As regular readers know, I blog in West Vancouver as part of a rich community of teachers and administrators who are regularly sharing insights into their school, their profession and their work. The blogs, from teachers and administrators, give a wonderful window into school life. They are as diverse and varied as the topics which we spend our time on each day in schools. Here is a recent sampling of what those around me have been writing.
Steve Rauh, the Principal of West Van Secondary blogged about our district-wide keynote presentation from Paralympic Champion Josh Dueck:
From his opening slide with the formula Passion + Perseverance = Possibility, Josh shared with us his personal pendulum story of hope, loss, love, despair, love, and hope again. I cannot remember hearing or seeing a more inspirational story or person who brought themes of recklessness, intuition, passion, ego, regret, humiliation, persistence, determination, and possibility.
For West Bay Principal, Judy Duncan, her latest post is all about looking ahead to the remainder of the school year and key topics at her school including their new learning commons, fresh ideas around communicating student learning, IB self-study, self-regulation and a focus on the communication competency:
Teachers work passionately to facilitate rich learning opportunities for students and we work together with determination and enthusiasm to affect positive change within the school. I am optimistic 2015 is going to be another wonderful year, full of noisy learning, quiet contemplation, continued collaboration and an abundance of creative thinking. High five for our Top 5, but let’s keep moving!
At Irwin Park Elementary, the students have also been setting goals for the remainder of the year – that are posted around the school. Principal Cathie Ratz reflects on what she sees:
They tell a story of Irwin Park students wanting to be better listeners, better self regulators, better readers, writers, eaters, swimmers, skiers, brothers… The goals are realistic. In most cases students identified a plan to meet their goals and in some cases personal supports to help them stick to their plans. I wonder about self esteem and self control as predictors of success. Need there be an esteem vs control debate? Does feeling good lead to a complacency that may interfere with the discipline needed to achieve success? Worthy debate?
It is always a hard decision for parents to decide what to do when their child isn’t feeling 100% Two of West Vancouver’s most experienced Kindergarten teachers Christy Campbell and Andrea Daudlin, the writers of The Self-Regulated Teacher share their words of experience:
Sometimes a sick child may still wish to come to school. But in the classroom we are very close to each other in proximity. The children are playing at Centre Time quite close together. They sit close together while eating at the tables. They still hold each others’ hands. Because our supplies are shared, including crayons, scissors, gluesticks and pencils, a sick child at school increases the risk of spreading infection to the rest of the children in the class.
Your child will enjoy their school experiences much more when they return to school rested and healthy!
At Hollyburn Elementary, Principal Tara Zielinski has tackled a topic that is always on the front burner with teachers and parents – testing! Her latest post looks at the use of data in schools. For her, the key is how the information will be used:
Should we test? Absolutely. However, we must be focused and intentional in what and why we are testing. More importantly, we must be prepared to use the outcomes to enhance our students’ skills and be flexible and reflective as we navigate the strategies employed to respond to our students’ specific and individual needs.
Bowen Island Community School Head Teacher Laura Magrath used her blog to share her reflections on the challenge of learning to reflect. Reflection is a key piece of the new curriculum proposed in BC, and Laura points out it should be included in all classes:
Reflection needs to happen multiple times throughout the learning process. Reflection while we are actively learning provides us with feedback that can alter our learning journey. For example, when shooting a basketball, I get immediate feedback that can be utilized. Not enough arc, I hit the rim. Next shot I think of the arc and overcompensate. I get immediate feedback again as I hit too high on the backboard. I try again and get the feedback of: Swish! Nothing but net. This kind of reflection-feedback loop should occur in our all of our classes.
Laura’s Bowen Island colleague, Scott Slater, who in his first month as Principal of the school, sees his school as a moving school, differentiating from the school as potentially a wandering school:
It is best, however, for schools not to wander. Implementing change in a school requires a significant amount of time, energy and inertia, and if not done well or without follow-through, innovation too often feels like adding to practice rather than evolving practice, of increasing workload without increasing student achievement. A wandering school means that broad changes may be made, but likely not deep ones.
Ridgeview Principal, Val Brady, tackles the issue of evaluation, assessment and reporting with her latest post. There are shifts taking place with how teachers and schools communicate with parents on student learning at the same time we there is a shift happening with curriculum. So, in some ways report cards are still the report cards we all remember from school ourselves, but increasingly there is a a focus on areas of competency:
Report Cards are intended to provide clear, meaningful comments from your child’s teacher and highlight strengths and areas for improvement. Beyond commenting on basic skills, progress reports will highlight student progress and development in key competencies areas, Inquiry Learning and student self-awareness as represented in the Ridgeview Learner Profiles
Cypress Park Vice-Principal, Kim Grimwood, has taken on a more personal topic with her latest post – a topic many parents spend a lot of time considering – video games. For her video games are not simply either good or bad:
I think we need to take a more balanced approach. One day, when I think my children are ready, I will probably purchase some sort of video game system for our family. I will do this for many reasons. Firstly, I’m sure my children will have fun and enjoy passing time by playing video games. Secondly, I believe that many games can build important cognitive skills and develop my children’s understanding of technology. Thirdly, I’m not above wanting my children to not feel ostracized for not having what their peers have (within reason of course).
Of course, this is just a small sample. You can check out all of our bloggers by visiting our school sites here.
There are so many wonderful ideas being shared. Hopefully this sampling will give you one or more “must reads” to add to your regular list of those you follow and learn with.