughing with me. I feel so blessed that my road in life has brought me here. Have a wonderful final week of 2017 with your students, and please have a safe and relaxing holiday break.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting 3:15 (please see agenda sent out Friday)

Tuesday:

  • preparations continue for the Christmas concert

Wednesday:

  • Christmas concert matinee

Thursday:

  • Christmas concert evening performance

Friday:

  • Final day of classes for 2017, clean up schedule will be sent out during the week

As always, create a great week!

 217 total views,  1 views today

December 11 – 15

Whew, what a weekend! Bobby had his 11th birthday party on Friday night, and it was quite the party at the Shaw Centre. The kids had fun eating pizza, posing in the Lego photo booth, and then of course, swimming! I’m quite certain there were some tired kids on the way back to Martensville, with this big kid being the most tired. Saturday was a great day as I was able to get some one on one time with Maggie as we ventured out for a coffee and a quick oil change on the SUV, at 4 years old, she is so fascinated with the little things in life. The weekend ended with the kids taking part in my niece’s annual Christmas cookie decorating afternoon. She has hosted this for years, and my kids really enjoy playing with the other kids. Of course, the highlight for them is snacking on the special decorations while they create their unique creations.

My friend George Couros (@gcouros) had a great post on Twitter today which really had me thinking about the stages of my career and how comfortable I felt in the classroom when I discovered balance. When you look at this quote and reflect on your daily work with your students, can you identify when you wear different hats? Do you feel comfortable wearing these hats, or are there certain ones that you feel “safer” in?

When I reflect on my time teaching grade 5 in Langham, I had the opportunity to teach ELA, math, social studies, science, health, and phys ed. I felt very reluctant to step away from being being the sage on the stage during ELA, and I think it was that I did not feel confident enough in my own ability to see learning if I did not set it up in a way that I controlled everything that was happening. My science class was a stark contrast to my ELA, however, as I loved to turn the kids loose as they investigated different properties in an effort to answer different scientific questions. Unlike ELA, I was much more confident with the science curriculum. The point is, I was aware of my strengths and the areas I needed to grow in so I could develop a more enjoyable learning environment for the kids. By tapping into other experts I continued to work on my ELA, and to a lesser extent, my social studies, and was quite happy with what I had developed over the years.

Today I was excited to see the results from the survey (OurSCHOOL) the students completed in November, and upon my first, quick perusal, the results seem very positive. I am going to spend more time looking into what our kids had to say, and would like to invite all of the staff at the next staff meeting to have a look, and discuss the feedback. Before you get a chance to have a look, what do you predict will be the sentiments of our students? What areas of growth do you think the kids have identified? I’m sure it will be great food for thought!

Finally, I read an article that I just had to share. It talks about learning to love those students who may be tough to like. It resonated so loudly with me for two reasons. The first is that I know I was a tough kid to like for some teachers as I was growing up. I recall being asked to sit in the hallway on a couple occasions because I was too worried about getting laughs from my peers than from learning what the teacher was trying to teach me. The second is that I have had the pleasure of working with many of these students over the years. One student I taught in my very first year was a challenging grade 9 student who was very uninterested in my industrial arts course (it likely did not help that I had no clue what I was doing at that time). During the course of the year we would butt heads on a regular basis, and in the end I know neither of us enjoyed working together. Little did I know, he felt like I never gave up on him. We spoke years later at a social event, and he apologized for being such a pain (his words) and thanked me for always giving him a fresh chance everyday. He said he appreciated that I tried to make class interesting and fun and that he regretted not being a better student. I was shocked. We had a good chuckle over it, and today he is a successful educator in a different division. Is there a student you are having trouble “liking” right now? If so, what are you doing about it?

Here’s what lies ahead as we enter the final two weeks before our Christmas break:

Monday:

  • Bruce in a team meeting 9:00 – 10:45 (library closed)
  • Career fair expo in the gym (as discussed at our last staff meeting)

Tuesday:

  • Classroom visits: question for students, “what has been the coolest thing you’ve learned this year?”

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits: question for students, “what has been the coolest thing you’ve learned this year?”

Thursday:

  • Grade 8 toy sale (see Trace for more details)
  • Classroom visits: question for students, “what has been the coolest thing you’ve learned this year?”

