Category: Understanding and Responding to the Larger Societal Context

Some Advice for New Principals

I was asked, as a principal with some experience, to share some wisdom with the new principals in Sturgeon School Division. This year we have a lot of schools with new principals and a few with new principals and vice principals. Those of use who have a few years of experience have been asked to provide a video of what we have learned and would like to pass on to those just starting out. This video is the first of three I will be posting over the next while.

I am in a new school this year, so I refer to that in the video (just to provide some context) – and forgive me for the ridiculous expression in the photo grab before the video is played!

D Propp

New Year, New School, New Socks

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 (2)

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.


Darryl Propp

Another Year Older and… wiser?

I never cease to wonder at the speed by which a school year flies by! There is now less than two weeks left and so much left to do!!! How will I get everything done I need to? Seems to me like the perfect opportunity to write a blog.

I have, once again, used my blog as my professional growth plan. To me, it is the perfect combination of reflective tool and evidence tracker. I can use it to document my thoughts, clarify my ideas, garner feedback from colleagues, and set goals for myself. I will be definitely following the same format next year.

As I am moving to another school, I will have to rethink my goals. I have an idea of what I would like to actively pursue as my main goals, but I am looking forward to the context of a new school, and how my personal style will fit in with a whole new context. I can with some certainty say that, “Fostering Effective Relationships” will be a main area of focus. I know that I can’t expect to have much of an impact without taking the time to establish those relationships as a primary goal.

As it is a much bigger school, the standard of “Managing School Operations and Resources” will be an interesting learning opportunity as well. Is it the same as I have been doing at my current school, just on a bigger scale? Are there factors I am not aware of that make the structure that much more complex? Time will tell.

I have learned a lot this year. This summer I will be traveling to Australia for a holiday and to spend some time in a school there. THAT will be a learning experience. I know I will learn a lot there as well.

Have a great summer everyone, and I will see you early in September!!

D Propp

(and just to finish off the year – a photo I took on the weekend)10380226_10152095601431791_336462481745689895_o

BACS First Identity Day

It’s been a while since we held the event. I have referred to it since it has been completed, but it was pointed  out to me that I had never blogged about the actual day.

It took a bit of work to organize, but we are very glad we decided to implement this event. The students loved the opportunity to present themselves to the ‘world’! Most displays were student created, as was the expectation. Students were also very happy to talk about their displays to other students, staff members, parents and community members.

The day is a very powerful way to celebrate the uniqueness of each individual. We had great participation from all staff, and every student present had some sort of display. We conducted a survey after the day and found a lot of support, and received a few suggestions as to how to improve it. We will likely be doing one every other year.

We had a lot of help from Chris Wejr and the resources he provided. A big thank you to him and his (now former) school for their assistance!

D Propp

Identity Day1 Identity Day11

another Saskatchewan Fan!

another Saskatchewan Fan!

Identity Day24

Identity Day52 Identity Day59 Identity Day68 Identity Day75 Identity Day82 Identity Day102

Of course my board was about all things green!

Of course my board was about all things green!

Identity Day131 Identity Day144IMG_1208 IMG_1214 IMG_1223 IMG_1227 IMG_1229

Sure, We Should Have Merit Pay!!

Listening to a lot of talk on CBC this morning around teacher merit pay. Please take a minute and read my thoughts on how merit pay should work!

Merit pay should be awarded to teachers for the following reasons:

  1. Having to answer phone calls from parents with ridiculous requests.
  2. Having to give food to kids from their own lunch.
  3. Attending students’ sport or arts events outside of school hours.
  4. Extra planning for students going on vacations during school time. (And a bonus for every excuse given for why none of the homework was  completed).
  5. Cleaning up after a sick kid that was sent to school for ANY reason.
  6. Any “out of scope” experience during the day, like comforting an upset child because of something that happened out of school.
  7. Having to change plans in a moment every time technology doesn’t work.
  8. Every time they hear teaching compared to babysitting or hear about how great it must be to have summers off.
  9. Every time a student says, “You’re NOT the boss of me!”
  10. Whenever a parent comes in screaming because they believe every word their child has to say and being unwilling to hear both sides of the story.
  11. Every time a politician brings up the topic of Merit pay based on test scores.5079790838_e02bffb6e4_n

There are so many factors involved in teaching that most people don’t understand. People who think of merit pay as a way to weed out underperforming teachers need to realize there are ways in place to manage this issue.  Just because a parent or student doesn’t like a teacher, doesn’t make them a bad teacher. There are cases of teachers who need to rethink what they are doing, and principals and school divisions are responsible to take care of that. Merit pay is not the answer for this; strong leadership who take the performance of their teachers seriously is instrumental. Proper training of teachers, properly funded schools and allowing teachers to do their job are also major factors as well.

