Innovation Days

Last year, our school participated in Identity Day.  Every member of our school community: all students and all staff, created an Identity Day Project.  The projects represented something about who they were as individuals. The projects could have represented something about their life, something they liked, or something they were passionate about. You get the idea. You can read more about my Identity Day Project here and see a video of other Identity Day Projects here.

It was powerful to learn about all the members of our school. I learned things about our staff that I had no idea about and which I likely would not have learned if we did not participate in this project together.  I learned things about each of our students as well.  Our teachers also expressed that they learned things about their students (present and past) that they had not known in the past. In an inner-city school where the development of relationships are paramount, this was such an amazing, powerful community builder!

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This year, some of our teaching staff planned Innovation Day for our entire school community. One of the lessons we learned from our Identity Day last year was that there just was not enough time in one day to visit and show all of the projects in our large school.  So, this year, it was decided to have one day for Primary Innovation Day and one day for Intermediate Innovation Day.    Continue reading

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Things to Celebrate

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As the end of Spring Break is upon us, I came across a recent post by a Vancouver Teacher, Carrie Gelson. In it, she wrote about some of the things she has to celebrate at the completion of Spring Break.  It is so important to acknowledge and celebrate things, no matter how small.  The last term is always a busy one, so let’s take a moment to think of some wonderful Spring Break memories before they are quickly a thing of the past.

Things for which I am grateful for as Spring Break comes to an end ….

Reading. I have been able to also go old school and read a few books over the break. So nice to be able to sit back and read.

Catch up. I had some time to catch up on some work that had got past me recently. It is always nice to have the luxury to have this catch up time. I even had some time to catch up on some little projects I wanted to finish around my house – like putting photos in frames!

Sold! Our family home was sold!  This has been a long process and I am so glad that the sale closed and soon we will be able to start our new life …  Continue reading

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4 Reasons Why Educators Should Engage in Social Media

inspire_1006aThere are so many reasons why I believe that it is imperative that educators and leaders in education be involved in social media, in one form or another. It really has been some of the best learning (if not the best) I have done in my almost 20-year education career!   There are many educators and leaders in education out there who still have doubt about involving themselves, their students, and their schools in Social Media. In this post, I would like to briefly describe 4 reasons why all educators and schools should have Social Media presence.

1.  Communication.  Having a blog, a Facebook page, a Pinterest Page, and/or a Twitter feed is a great way to bridge the school-home gap.  Sharing the learning going in your classroom and/or school is a great way to help enhance the learning of your students and the connections of the parents to the school.  Gone are the days of monthly newsletters where parents received dated information. Today, there are possibilities of real-time communication and celebrations of daily learning! What a great way to engage parents and family members and make them feel really involved and welcomed into the learning environment.

Continue reading

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What My Inner City School Experience Has Given Me

This is going to be a somewhat personal post. I have been pondering this for quite some time and have finally decided to write about it and share.

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For the past 2 and one half years I have been the vice-principal of an inner-city school in the school district where I work (not all our students come from low-income families, but enough of them do to give us an inner-city designation). Previously, I had been the vice-principal in two other schools – one in a middle-class area of our city and the other in a working class area of our district. All three schools have provided me with a variety of experiences which have helped me grow and learn a variety of  lessons about myself as a teacher, a leader, and as a person.

Continue reading

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Happy Spring – 200th Blog Post!

With my 200th blog post upon me, I wanted it to include a personal passion of mine – photography.  Since it is Spring Break and it was such a beautiful day yesterday, I got out my camera and my family and I spent the day in Stanley Park. What a beautiful day for fun outside and special family time together.  Photography is a passion of mine which I have been neglecting somewhat.  Yesterday, was a gorgeous day to dust off my camera and take some photos. I was happy to take photos and I am excited to share some of them with you all.

Spring represents new growth and possibility. When you look around in Spring, you see buds, sprouting, blossoming, flowering, new life, and vitality. This season is about change: growth, rejuvenation, renewal, and promise. For some, Spring is a metaphor for life.

I hope you enjoy some of the Spring images I captured during our walk along the seawall around Stanley Park.

A Day of Beauty: Spring Video

 

What does Spring mean to you?

Have you spent some time recently doing something you’ve been neglecting? If so, what was it and how do you feel now?

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New Uses For the Old Planner

Recently, I read a tweet from a fellow district administrator:

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 10.01.27 PMThis tweet made me reflect upon my own use of the traditional student planner when I was a classroom teacher.  I taught primary grades – many of which included teaching the youngest learners – students in Grade 1.  We had the typical student planners and used them in the typical manner. Students would write messages (which they copied off the board) at the end of each school day. Some students had a great deal of difficulty writing these messages at the end of each day. It was a lesson in frustration and perseverance for them there is no doubt.  Of course, I would ease their pain by writing some or all of the message depending on their day and their level of frustration.  I did not want this time to be difficult for my students, but I do believe, looking back, that it was difficult for some.

