Future Members of Society

As I wrote about recently, I had the pleasure of participating in the BCPVPA Short Course for administrators last week. We had many inspiring speakers, great connections with administrators from around the province and heart-felt conversations about kids and the future.

photo (5)On Friday, we had the pleasure of learning from Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser. I always enjoy listening to them and being pushed to think as a result of their powerful questions. Much of their work over the years is associated with the Network of Inquiry and Innovation (previously known as the Network of Performance-Based Schools). They have written a wonderful book, Spirals of Inquiry, which is an easy read, full of local success stories and inspiration (along with a bit of research with the why behind inquiry).  They have also been involved with the Aboriginal Enhancement School Network and Changing Results for Young Readers.  To say that these two leaders in education have had a huge impact in learning around the province and the world, would be an understatement!

While I could go on for pages and pages about all the wonderful messages Judy and Linda presented us on Friday, I would like to focus on a question they asked us to explore briefly with an unknown colleague in the room. I talked with another principal in the room about the question, “What kind of society do we want?”  This is such an important question that must guide the work that we do in our schools each day. This question should be the focus on our minds every single day and should be the focus of the mission and vision of our schools, our school districts, and province. I am fortunate to be inspired by a district that has this focus on everything they do, as seen in our mission and vision and a video that was created for our district: Continue reading

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Things I Know For Sure

This past week, 120+ new administrators and 20+ facilitators gathered at UBC for connection, inspiration, and reflection. We all participated in the BCPVPA Short Course: Lenses of Leadership for new Administrators that has been happening at the beginning of July for the past 38 years (you can check out the hashtag #bcpvpa for some inspiration). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but had heard good things about the course.

I’d like to take a few blog posts to talk about some of the things we learned and reflected on through out the week. These reflections will continue to happen, of course, but these posts will be a way for me to continue the reflections and share the week we had with others who may not have been as fortunate to be able to attend.

On the last day, we were inspired by recently retired principal, Maeve Buckley. Her talk was entitled, The Top 10 Things I Know For Sure: In Leadership and Life. Her list included:

1. It’s All About Relationships (and trust underlies that)

2. Your Staff is Your Classroom (ensure you are inclusive and your instruction is differentiated)

3. The No. 1 Stressor is Change

4. Strengthen Your Conflict Muscle

5. Every Complaint Has a Thread of Truth

6. When Tension Arises, Lean in

7. It’s Better to Ask Curious Questions

8. The Key to Success … is Personal

9. Stay Connected

10. Celebrate Everything

Continue reading

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Power of Educators

Screen Shot 2012-12-29 at 10.31.30 PMSometimes, I think we as individual educators do not realize the ultimate power we have over what we do. Oftentimes, I think that we wait for others to lead us and to show us what is out there. Don’t get me wrong, learning from others is essential. Collaboration in today’s world is imperative. What we should avoid is sitting back and waiting for something to happen. Sitting back and waiting for things to change. Sitting back and waiting for someone to teach us. That’s not how things work today when we have everything and everyone at the tip of our fingers. Knowledge is everywhere. Information is everywhere. Learning is everywhere. It is important for us to find and follow our passions and get out and learn. We are in charge of our learning. Gone are the days of passive professional development.

Inspiring people like Karen Lirenman (Celebrating our Youngest Learners), Gallit Zvi (Genius Hour), Diana Williams (Kiva), Iram Khan (Minecraft and Maker Space), Robyn Thiessen (Global Education) and many, many others have been models in what it means to take charge of their learning. They were introduced to things, got involved, made connections, learned deeply, and then just let these passions drive them. They allowed these passions do drive their teaching and their student’s learning. No one told them they had to. No one told them what they would get out of it, they just did it. They took ownership over their own learning and the, to a certain point, the curriculum and magic has happened.

photo (5)These educators listed above were “regular” teachers or administrators a short 5 years ago. They were unconnected and here they are now, 5 short years later, each speaking to 1000’s at the world-wide tech conference, ISTE! They, and many others, aren’t there because they were asked to do a workshop. They are not there because they were presenting on something in the curriculum. They are there because they found something they are passionate about and started exploring this deeply. This type of dedication and commitment is admirable – for them and their students. This is the passion that makes a real difference in the lives of kids! Continue reading

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A New Role, a New District, and New Connections

It is Spring Break and after my first 2 1/2 months of being a principal, I have found time to do some important 3-R’s – rest, rejuvenate, and reflect. Heading into the final stretch of a school year, all these are imperative to continue on and end the year strong. photo (5)On January 1st, I became a principal in a new district.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but with some great supporters nudging me along, I took the leap. While it hasn’t been easy (which I didn’t expect it to be), it has been good. It has felt good to be one of the lead learners in a school of dedicated child-centred professionals. It has felt good to be in a supportive district environment where risk-taking is valued and encouraged (something my previous district was very good at doing as well). It has felt good to be provided with this opportunity to learn about, from, and with a wonderful learning community both within the school and within the district as a whole. The leadership team in this district is quite something. The ongoing professional conversations around learning and students has been second to none. Continue reading

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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.

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