I don’t want anyone to think my sarcasm in any way is meant to bash parents. We deal with a lot of GREAT parents. There are very few of them who do the kinds of things mentioned above, (as there are very few teachers who do not do a great job).

This short blog isn’t intented to answer the questions about the issue. It’s just a few thoughts from my ADD brain.

D Propp

Let’s Get Intentional….

So, just typing the title of my post made me think back to my first year of university when I was MUCH younger and this was a smash hit! With a little reflection however, the video actually fits the theme.

I have been thinking a bit about the difference between being intentional in how we do things and just having things occur incidentally. Don’t get me wrong, I work at a great school, with great people and a LOT of wonderful things happen here just incidentally because of that. Our students generally do quite well, and we are good at responding to those that struggle. We have very few behaviour issues that occur and a lot of that is because we are naturally a caring place. However there are many, many things that happen because we are intentional about it.

We are a Leader in Me School, so we work on the Seven Habits of Happy Kids with our students. We are getting better at implementing the program and bringing the kids along on that journey, but we have figured out that we need to have goals and work toward them to make the best possible version of the program happen. When we have seen the program flounder is when we have lost sight of the goal and need to remind ourselves to get back on track, and to set goal for our entire school that keep us focused.

One of our (My) goals for this year is to increase the parent awareness and involvement in the Leader in Me program. It is part of one of my Professional Growth Plan goals, and I have spent some time thinking about this piece lately. Right now, a lot of what our parents know has happened through being present at assemblies, what has been written in newsletters, but mostly it comes from what they hear from their children.

The main importance of being intentional is that we have a lot more control over the outcome of our actions. We set a goal, we plan how and when that goal will be achieved, and we implement our plan. Then with a little accountability from the stakeholders, we move forward expecting the desired result. It’s quite simple, actually.

Just like getting in shape (here’s my roundabout connection to ONJ!) being intentional happens when we put in effort and occurs a lot easier if we have a goal and work towards it.

Let’s get intentional, intentional
I wanna get intentional
Let’s get into intentional
Let me hear your action plan, your action plan
Let me hear your action plan….

D Propp

What Inspires You?

11031998504_2d248d353a_nSometimes it feels like our inspiration wanes. We get tired; we get frustrated; we feel like nothing we do makes a difference. Sometimes we feel like we are just running around in circles. How do we keep moving and keep our enthusiasm strong? The recent passing of Nelson Mandela has me thinking about the inspiration to keep going when everything seems to be in opposition to what you want to see happen.

Very few people will have to endure 27 years of prison as Mr. Mandela did. How he kept his focus for the goal of equality for all South Africans is remarkable. He is a truly remarkable man. When he was released from prison he was overwhelmed by the support he received by the masses. Crowds waited outside the prison just to get a glimpse of him. The crowds were inspired by him, and their support must have also inspired him to keep pressing forward in his purpose.

My journey of inspiration is far from grand, but I think all of us can garner inspiration from a few common areas. A few of the many ways, that come to mind:

  1. Family – Our family is our legacy. I want my children to grow to be people that make a difference to those they come in contact with. I have to set an example for them, and provide them with a model of what I want them to be.
  2. Meaningful work – As an educator, I know that what I do makes a difference. Like my family, I have a large group of stakeholders who depend on me to do what is best for them. They require me to be an advocate and inspire me to do the best job I can for their best interests.
  3. Seeing the good in others – I love Upworthy, and videos like this just make me happy  because of the great things that others do. They are truly inspirational –
  4. The support of others – One of the things I believe inspired Nelson Mandela was the support of millions of people who looked to him for inspiration. Those people who look up to us and follow us have to cause us to do our best to keep things moving forward even when we don’t feel up to the task.

I know there are many more things that inspire me, but this is what came to mind this morning. The Christmas Break is looming, and we all need time to get re energized, and keep moving forward. Sometimes the most inspiring thing is the thought that we are the inspiration for others.


D Propp