Category: Leading a Learning Community

The Impact of the Polar Vortex

It’s been an unusual few days in Alberta. The cold weather has definitely been the focus of most conversations. I can’t recall too many times that buses have not run in Sturgeon for two days in a row. The last two days with no buses saw the lowest student turnout we’ve ever had on those days. Today, most buses are running, but we still are way down in student turnout.
Part of this is also due to the fact we have Teachers’ Convention for the next few days, and I’m sure some parents decided to not send their children in for just one day of school.

It’s difficult to get academic work done on these days. We don’t cover new topics, but I know that teachers do work with small groups, and work to get those that are here caught up on work that may have been missed.

The disruption to routine has its impacts, but we do get a bit more time to collaborate, and potentially tackle tasks that have been needing attention. We get to spend more one on one time with those students that are here. We get to complain about the weather!

Stuff happens here. And even on days when the routine is completely disrupted, we still learn, we still grow as educators, and we still work to build those relationships with our students.

I’m looking forward to the end of this cold snap, but in the meantime… we press on.

D Propp

Number Sense Can’t be Taught

I’ve been on a learning journey around math and how students develop and understanding of numeracy.

I haven’t used my blog to talk about my learning very much this year, as I’m not using it for my Professional Growth Plan. However, I’ve decided I need to keep documenting my learning and use this site as more of an eportfolio.

So, do update what I’ve been doing

  1. Investigation into math diagnostics
    1. Decided to purchase Leaps and Bounds for our grade 1-4 classes
    2. Grade 4 classes using Mathletics
    3. Purchase “Mind the Gap” for K-2, and 3-4 to assist teachers with the task of diagnosing and teaching to fill in the gaps in understanding that our students may have.
  2. PD
    1. Math PD from ERLC – Supporting Struggling students in mathematics (October 22)
    2. Early Childhood Education Conference
      1. attended math sessions around manipulatives and games to support learning
    3. Admin council session on analyzing Provincial Achievement tests.
    4. Worked with Math teachers from Gibbons School in examining their PAT results
    5. Lots of online research on numeracy and the development of numerical understanding, including this linked video by Ch which really helps to encapsulate the need for making sure our youngest students are  Developing Number Sense.
  3. PLCs
    1. My VP and I have been participating in our grade level PLCs which focus on goals the teachers have chosen. However, we have directed them in some activities. One of the first things was to look at results of the MIPI which measures students understanding of math concepts.
      1. the analysis of these results led to some plans to address lack of understanding in certain areas.
      2. We were involved in some rich discussions about what areas were lacking and what we could/should do about those gaps.
    2. PLCs have also been asked to participate in learning sprints for Nov-Jan. Three of our grade levels chose to look at math concepts for the sprints. I am looking forward to the progress that is made. I will definitely post our learning when we get a chance to analyze the results.

One thing that has been affirmed to me can be summarized in this quote by Christina Tondevold.

Number Sense Can’t be Taught. 
It’s Caught!

D Propp

A New Passion

I’ve revamped my Professional Growth Plan this year. I will working on instructional leadership in the area of math. Specifically around looking at the data to find the gaps in students’ understanding of mathematical concepts.

Our school has already started on a few processes to help move us forward in this area. We administered the MIPI at the beginning of the year to help us with our understanding of where each student is at in their journey to mathematical competence. We spent time analyizing group and individual results in our grade level PLCs, as well as looking across grade levels and what areas might be better supported as students move up in grades.

We have purchased Nelson’s Leaps and Bounds and are looking forward to the diagnostic and remediation support that it offers. The program is being used in other Alberta schools, and from what I can tell, is a great resource in supporting students who are experiencing gaps in their understanding. We are also trying out Mathletics in our grade 4 classes to allow for ongoing diagnostic assessment of all of those students.

On Monday, I attended a Professional Development session offered through the ERLC entitled “Math Strategies for Struggling Students”. The session offered, not only ideas for math activities, but looked into the gaps in students’ understanding around specific concepts and the kinds of activities that might be necessary to support them in their learning.

And lastly (at this point), I’ve acquired two books by Jon SanGiovanni, entitled Mine the Gap For Mathematical Understanding, which offer strategies for finding and addressing the gaps in understanding for students.

I am really looking forward to working with my staff on this journey to better meet the needs of all students as they move along on their journey of mathematical understanding.

D Propp

Planning Coherence

Since reading Michael Fullan’s book called, Coherence we’ve started having discussions as a leadership team at my school. I really work in a great place, and many of the things we do here align with what is discussed in the book.

We are a team; we have a high level of trust; we collaborate; we use capacity and develop it. Many of the pieces are in place. I think we are in an ideal place to take the next steps.

We are meeting tomorrow to discuss this. Narrowing down our focus to one or two main things is going to be the first step. There have been conversations happening around this already, and I am excited to see where we go. It’s a great team, and I know the potential for excellence is within us.

I’m looking forward to reporting on our progress as we move forward.
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It’s a TRAP!

One of the biggest lies we can tell ourselves is, “I can’t do this.” Even though I consider myself to be a very positive, optomistic person, I still fall into this trap sometimes. The work we do in schools is so important, and often very challenging. Everyday we are faced with a myriad of decisions and difficulties. The self talk that we engage in at these times is usually key to the outcome we experience.

It’s very easy to fall into a trap of focusing on the difficulty of each task, and the overwhelming scale of the entire job. The error in doing this is that when we are focusing on the problem we take the focus of our ability to deal with the problem. I know it’s very unlikely that I will encounter a situation that I haven’t handled in one way or another in the past. If I’ve dealt with it before, there’s no reason I can’t deal with it now.

The inner voice needs to say, “I CAN do this!” And, I know I can do it now, because I’ve done it before.  The negative self-talk is just a trap.

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D Propp