Friday:

  • Bruce at Laird to watch Christmas concert final rehearsal
  • Classroom visits: question for students, “what has been the coolest thing you’ve learned this year?”

As always, create a great week!

 215 total views,  1 views today

December 4th – 8th

Another wonderful weekend is wrapping up, and I have a bit of a quiet moment as Krista and Maggie ventured out to the Sundog Festival and the other kids are playing. It was an enjoyable weekend which included an opportunity to watch a local band on Friday night, family pictures on Saturday, and rest and relaxing on Sunday.  Hopefully you were able enjoy your days off as well.

As I mentioned, I was able to take in a concert on Friday night at the Bassment, as a local group, The Randy Woods Band (@randywoodsband), was playing. This group, that plays a mix of ska, jazz, reggae, and funk, do a great job of getting the dance floor packed, they are a lot of fun to watch. During a break between their sets I had the fortune of speaking with a band member, part of the horns section, and it was really interesting to listen to him talk about some of the little things they do to add depth to their music. He discussed how he and the saxophone player push and challenge each other during their performances, he said the key to this was really listening to each other, not just reading the notes on the page. As they took the stage for their second set, I was more aware of what he had told me, I was able to watch and listen, and it added a whole new level to the experience.

I’ve been thinking about that all weekend, how all the band members came together to create an enjoyable evening, and it got me reflecting on the work all of you do. In his band, each performer practices to perfect their craft, so they can be a confident, contributing member of the collective. As principal, that’s what I want for our school. Teachers, EAs, caretakers, admin assistants, and administrators all working together to create the best possible experience for our students, they are, in a sense, our audience. The Randy Woods Band gets their feedback from the crowd, we get ours from our students. While the band can observe dancing, read reviews, and hear applause, we can use side-by-side learning and assessments as our guides. As I walk the halls and visit classrooms, it feels like we are really becoming that “band”. I am seeing a certain type of engagement from room to room, as well as hearing common things across the grades. I am not seeing a one-man (or woman) show, what is commonly referred to as the sage on the stage approach. Rather, I am seeing teachers guiding learning, allowing students to make discoveries and connections. Are we perfect? Not yet, but neither was the band I watched, but that’s why they (and we) continue to practice. As you think about how a musician practices, what connections can you make to how you strive to improve in your role?

 

This Monday gives us another opportunity to learn together as we gather after school to work and learn with Sara Michalchuk. I sent out an agenda yesterday, hopefully you have a chance to read it over, and think about the questions asked. We are doing important work, and grappling with tough situations, not unlike the tough work being done in this video:

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting 3:15 pm

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Jesse away at ALT meeting

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits: Question for students, “how does your teacher know what you need?”

Thursday:

  • Classroom visits Question for students, “how does your teacher know what you need?”

Friday:

  • Classroom visits Question for students, “how does your teacher know what you need?”

As always, create a great week!

 292 total views,  1 views today

November 27th – December 1st

As another wonderful weekend draws to a close, I’m reflecting on how lucky I am to be able to be a kid with my kids. Today we spent time at the Shaw Centre water sliding, sitting in the hot tub, and doing cannon-balls, and I get to take part because of my kids. It’s similar to the fun I get to have with them sledding on the hill by our house, or building snow men, or playing Lego. Part of the reason I play with them is because my 4 year old twins still need a lot of supervision, but the other part is that it is just plain fun! All of this playing with my kids reminds me of the fun we get to have at school on a regular basis. I’ve seen teachers and students laughing and learning side-by-side; from Kindergarten role playing to senior science phalanges creations, there are many wonderful things happening all the time from room to room. I’d like to throw an invitation out to anyone willing: during your prep, or perhaps if you are an elementary teacher, during recess, pop into someone else’s classroom to see what they are up to. Just know that you are, in no way, expected to do this, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the exciting stuff going on at Waldheim School. Jesse and I get to do this on a daily basis, and it is such an energizing activity.

Now that’s “hands on” learning if I’ve ever seen it.

