I am Big and Brown – I make no apologies for this. Because it is relationships that matter.

If you are overly sensitive about the subjects of color, race, gender, culture or struggle to openly discuss these issues, this could be a touchy subject. How do I know… I tweeted this out earlier today and did not receive even one response.

post1

Like the title says I am BIG, that sometimes can be seen as an understatement. At 5’11”, 290 lbs, I am a very large cropped-7iiu-ecd.jpegpresence in a school setting. To put it mildly, I stick out at school whether it is on the playground during supervision, walking in the hallways or playing games and teaching my little grade ones.To top that it all off, I am brown, wow that was news to me, actually it wasn’t I own a mirror and well have had this 365 day tan for a few years now, 38 to be exact. To be completely honest I am Fijian, and have the stature of a Samoan.

However, this is not how I introduce myself, nor do I believe how I am remembered by my students. I am a strong believer in relationships. Actually I can honestly and truly say that above all the learning that occurs in a school, it is the development, cultivation and maintenance of a relationship that a student remembers the most about their time at school. The quote below by Maya Angelou states it clear as possible, which I know many educators would agree with.

maya angalo

 

Relationships are more than essential, they are fundamental, I am confident in saying this because I know other great educators such as  C. Wejr and A. Couros, to name a few that all have written about the importance of relationships.

Therefore it saddens me that, whether knowingly or unknowingly an adult would effect the relationship a student has with a teacher. It also saddens, but doesn’t surprise me that an adult would state their misconceptions, prejudices, arrogance in the presence of children, who at a young age do not relate things to color, size, race or other physical traits.

So, do I have you wondering why I am writing this post?  It is simply to remind individuals to think. Think about what you say, where you say them and who can hear you, because it effects people and well it confuses them and eventually will hold them back. Still confused, Ok here is some background.

Today, I went to pick up my early years class to take them to Physed Class, same as I do every Monday and Wednesday. However, today one of my little ones had something on their mind, something that was obviously bothering them.  As we were finishing our snacks and lining up my little one said “Mr. Ram, my dad was talking about you”, to which I replied well that is nice. His facial expression changed as he said “no he wasn’t being nice”. Having an idea where this was going I inquired “Oh what did he say”, My poor little one said “he said you were fat and was making fun of your color”.

I felt very heart broken for my little one, not for myself, but for the child. A child who was now conflicted, a child that was confused as to why his dad would say something like he did, and hearing comments that go against everything he is taught about citizenship. A child that now did not now how to react towards his teacher, who gives out hugs regularly and who is always happy to see him. I was even more saddened, because as he was telling me this, three of his classmates came up, yelling my name and getting hugs, and this little guy got brushed out of the way, looking left out, left out because he was confused and struggling.

The question is what do you do? What do you say? This child’s dad is most likely his hero, and if not, he is definitely someone that he looks up to, I can’t go and damage that, so I smiled and said, “I know it is not nice, and we shouldn’t say things that are nice right, but don’t worry I am not upset, I was made me this way and I can’t change that, right” I was treated to one of his great smiles, meaning that he felt better, but I know that it effects him and at 5 or 6 years old he is conflicted with the issues of an adult that has no relationship with me. I am also scared for my little one that what he is hearing is going to effect his relationships both in his current setting and those that he will experience in his future.

Today was a sad day at school.

Advertisements

New Year, New Assignment ohhhh the possibilities.

What an amazing summer.  After three years being in charge of the reins and making sure that everything was always ready to go and that everything was set for the first day,  I was able to and took full advantage of the so called “two months off” during the summer. I must say that it was fabulous. I enjoyed every part of it especially the five days of fishing, twenty feet from my back door.

This however is not the reason for this post, first I would like to apologize to all of my friends and colleagues for my absence, but would also like to pass on the assurance that you will be hearing a lot from me both from this location and others that I will connect you with shortly.

 

blog classroom

This year, I am excited to teach grade six and while teaching my #youngpadawans (Star Wars is my class theme) I will be actively using what I have learned about over the past three years and encouraged other educators to use. I will be working with my kids to tweet out questions and to make global connections to learn and connect using our classroom twitter account.

