Thanks Is Great


As we head into April we begin the last term of the school year and recently concluded our last set of P/T Conferences.

P/T Conferences can be interesting.  Since I teach, I have conferences that deal with kids in my classrooms, but I also deal with other school issues.  You get both roles being in administration.

I approached this last round of conferences much the same way I always do.  I try to encourage, help,  as well as discuss achievement.  Above all, I try to answer parent concerns the best I can.

Am I doing OK?  I think so, judging by people’s demeanor.  When I have handed out evaluation forms, the feedback is generally positive.

However, I knew this year, my work and attempts at consistency were paying off.

When I stated to parents, “I hope I helped you,” I received the following more than once.

“Yes, you did – as always.”

Keep working hard Dave!

(The last line was the pat on the back attempt but I have trouble physically doing that!  Hence, my idea of shameless self-promotion!) 😛

 

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Relationships Are The key


Ever since I began my journey with technology, I have wondered about Twitter; who do I follow, how do I get more followers, what’s the best way to make connections?   Early on, I did not use it much as I did not get the true purpose on who or how to connect with others.  I am not sure if I have totally figured it out yet, but I am a lot farther ahead than I was before.

I do value my PLN and what they offer to my personal PD.  I feel I do not give near enough in return, but I do try.  It think this is key.

I also have made more effort to streamline what topics are important to me.  I did this specifically so I could connect with people better.  As soon as I began doing this, the number of hits to my blog and number of Twitter followers soon increased.  With this, I have been able to connect with people from all around the world and actually have been able to meet a few in person.  These relationships are wonderful as I would invite any of these folks to my house as I am sure they would me to theirs ( well I think …)?

Some folks may believe that the sheer number of Twitter followers is all that matters when creating your PLN.  This could not be farther from the truth.  One can have 1,000 or 5,000 followers or friends on Twitter and Facebook.  However, if one does not make the effort to connect and continue to share and be involved, the followers and friends are merely status symbols with no real worth.  I have just over 600 Twitter followers and I have trouble keeping connected with them all, hence this blog.  But I do believe at some point I will connect with many of these folks and learn from them.  I could have a lot more Twitter followers, but the ones I delete or block are ones do not want to develop a professional relationship with.  I will continue to grow my PLN, but it will be on my terms.

In school we teach children about friendship and relationships.  I believe social media can be used to help students learn the important concepts and skills required to develop positive relationships, not the anti-social behaviours so many people believe technology is responsible for.

I think these two videos are great examples that discuss relationships and how social media can help develop these in 21st century learning.

Seth Godin:

Dean Shareski:

GoogleDocs Can Help a Principal


Recently, I was searching for ways I could further support my staff in technology.

Earlier, this year, we made technology a common goal across our staff, where each member  could use their growth plan (PPGP) as a method for furthering their own personal development.

Although the progress has been somewhat slower than what I’d hoped, we are making progress.  I was pleased when a staff member asked that I sit down with her and review Google Reader and then do a follow-up session on Twitter.  As long as staff keep working towards their goal, I’ll help along the way.

I have found that in-school support is not enough and teachers were not scheduling their own support from others to a high degree.   I decided I needed to help more, so I turned to our division support person.  The questions I asked myself were:

1.  How can I support teachers?

2.  If someone comes to our school for support, how do we use the time wisely that it benefits teachers and thus students?

3.  How can teachers have time to focus on their session during the regular school day?

 

I told my staff that I wanted to continue to help them with their technology goals.  To do this, I booked our division tech. coordinator on three separate days.  I looked to see where teachers had prep. periods so they would not have to worry about class coverage, etc.

Next, I created a GoogleDoc and asked staff to contribute specific topics for their session.  This way I could gather all the session topics in one document without looking at continuous emails, sticky notes, etc.  Then I could schedule the teachers to a specific period.  Once complete, I could send the link to the document to our tech. coordinator and he could prepare for each day well in advance and not be surprised by the topics being asked for, thus maximizing the time allotted for each session.

Although my experience with GoogleDocs is still relatively new, I found it to be quite useful in coordinating these PD sessions and was actually a time saver!

Further uses for Google Docs. are already being created!

