Over the next two days, our School Division is participating in the North Central Teachers’ Convention. www.mynctca.com. I have always liked convention as an opportunity to get together with colleagues, old and new and catch up on how things are going and to sit in on sessions and learn new ideas. I also like the collaborative discussion we have about education and things we have learned.
Teachers’ convention is just one of the opportunities to connect with others and participate in the discussion that leads to personal growth. The opportunity to connect, learn, debate, grow, and develop your personal learning network isn’t limited to convention or other traditional PD opportunities. Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media sites all help to engage us in the discussion and encourage the growth.
I still enjoy convention for that personal connection you make with people. I like the lunches, and the coffee chats. I like the occasional ‘sit & git’ delivery of knowledge, and the opportunity to add to my repertoire of tools. BUT, the deepest learning comes from the connections we make with others who either think the same way we do, or those that think completely differently. These discussions, coupled with reflective practice move us along our journey as learners and hopefully inspire us to pass the passion for learning along to others.
Alberta’s Framework for Education (education.alberta.ca/media/6581166/framework.pdf) outlines a path to take our students on to allow them to become engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit. As I am nearing the end of my Professional Growth plan meetings with teachers we have all agreed that student engagement is the observable behaviour I need to be looking for to looking for while I am in classrooms and having conversations with teachers afterwards.
I have spent quite a few hours looking for research on student engagement and what it looks like in lower grade level classrooms. I have come up with a few good ideas, but what I have had clearly reaffirmed to me is that student engagement can look like a lot of different things depending on a number of factors.
I think there is one thing that I have very clearly learned anew, however. Engagement is something that has to be allowed to happen. In many classrooms, the lessons are not set up to allow for engagement. When all activities and responses are dictated, I strongly feel that students won’t be allowed to engage in the learning in a meaningful way. Real engagement can only occur when students can interact with what they are learning on a creative level that gives them opportunity to delve into the information. They have to have opportunity to play with the information much like they would when creating using modelling clay or building blocks.
Engagement won’t look like a group of students all sitting quietly doing the same thing. It will look more like a group of students working at tearing apart and rebuilding information in various ways and on different levels.
I would really appreciate some feedback on these thoughts and what other people are doing as they look for engagement in the classrooms they are responsible for.
This portion of the video has to do with relationships and making change.
I’m not sure which of the items in the title that I am most excited about. I found Spiderman, Wolverine and Captain America Socks at a comic book store in Edmonton last week. Being 87% nerd, that got me a bit excited. I think I will be looking for more theme socks in the future. (I did give the Wolverine pair to my oldest son)
Today is the third day I’m in my new office at my new school, getting ready for a new school year. The office is not officially open until Monday, but like many principals, I’m in trying to get my head wrapped around a new way of doing things. Our school division is going through a huge transition with the majority of schools seeing one or both of the administrators as new to the position. It is going to be an exciting and interesting year as we learn and grow together.
My new school is about twice the size of my previous assignment, but still the same configuration (PreK – 4). I’ve found it interesting how two schools, that do the exact same job, can approach certain things in very different ways. I’ve been through the staff handbook and made a few changes, but I think I will have to do quite a bit of observation over the next few weeks/months before making any big changes.
I usually get a bit excited about change, and this is no different. I don’t get as excited about meeting new people, so I am a bit nervous about that. So far though, everyone has been great. Hopefully they are patient as I work at applying those Principal Quality Standards to a new situation!
Here’s to a great school year for everyone; and I’d appreciate any kind of feedback throughout the year as I continue to post my reflections.
I don’t remember the exact question, from the interview I had for getting my Vice Principal job in Sturgeon School Division, but I do remember responding that my job was to be an advocate for the students. I knew that one of the things I had to do was ensure that they were receiving resources and programming that benefited them. The best programming available had to be accessed and provided. Over time, my perception of my job has shifted away from that to some degree when I became Principal., and for a while I was feeling that my job was to ensure that the needs of the staff was forefront in my mind.
This might seem like a huge shift that very much changes the focus of what I am expected to do. However, I think the two goals are VERY closely tied together. You can’t have students receiving top notch programs and services without staff who are feeling satisfied and respected for the difficult task they are assigned to do.
