Reflection on My Professional Goals for 2017-18

June 21, 2018

As Bruce Lee wrote:

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

I want to be transparent and share my little, tiny successes and my big successes, as well as my failures and false starts…

We need to be gracious in allowing, enabling, and purposeful mistakes, and supporting growth after making mistakes.

  1. Enhanced Communication with Parents and the Community– I have seen a lot of growth in how we are using tools like SchoolMessenger to enhance communication with parents in general as well as parents for specific grades and classrooms. We have even gotten students into the act and they have recorded voice messages for parents, which I love as parents get the message from the kids themselves. I love how we can send out emails directly to parents as needed and to specific audiences.
  2. Outdoor Learning Classroom Strategy – I was wanting to work on “How can we enable students to be learning through the Alberta Program of Studies but in environments that enhance that learning in a purposeful and intentional manner?” Students have worked on a full design process with a Landscape Design firm to gather information and data, brainstorm, play with and design multiple Outdoors Learning Spaces for the school, and our next steps will be getting shovels in the ground! (see #BelParkOLS for more) As well, our Learning Gardens have been planted and are going once again for 2018 and we had our first school trip for grade 5/6s to Outdoor School for 3 days and 2 nights!
  3. All for One, One for All! – How do we as a whole staff support each other in our professional learning with high impact strategies on student learning – both in our school and among other schools? We have implemented much more PD for our wonderful support staff, as well as whole school staff meetings so that we can all be together to discuss issues that impact us as a whole school. We have seem great teaming, supporting each other in discussion and discourse, and a ton of collaboration and questioning of professional practice, teaching and learning.
  4. (Continuing) Time Supports for Staff Professional Learning and Enhancing Learning – IDEA Time – Innovative Development of Educational Advancement – This is time gifted to our teachers for work that pushes us forward and develops our instructional practice! Our Admin Team teaches classes along with our music teacher, to work with kids and provide some time for teachers to do innovative planning. It has been very positive, and allows our Assistant Principal and myself to be able to teach every class and get to know the kids in a different manner.

Hope you have learned as much as I have this year, and have grown as much as I have!


Communications Outside the School – Getting Our Message Out!

November 29, 2017

This year we have undertaken a new communications strategy at our school. My fantastic colleague, George Couros (@gcouros), challenged a group of principals to really look at how we were communicating with parents, families and our communities.

To be honest, the first thing I thought about was what platform would we utilize. I realized this was not the million-dollar question…

What do we want to do? How do we want to communicate? In my head I saw four major needs:

  1. Communications Must Go To the User

We looked at how many parents actually went to the webpages that each teacher was creating, updated, and spending time adding to. The results were dismal. Parents do not GO TO a site. Thus, we needed a way to get the communications out to people, not where the user has to go find it.

  1. Communications Must Be Immediate

Timing is critical. Paper notices get lost, fall to the bottom of the backpacks, fall out, and disappear to the gremlins that sometimes eat the papers… I wanted parents to get our communications immediately and take out the middleman. This does not mean we never send paper notices home. Now, we are just trying to also send home a digital reminder in case the child loses the paper.

  1. Communications Must Enable A Deep Understanding of the Work Students Engage In

I wanted to make sure our communications plan was more than just reminders and text. What about images and video? After all, a picture is worth a thousand words… How do we share out the work students are engaged in? How do we share out the amazing work? Teachers and the school had to be able to share out photos and video and text, not just text.

  1. New Parents Need an Immediate Vision of Our School, Even Before They Set Foot in the School…

If I am a new parent to a new school, or shopping for a school, I am going to go online and Google the school and the teacher. I want to see the real work going on in that school and in that classroom. If it is not there, I missed a great opportunity to set up a relationship before that parent even sets foot inside the school… How powerful would that be…?

In the end our school decided to utilize Twitter and SchoolMessenger. They allow us to, as of this time and in my opinion, to best meet the needs I set out in my thinking. This is, as always, a work in progress. All of our teachers and classrooms have Twitter accounts and are starting to share out, in addition to our school account that my team partner Alex and I manage.

Take a look at @BelParkCBE on Twitter to see how this is coming along, now that we are three months in! I will keep you updated!

As always, work hard, learn tonnes!


My Professional Goals for 2017-18!

October 7, 2017

Some of my professional goals are similar to last year’s goals, but will continue to be built upon. I want to be transparent and share my little, tiny successes and my big successes, as well as my failures and false starts…

But of course there will be no mistakes or issues as I am perfect and never make mistakes! Oh oh, wait a minute…! I make a ton of mistakes…

We need to be gracious in allowing, enabling, and purposeful mistakes, and supporting growth after making mistakes.