Last week I stumbled across a headline on Twitter for the attached article. The headline read: Is This the Most Important Thing a Teacher Should Know? Eye catching, isn’t it. The author, Terry Heick (@terryheick), claims, “while relationships building and classroom management and organization and lesson planning and assessment design and dozens of other competencies are crucial to teaching, the ability to parse content into usable blocks that can be built (alongside students) into a compelling ‘wholes’ might be the most important thing a teacher can know how to do.” Interesting. Heick maintains that to complete a complex task there are multiple, simpler skills that need to be mastered to be successful. This caused me to reflect on a conversation I had with Brenda on Friday about our students’ ability to type. Recently, we have moved away from teaching keyboarding skills, hoping that it will be learned through authentic writing tasks, and this seems to make sense. I believe Heick would claim the danger in this would be asking students who can’t type to complete two complex tasks at once: 1. learn how to use a keyboard that at first glance makes no sense in it’s set up, and 2. craft a written document, such as a story or a research project. When you think about your students, are there times you ask them to complete complex tasks without knowing, for sure, if they have the necessary, basic skills to complete said tasks? If you are unsure if they are ready to complete the complex task, how could you find out and then support them if they are not?

Here’s what lies ahead as we wrap up November:

Monday:

  • classroom visits: what I’ll ask the kids is, “what skills or abilities have you learned that make your current task achievable?”

Tuesday:

  • Grade 2 assembly
  • classroom visits

Wednesday:

  • classroom visits

Thursday:

  • classroom visits

Friday:

  • Grade 1 – 6 progress reports will be sent home today, thanks for your hard work on these!
  • Jon Yellowlees visit ~ professional goals conversations with Jesse & Bruce
  • Hot dog sale

As always, create a great week!

 216 total views,  2 views today

November 20th – 24th

A relatively quiet weekend around our house, as November colds have caught up to a few of us, but that does give one a good excuse to watch football, even if it was a heart breaker. Like the Riders, our volleyball teams have wrapped up their seasons as the senior boys finished their year in Langham on Saturday. It was nice to see such involvement from so many kids at the junior and senior level, and it looks like it will be a similar story with the basketball teams who get rolling this week.

I’m very excited about our staff meeting (gotta think of a better name for these…suggestions?) and the sharing that will be taking place tomorrow. Joanne, Cara, Shantel, and Amy all have amazing things for us to learn about, and I’m so thankful that they have agreed to share what they have been learning about recently. I saw a post today on Twitter that caught my eye, and it was a link to an  interesting website (found here) that views Bloom’s Taxonomy through the lens of digital learning. What I noticed in the planning verbs is that they are not only at home in our classrooms, but in our staff meetings (any thoughts on a new name yet?) as well. I’m wondering what planning verbs from the list will be used at tomorrow’s meeting.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Staff meeting 3:15 (Mr. Derksen’s room)
  • NOTE: the team meeting previously scheduled for 9:00 – 10:30 in the library has been postponed, the library will be open all day

Tuesday:

  • Steve & Brenda at LF meeting

Wednesday:

  • Team meeting 9:00 (Brenda’s room)

Thursday:

  • Business as usual

Friday:

  • Jon Yellowlees school visit

As always, create a great week!

 210 total views,  1 views today

Nov. 13th – 17th

  • “This supper is yummy!”
  • “No! I want that sled, this one is no good!”
  • “I loved that movie!”
  • “Hey dad, the snow makes good snowballs, but you have to really squish them.”
Spaghetti squash with meatballs and tomato sauce.

This year we are asking, how do we know, and those four statements were some of the feedback I received this weekend from my kids. It was feedback that I was not intentionally seeking out, but it was information none-the-less. It was then my choice to decide what to do with it. I will try to replicate the meatballs for next time, I will make sure I get the kids to choose the right sled before going to the hill, I will rent Diary of a Wimpy Kid again, and I will make sure to keep an eye on Bobby when he’s making snowballs. When I think about all the feedback I was given this weekend from my kids it makes me think about the way we communicate with each other. We are continually bombarded with information, both spoken and unspoken. A hearty laugh or a pair of crossed arms coupled with a furrowed brow is usually all you need, but sometimes it’s more subtle than that.