I am thrilled that I have the privileged to walk my students through their initial trials and discoveries using Google Classroom 

In addition to keep my students parents connected to the classroom and aware of what is being covered, what is expected and the experiences of the students. I will be using Remind, our Rams Class Facebook account and our PSDBlogs class blog.

Please come and join our adventure as we navigate the universe and make memories and connections that will change how we work, influence how we learn and fuel our need to be challenged.

 

After School

On October 3rd, RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) announced a five-year, $100 million “Believe in Kids” pledge to support a wide range of programs dedicated to the well-being of kids and youth. Since that date, RBC has donated $7.4 million to after-school and children’s mental health programs, announced Career Launch, a program to provide young people with community experiences and core workplace skills, and became the title sponsor of Sports Day in Canada.

In the west end of Parkland County and Parkland School Division, the commitment of RBC became a reality when RBC donated 35,000 dollars to Parkland School Division to be allocated for an After School Program at Seba Beach School. The program is delivered as a partnership between RBC, Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton and Area.

The After School Program is hosted at Seba Beach School, however it is accessible to all of the students in the WEST (Wabamun, Entwistle, Seba Beach and Tomahawk) schools. The program started in the third week of September, with monthly calendars being sent out to inform members and participants the details of programming that will be available.

The range of activities are vast and vary from day to day, as they are geared to specific age groups and are focused on providing students with a structured, supervised and safe environment to work on skills and build self esteem.

Here is a small list of the programs that are offered:

  • Sports activities
  • Art activities
  • Leadership and mentorship training.
  • Safety Training
  • Citizenship and Social Skills activities.

The staff, students and parents of Seba Beach School are excited about the possibilities and outcomes of the After School Program and look forward to continuing our work with RBC and Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Edmonton.

Training Day with Mr. Thiel

Sorry for the extended absence, I have three posts on the go and it seems that every time I sit down to write that something comes up. This should be expected and is not an excuse, I simply dislike being inconsistent in my writing, but that is enough with the sympathy search.

I had the wonderful pleasure of spending last Wednesday with Mr. Glen Thiel, the principal of Brookwood Elementary in Spruce Grove, Alberta. It was a wonderful eye opener in many aspects, the largest being how an administrator works with and in a school that is bursting at the seems with students in a population boom. Brookwood School currently has 550 students from Kindergarten to Grade 4. Designed in 1970 as an open area school, Brookwood School promotes a friendly and caring learning environment, where a high level of cooperation is nurtured amongst students and staff.

Thinking about all the issues and day to day concerns that I have when it relates to working with early years students, I was prepared to have a very busy day with Mr. Thiel. This however was not the case. Aside from a couple of issue that were, for the most part minor, Mr. Thiel and I were able to spend the day talking, discussing, supervising (recess) and participating in the building of a common goal that we believe in…

RELATIONSHIPS

This was evident from the moment I walked into the school and into Mr. Thiel office. First thing in the morning, as an arrangement with a student Mr. Thiel has morning check-ins, which allows the student to discuss what is going on for them, what they are interested and to form relationships. While for Mr. Thiel it reveals how the student is doing that morning, what frame of mind they are in and what is going on in the students life.

Later in the morning during recess, I went out on supervision. Mr. Theil revealed that he intentionally does this for a number of reasons, however I observed that the largest reason is that he gets to spend that time with the students. Asking them how they are doing, check with them about things that may have happened or are  happening and to get a feel for how the day is going. It was also clear that the students loved having Mr. Thiel out on supervision, as we always had kids around us and Mr. Thiel was constantly in the process of receiving hugs.

There was only one thing in my entire day that caused me to step back and that was this greeting the students and Mr. Thiel shared by waving fingers. I asked what this was and was given the greatest reasoning. Since Brookwood is an open concept school with minimal number of walls students yelling out good morning or saying hello whenever Mr. Thiel was around could be very distracting. To minimize this distraction, there was the finger wave and the number of fingers used related to what grade the students were in. Amazing, the students could say hello, and get a response without causing a break in the regular flow of things . This was a great idea and a wonderful way to daily communicate with students when time doesn’t always allow.

