Sunday, 27 October 2013

post #ecoo13 where do we go from here?

  • keep yourself in the role of the learner
  • tell your story: be visible, live out loud, create value, leverage video and social media, reflect and blog
  • stay connected
  • consider frameworks such as the SAMR model as an ongoing change model
  • consider the power of students teaching students through video
  • nurture those around you

 Mark Carbone, President ECOO

These are all great ways to move forward from this point. I consider myself very fortunate to have received such great PD over the past six months. The CASA conference in July, Will Richardson @willrich45 at our Director’s Conference and of course #ECOO13.

I have to thank my superintendent Simone Oliver @SimoneROliver and our IT guru Rob Long @longrwr for giving me these wonderful opportunities!

 Now, I need to keep the learning going. For one thing, I have to go back to lanyard and collect more information from the workshops I attended – I will go back and add this to the posts already up.

Next, what do I do when I return to school? One idea. I loved the Minds on Media session. I had great conversations with teachers and I learned about cool apps I would like to make the rest of this year a Minds on Media session.

Our teachers are doing great things every day. They use Raz Kids, Dream Box, mathletics, Edmodo, Edublog, Kidblog, Blogger. They use iPads, netbooks and now Chromebooks. They are doing incredible things all the time. On top of all that, they work in collaborative teams with teachers from two other schools – they are all involved in really interesting inquiry projects – the first set of projects will be complete by the end of November.

So, this is what I am going to do: make a visual record of the innovative teaching that is going on every day give our staff an audience by posting their work here on this blog create a visual record of the work of our triads – journey with them through their inquiries celebrate, encourage, support, serve and learn from our teachers

This is such a challenging time for teachers – every day they are confronted with some new form of technology. They are being asked to change their teaching methodology to support an entirely new learning environment. They are being asked not to deliver information but to create intelligence out of the mass of information our students now have access to. Has there ever been a more challenging time – I would say no.

So what do I need to do? See myself as the lead learner in the school and accompany our teachers on the rocky journey to incorporate technology into a new way of teaching – the journey will be rockey because not everything will work – but if you don’t take risks you will never learn, and we are all about learning! one triad at work - as principal, my role will be to support and accompany them on their learning journey - and of course celebrate!! one triad at work – as principal, my role will be to support and accompany them on their learning journey – and of course celebrate!!

our teachers working together on one of our Triad days this year

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Week # 10 Time Management #SAVMP

The challenge this week is to write about time management:

If it is important (priority), you will make time for it.
You should never look at doing more, but doing things better.
For every thing you are willing to “add” to your plate, you need to take something off.

All good advice, but I think this is hardly practiced, certainly not by me.  Having said that i have another quote to add:

"This moment is the perfect teacher"
Pema Chodron

In this post, I will only speak for myself.  I don't think I am very good at time management.  I measure this by the amount of time I take up catching up on insignificant e-mail sometimes late into the night.  I am able to fool myself that I am being an effective manager when in truth, nothing is further from the truth.

All is not lost however.  Pema Chodron's teaching is very important to me.  We can learn from the present moment.  If I am not happy about the way I manage time I can change it - nothing is holding me back except myself.

The best use of my time at school comes from talking to parents teachers and students.  This does not mean that I should push all that paperwork to the end of the day or do it all from home.  I have a family and they deserve my time and attention as much (actually more) than the school does.

I plan to remain as an administrator for years to come.  The best thing I can work on now is how I manage my time, how can I be more present to the people I encounter.  That will make me a more effective educator, answering every e-mail within 24 hours will not.

One goal I have for myself this year is to become more reflective, more considerate of taking the time to develop meaningful relationships and less concerned about all the demands that are put on me as an administrator.

In this sense, I will try to do what George challenges us to do - If it is important (priority), you will make time for it.

What are my priorities?

Family first, the school community (people) second, paperwork third.

I am not there yet, but this moment is the perfect teacher.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Week 7 – Promoting Critical Conversations #SAVMP

As a leader, it is imperative that you focus on the “best ideas”, not “your ideas”. Sometimes they can be the same thing, but if you have a group around you that only agrees and is worried about challenging ideas, we often make the wrong decisions for kids.

I am doing some catch-up here.  I should have responded to this question in #savmp a few weeks ago, but better late than never.

George asked us three questions to respond to for this post:

How do you create a culture where “pushback” is encouraged?
 How do you know when to stick with the minority over the majority?
 How do you create a team that will give you honest feedback?

These again, are huge questions for me.  I think one of the worst things that can happen to a principal is to be out of the loop.  I want to know how people are feeling about what is going on at the school.  I want to know if I am pushing too much, especially if I am pushing too much.

What I need to learn to do is to accept pushback from staff with grace.  I don't think I am there yet.  There are times when I get frustrated when I hear I am moving too fast or pushing too much on the staff.  I have to learn not to be upset - I have to learn to be more humble and realize that I work as a member of a dedicated team.  I am not Napoleon on his white charger.

In fact, when I get that way, I need the horse to send me flying back to the hard real ground.

I am entering my third year as a principal and I have been in administration for twelve years overall.  You would think that I would have learned that lesson by now.  I am certainly still working on this.

I need the staff at our school to feel comfortable enough to come into my office or speak up at meetings if they don't agree with the course I am following.  To be a really effective leader, I need to lose my ego - not an easy thing to do, but something I am now convinced is necessary if I aspire to be a good principal.

I think I know how to do pushback pretty well, I can stick with the minority over the majority - even if it is a minority of one.  The question I need to examine carefully is the last one - how do I create a team willing to give me honest feedback?

We should always be reflecting on our leadership style and how we serve the people in our educational community.  I know what I need to reflect on.

Thanks George!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

How has blogging, tweeting, or being connected in general made you a better leader? #savmp

The question I have been asked to write about this week has to do with the value of being connected.  I know I push this a little hard with staff, but I only do this because I am so excited about the possibilities that can present themselves when you work as a connected learner.
My horizons have expanded exponentially since I started making a concerted effort to stay involved in Twitter.  I try to tweet several times a day, always using the hashtag #ocsb and more recently #ocsbcll.  Both connect me to educators in our school board.  Sometimes I get a retweet or someone favours my tweet.  This shows that I am making a connection with another educator.
I really believe that each time i go on Twitter I learn something new.  Recently I saw a post by Doug Peterson on the upcoming Ontario ECOO conference (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario).  The workshops are amazing!  Even better, the web site is set up so that if someone I am following on Twitter is registered for a particular workshop, their picture shows up!  How cool is that.
For me, the real revolution in education is all about collaboration.  I talked to some teachers earlier this week about what it was like 25 years ago.  Once you closed your door you were insulated from the outside world.  You could teach they way you wanted to.
That is no longer good enough.  We can really improve our practice by collaborating with each other.  Fullan writes about this, Katz writes that no learning can take place unless there is a change in behaviour.  When teachers collaborate in person or through Twitter, Edmodo, Google+ or some other manner they are really learning something.  My learning changes every day as long as i connect to others.  When I isolate myself I miss out on the learning.
Has this made me a better leader?  Yes, certainly.  I can't imagine now not being a connected educator.  There is so much to learn every day, I really think it is one of my primary responsibilities as a leader.  It is also one of the great joys of my work.