Sunday, 26 January 2014

Week 20: The Art of Delegation #SAVMP

Successful delegation of authority as a leadership style takes time and energy, but it’s worth the time and energy build other leaders. This week, have a conversation and decide who YOU can empower. Delegate!
This is a question I like to think about a lot.  It is one of joys and great responsibilities of a leadership position.  You can't do even a good job leading a group of people if you try to micro manage every aspect of the life of an organization.  

Unfortunately, it is something that I see happening all the time.  In this week's SAVMP blog, the point is clearly made that you need to know the people you work with, their strengths and weaknesses and you need to realize that any school community can only be great if you as the leader call on the unique talents of every staff member to develop your unique learning environment.

You simply have to trust those who work with you.

Years ago, I worked as a member of a youth leadership camp.  For six days, 140 high school students from around the province joined us to learn more about leadership.  Our goal was to assist them on the journey they were already on and hopefully develop their skills so that they could make a greater contribution when they returned to their school communities - no small task.

We had 25 staff - mostly teachers - from around the province.  We had all been chosen by the camp leader and we had the sense that we all had something important to contribute.
At one meeting up at camp, probably a day before camp started, our leader called us all together and began to talk to each one of us about the unique skills we brought to this community.  He spoke without notes - from the heart.  I have never forgotten this.  It was one of the most important lessons I have ever learned about leadership.  

What made this experience unique and important is that he knew what we could contribute and he trusted us to play a significant role in developing the leadership skills of these young people.  We were certainly empowered by this experience.  There was no question that we were trusted and that we were capable of great things.

A few years later, I was asked to be the director of the camp.  While I was certainly terrified by the challenge, I was also convinced that the camp leader had absolutely no doubt in my ability to do the job.  

Things went well and my own confidence in myself grew accordingly.

This is what delegation is.  You see the strength in an individual and you trust them with greater responsibility.  You push them to do things that they may not believe that they could do on their own. 

As a leader you have to think of this - what if I don't recognize the strengths in another person?  What if no one sees the potential in that person?  What will be lost if that person is not encouraged to take on a larger role?

I have to say that as a profession we may do a good job of this with our students, but I am not convinced that we do a good job of this with adults.  What would have happened to me if this person hadn't been around to recognize how I could contribute more?
It's not like we need a lot of these experiences, we only need one person to recognize our gifts.  You as a leader may be that one person so it is very important that you take your responsibility seriously.

My advice - don't over manage, it is easy to do and it shows no faith in others.  Take risks on other people, you may be the only one who does.  Realize that as a leader you are only as strong as the people you work with - help them to become stronger.
You have to believe in others then great things can happen.

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Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Sunshine Awards - connecting with others

The Sunshine Award: Bloggers Share

Time for me to get involved in this really interesting project.  I first saw this a few weeks ago from Doug Peterson. @Dougpete.  I then got tagged by a former student and great blogger Megan Valois @msvalois.  Now I have been tagged by Maureen Devlin @lookforsun who I have a great amount of respect for.  I share her blog with others on a regular basis and I read her whenever I can.  We also share a love for #satchat.

One of the cool things about all this is that it has been great to meet Doug at ECOO2013 and Megan most recently at Edcamp Ottawa.  I have yet to meet Maureen, but I hope there will be an opportunity one of these days.  Always so interesting to meet people you follow through Twitter!

This is a great project!  I feel honoured to be tagged by these great bloggers and it is time that I jump in.  So I will now tag 11 other bloggers that I follow and get back to Megan and Doug, both bloggers I also have great respect for.

The Sunshine Award Rules
  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers: they should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate
  • Let those 11 bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

So - let's get started - first, about me

Eleven Random Facts:

I love to bike - can't wait to start training for the Rideau Lakes
I am married to an amazing teacher - Heather - she is a constant inspiration!
We have three amazing children - Liam, Mairi and Colleen - all following their own interesting and dynamic path!
I like to ski - even on days like this (-25 C)
I love to learn Spanish with my Guatemalan teacher - Ronnaldo
I love to travel to Latin America - next trip this summer to El Salvador!
I really enjoy being an elementary principal - this is the best job I have had
I don't miss high school - enough said
I love new technology, my latest toys -  the Nexus 5 and the Bose mini speaker (bluetooth)
I love Roman history should have taken Latin when I had the chance
I am trying to become a good swimmer - it is so liberating!!

Answer's to Maureen's Questions:
Eleven Questions 

1.  In your professional work, what name, nickname, and/or title do you prefer?
Paul works best for me

2. What part of your professional work are you most excited about?
Educational technology and writing.  I am also really interested in teacher professional development and finding better ways to make this more effective

3.When did you decide to enter or choose the professional work you do?