I was reflecting on Monday’s staff meeting with Jesse last week, and we discussed the amazing feeling in the room, and I wondered aloud how we could have heard everyone’s voice during the artifact sharing. This wondering lead to Jesse’s idea to capture everyone’s description of their artifact. This is another example of using the feedback we are given. I was excited about the meeting, yet unsatisfied with the fact that I didn’t get to hear everything. Jesse used that information to come up with his idea, and then put it into action. How do you use the feedback you are given on a continual basis to improve the teaching and learning in your room? Elena Aguilar (@artofcoaching1) talks about the questions you can ask your students at the start of the year in her post (found here), however I’d challenge that these questions could be asked at any time of the year, particularly #7, I love that question!

How do I know if he’s having fun?

This week we will be asking the students to give us some feedback through the annual student survey (OurSCHOOL, formerly, Tell Them From Me) that all students in PSSD will be completing. This information is important, however just like our DRA data, or our attendance numbers, or our graduation rates, or our student grades, it is just one of many pieces of information we get to use. While the numbers tell part of the story, there is another side as well, the human side, and it’s one that I overheard in a hallway conversation that I had to stop and join in on. Joanne and Jamie were discussing students staying after school, and Joanne described the change she has noticed this year. I’ve asked her to share a bit of her thinking with us,

I’ve been teaching in Waldheim school for eight years and I’ve always appreciated our school for its level of engagement and compassion.  I could even been accused of taking it for granted. That being said I’ve noticed a difference this year. During the regular day the hallways are filled with more children and noise due to our higher enrollment but the biggest change I’ve noticed is the time after school.  Walking down the hallways the rooms are still buzzing  with activity.  In many of the classrooms there are students and teachers shoulder to shoulder learning.  At 4:00 pm there is a vibrant life in our school of laughter, learning and sharing with students being the core of that rumble. Students are staying to learn and teachers are staying to support that learning.  I believe there is a fresh feeling of us all being a team of engaged teachers and learners supporting one another for growth for all. This feeling may be because I’m more grounded in my own purpose and position but the dedication I see in our young teachers gives me tremendous hope for our school and our students this year and into the future. Us, mature teachers LOL  are constantly in conversation with the young teachers sharing ideas and we hope wisdom while being spurred on ourselves by their enthusiasm and passion.  At the end of the day , I’d probably call the feelings I’m experiencing, the magic of authentic learning mixed with a large portion of genuine caring.

What have you noticed this year?

Here’s what lies ahead for this shortened week:

Monday:

  • stat holiday

Tuesday:

  • OurSCHOOL survey begins (see schedule e-mailed last week)
  • Psychology 20/30 assembly (period 1)

Wednesday:

  • OurSCHOOL survey continues

Thursday:

  • OurSCHOOL survey concludes

Friday:

  • Business as usual

As always, create a great week!

 205 total views,  1 views today

Nov. 6th – 10th

You know you are home when certain smells welcome you as you walk through the door, and old familiar memories flood over you. Such was the case today as I went to visit my mom, sister and her family who all live together in Saskatoon. As I walked down to mom’s place I could tell something was up as soon as I smelled the beets, and they weren’t even cooking yet! She had gathered up all the ingredients she needed to create a large batch of borscht for the company she was having later this week. My mom comes from a large family, and next weekend she’s hosting five of her siblings along with some of their kids, and she has been extra busy baking and cooking in preparation. What was fun to watch was her granddaughter, my niece, Ally, working away at the recipe in an attempt to help her grandma get ready for the house full. As she chopped and measured, stirred and sampled, I could not help but think about the genuine learning and teaching occurring right in front of me. My niece, who is in her first year of University, has a love for cooking and baking, and much of this comes from spending time with my mom who has helped nurture this through authentic side-by-side learning. While we were there we also had some time to spend visiting my little grand-niece, Malia, who recently turned 4 months old. My kids adore her, the twins look at her like she is a real live doll, and they can’t help but crack up whenever she makes any “typical” baby sounds. They are learning so much every time they visit her, hold her, feed her, and as her mother hopes, eventually change her. So much of this learning is through observing, careful guidance, continual feedback, and close observation of the baby and how she reacts.

