On Wednesday, Nov 19th I attended my first Ignite session hosted by @shareski at a downtown Vancouver establishment. There were close to 80 educators (and a couple of parents) from all over the Lower Mainland. The atmosphere was intense and the title "Ignite" was very fitting for a night like that. Many of the educators in attendance were ones that I follow via Twitter (my favourite professional development tool). Other educators were ones that I hadn't heard before, but now have them in my Twitter PLN, if you could call it that.
It was an amazing night of personal and educational stories that truly lit a fire under all that attended. Topics included transformation through metaphors; using KIVA in the classroom; social media and primary students - can it be done?; Project Hello; 4 strikes; BYOD; courageous parent; learning to swim; and taking "busy" out of our daily vocab.
These stories have me wanting more. Not just for myself, but for my District. So I am driven to setting up something in Vancouver, so others can not only light their candle, but keep it lit. A strong community of educators networking together, will only make my District even better. I want to "Spark" our curiosity and excite the masses to better the opportunities of the students in Vancouver.
On Friday, November 7th our school and staff participated in the annual Remembrance Day Ceremony. This is one of my favourite school ceremonies. I think it's a topic that all of our students need to be a part of and understand the meaning of what war, especially WWI and WWII, did for our country and the rest of the world.
In our case, students not only led the ceremony, but produced a couple of the visual presentations and poetic verses throughout. There was definitely lots of sights and sounds. Allowing students to be the main participants in such a ceremony makes what the importance more real for the rest of the students.
This year, I happened to be away on a pre-arranged trip. It was made known to the staff in the first meeting of the school year and that I would be relying on others to ensure this particular ceremony would go off without a hitch. It did. Thanks to the efforts of all the staff and students, the ceremony was as classy and meaningful as it always has been. It's great when there is a culture of working together to ensure projects that are important continue to be maintained at their highest level.
Today was our make up Pro-D (scheduled for back in September). It was amazing! The energy we generated with the topics presented really set the tone for the remainder of the year. It is too bad we are already two months into the year, but better late than never. This will hopefully lay the ground work for many years to come.
Topics included our School Plan, Building an Inquiry-Based Classroom and a look at the new BCed Curriculum. The School Plan just reaffirmed our desire to keep with our 3 year plan (this is year 2) of looking at writing and some of the different strands according to the Performance Standards.
Next we had two teachers and myself go over a Pro-D we attended on Building an Inquiry-Based Classroom. It was a hands-on, interactive look at the different types of inquiry. It got all staff excited and talking about ways to embed inquiry into their current classroom. It definitely planted the seed for the next topic.
Finally we looked at the draft forms of the new BCed Curriculum, with the lens of inquiry. There were some unclear moments as to what students are expected to learn, but the openness of curriculum will allow students to engage in content that is more exploratory.
To end the day, we reflected on our 'wear-able' suits (see Day 20). It was fun way to wear and take our meeting back to our class. Nothing beats powerful and meaningful Pro-D.
Do you remember those high school dances as a teenager? I do and loved everyone of them(well maybe accept one). At my first school as an admin, I had been hearing stories that many of the high schools were cancelling their dances due to many problems. It was a shame.
I asked my group of students at the time if they'd be interested. They were very excited and it took off from there. The same held true at every school since. I introduced an atmosphere of safe, free spirited fun while listening to their favourite songs. Although I enjoyed it as much as they did, especially DJ'ing (reliving my youth? Maybe), letting go and giving the dance back to the students has been the most enjoyable.
I hope the feeling that I try and create carries on when the students eventually move on, so the dances can be just as much fun as I had when I attended high school. Awe, the memories!
Part of the job description as an administrator is selling your school to potential parents and their children. Not sure if this was in the owners manual when I signed up, but it is a time to reflect on what is going on in your school. If you believe you have built a culture of learning and care within your building, then the discussion with parents is quite easy.
That was the case the other day when I got the chance to speak with parents who wanted to know about our school for their son entering September 2015. I was extremely confident in my school and staff as to what we have built over the past three years since my arrival. It is very reassuring when you speak of best practices and how we, at our school, are preparing our students for the future.
No matter what the school, promoting our #vsb39 sites is important to continue growing what is a great District.
It is such a simple concept, but putting a few pumpkins out on the front grass (or on the gym floor when it rains) can really put the excitement into any child's eye. Hearing almost 180 pumpkins saying, "Pick me, pick me!" is quickly drowned out by that many kids in search of that perfect jack o'lantern.
The best part of the pumpkin patch was watching the Kindergarten and Grade 1 students pick the biggest pumpkin possible. So big, that they needed someone to help carry it back to their class. Some valiant efforts, but luckily no one got hurt - the pumpkins I mean.
Carving is next.
Today I had a couple of teachers from another school come and check out our Interactive White Board (IWB). I love sharing what we have at our school and what is working with our teachers and students. The more, we as a school board, get out and collaborate with our colleagues, the better our District will be as a whole. Remember, we are in this together and always stronger in numbers. Share the wealth!
Often the job of a school administrator can get pretty busy at times. As much as I have a calendar on my computer, iPad and phone, there is still that chance that something gets missed.
Case in point today. I get a text from my OAA asking if there was a TOC in for the class that was going to We Day. That's when the 'oops' moment hit me. I had completely forgot that only the Grade 7's were attending and that ten Grade 6's would be left behind. No worries. No need to panic. Call in a TOC; I'd cover until someone arrives; even bring together with my morning reading group. Not a beat missed and everyone survived. I even met my son's classroom teacher after taking the time to drop off in the morning.
I'm a few hours behind on this one, but I'll get it on anyway. Actually I'm writing from my iPhone.
Yesterday was the District Cross Country Meet at Trout Lake. Almost 2000 kids from K-7 race around the lake in distances that, for some, are challenging. This is always an exciting meet with so many people in attendance and the weather couldn't have been any better.
There were some great performances by a lot of students, including my own school. But I'm going to be a little selfish and say how proud I am of my daughter for finishing third amongst the Grade 2's. It was an incredible feeling to see her come around the corner amongst the lead group. Once she passed me, I ran to the finish line to congratulate her. Incredible finish!
This and other activities wouldn't be possible without the generous time that teachers and volunteers give up. Thank you! These are the type of experiences that kids remember.
Play. It's such a fun word and can mean so many things. The five year old who enters Kindergarten for the first time is all he or she wants to do. So why does it stop when we reach adulthood? There are moments we get the chance to play, but it seems so scheduled or organized. Hockey from 10-11pm; Run after school 3:30-4:30pm; tennis 9-10am on a Saturday; language arts 9-10am; art class Friday afternoons.
Where I would like to see more play is in how we approach our work with students. Play can also mean taking risks and having fun with the subject one teach's or the experiences that students are exposed to. If a child or young adult see you, the teacher, as having fun with a particular subject, there is no doubt that they will too; thus increasing the motivation to learn or take risks too. So get out there and play a little.
I am the Principal at Mount Pleasant Elementary School in Vancouver, BC. I am passionate about inspiring others to be creative, curious and collaborative in their learning