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.

 

Student learning is enhanced by the use of community resources.

 


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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.

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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.

New Faces, New Stars, New Possibilities

It was cold on Monday. Regardless, students in the faculty of education, as well as representatives from multiple school divisions, converged on the Butterdome on the University of Alberta Campus. Perspective students had the opportunity to meet with people from different jurisdictions about the upcoming out look for jobs in education as well as what divisions had to offer and the processes involved.

To quickly convey my feelings, I would say that this was an amazing and excellent experience. As a principal of a school it allowed me to meet with possible candidates and talk with them. Through these conversations I was able to see the spark of excitement and intrigue in the eyes and faces of these soon to be educators. I also was excited about the questions the students had, and that many of the people I talked to are interested in getting, for a lack of better words, their feet wet in a smaller school setting. A setting that has a close family-like feel, with tons of support, mentoring and assistance. Something that I personally remember craving when I first became a teacher.

Another element I really enjoyed was being able to convey to perspective students and employees what made Parkland School Division a great place to work and learn and to be part of an amazing team. It allowed me to present the School Divisions’ mission and vision, which makes the division unique. The responses I received from people as I talked to them was great.   They liked the direction Parkland was going and they looked forward to possibly working for Parkland.

What I saw and what I felt reminded me of a great quote that I think all teachers both new and seasoned should post somewhere, not only for themselves as a reminder, but also for their students.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

I will close by saying this: if you are an administrator, next time your division participates in a career fair, I would strongly recommend attending.  In addition, I would suggest that you take a teacher. Trust me, it will be a revitalizing, exciting and memorable experience. I would be happy to hear about your experiences and strategies if you have attended one of these career fairs.

Creating Balance – before the adventure

As educators, users of technology, parents (not myself), and humans one of the most talked about and emphasized

Image from Noholidaynolife.com

trends today is creating balance. Balancing the amount of time we spend interacting and communicating online with the amount of time we spend face to face with people. Balancing the hours of the day we work with the amount of time we relax and play. Balancing our diets, well pretty much creating balance everywhere.

In two days, I will engage in one of these activities. For as many years as I have been an educator, I have dreamed and thought about making the journey to a country that is not of my heritage, but one that I have connected with on other levels. During my week long adventure, I will put aside all of my technology. I will not be using twitter, skype, facebook, email, or even text messages. In truth my mobile phone will remain behind and not travel with me.

I look forward to my adventures that will happen in and on the Emerald Island (IRELAND).  I look forward to the customs and traditions, language, music, art, literature, folklore, cuisine and sport. I cannot explain why I am so attracted to Ireland,  but I am looking forward to connecting with what I have learned about Ireland – maybe it has something with being named SHAWN.

Image from dsc.discovery.com

In addition, I am really excited to to see some of the great sights and attractions of Ireland, some of which are; Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Kilmainhan Goal, The Cliffs of Moher, Kirwan’s Lane, The Guinness Storehouse and Woodenbridge Golf Club.

In a world where information is at my finger tips, and connecting is literally only a click away, I look forward to discovering,  learning and experiencing in what is considered the old fashioned way, by living it.

 

 

 

I will be sure to update all of you, to share my pictures and stories upon my return, till then my friends stay safe.

Traveling at light speed in the Twitter-verse

I am by no means an expert or a guru when it comes to the uses, applicability or applications of twitter in the classroom. Actually, I am very much the opposite in comparison to many of the individuals I share and learn from on twitter. I have tried to actively use twitter to build my PLN since the end of March of 2010.

In addition to using twitter everyday, at school and at home, I discuss with those friends not on twitter ( I know there are people not on twitter ), what I have learned or discussed on twitter. When I advocate for the use of twitter, my primary points are being connected, building relationships and communicating, sharing ideas and learning.

I have also caught myself asking some of my colleagues, how come I have not seen them on twitter. With the most common answer being “I don’t have the time or I takes too much time”. At which I often gawk, reminding them that I am just as busy as they are.

While sitting at home over the weekend, I took some time to reflect and think about how I, an intermediate or beginner user of twitter would help a beginner user make the most of using twitter, while maintaining a balance between all the things in their life, such as family, friends, other school related duties etc.

There are many, many lists and blogs that will advise users of how to, what to and when to use twitter, but I have noticed that none of them mention one slight piece of information that is very important.