All of this learning has me very excited about this week’s staff meeting where we will get to share an artifact with our peers and learn along side one another. I’m curious to see what people are going to bring, there has been some talk about what will be shared, but I almost get a sense that people don’t want to let the “cat out of the bag” before Monday afternoon. Something I’ve been thinking about is the learning culture at our school, and how far along our learning journey we are. Currently I’m reading, Everyday Courage for School Leaders and I’ve been reflecting on how lucky I am to work with such a great staff. Author, Cathy Lassiter (@cathy_lassiter), writes, “(a)s it relates to moral courage for school leaders, Leithwood, Harris, and Hopkins (2008, p. 28) point out that principals can have an impact on pupil learning through a positive influence on staff beliefs, values, motivation, skills, and knowledge, and ensuring good working conditions in the school, and that these factors all contribute to improved staff performance.” The mental note I made was that I do not need to change anyone’s mind on our staff about student learning. I have noticed that we all play a part in creating those good working conditions by pushing each other and pushing our thinking. I wonder how you would answer these questions:

  1. how do you contribute to the overall learning culture at Waldheim School?
  2. who nudges your thinking on a regular basis?
  3. whose thinking do you nudge?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions, or on any other thoughts you may have on our learning culture.

Here’s what lies ahead for another busy week:

Monday:

  • Staff meeting 3:15 – 4:15
  • Classroom visits: what do I notice about the questions in the room?

Tuesday:

  • Bruce gone to ALT (pm only)
  • Classroom visits (am): what do I notice about the questions in the room?

Wednesday:

  • Trace gone with PE 20/30 & Wildlife Mgmt. 20/30 joint field trip
  • Classroom visits: what do I notice about the questions in the room?

Thursday:

  • Remembrance Day Ceremony
  • Classroom visits: what do I notice about the questions in the room?
  • 7 – 12 Progress Reports sent home today

Friday:

  • Prep Day

As always, create a great week!

 188 total views,  1 views today

Oct. 30 – Nov. 3

The Raiders en route to a 5-2 win.

As Trace spoke to the hushed gymnasium on Thursday afternoon, it became glaringly obvious that the group of girls he and Ellen were taking to provincials was more than a collection of athletes, they were a team. The planning and execution that lead to the pep-rally told a story of a group of girls who love the game, and truly care about each other. The girls played hard, and it was the combination of dogged determination and superb sportsmanship that stood out to me the most, as they were able to let misplays or missed calls fall by the wayside as they continued their pursuit of a gold medal. Unfortunately the team did not capture gold, Warman was much too strong this year for anyone to handle, however our group of youngsters captured the bronze medal, and the future looks very bright for our Raiders soccer team. What impressed me was the way Trace and Ellen brought together so many unique talents and found a way for all of them to shine in their own way, and it was fun to cheer them on Friday and Saturday morning.

Fast forward to Saturday night where I had the opportunity to watch a different group of people “take the field” and show the fruits of their practice. My son, Bobby, and daughter, Eva, have been taking piano lessons for a couple years, and Saturday night was their fun recital for some residents of Diamond House in Warman. It was a great location as the room provided excellent acoustics for the pianists to perform, and offered the audience a comfortable listening experience. I was so proud of the kids as what started as plink, clank, blonk turned into some nice music that they were very happy with. The recital featured close to 20 different students, and the ability levels ranged from cringe worthy to toe-tapping excellence. What I really noticed was that every student was given the exact same opportunity to perform to their best ability and every student received a resounding applause as they bowed or curtsied. There were no grades handed out, and no one was denied the treats at the end because they messed up a few notes, or had to restart. What I love about the entire process that my kids are a part of is that there is no end to their learning, they don’t simply reach the end of piano lessons. It is a process that can (and hopefully will) continue for years and years.

So, what do provincial soccer playoffs, piano recitals, and learning at Waldheim School have in common? In every case I see kids being given the opportunity to shine. I see coaches, teachers, EAs, admin assistants, SERTS, and caretakers setting up the students at Waldheim School for success. I had a great conversation with Jamie last week about teaching and learning, and she reflected on how she had to really know her dance students in order to really help them learn the steps or moves to a certain type of dance. She understood that she simply could not just dance for the class and then tell them to practice, she had to come along side them, and give them the feedback they needed to become lighter on their feet. This is similar to what Trace and Ellen did with their soccer team, and what Bobby and Eva’s piano instructor did for his students. Do you do this for your students? Do you determine where each of them are through a variety of assessments for (your) learning? Do you tailor your teaching to maximize learning and meet each student where they are? How do you know? One of the challenges we face as a growing school is larger classrooms with a much more diverse group of students. I found an interesting article on Edutopia this week, and it speaks to the challenge of differentiating for a large group, but also offers many resources you might find helpful. Have a read, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s what lies ahead for this shortened week:

Monday:

  • School carnival planning meeting (3:10…Departures???)
  • Classroom visits ~ Big Idea: what would you like me to notice that could speak to your artifact?

