My Word for 2015

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Many educators have been reflecting on 2014 and making plans for 2015. In doing so, many have chosen one (or more) word to be their focus for this year. This word reflects what they feel is most important in their own growth – both personally and professionally – for 2015.

When I reflect on 2014 and look ahead at the new year, one word keeps coming to mind as the most important word for me – both personally and professionally.

Relationships.

The relationships I focus on will be the key to my fulfillment in all aspects of my life for this year ahead.  These relationship will help ground me and help move me forward at the same time. Continue reading

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A Bit of Me

A Bit of a Goodbye

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 9.03.39 PMAfter 20 years in my current district, it is time to say goodbye. It’s not really a goodbye though. Even though we will not be seeing one other at district meetings, we will continue to visit, exchange emails, vox each other, talk on Facebook, and inspire each other on Twitter.  We will continue to seek advice and provide support and guidance. Yes, we will be in different districts so there will be different district policies and different ways-of-doing-things, however, we will continue to support one another in our roles as teachers and administrators.

Before I say goodbye, I would like to share a bit about my journey in Surrey Schools.

A Bit of My History in Surrey Schools

4803542425_21e7355746During the past 20 years, I had the opportunity to teach Grade K-12 and work as an elementary school vice-principal. For the first couple of years teaching (starting in 1995), I worked as a Teacher-On-Call until I received my first long-term assignment teaching Grade 1. I worked for approximately 10 years with Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 students. Then, after 10 years of teaching, I had my first child. Continue reading

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Not a “Techie”

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.53.38 PMThis may be a strange post written by someone who blogs about education and sometimes about the amazing things that we can accomplish using technology in our schools. I love what can be done now with our students. I love the connections we can make with people and experts around the world. I love that we can learn from everyone and anyone we want. I love the difference that technology is making for some of our more at-risk learners. Technology is starting to bridge the gap for some learners as it enables them to express their learning in ways they have never been able to in the past.

But, the truth is… I’m no “techie”.

Some signs I am not a techie…. Continue reading

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The Starbuck’s Way

For me, I believe that we can learn in every environment we find ourselves. Learning is everywhere around us, we just need to take time to take it all in. I would like to describe a recent learning experience I encountered.

5607986934_49e9391346_zAs I was sitting in Starbucks the other day reading a book, I couldn’t help but listen to some Starbuck’s training that was happening at the next table. I’ve always been a people-person and love to people-watch. People fascinate me!  So, I found watching this training to be very interesting. First they started with different types of coffee. The trainer was showing the trainee how to taste the coffee and, as they were doing so, she would explain the differences in the taste. She went on to say not to bother trying to “fool” a customer if they were out of a particular brew because the customer would be sure to tell the difference. I don’t doubt that. Coffee people are a very skilled bunch!

6618128521_ae2e888856_oAfter all the taste-testing was complete, the trainer went on to talk about dealing with difficult customers. Like in any business or place of work, we all have challenges we must learn to deal with effectively. A coffee shop is not immune.  In fact, I think we can all learn something from the advice and the Starbuck’s way of dealing with difficult customers (one could say people, in general). Continue reading

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Resilience in Leadership

5735988842_0b59e0cdb3Throughout my life, as a child, a teenager, a young adult, and as a professional, I continue to rely greatly on my resiliency.  Resilience is such an important factor that allows me to continue to be a positive person and not overwhelmed by negativity or disappointing situations. For those of you who may be unsure, resilience is defined below:

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Resiliency is essential for professionals in leadership positions.  According to Dan Holland in his blog post entitled, The Importance of Resilience in Leadership, Dan says:

“Change in the workplace is inevitable, and it can knock even the most seasoned leader off their feet. But leaders who are determined to bounce back after a setback and deal effectively with the changes are the leaders that inspire team loyalty.”

As leaders in education, resilience if important in everything we do.   Continue reading

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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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