#ISTE2014 Reflection #1

I am sure that I could write countless posts about ISTE 2014 (and I might just do that). It was an amazing experience which I am still trying to fully process. I’m really not sure I will be able to process it all, in fact. It was just so much to take in, connect with and then try to respond to. I am truly not sure I will be able to able process the whole event.

2014-06-30 15.07.23 One post that really got me thinking of my experience was a recent post by Bill Ferriter on his blog, The Tempered Radical. In his post, Bill reflected on some of his tweets he posted during his time at ISTE 2014. Bill’s thoughts made me think of some important reflections of my own.


When I first registered for ISTE 2014, we were able to preregister for three session. At the time, because I registered late, many of the sessions I would have liked to register for were already full. So, I chose three sessions I thought I would learn a great deal from and be able to implement these strategies in my daily teaching or pass along the ideas to educators in my school and district (click on the links below to get the resources from these sessions): Continue reading

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How Did He Learn That?

"Reading" by flickr member henriksent (aka ME)

“Reading” by flickr member henriksent (aka ME)

Part of my teaching assignment is as a Learner Support Teacher to Grade 1 and Grade 2 students.  Some of these students I have been working with since they were in Kindergarten.  I witnessed some of them cry when they were left at school by their parents and grandparents. I watched some of them suck their thumbs and crawl under tables (for years). I coaxed many of them to work with me to learn their letters and the associated sounds. I watched many of our little ones roll around on the ground as their teacher read stories or completed calendar activities.  I learned a great deal about patience and the self-regulation (or lack there of) of many of our students.

After two years of a great deal of support and intervention from Learner Support Teachers (LST), Early Literacy and Early Numeracy teachers, and ongoing, in-depth classroom teacher support, our LST team was were concerned about the learning of many of our students at the end of Grade 1 last year. Many of these students were reading well below what would be expected at the end of Grade 1.  As a result, we decided as an LST team to focus on many of these students when they entered Grade 2 for the 2013/2014 school year. We implemented the Fountas and Pinnell Reading Intervention System with many them this year. Continue reading

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Importance of ALL School Staff

5415978905_d6999ab29d_zWe talk about the importance of connecting with our students. We talk about how important those connections are for student learning and engagement in their learning. This is true for all students and these connections can have powerful impact on the learning in our schools. In turn, the lack of connections and lack of understanding about these powerful connections can have devastating effects for some of our students.

The lack of connection and caring relationship with the classroom teacher can have long-term negative effects on our students and their attitude toward and engagement in school  now and in the future.  One might think it is only one year and that can’t be that big of a deal.  I believe it is. Each and every year is important to the future of our students. However, while we know that the classroom teacher has the most powerful impact, does the impact of our school staff stop there? I don’t believe so. I have witnessed different, both with my children at home and our students at school. Continue reading

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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!


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


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.


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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