No Matter What…You’re LIVE


I often read posts and tweets asking what kind of advice you could give to new teachers.  The tips passed along are very thoughtful and helpful for those new to the profession.  Even for us who have been around for a while (am I in THAT group now?), these tips are great reminders about effective practice.

Whenever I see the above question posed, I often think of the usual elements.  Eg. effective communicator, classroom manager, personable, effective planner, etc, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, these are all very important along with many other traits.  But the BIG idea we all need to think of as teachers is the fact that day in and day out – you’re LIVE!

I first heard this phrase from a colleague, who sometime ago, started a business using this as a slogan (Paul if it’s OK I am borrowing it for a moment). However, when you think about it, it is very real for educators.

Each day, in or out of the classroom, educators are LIVE.  The number of interactions each day with students, staff, parents and community members are significant.  Each day you are expected to have your “A” game.  When you do not deliver, you usually hear about or realize it.  Reflective practitioners know this instantly.

As teachers, we need to realize that each day, we are delivering numerous mini-workshops/presentations to students.  As administrators we need to have our “A” game each day as well.  That is why few people want to become admin’s. If we (or someone else) do not make good judgments, we will definitely hear about it.  If one thinks about it, we have many common traits with professional athletes, only a televised audience is not watching at the time.  Mind you, a school with a bunch of adolescents is pretty much network television each day.

So, if I was to give professional advice to a new or seasoned teacher, I would indicate that each day you’re LIVE.   From here, we could discuss the specifics/nuances of what that means.  However, I think this is one BIG IDEA we all should remember in our day-to-day work as educators.

 

This is also posted on Connected Principals

Maintaining Connections


 

The image above is something I see quite often in our school.  Kids working in groups in the hallways, older students with younger ones.  As a school principal this tells me a couple of things instantly.  First, the teacher is not stuck in the traditional mode of  instruction; students are allowed to be out of their desk and there is some variation in day-to-day activities in the classroom.  Also, that connecting students is important so we can learn from each other.

As technology gets used more frequently, we are expanding the connections we make with students to a global level.  This is extremely exciting work and can help motivate students, while increasing the number of quality learning opportunities as well.

With this in mind, I also believe that we should not forget about the connections and learning opportunities available in our own buildings.  As pictured above, we  frequently promote  learning opportunities that bring older and younger students together.  As a K-12 school, having the gr.11 and 12 students work with grade 1’s, 2’s, etc. is a great home field advantage.  We just did this with Family Literacy Day this week.  The younger students love having the older ones working with them, and as one of my teachers stated, the younger ones literally think the older students “walk on water.”

No matter the grade configuration in a school, match the younger with the older.  Learning and leadership can both be developed.

This post can also be found on Connected Principals.

Some Different PD


 

 

 

There are a multitude of PD experiences one can attend each year, but this one is somewhat closer to home.

How many teachers or admin.’s have this?

 

My Newest Certification

 

I guarantee you, it is one of the most unique learning experiences an educator can have.  You do not need to drive everyday, just once in a while to keep things in perspective.

Enjoy!

Multicultural Education


Kelsey and Wendell show grade 3/4 students how to set up a tipi.

 

One of the initiatives of our school division and our school’s specific Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) is multicultural education.  Many teachers already combine various multicultural lessons in their specific units of study, especially in ELA and social studies.  In our division, this approach continues but has also been expanded to a more school wide approach.  This particular initiative is titled, “A Time For Significant Leadership.” (ATFSL)

Each year schools in PVSD set a ATFSL goal for their school.  One of the primary aims is to take school wide approaches to understanding First Nations culture, but to also look at understanding and appreciating the unique aspects of all cultures.  With a school wide approach, all students can take part in activities that fosters the understanding of other cultures on a yearly basis, rather than “snapshots” every year or so.  Saskatchewan has also made the teaching of Treaties mandatory for all grade levels each school year.  Treaties are specific agreements made between First Nations bands and The Crown just after confederation in 1867.  More info. on the numbered treaties can be found here.

It has taken some time for us to get used to multicultural education initiatives, on a school wide level, but we are getting there.  As educators, we want these types of initiatives to succeed and have great impact.  Our school intends to hold a multicultural awareness day this year.  Last year, we were treated to a great display of First nations culture featuring singers, dancers and drummers, who also performed at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

I would love to hear about other school wide initiatives that other schools plan.  Please comment if you have anything to share.