How are YOU Part of the Story?

You can accomplish anything in life, provided you do not mind who gets the credit

-Harry S. Truman

I’m currently into the early stages of Good to Great by Jim Collins, and one of the overarching themes has been the importance of being willing to let others take the credit when things go well. As I read this, I immediately thought about Trace and Ellen and the success they’ve experienced with the senior girls soccer program. When speaking with them, they never talk about the work they have done. As coaches, they speak about the team, the way the girls work together, the way they support each other, the way they push each other to become better, and the way they have grown together. Our senior girls soccer program has gone from good to great. Trace and Ellen accomplished a great feat, and neither of them were concerned about getting the credit. 

I think about our adult learning, and how proud I am of the work we are all doing. The learning is not restricted to just our teachers, it’s all hands on deck. It is evident that the EAs, our custodial staff, and our admin assistants are a part of our learning. Their finger prints are all over our growth and their impact is especially evident with our most vulnerable and reluctant learners. Key to this learning is the work of our learning facilitators, Steve and Shantel. While they are vital to our growth, they will be the first to point to the impact Brenda has had on them as learning leaders, and how she continues to play a role in their work. While their impact is immense, none of them will stand up and say, “for it is I that has caused this learning to occur”. Even just writing that seems so absurd, which is a testament to their humility.

Our soccer program and our adult learning are  just two examples, and there are so many more I could include, such as:

  • our early learning program, especially the growth in our literacy skills in the early years
  • our ever-evolving athletics program that is reaching more student athletes every year
  • our student leadership program that is continuing to flourish under our teacher leadership
  • our programming for students who struggle with the regular content
  • the evolution of our parental engagement

I’m sure I’m missing other examples, and my apologies to those I may have overlooked.

These programs do not grow through good luck, they require the leadership that you provide. Hopefully as you are reading this you are reflecting on your role in the growth that is happening at Waldheim School. Hopefully you are thinking about how you are part of our story. I’d invite you to contemplate the following questions:

  1. Are the kids who happened to be born between 1999 and 2013 coming to their school, or are they coming to your class?
  2. Do you believe that just because something worked yesterday does not mean it will necessarily work tomorrow? Do you feel you have the flexibility to deal with that?
  3. Are you a school teacher, or a classroom teacher? (I need to credit @gcorous with that question from his book, The Innovator’s Mindset)
  4. Are you a change agent, and how do you model this for your students and peers?
  5. In relation to #4, what are you learning about this year, and how is it impacting you, your students, and your colleagues?

When I think about the great programs that are occurring in our school (and in our school division as a whole), I think about the quiet leaders that working to make this happen. I think about how Trace and Ellen would answer those 5 questions as they relate to their soccer program, and I’m pretty sure I know what they’d say. As Steve, Shantel, and Jesse discussed at our last PD day together, one of the greatest impacts to student learning, based on John Hattie’s work (found here), is collective teacher efficacy. As we continue to strive for greatness as a school, think about your role and remember, you are an important member of the team, and your gifts are needed.

Here’s what is on the horizon this week:

Monday:

  • Brenda is hosting two new PSSD SERTs for the morning
  • All teacher staff meeting after school (agenda)

Tuesday:

  • Bruce away (partial am only)

Wednesday:

  • Halloween sock-hop (see Brittney’s email from earlier this week)

Thursday:

  • Post-Halloween sugar crash 🙂

Friday:

  • 7 – 12 progress reports due to the office
  • Sr. girls volleyball playoffs here (after school)

As always, create a great week!

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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!

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