Tyranny of the Urgent

To say things have been extremely busy at my work would be an understatement. A HUGE understatement. We have been pretty bombarded with crisis after crisis after crisis. However, have ALL these things been REALLY urgent? As urgent as they have been presented to us? That is the question. Sure, many of them have. Not all though.

As I often do in times of struggle (or anytime, actually), I reached out to my PLN to help ground me a bit. To help, I have listened regularly to the Principal PLN Podcast with Dr. Spike Cook, Theresa Stager, and Jessica Johnson for the past year. This is a wonderful Podcast that always makes me think and pushes me to reflect and do some things differently. You can take a look at the Principal PLN website for even more information and resources. This morning I listened to their Podcast entitled, Getting into Classrooms.  This is a wonderful podcast which, in turn was  to the Principal PLN voxer group to be discussed further.  So, this morning, after listening to their stories of wonderful visits into many classrooms, I talked a bit about all the *urgent* things that have been going on in our school and how difficult it has been to get into the classrooms lately. With that, and after listening to the suggestions of some of my PrincipalPLN colleagues, I began to deeply reflect.

And then, Theresa tweeted her #noteaday ….

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Being in classrooms is really what we all want. This is what actually gives us the oxygen to breathe every day. KIDS! Without being in classrooms and visiting with kids, but, instead, always dealing with the Tyranny of the Urgent, part of us, as educators, becomes lost. I strongly believe this. We can not let the Tyranny of the Urgent take over. We must take control over that and make a conscious effort to get out of the office (even if it is to allow others the opportunity to ask themselves if what they are coming to us about is actually *that* urgent).

It is important to remember that most things do not need to be dealt with immediately. Most of the time, we have time to listen, process, seek assistance, make decisions, etc… Our priority needs to be where the children are – in the classrooms. I spend the entire morning in classrooms today and it was WONDERFUL! Really wonderful! It was exactly what I needed in this crazy time. And, you know what, things were rather calm at the office. Nothing major happened, no crisis after crisis. Not much at all. Hmmmmmm…  makes you wonder…. chicken or the egg.  Hmmmmm….

Thank you so much to the PrincipalPLN for their wonderful podcast, wise advice, and constant ability to push me and make me reflect.

Posted in Collaboration, Connections / Relationships, Leading the Learning, Learning, Lessons Learned, Professional Development, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dreams Take Flight

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A week ago, I had the amazing opportunity to be involved with Dreams Take Flight. This is a non-profit organization that takes a plane full of needy/special kids (and escorts) to Disneyland for the day. Yes, Disneyland for the day. 1 day – actually, 8 hours.  What a wonderful experience! I have thought about this post for the past week and have come to realize that words can not truly express this experience. But, having said that, I will try.

Our school has had the pleasure of being involved with Dreams Take Flight YVR (Vancouver) for the past 3 years. Each year, we have had the opportunity to take 5 of our students on this trip of a lifetime for many of our kids.  They are chosen using the criteria provided by Dreams Take Flight. Even using this criteria, we have so many students at our school who would be perfect for a trip like this. It was really difficult to choose! Continue reading

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Intellectual Virtues

photo (5)I was listening to a podcast this morning and wanted to share their message. The H2H (Hearth to Heart) podcast has short podcasts (under 15 minutes) for those who are leading in education and want to make a real difference. The podcast I was listening to this morning was entitled, “Modeling Intellectual Rigor and Courage for Students, Staff, and Peers”. In this podcast, authors,  Robert C. Roberts and W. Jay Woods join David Bloomfield and Jill Berkowicz discuss some of the critical intellectual qualities that are required for life long learning. In their book, Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology, Roberts and Woods describe these virtues in more detail.

The 6 Intellectual Virtues that were discussed in this podcast include:

  1. Love of knowledge
  2. Firmness of hold over knowledge
  3. Courage and caution – facing fears/taking risks
  4. Intellectual humility
  5. Intellectual autonomy
  6. Intellectual generosity

As adults, teachers, and leaders in education, modelling these virtues for students, staff and colleagues is essential in our changing education system and our ever-changing world.