I would like to thank Mr. Thiel, the staff at Bookwood and the students for their warm welcome. I would also like to thank Mr. Thiel for showing me that in my journey to understand the inner workings of being an instructional leader one of the key components is creating, maintaining and always developing relationships.

Seba Beach Fashion Show

In late December some of my parents approached my stating that they would like to create a student project that would help the community and at the same time work on Citizenship aspects and goals for our junior high students. I informed the parents that I thought this was a great idea. After some quick discussions, it was determined that the students would hold a fashion show and a dinner to raise funds for our communities senior center that was in need of an elevator. The elevator was essential to allow some of our community members access to the second floor of the center.

I am a strong believer in building leadership and that if someone is given the responsibility to undertake a project that they inherently accept some authority. I simply asked the parent volunteers to keep me in the loop and appraised of how things were proceeding and if they needed any help from the school to come and see me. The committee organized a tea and visit for our students to meet some of the seniors that access the center, they also arranged for the purchase of some items from the thrift store for the fashion show. The parents also created the menu, the itinerary, the seating charts and in collaboration with the students that agreed to participate the themes.

Although there were many hick-ups and challenges, at time minor conflicts and the feeling that things were not going to fall in to place right up until the dinner. I was proud of the students and the parents. Everything came together beautifully despite the worries and anxiety. The committee put together a fabulous meal, the food was amazing as was the desserts and was the topic of conversation right up until the fashion show started. The show was incredibly put together and the students did a marvelous job. They were entertaining, got into the roles in relation to the different themes that were presented and when needed were elegant and purposeful in their actions.

I was not only proud of the students, but as well of the parents as the all had gleaming smiles on their faces when they realized that there napkin, coffee planning all resulted in a breathtaking experience. After  the fashion show, I did my small part thanking everyone for coming and supporting our students and their cause, which raised just over $1000.00 for the center. I thanked the students for their memorable participation and thanked the committee for all of their work and that without them it wouldn’t have been possible.

As the evening wore down and people started leaving, I made sure that I was visible to thank them for coming and supporting, and every time that someone stated that I had done great, I was quick to point out that I could take only the minimalist of the compliment that 99% of the credit needed to go to the parents, the students and to the community. I have always believed that credit is given where credit is due. All I did was allow the event to have a date. As a tribute to the evening I did what I do best . . . and here is a summary video of the evenings events.

I hope you enjoy it and if you have any questions or ideas for the future please do not hesitate to share them.

Combining Synergy, Creativity and Citizenship in Leadership a day at Greystone



Although the weather was not the most accommodating on Friday, my adventure and experience while visiting Carolyn Cameron and the students and teachers at Greystone Centennial Middle School was wonderful. My time at Greystone was a great learning experience, however before I go into what I learned and my take-aways from my visit I am going to provide a short section about Greystone and Mrs. Cameron.

Greystone Centennial Middle Schools belief is that middle years is a time to exert extra effort to make school appealing by engaging students in learning and by offering them a variety of activities to keep them connected to the school community. The schools highly collaborative teaching teams who remain with the same group of students for 2-3 years establish strong supportive relationships that promote individualized, personalized learning for students. The teachers really get to know the unique learning needs of their students.

Carolyn Cameron, is the Principal of Greystone Centennial Middle School. She states that she is inspired, daily, by the passion and energy for learning that she sees from the staff and students at Greystone. She is always open to sharing ideas that cause her to question, explore and build her knowledge as it relates to Inspiring Action in Education and how she, along with her amazing team at Greystone, can continue to make the dream of meeting the needs of today’s learners a reality in their school community.

My day at Greystone was filled with some great experiences, however the learning was also excellent. One of the items that is required as an administrator is to observe teachers in their practice and assist them in their achievement of the Professional Growth Plans. I was  able to sit with Mrs. Cameron and observe to classes. The first class was Mr. Dhaliwal’s grade nine Science class and the second was Mrs.   Nicholls grade six Math class. Being unaware of the backgrounds of the classroom I was lucky in the sense that both subjects are areas in which I am familiar and enjoy teaching.

