When Passion has an Impact

It’s taken me a few weeks to get this post written. I’ve been rolling it around in my head for a while.

People who know me know that I love photography. I have my own photography business (that doesn’t make a lot of money), but I love capturing moments in time. In the fall, I did a family photo session for my former vice principal, Kerri.
I photographed the family in their beautiful backyard with different family configurations, and fortunately, the photos turned out quite well.

About a month ago, one of Kerri’s stepdaughters passed away.  I had to attend the funeral to support Kerri and her family during this difficult time. When I arrived at the location of the funeral, Kerri greeted me and immediately took me to a large photo of her three stepdaughters. It was a photo I had taken in the fall, and I was immediately struck by the impact that photo was having on the ceremony and the power it had in communicating the beauty of the family and specifically Nicole. It was an emotional experience for me.

I have spoken before about our obligation as educators to help others find their passion. Each student has to have opportunity to discover that one thing that they love to do, and be allowed to pursue it. That fact was really hit home to me during this time, and I was so humbled to know that something I did made even a small difference in the lives of others.

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Schools need to be responsive to the needs of their students and community. That involves getting to know each student and giving every one of them opportunities to grow and play and discover. Schools need to be rich environments of learning and questioning and finding answers that lead to more questions. Only in places like that can we be certain that we are doing everything we can to ensure that students will be best placed to make those discoveries for themselves.

And as a side point, let’s not forget the importance of being cognizant of the importance of mental health in our day-to-day lives; both in school and in our daily endeavours. We need to do our best to make real connections and do our best to support those who are dealing with mental health issues. Mental health is being discussed now. Let’s keep the conversation going and do everything we can to keep the awareness front and centre.

D Propp

Unwelcome Learning?

Our teachers’ convention is happening this Thursday and Friday. I love this event every year. I consider it an opportunity to break from routine. It’s an opportunity to learn and connect. It’s a time to think about new ideas and hopefully become refreshed.

I get a little dismayed every year by the small group that just complains about the lack of sessions available to them. There are hundreds of sessions being offered, and if you can’t find something for you, I think it’s a different problem. It’s a problem of not wanting to explore new ways of thinking. logo

Convention is a great learning opportunity. Lifelong learners need to be willing to step out there and take risks. They need to be open to hearing ideas that they don’t have to necessarily embrace, but can at least consider.

I’m ready to get my Convention on!

D Propp

Reflecting on Emotional Intelligence

I have been helping a young friend work on some of his college assignments. He is ESL, so doesn’t always understand what is asked of him. One of the assignments was to do an online personal inventory on Emotional Intelligence. My young friend was a bit shocked to see his score was low in that area. I assured him that knowing that ab6210552846_7df2228192out yourself is opportunity to learn and grow. We all have areas to work on and improve.

It was a good reminder to me that we all need to take a personal inventory once in a while and examine how we are doing in all areas of our life. It doesn’t mean that we have to go online and find scientifically based tests. We might just need to sit and do a bit of reflection from time to time. I really find blogging works well for me. Others can journal. Others can talk with friends and colleagues about how they are doing.

Emotional intelligence is important. We need to not only think about how we react emotionally and how we express and respond to others emotions, but about how we can improve when we see areas that aren’t as refined as they could be.

Let’s not forget to include that in how we teach, and how we learn. We are all learners here. Let’s keep growing in all areas.

D Propp

Why Am I not a Genius?

We learn from our mistakes.

I know it’s true, but sometimes I wonder why I’m not a genius by now with the amount of blunders I regularly make. Thankfully most of them aren’t that big, but nevertheless, I can say they’re quite constant. I guess the good thing, in my own defense, is that I usually admit to making them, and I try to learn from them and make them right. Usually I can look back and laugh at them – sometimes it takes a while before that happens!

It’s a journey. I think when you can’t admit you’re fallible, you can no longer learn.

Let’s keep learning, and growing and even making mistakes. It’s what makes us lifelong learners.

I follow Pam Boyd’s Two Minute Tune Up blog and her post today got me thinking about my recent mistakes. Too many to list! Her blog post today can be found here. Thanks, Pam!

D Propp

The Forgotten Goal

In education, we are really good at setting goals. We want our students to acheive a certain standard; we have professional goals; we have division goals; we have provincial goals; we have learning outcomes that we want to accomplish. We are all about planning ahead and making sure things get covered. It is very easy to keep an eye on these short and long term goals, as we are reminded of them all the time.

This weekend I came across a quote that really got me thinking. Eckhart Tolle is quoted as saying:

Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously the believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.”

This quote isn’t talking about education but it made me think about much of what we do and don’t do in our classrooms. It certainly wouldn’t hurt us to include a goal about celebrating the moment we are living and learning in right now. Maybe one of our goals for ourself and our students needs to be to enjoy and appreciate exactly what we are doing right now. I know all our teachers strive to make learning enjoyable and fun; but are our students appreciating the moment we are in? Are our teachers?

Education has changed a lot over the last few decades. I appreciate the approach we use so much. We are child centred for the most part. We concentrate on individualizing learning. We recognize the importance of trauma and mental health and how the brain works. But do we take time to slow down and teach the importance of contentment and enjoyment in the now?

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Back to the Good stuff

This year, as a school we’ve decided to make Balanced Literacy our focus. An outsider might think, “What!! Balanced Literacy has been around forever and you’re just focusing on it now??!! Where have you been?”

Well, we’ve been doing a LOT of great things, including Guided Reading, and many components of balanced literacy. What we realize though, is that we may not be doing it the best that we can. We could look for something new and flashy to focus on, but why not take the things that we know to be good practice, and make sure we are doing them well.

One of the great things is, this is a grass roots endeavour. The teachers recognized that they had been focusing on other things over the last few years and have realized that they need to spend time thinking and talking about what they’re doing in their language arts (and all) classes. Are we using our alloted time the best we can?

As admin we have decided to make the process of gathering data around how this affects student acheivement to be our focus. My Vice-Principal is an ‘expert’ in Balanced Literacy, and is a great resource. I am not an expert, by any means. This means I have to start learning. I attended my first professional development on guided reading yesterday with a number of teachers from across the school division. I was there for a different reason, but I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about this one component of literacy.

I’m beginning to see this idea cropping up in other places. People are realizing we don’t need something new to revolutionize our world. We need to focus on the things that work, and do them well.

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Another Year!

It’s already the third day with students here in Sturgeon School Division. Things are under way, and it’s been a great beginning. We’ve managed to figure out those problems around scheduling that almost always arise. I’ve got a new VP and she’s a hard worker, and knows her way around. The teachers are GREAT, and they’ve got the classrooms under control.

There’s always a buzz at the beginning of the year, and hopfully over the next few days, I’ll have some time to reflect on my own Professional Growth and what I want to accomplish this year.

Here’s to another great year!!

D Propp