While I agree that it is important to think for oneself and have the ability to develop and present your perspective, I’m not sure that we want intellectual autonomy alone in education.  In my experience, I have learned so much more throughout my career by collaborating with my colleagues, both near and far. So, maybe we should include Intellectual Collaboration in this list of Intellectual Virtues.  What do you think?

How are you going to hold true to these virtues to help your students, staff, and peers learn to be or continue to be lifelong learners?

What do you think of this list? Are there any virtues you would add? Delete?

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Word Cloud

It’s that time again! TIme for a Word Cloud of many of the words in my blog. Every so often, I put the URL of my blog into a word cloud generator. I do this to see if  the words that are most important to me are demonstrated on my website. The more a word occurs on the website you type into these word cloud generators, the larger the word is in the word cloud.

Here is the Word Cloud (generated on Tagul) of the words in my blog as of October 17, 2014:

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.51.05 PMLooking at the words in this word cloud, it is clear that my concentration has been in the right areas for me as a leader in education. LEARN is the largest word, and the most pronounced in my blog thus far.  This makes me proud, since my blog is entitled, “It’s All About Learning”!  I have been reading a great deal both online and in paper books. Reading is so important to me now and in my past. I love to read!  I just wish I had more time to read!  You will see the word Grade is quite large. As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, letter grades have really been on my mind these days with my daughter entering Grade 4 this year (the year that letter grades start in many schools in British Columbia). You can one of my recent posts about letter grades and my concerns here.

You can see other word clouds I have made throughout the history of my blog here and here and here and here.

Some wonderful tools for making word clouds include: Tagxedo, Wordle,  and Tagul. These are only just a few such tools.

So, now it’s your turn …. do the most-written words in your blog truly represent you as an educator and/or a leader in education?  I’d love to see how your word clouds turn out!

 

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Thankful

5735438561_b5e2a7954dThis past year has been one of the most difficult of my life.  It was on Thanksgiving last year that my life became so much more challenging.  But, like in all difficult times, one has the ability to choose to make things better. We all have the ability to stand up, breathe, get support, and move forward positively (as positively as possible).  That is what I chose to do. It was difficult. It was daunting. But, in one year, I am amazed at the difference in my life.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on many things for which I am very thankful.

In good times and bad, I am thankful for my husband. We have come a long way in one year and I am proud of the work we have both done to make today a possibility. I am thankful for all that my husband has done in the last eight months to really bring our family together as one.

I am thankful for my family and friends. They are the ones who also helped me through this most challenging year. They welcomed us openly into their arms, their hearts, and even their homes. And, for that, I will forever be grateful.  They gave me strength when I thought I didn’t have any. They gave me words when I was speechless. They gave me hope when things felt the opposite. Continue reading

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Keep Calm and Share On!

“Together We Are Better”

~ John Paul Warren

At home.

With our administrative partnerships.

With our teachers and Education Assistants in our schools.

Among our relationships with district-wide colleagues.

Within the community.

With our world-wide #pln.

4762355007_f0624f503cSharing matters.  We are most often better when we work together.  We have so much to learn from one another both personally and professionally. Each one of us has so much to share as well. If you think you don’t have anything to share, please watch this video: Obvious to you, Amazing to Others.

When I was a classroom teacher, I collaboratively taught with the other grade 1 teacher next door. We weren’t teaching within the same classroom walls, however, we visited each others rooms often. We observed one another teaching regularly. We taught each other’s students. We planned lessons and completed units together. Each day, we seemed to talk about our practise: what went well, what didn’t go so well. It was powerful learning for us both and possibly even more powerful learning for our students. As a result of this collaborative teaching , each student benefited from the knowledge, the passion, and ideas, and the suggestions of two teachers.  Continue reading

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Psychotherapist, Teacher, both or more?