  1. Enhanced Communication with Parents and the Community – Now that BelPark School has a wireless network that greatly enhances teacher access, we are moving forward with a specific social media communication strategy where all teachers and classrooms will utilize Twitter to provide daily information, updates, and the wonderful learning happening in our school everyday!
  2. Outdoor Learning Classroom Strategy – How can we enable students to be learning through the Alberta Program of Studies but in environments that enhance that learning in a purposeful and intentional manner?
  3. All for One, One for All! – How do we as a whole staff support each other in our professional learning with high impact strategies on student learning – both in our school and among other schools? How do we move beyond our classrooms and schools to help each other learn?
  4. (Continuing) Time Supports for Staff Professional Learning and Enhancing LearningIDEA TimeInnovative Development of Educational Advancement – This is time gifted to our teachers for work that pushes us forward and develops our instructional practice! Our Admin Team teaches classes along with our music teacher, to work with kids and provide some time for teachers to be innovative. Now, I would like to look at how do we support among the school to make this practice more effective for student learning.

Hope you have a great year, and grow as much as I hope to!

Math Web Resource – Which One Doesn’t Belong? #cbemath

September 13, 2017

This looks like a great website to use with all ages of kids to be thinking and justifying their thinking.

They all come in a big list, but if you want to “copy” and paste them into a Word doc or a Notebook doc, then on your Mac Laptop (sorry PC people, I am not sure how to do this), go to:

  1. Applications
  2. “Utilities” Folder
  3. Open “Grab” (can drag it down onto your applications bar at the bottom if you like)
  4. Click on “Capture,” then “Selection”
  5. Drag a rectangle over the area you want a photo of
  6. Copy and paste the graphic that comes up (you can save it as well)

Which One Doesn’t Belong?

Taking Risks… and Being Transparent About Them – 2017 Edition!

September 13, 2017

Last year, after reading The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros over the summer, I challenged myself to be more transparent around the professional risks I planned to take and the goals I wanted to accomplish.

Often, we share our risks after they have already been successful, rather than being up front before we actually take the risks. Last year, I shared my risk goals with our staff, with the intention of helping our staff members feel safe in taking their own risks and asking questions on how to make our school and board to be better and do better.

Upon reflection after a wonderful summer, some of my goals went great, other have had significant steps, and one was dropped entirely as I realized it was no longer a good fit. My goals last year were to implement:

  1. Time Supports for Staff Professional Learning and Enhancing Learning
  • IDEA TimeInnovative Development of Educational Advancement – Our admin team will teach the students in each grade level so that the whole grade team has time as a team to plan together.
  • BUILD TimeBelPark Unleashing Innovative Learning & Doing Time – Our intent is similar to “Google Time” or “20% Time,” where staff will have specific time to think, research, collaborate and work on areas of development that they are PASSIONATE ABOUT AND DO NOT NORMALLY HAVE THE TIME TO FOCUS ON. This is not for doing Field Trip forms or planning as per usual, it is for work that pushes us forward!
  • PLCs – consistent times every 2 weeks for teachers to work together
  • Team Planning Times – specific times consistent every 2 weeks for teachers to work together
  1. Learning Commons
  • LC Philosophy Implementation & Utilization with students
  1. Twitter for Staff Collaboration and Collaboration with other Schools
  • My Favourite and Best Collaboration & Learning Tool (behind PLNs)
  • How do we get staff on and using it to collaborate both within and outside our school?
  1. YouTube Channel – Admin Video Communication with parents/community
  • How do we utilize video to improve communication with the community?
  1. Learning Garden on West Side of School
  • Collaborative Design, Development and Implementation of Outdoor Learning areas