Tuesday:

  • Classroom visits ~ Big Idea: what would you like me to notice that could speak to your artifact?

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits ~ Big Idea: what would you like me to notice that could speak to your artifact?

Thursday:

  • School Carnival (4:30 – 6:30)
  • School Dance (7:00 – 9:00)

Friday:

  • No School ~ Day in Lieu

As always, create a great week….and if you are brave enough, feel free to listen to some music created by a 7 year old and a 10 year old. 

Count Bobula at his recital

Posted by Bruce Mellesmoen on Saturday, October 28, 2017

Eva did great at the recital.

Posted by Bruce Mellesmoen on Sunday, October 29, 2017

 

 262 total views,  2 views today

October 23rd – 27th

What a “dog’s nose” of a weekend….cold and wet! Yuck! Oh well, it gave the little ones a chance to do some crafts with grandma today, always a favorite pastime of theirs. So it was Lego, stickers, old boxes, single socks, markers, scissors, crayons, glue, and their imaginations. As I watched them I’m was not sure who was enjoying the activities more, my kids or my mom, all I know is that it’s quite a fun stage of life to be in. It was also a good weekend to experiment with some comfort food as we had some pulled pork enchiladas on Saturday night, they were really good!

I came across a really good blog post by Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp) today, and while it speaks about the impact we have on our students’ love (or hatred) for reading, I think it can be applied to many more things. In her blog post she says, 

In some schools I see AR points, pages read, or books read used as a way to separate those who can and do read from those who can’t or won’t.  I see scores set by others determine how a child’s experience will be with reading in the future.

I see arbitrary measures shared with home as if the points from AR or another computerized test will truly tell the story of that child’s reading identity.

And I see punishment.  Privileges removed from the child who fails to meet their goal.  Reading rules implemented that instead of eliciting more positive reading experiences, completely undermine the entire experience.  And the kids stand idly by while we destroy their love of reading.

A quote for Brenda…Brenda loves quotes 🙂

It is an interesting commentary, saying that we are trying to punish our students into becoming readers, or with other subjects, learners. And I wondered, is that what we are trying to do? Or are we trying to punish our students into becoming compliant, simply doing what we ask because we have asked it? Either way, is that what we want to be? A school that punishes our students  into compliance disguised as “learning”. As I walk the halls and visit the classrooms, I certainly do not think that’s who we are. I think we are at a point as adult learners that we have realized we cannot simply punish our students into becoming learners. I see amazing things like:

  • students creating metal bowls that look like they should be in an art gallery
  • students creating amazing puppets that showcase their own unique sense of design
  • students working together to create dialogues for brief skits
  • students working side-by-side to come to know the Pythagorean theorem
  • students discussing ethnocentrism in kids books
  • students using string and sidewalk chalk to learn about the unit circle
  • students organizing and running popcorn sales and video game tournaments
  • students modeling what they can do when they are functioning in their green zone
  • students analyzing biomes and then teaching other students
  • students critically analyzing a piece of literature and applying it to their own lives today

Are we reaching all students? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we are doing and/or on Pernille’s post.

Here’s what lies ahead for a busy week:

Monday:

  • Staff meeting at 3:15 (please refer to agenda e-mailed last week)

Tuesday:

  • Bruce at ALT all day
  • Bruce at Classroom Environment Committee mtg (4:30 – 6:30)

Wednesday:

  • Bruce at ALT all day
  • P/T Conferences (day 1) ~ supper provided

Thursday:

  • P/T Conferences (day 2) ~ supper provided

Friday:

  • Jon Yellowlees coming out to observe 1st/2nd year teachers
  • Picture retakes

As always, create a great week!

 222 total views,  1 views today