My sole purpose of using student planners was to continue the communication between home and school – to help parents have a window into our classroom, if you will.  When I think back to the messages my students wrote each day and I reflect, I wonder how successful I would have been had this been my only method of communication to our families. In addition to the planners though, I had a classroom website which I updated regularly, a weekly newsletter written by students each day (which I would photocopy at the end of the day so the parents would see what we did during the week), and a monthly paper newsletter that went home as well.  Furthermore, I was fortunate in my collaboration with another Grade 1 teacher and we would have parents come into our classrooms every few weeks to participate in our Family Literacy sessions. These sessions allowed them to become more comfortable in the school environment and learn literacy and numeracy strategies to help their children at home. Continue reading

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For Some, WE are IT

Things can get rather challenging in inner-city schools near Spring Break. Come to think of it, working in an Inner-City school, or any school, for that matter, is always challenging. Staff are tired and have been working hard for months! Students are also tired and some may be feeling the stress of an upcoming break and what that may bring for them at home.   The challenges lately have made me reflect on how important we are to our students and the power of our influence.

For some students (probably more than we will ever realize), school is their safe place.  School is where they feel most comfortable. Our classrooms are where they feel welcome. School is a place where they feel listened to and appreciated for who they are. For many, school is a place to get nourishment – both emotional and physical. School, for many of our students, is the place where they are accepted and provided with the opportunities to interact and socialize with others in positive ways.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe strongly that all of our parents are doing the best they can with what they have. They want the best for their kids, even though they may not be able to provide the best for them at this time. Our parents love their kids with all their heart, even though that may not always be evident to their children. Continue reading

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Reflections on Love

While this may not be the usual post on this blog, with Valentine’s Day just past, I thought I’d do a reflection on Love and what Love means to me at this time in my life.

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After 20+ years of marriage, I have recently come to really reflect upon what love really is (and is not, for that matter) and what it means for me.  We are all different, so you may or may not agree with my thoughts I express here.  This is not an easy subject with which come easy answers.  Well, perhaps the easy answers come sometimes, where at other times the answers are much more difficult and require a great deal of reflection and “unpacking” to discover.

For me, love is not just about the romance, the flowers, or the long walks in the rain.

Love is not just about late nights chatting about your common goals and accomplishments.

Love is not just about the vows you spoke. It is not just about the joys and triumphs as you raise your children together.

Those things are all lovely and are all a big part of love.  Love is not all about those things, however. Not always.

Love is, at times, challenging.

Love is, at times, difficult.

My daughter recently brought me a pin home from school which read, “Love is Learning”.  As I looked at this pin and repeated the words over and over in my head I realized that can not agree more with this sentiment.

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My Completed Homework

I was given an assignment to complete by fellow blogging friend, and amazing educator, Dean Shareski. You can read his challenge post here.

First things first, here are 11 Random Facts About Me:

1. I am a twin. I have a twin brother – and NO, we are not identical. You would not believe how many people have asked me that over the years. Seriously!

2. I have blue eyes, but used to wear green contacts and would lie to people when they asked if they were my actual “real” eye colour, “Why, yes, of course they are!”

3. I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand, but have no idea why.

4. I used to stuff donuts at Tim Horton’s when I was in Grade 12 – at the donut shop right near my high school, right after school, right when all my classmates would come for their after-school snack. Me in my hairnet and uniform. Can you say teenage nightmare? Continue reading

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Slightly Overwhelmed

 

With September over the craziness is supposed to subside. Correct?

Not so much around here.

I am involved in an online project with George Couros (@gcouros) called School Administrator Virtual Mentorship Program (#SAVMP).  When we signed up for this program, we agreed that we would reflect and blog about these reflections. I have not done so. I have not blogged since the end of August (the final day of my summer holiday).  It’s not that I don’t value blogging, because I do!  Definitely!  Blogging has been an important part of who I have become as an educator and leader in education.

But…

Work has taken over.

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It has been difficult to find balance: to find the important time to reflect on what is going on and what I am learning. Believe me, I am learning a great deal – every. single. day.  The difficulty is that I often find myself working on things for work until the wee hours of the night.  These things that I am working on have to get done. Don’t they? They have to take priority over all else. Don’t they?

5504773801_c6c9cfefccJust typing this has made me reflect on what I have been doing. No, these things do not HAVE to get done.  There really is nothing more professionally important than continuing my professional journey – through connecting with amazing educators online, learning from so many dedicated educators, blogging and sharing.  Yes, of course, relationships trump all else, but those things I’ve been working on until the wee hours of the morning really aren’t THE most important thing. Really. In the grand scheme of things.

I value the relationships I’ve built and have been building online and I need to get back to that place again. Being inspired by so many amazing educators brings life into what I am already doing. It gives me energy, great ideas, and excites me.  I need to get back at connecting and learning with my PLN.  I also need to get back on my self-reflection horse and start blogging again.  Regularly.

Thanks for listening.

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