A looong time ago - I have been teaching for 27 years, but I have been a principal for less than three years.

4.  What is your greatest professional challenge at this time?

Right now, working with teachers who are struggling in the profession - this is a difficult challenge and there is not a lot of guidance on how to manage this.

5.  If you could change or impact one aspect of our world, what would you change or impact?

I would like to see an end of poverty here in our country and across the world, along with that, I would lie to see equality of opportunity for all children.  We have a long way to go!

6.  Describe one place that you like to visit?

More countries in Latin American.  I would like to see Honduras and Nicaragua adn i really want to go back to Guatemala

7.  What draws you to a blog post?

A number of things. I really like to read blogs written by teachers in the classroom (like you!) - I learn so much from these!  I like blogs on educational technology and I like reading blogs written by people who are really interesting - Doug Peterson is an example, George Couros is another.

8.  What is one skill that you bring to a collaborative group that helps the group succeed?

I hope a certain amount of vision on the absolute importance of collaboration - teachers need to collaborate and they need the time to do this properly.  I think I am a good communicator and i think that helps too.

9.  What is one project, research, or study you are working on now that you're excited about?

We have a trip going to El Salvador this July.  We have a group of 7 educators, but would be happy to take on more - this will be a great trip!  Our web site is 

10.  Describe one highlight moment in your career.

getting out of high school to start teaching again in a grade 6 language arts class - that was a blast!  It was only for six months, but I learned so much - I especially learned how difficult it has become to teach in today's environment of high expectations!

11.  What is one piece of advice you would give to young professionals starting their careers.

Keep an open mind and look for administrators that will support your vision. Keep a balance between your work and your friends and family - never forget this!!

Eleven Tags

  1. @TDOttawa
  2. @JenniferNKing
  3. @rolat
  4. @slackt
  5. @alvareztany
  6. @MrsMartel2
  7. @gcouros
  8. @MKGoindi
  9. s

Here are my questions for you:(please "connect" your answers with me @mcguirp via Twitter)

1.  What is the most important educational issue for you right now?

2.  What motivates you right now.

3.  If you could meet anyone living or dead who would it be?

4.  What piece of technology are you most excited about now?

5.  As a child, did you like school?

6.  What are the three qualities of a master teacher?

7.  What makes teachers most memorable to children?

8.  Describe one highlight moment in your career.

9. Describe one place you would like to visit.

10.  What is your favourite hike? 

11.  Atlantic coast, Pacific coast which one do you like better.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Week 17: Bringing Parents Into The Learning Process #SAVMP

This week, I encourage you to share some of the ways that you bring parents into the classroom through your own blogs. Here is the full text of my recent post below.

Christmas Shopping Day 2013
How do we bring parents into the classroom at our school?  Events like the Christmas Shopping day, Movie Nights, volunteer appreciation events, gingerbread making night, the annual book sale for Kakinada, chatting in the hallways, family BBQ's, social media tools including class blogs, Edmodo, Twitter, Facebook, Constant Contact, iMovie and Touchcast.

You will notice that this is a joint effort - staff and parents working together to create a really vibrant community.

To me this is the secret - if you are open to the ideas of others, then you can create a really vibrant school community.  A lot of the events that are truly meaningful are face to face events organized by parents and staff.  If we remain open to trying new things and welcoming new ideas the level of parent engagement will simply continue to increase.

We have an open approach to our parents - every event or communication tool mentioned above was made possible in the last three years because at St. Greg's staff see the parents as partners in the education of their children.

I have said so many times - the chances of a child being successful in school increase exponentially when the teacher and parent work together as a team.  I see that team work all the time.  We are a truly welcoming school.  Parents pick up on that very quickly and they want their kids in our school.

They feel really confident that they can approach a staff member at any time to talk about how their child is doing in school.  Sometimes this calls for an extra measure of patience on the part of the staff member, but you are always able to stay open to our parents.

This sounds so simple, but I don't think this happens in every school.  At our school, there is an undercurrent of compassion and sharing that allows for all these wonderful events and social experiments  to take place.

So, I think the opening question is a bit narrow.  I know you are all working very hard on developing blogs, web pages and edmodo sites to draw in the parents - but realize you all do this every day just in how you interact with your parents.  You have developed trusting relationships that has established the ground work for all the other great things that happen.

We are all doing a great job learning new ways to use technology, but one thing will never change - it starts and ends with the understanding that all people deserve dignity, respect and our attention.