5735438561_b5e2a7954d“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

~Henry Brooks Adams

This evening after a long, emotionally challenging day, and a hard set of stairs at 1001 steps I needed to just sit back and do something a bit mindless.  You know those days, right?

So… I headed on over to Facebook.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of amazing educators who share inspiring things on Facebook and overall, I find it to be a wonderful place to connect and share. Sometimes, though, you can find some mindless things on Facebook as well.  Tonight, for instance, I came across a survey entitled, “Can We Guess Your Job?”  Well, that made me chuckle and I thought, “OK, why not!”  So, off I went to take the little quiz of 10 multiple choice questions.

Once I finished the quiz, the survey came up with what it thought my job would be based upon my chosen answers…. Psychotherapist.  At first I got a bit of a chuckle at this response because, yes, my role as an elementary administrator can be quite challenging.  According to Wikipedia, the purpose of psychotherapy  Continue reading

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Letter Grades …. A Parent’s Worry

I am blogging as a parent of a little girl (she would say big girl, but anyways, she’ll always be my baby) who is entering Grade 4 this year in British Columbia. Academically, she has done very well throughout her schooling thus far. But, I still worry.

6668658025_a68a49b540_zI am concerned about the letter grades she will likely start receiving this school year. I am concerned that the inclusion of letter grades into her educational experience will now impact her passion toward learning and her intrinsic motivation to learn. I worry about the pressure she will place on herself to try to “get” the highest letter grades. I have already told her that letter grades will not be a priority for her dad and I. Her Grade 3 teacher introduced them to letter grades as a way to “get prepared” for Grade 4. We have talked about the focus will always be on the learning for us as a family and that the letter grades she receives won’t really matter to us.

While I have been careful not to focus too much on letter grades (and why I am discussing it here), I know that it could be a HUGE focus in Grade 4. And while there will not be pressure to receive straight A’s or the like from home, I know that there will likely be pressure from her peers. They will be comparing marks and competing against one another. “I got 4 A’s, how many did you get?” Continue reading

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Importance of Story

As we start a new school year, I have been reflecting upon some of our students and how far they have come over the past 3 years. Many of our students who have shown the most substantial growth in the time I have known them, also seem to have the furthest to continue to grow. Yes, some of them still have challenges with self-regulation, sleeping habits, tardiness, lashing out, anger, and sadness. However, you should have seen what they were like over three years ago! The difference is quite amazing and I am so proud of each and every one of them for their hard work and determination to “improve”.

You see, some teachers may look only at what the troubling child presents as at the moment. Yes, absolutely, some of the students still struggle with many aspects of “traditional” school. But, as I would like to point out, each of our students is so much more than what they present in their current grade.  Like each one of the adults who support them, each of our students have a story. Many of them have a story of heart-ache, loneliness, loss, determination, perseverance, and resilience. To truly connect with each of these students, which will be important if we want to make a real difference with them, we need to take time to learn these stories. There is no Prescribed Learning Outcome that we can focus on that will be as important as this relationship that we will develop with our students. All students, but especially with those who may struggle the most. Continue reading

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Too Positive?

 

 

4803542425_21e7355746I have had some difficult times in my life. If you have followed this blog for the past three years, you probably saw a bit of a glimpse here and there into my childhood and some challenging times as an adult. These times required a great deal of resilience to get through and become who I am today. I have learned to embrace who I am and how I got here.

One of the attributes which I think has helped me get through the challenges I have faced is my positive attitude.  I try to see the bright side of things.  As silly as it might sound, I aim to see problems as learning experiences. When facing adversity, I ask myself often: What can I learn from this? What am I meant to “get” from this experience? Why?  I have always tried to do ask these questions. Although sometimes it might take some time before I reach the frame of mind to be ready to actually ask these questions, I do usually get there.  Continue reading

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