Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category


WordPress just informed me that my “Re-tooling post” was my 100th!  I probably broke the record for taking the longest to get to 100 posts!

I am not one that is big on anniversaries and such, so I don’t think the balloons will drop for this one either.

If you have stopped by or read some of my posts, I thank you.  Feel free to look through the blog for any you may have missed.  For the two people who read this blog (three including me) thanks for stopping by and I hope you will continue to!

A Quick and Good Read

I recently completed reading “How Full Is Your Bucket” by Rath and Clifton.  All admins. in our division received this book from our Director at the June meeting.   I like getting these types of gifts as I am always looking for new books that will help me develop as an educator.

The book provides some good reminders for all of us when working with staff and creating a positive work culture and environment.  The short workbook (contained within) is a good exercise for all admins. so the key traits may be actualized in your building.

I found the book correlated well with Carnegie’s classic book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People.”  If you have read neither, I recommend you do.

Let me know your thoughts on either book.

Livebinder for TnT 2011

Below is the Livebinder I am using for my presentation today.  As this is a “living document” it is open for people to add tabs and subtabs.

Is The Money Worth It?

Recently, I read and article in Education Canada by Ron Canuel.  He reviews the issue of increased student learning and technology cost.

I have read more than a few articles on this issue and a few blogs as well.  Many schools are striving to become 1:1 schools where every student has a laptop or iPad.  Obviously, there is a cost to this type of programming and many educators and reformers think the money should go elsewhere.  Many literacy advocates have felt that this money was not available for libraries, but is suddenly available for technology.

Even the  people who value technology, believe money is not spent wisely.  The issue I read most about is, “should schools be using interactive whiteboards to the extent they are or be using the money to become a 1:1 school.”  Bill Ferriter has written a lot about this on his Tempered Radical Blog.

Mr. Canuel cites a study published by the Journal of Technology, Learning and assessment (JTLA).  Basically, it stated that technology used in a traditional manner will use traditional results.  Larry Cuban also noted this and has stated the use of technology was oversold and underutilized.

Canuel found the JTLA article also noted something very important.   Many researchers who are against tech. spending are focusing on the trees rather than the forest.  Their meta-analysis research found that “the creation of new-paradigm schools that are self-organizing…are creating a dynamic in the classroom where students become increasingly engaged in their learning.  The participation of students in the design of teaching strategies  and assessments does generate an increase student achievement.”

Simply stated, if we do not have specific purposes for technology use and integration, increases in learning will be minimal.  However, if specific learning targets are set, with proper planned use for tech., engagement of students in learning should increase.  If students are engaged in their learning, the results will show.  It does not matter if it’s a whiteboard, iPad or a laptop.  If the tool is not used properly, learning is minimal.  Is video used effectively in most classrooms, or the old filmstrips?

I believe technology (and its many platforms) can increase student learning, but like anything, it needs to be used properly and teachers need the PD to be able to do this.  I believe the creation of networks, PLN’s and administrator support can help teachers use technology to engage students and thus increase student learning.

Your thoughts?

Key questions:

How should schools and divisions purchase technology? Are we following best practice and research?

Are we influenced too much by tech. companies and just buy without specific plans in place. Does the planning take to long and then the infrastructure and tech. skills lag behind?

How should we use technology to effectively engage students?

Your Input Is Welcome

I will be leading a presentation at the TnT Conference in Bismarck, ND on June 7th. My focus will be how school admins. can participate, lead and build culture in their schools using technology.

Since I only have 60 minutes, I will focus on a few tools admins. can use on a regular basis. My choices include Twitter, Google Reader/docs, YouTube, TED, and Voicethread. Most importantly, I believe we must discuss the reasons for using these tools:

> to increase student engagement.
> to promote collaboration.
> to enable teachers and students to connect and share knowledge from around the world .
>to enable people – especially in professional development and creating PLN’s.

Above all I look forward to the knowledge I will gain from the session participants and the conference in general.

If you have a cool tool or something you want to share regarding tech. and leadership, just leave a comment or email me – Twitter/Skype: @bircherd

Dynamic Individuals Required

Since the hiring season is ongoing, I figured I should help aspiring and new school administrators in some way.  After all, connecting and collaborating is so important in education today. 😛

Ever since I became a school administrator, I am continually amazed at how versatile one must be to occupy this position.  The notion that a principal is “that guy” who only sits in the office, is untrue and rather shallow.

Over the last eleven years I have required knowledge and skills in several different aspects of education.  Some (but not all) of these were not taught in my university classes or pre-teaching work.  In fact, on many occasions, people probably thought I should already know this stuff.

My helpful, (but not conclusive) list for the “newbie admins”. (Inhale…)

1. Know everything about teacher supervision even if you have never supervised before.

2. Know how to help each teacher in every subject area in your school.  (Be careful here because those senior math and science teachers can be crafty)

3. Make sure that school budget is in line or else…yes, those finance people get edgy.

4. Be THE instructional leader in your school.  Being a PE major was your past life, get over it.

5. Become a facility manager/custodian.  Hey-if the heat is not working or a toilet won’t shut off you will hear about it, especially if the custodian is not there.  Yes, you may need to grab a mop on a semi-regular basis.

6. …vomit clean-up in the grade 1 room! (actually, I avoid this one!)

7.  (insert kid name here) just had a major accident and is in the washroom waiting for you! The smell hits you when you are still 50 paces away.  Being a male near the elementary wing has its drawbacks.

8.  If student’s cook something…anything, you are expected to eat it.  They are so proud of their “dish.”

9.  Know more than the basics of first aid and how to deal with each injury.  Being able to fix on the spot is a big asset.

10.  Catering/wedding planner knowledge is vital as you will prepare and set-up many meetings.  You may not need to cook, but the following is crucial:

  • tables and chairs must be set up properly. Those division office people get worked up about this.
  • The treats/snacks are VERY IMPORTANT.  This will make or break you.  Dry cookies and weak coffee/juice are a major faux-pas.  Don’t get groundskeeper Willy to make the juice.
  • Sound system should be good.  If it messes up, you need to fix it.  Same goes for the media projector.

11.  Pest control officer.  Yes, you may be asked to deal with mice, stray dogs, a gopher in the shop.  Hey, I live on the prairies.

12. Be able to give the right consequence for any disciplinary action.

13.  Be a good listener.

14.  Constantly communicate, check and re-check.  You’ll be glad you did.

15.   …

There are more skills, but the list is long enough already.  Feel free to share yours.

I have to make juice!

My 10 Picture Tour

I have been procrastinating putting this together, but found a few minutes to do this post.  Below is my 10 picture tour of Montmartre School in Montmartre, Saskatchewan Canada.  My thanks to Cale and Brian for the idea and passing it along.  Cale’s original post is here.

A view from the street.  The melt is on!

The bench in the front lobby.  All students and staff made tiles for this bench, with the help of an artist.

A friend of mine did the sign above the bench in the lobby.

Our Playground Leaders program banner.

Some elementary artwork displayed.

The new daycare in our building.

Awards from MANY years.  I’ve thought about cleaning some out, but I still catch people looking at these for names.

Practical and Applied Arts Lab

The multi-purpose room.  Band, dance, etc. are taught here.

Our purpose.