Yes, it does take some time and an investment, but like everything in education, learning and life. The investment that you put into it directly relates to what you will get out of it.


If I was asked, and although it is rare, but sometimes I am, this is the ideas, directions and suggestions that I would give an educator that is looking to use twitter may be not in their classroom, but to become connected. These are not stead fast rules, but a compilation of information and suggestions that I have read or that have been shared with me.

SHARE : ideas, links and information that you use and would promote people to use. This includes sharing what you do in the classroom with your students or your reflections.

CC/140 : you only have 140 characters so be clear and to the point. Try and say it without rambling (something I had to learn the hard way)

ASK : ask questions, ask for help (for resources, information. Everyone in your PLN is here for the same reason to learn and that is done together.

TWIT-ID : you are tweeting as a professional and as in the physical world appearance does hold importance. So choose a name and avatar that is appropriate.

RETWEET : if you like what someone has said or shared, retweet the comment, add an additional comment if you wish. Essentially what you are doing is giving someone credit for something, while agreeing with the comment.

TIMING: obviously this is important and there is nothing worse than saying something or asking something and not getting a response. To reach the most people roughly 11:00-12:00  EST time is the best time. The east coast is preparing for lunch, the west coast is getting to work and Europe is home for the evening.

Now for the BIG QUESTION:

HOW OFTEN: like I previously stated, what you put into it correlates to what you will get out of it, but as a suggestion I would say as you are getting started, try to send out at least 21 tweets/retweets/ideas per day for 21 days. After this it will become a habit and ease for you to login, chat and share for a short while and then return to other elements of your day.

Now before I leave, I know that for new users there is a large amount of information, here, but there is one question that is still causing some hesitance. The question is “What Do I Tweet About”, to make it easier and this post shorter. Just click on the question and you’ll be linked to a great post by George Couros (@gcouros) that covers, very well what you should tweet about and what to avoid.

This is by no means a complete list, so if you have any ideas or suggestions please feel free to add them and I will update the post as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

All Hope is Not Lost…Little Leaders Guest Post

I have been posting about the adventures of my own classroom during the year about the growth of my students when it comes to being leaders, but recently I had the pleasure of hearing a heart warming story from @aram_aristotle. After hearing the story I suggested that she write a guest post so that I may use it to show how students of all ages, display and a capable of being leaders. So without making you wait any longer here is @aram_aristotles guest post and story of her students displaying citizenship, community, caring, friendship and leadership.

Our small rural school hosts a fairly regular group of students, of which it could be said suffer from the same ailments of degenerating manners and work ethic as much of the current generation of preteens and teenagers are labeled with. However, this winter we saw the kindness and consideration that is still living and breathing, but is often not recognized in these young individuals.

Our high school hosts a complement of approximately 50 students on a good day,  but they showed an enormous  heart during this last Christmas Season. One of our students, who unfortunately, comes from a troubled and rough family life with a fairly low socioeconomic status, was going through a very rough situation during the winter.  The situation regretfully degenerated and he was required to leave his home to move in with a friend’s family. The student is a kind and determined person but has some neurological issues, relating to academic and social deficits. This aside, the student would be labeled as a gentle giant, always looking at the brighter side.

As we live in a small community many of his peers were aware of his home situation. During December, his fellow classmates decided to give him a sense of family and community and put together their money and purchased a genuine Oiler’s jersey for him as a Christmas present.  They knew he would not be spending it with his family nor was he accustomed to recieving presents.

The day his peers intended to present his gift to him, he was having a terrible day academically which was compounded by a heart breaking, negative phone call mid-day from his social worker. He returned my class frustrated and on the brink

3D Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands Concept

3D Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands Concept - http://www.lumaxart.com/

of tears.  His classmates, aware of the issues presented him with their present and he broke down crying tears of love, care, appreciation and gratitude. The troubles of his day appeared to fade away and he was such a joy to see for the rest of the day proudly sporting his jersey. His mood and outlook improved due to the caring and consideration of his friends reminding him that to them he mattered and was important.

I know that we, as staff, were all touched when reminded how kind and considerate our children can be. It truly does encourage the heart…and remind us that our student can and will meet the challenges and struggles faced by each other together.

It is always great to hear about the stories and success of students in other classrooms and schools. I would also like to thank (Asha) @aram_aristotle for taking the time to write the post and share her story.