  1. I feel my goal of implementing time supports for our staff went above and beyond my wildest hopes and dreams. I loved being able to teach our students. Best of all, I could see them in action and I was able to create a school wide culture through the citizenship work I did with each class using Physical Education as my time. Alex (@alexlovestravel) did citizenship learning with all the students, which was used to teach positive behavior, our ROARS code of positive behavior, IMMAT (Ignore, Move Away, Ask to Stop, Tell to Stop, Tell and Adult for Help), and some digital citizenship. It provided time for our grade teams to work and plan together, and the expectation was that they go beyond just planning for next week, to planning for enhanced and improved learning opportunities, as this was time they were gifted with. We saw some amazing growth and outcomes come from this. We have decided to continue this again in 2017-18. Having consistent plans for our time was so powerful for our staff, and we minimized “Staff Meeting” times as much as possible by using a Google Doc for everyone to access and using meeting time for more discussion rather than firehosing.
  2. Our Learning Commons is coming along, and we are starting to see a different mentality in the use of the area. There were days last year when multiple classes used it at the same time for multiple purposes. We still need to work on developing student access to the place and looking at our LC Philosophy, but we are growing.
  3. It was my hope all of our staff would be using Twitter as a communication tool, but we had to wait a bit as we did not get our new wireless network, which is so AWESOME now! We had to login from personal devices or iPads every time you wanted to use them previously. Now, we can connect ONCE and it will last for the whole school year. Teachers may use their phones or iPads with much greater ease, and one of our teachers and I have been testing it out from a school and classroom perspective. We spent Friday afternoon learning a bit more about Twitter as a teaching staff and will implement it as a parent/home communication tool as it is now so much easier and useful than making websites… I can’t wait to see it in action!
  4. The YouTube channel got dropped… I honestly like Twitter much better and it is quick and fast, but would still like to play with video possibilities by kids for kids (and for parents…!)
  5. The Learning Gardens on the East side are phenomenal and we got a protective safety fence up. I have now made a map of the grounds for students and parents, as I want students to start brainstorming, thinking, measuring, and designing what they would like in outdoor classrooms and learning spaces outside. And our vegetable gardens only got raided once this year, and they got very little. And NO, it was not teenagers, if was a 55 year old married couple… Yeesh!

Stay tuned for this years goals and where we want to go next! A few of the goals will be the same and we will build upon our work, but others will be new directions.

Work hard, learn tonnes!

Communicating with Parents – Purposeful Strategies

September 1, 2017

Welcome back to the 2017-18 school year!

Things are flying already and I am so glad to be getting back into it. One of my big goals continues to be developing positive and useful communication strategies with our parent community as well as our community at large. Our school has developed a new website and we are looking at some new and enhanced communication strategies for our school.

  • We have a new wireless network with the ability for personal devices and school iPads to be connected continuously over the year without having to login each time (I am sooooooo happy!). This completely changes our communication game, as now we can utilize online social media tools in an easy and ubiquitous manner.
  • We are looking at utilizing Twitter as our main communication tool between teachers and the school and our parents. I can’t wait to see it in action! It will allow sending out information, photos and videos in quick ways without having to maintain a full website. I hope it will be a much more dynamic and timely matter of communication. Twitter has a great App for phones to make it super easy. More information will go out to parents to help them get set up.
  • Our system is now using School Messenger which allows us to text, email, or send voice Mail messages to parents. It has opened up the way we can communicate with all parents in the school.
  • I hope to make a website a much more dynamic tool that demonstrates the daily life of our school and shares needed information with parents.
  • We are hoping to minimize the amount of paper usage by making as much of our communication as possible in a digital matter. There will be, at times, paper communication if needed, but we will try to keep it minimal.
  • Face to face communication is always a priority. We are trying our first open house today at school from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Students, families, and parents may pop in to meet their teacher and see their classroom. Our intent is to try to help students coming from school on Tuesday with as low a level of anxiety as possible. (THE OPEN HOUSE WAS AN AWESOME EVENT! IT GOT RID OF A TON OF ANXIETIES!)

Have a wonderful school year everyone! As always, work hard and learn tons!


Useful (and Easy) Digital Communication for Parents?

July 6, 2017

I am working on attempting to use digital communication in a much more open and daily manner, as well as my own blog more once again. I took a bit of a hiatus from my blog due to trying to keep my nose above water, but it is time to continue!

One thing I have been working with and fighting with has been to find an easy way to use my phone to share learning at the school. I want to use my phone as my main tool for a number of reasons:

  • I always have it with me
  • It takes photo and video
  • It has speech to text
  • I have learned I don’t have to download the photo and video to send it out…

I have been using Twitter much more for the school, using @BelPark CBE and #BelPark, in order to regularly show and share what is going on. My friend, George Couros, demonstrated just how easy it was at a Professional Learning session I got to work with him at in Calgary.

Unfortunately, up until a month ago, it was all going on my cellular plan as our wireless network was not very accessible in the school. I would have had to log in on my device every day, so I did not bother…

Oh wait, we just got a wireless network upgrade installed where staff will be able to connect their personal devices up and they will stay connected for the whole school year! That means my cellular bill will not take the hit! Yay!

My hope is is to find a way to send out text, photos, and video through one tool so that it goes out through all the Applications that I have set up for parents, including Facebook and Twitter.

After some struggles and lots of tests I think I have figured it out using Twitter. My goal is to have our school use Twitter for communication rather than each teacher have to post and maintain a classroom website…

Let you know how it goes in September,

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