I have made posts before about the importance of valuing teachers and all staff in the school.
I have, as one of my roles, the opportunity to supervise a great staff, who are working to make sure students are learning. By supporting them in whatever way I can, with a goal to do what I can to make their job easier, I am absolutely supporting students. My support might involve finding and accessing outside resources. It might involve helping them find a new and better way of dealing with an issue. It might be about making sure that the equipment they have access to works in a way that won’t evoke anger or stress! Sometimes in might involve just listening to the frustrations they are experiencing.
Being an Instructional leader, oftentimes, is about being an instructional organizer. I am here to organize (administrate) the school in such a way that everyone is confident that Learning really does happen here. Every other Principal Quality Standard is in place to ensure that students are provided a great education. If that isn’t happening, we might as well stay home.
It’s a huge responsibility, but a great one to have.
(photo from Flickr Creative Commons)
I have an eye appointment next Tuesday after school. My eyes are getting worse very quickly and the glasses I have just aren’t cutting it anymore. I am not happy about having to get new glasses (they cost money!), but our Health Spending Account should cover most of that. Anyway, as I sit here at my computer and having to push my chair back so I can make out what I’m typing, I got to thinking about vision.
One of my Professional Growth Plan goals for the year is around the Principal Quality Standard of “Embodying Visionary Leadership.” As I was thinking about my eyesight, this connection came to mind. And as my mind is prone to wandering the question came to mind as to whether everyone can be visionary.
After doing a bit of research and taking time to think, I’ve come up with what makes a person a visionary.
- Understand the differences between having vision and being visionary – Just because you have a vision for something, doesn’t make you visionary. Everyone has vision. They have a goal for what they would like to see happen, but no real plan for implementation. Many people have a vision for a Utopian world, but do very little about it.
- Clarity of vision – A clear idea of where you want to be and details around how to get there are necessary. If your vision of the future is clear, getting there will be a lot more possible.
- Visionary leadership is about being a problem solver – to make progress as someone who is a visionary, there has to be the ability to solve problems. You have to be able to analyze the problem, look for solutions and work to make them happen. Being a problem solver is about learning from mistakes. A visionary is constantly working to make things better.
- Visionaries show rather than tell – A long time ago I heard the phrase, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” I try to always picture myself in a situation that I will be responsible for placing others in. I try to do join in on tasks that I am asking others to participate in. If I’m not willing to complete a task, why should I expect others to take it on? If I expect people to move forward I better be in the crowd working just as hard as anyone else.
- Willing to take a risk – I’ve already alluded to risk taking. Implicit in risk taking, is the acceptance of failures along the way. Accept failures in yourself and in others. However, failures have to be viewed as an opportunity to learn A number of years ago at an AISI (btw, I miss AISI) conference, I first heard the term ‘failing forward’. That is the attitude we need to have. Our failures move us forward in our growth journey.
- Desire to positively affect others – If our vision only benefits ourselves, it’s not the kind of vision I am talking about. In my role as an educational leader, the vision I have for my school and community, has to benefit as many as possible. It needs to benefit current and future students and hopefully the staff and community as well.
I think I have helped to move my school forward, and in my journey as a leader, I hope to continue that at this school or whatever school I maybe placed in in the future. Our Leader in Me program has been an interesting journey that we are still working on, and will hopefully always continue to work on. That process alone has taught me the importance of having a vision and working to make it happen. Having a goal is essential. If you’re not aiming for something, you don’t hit anything.
Can everyone be visionary? I don’t think so; not without some effort and mindfulness in the process.
This Thursday, we have our first ever Identity Day. I have my board ready, and I know many of the students do as well. There are a few students that we have some concerns about getting one done, but we do have a plan to help them have something ready.
This is our third year of being a Leader in Me School. The opportunity to highlight the uniqueness of the individual is important in this process. We all have interests/talents/situations that we would like to share. I am very interested to see what the students show up with. We like to think we know our students and this is another way we can get to know them a bit better, and allow them to get to know us as well.