Both the observations were great in that I was able to see how Mrs. Cameron did her teacher observations. There are three very important things that I noticed. First of all in both settings Mrs. Cameron ensured that she was not in a position that would cause distraction from the lesson or to the students. In one we sat away from the students allowing us a fish bowl view, while the other one had us placed in the classroom sitting among the students. Secondarily, Mrs Cameron stated that she is always looking for the answer to a specific question which she either listens for during the lesson or asks students directly when it is appropriate and that is “how does this apply to students lives?”. Lastly, I learned that although Mrs. Cameron takes into account all of the TQS standards, that her primary focus in her observations relates to teachers Professional Growth Plans, something that I did not place more of a focus on.

Observing Mrs. Cameron in her observations as well as being able to participate in a post conversation has shown me the process in action from an administrators point of view, something that I had not been able to previously witness. I would like to thank Mrs. Cameron, the staff and students of Greystone for the wonderful learning experience, for inviting me into their classrooms and for allowing me to participate in some excellent learning opportunities and activities. I am looking forward to making some of the changes at my school from what I have observed at Greystone.

Student learning is enhanced by the use of community resources.

 


community1


On my journey to understanding Instruction Leadership one of the sections under the Principal Quality Standards is supporting the use of community resources to enhance student learning. It took some time to wrap my head around this, I pondered, does this mean the use of guest speakers, of presentations that are motiviational or should they focus primarily on academics.

I came to the conclusion that any resource that adds to the understanding, learning and building of a student would fit into this catagory. Like many schools, Seba tries to have as many outside resources come out to the school to add or supplement the learning of our students, the only limiting factor is the distance that Seba Beach school is from a large metropolis. This being said I am excited to say that I have made some direct connections and additions to our school and our students experiences by inviting or soliciting exteranl resources to add to student learning and experiencing. Although the students, for the most part enjoy these presentations and activities, I do know that some of the teachers have not always been excited because my planning takes away often from class time that is vital and essential to our teachers in delivering the curriculum.

We have had many activities throughout the year, from the first day of school to our Remembrance day celebration, however for this post I will be commenting about the three most recent activities at Seba Beach that have been amazing opportunities.

The first is the CLICK presentation to our junior high students. This was a presentation that is put on by the Alberta Government , assisting students to determine what they apt at doing after they finish high school. The facilitator was a student at University of Alberta completing her degree in sociology, but was able to keep the students engaged and curious about the activity. The students worked, answering questions about personality, preference and choice and eventually arrived at a range of occupations. For most of the students the results were generally accurate.

The second, this was a community resource that was able to work both with our students but as well with the parents of our students in areas such as cyber-bullying and digital awareness, no name the two covered most recently.  I am referring to the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) workers that we are connected to through Edson. We have a pair of great, energetic and commuted ladies that are willing to work as much as possible with our parents and with our students to provide programs such as Parenting, Community relations, and baby sitting courses.

Finally, due to some previous relationships, I was able to use some connections to start a boys group at the school for our middle years boys. Through communication and planning with members of Native Counselling Services, I was able to arrange that three individuals would come out once a week and work with our boys on citizenship goals. One worker is Howard, I never had the opportunity to work with previously, but the other two I have had the pleasure of working closely with. One as a colleague and one as an elder. Our first session / meeting was great, the boys in the group asked many questions and learned about choice and responsibility. The students also, to integrate culture, focused on discovering the 7 First Nations Teachings. It was great to see the students working each other trying to figure out all the elements involved while looking at ones self.

community2

I am a strong believer in the old saying that states, “it takes a community to raise a child”. This is a truth that I have experienced, lived in and taught with, understanding that everyone has something that a child can experience and learning from. I believe that we should use our outside and partner agencies to ensure that our students, have access to the most possible resources” I also believe that there are somethings that others can convey and teacher better than I. Therefore by embracing Humility and having a willingness to learn like my students I call upon others to work with my students and myself to increase their understanding and tool kits for their future.