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,


What Do We Do WHEN We Make Mistakes? Assessment FOR/AS Learning

May 7, 2014

I know this is shocking, but I make mistakes… LOTS of them… and every once in a while, one of them is a doozy…

I always used to joke with my students that “Teachers never make mistakes!” Of course, this was always after I had made a mistake… I had to take ownership, and show students a mistake is not the end of the world.

Are we “allowed” to make mistakes? That question does not matter, as I make them anyway, whether you allow me to or not. If I am not making mistakes, then I am probably not pushing myself. And friend, I make lots…

I love that we are in a place now that I do not feel that I have to be perfect as a principal and educator, but that I am a human being and will make mistakes. I do not have to put on a show that I know everything and have it all figured out. I make mistakes, but I also try my best to learn from them… and develop… and change… and grow.

How do we, as leaders of education and students, make sure that students feel the same way?

  1. Create a Culture of Risk-Taking… It is okay to try something and fail! It is also okay to try again and again!
  2. Create a Culture of Coaching and Feedback… Do we learn more from a coach (educator) or from a judge (test)? Students need student specific feedback that helps them to improve and to see that improvement.
  3. Create a Culture of Learning (rather than memorizing)… Is the work about LEARNING or is the work about a TEST? Are we better than we were before undertaking the work?
  4. Create a Culture of Purposeful Engagement… I love my work because it is always purposeful, in that I am trying to improve my work, our students, our classrooms, our staff, and our school. I am engaged in my work. Students must feel the same…
  5. Create a Culture of Reflective Thinking… Students need to learn how to be able to set goals around, develop criteria for success, conference and discuss with others, reflect on, and think about their learning. When I was in school, I never needed to reflect, it was only about the score on my test at the end. It was not about learning, it was about memorizing for the test.
  6. Create a Culture of Ongoing Assessment FOR/AS Learning… Assessment FOR/AS learning must be a process that is in everything we do in school. It is in PE, Art, Reading, Writing, citizenship, etc. It is not something we do just before report cards or at the end of a unit…
  7. Create a Culture of Do-Overs… Why not? If I gave up on everything that did not work the first time, I would have learned very little. It was by trying something over and over again as an educator that allowed me to grow. Why not for students? I know the big answer is “time,” but we must ask if we are “Covering” the Program of Studies or “Learning” with the Program of Studies?
  8. Create a Culture of Progress… We will never make education perfect, as it is a human endeavor, although I know we will all keep trying… Education and our understanding has grown immensely since I was a student and even more so in the last couple of decades since I became an educator!

Now, I would look at report cards as being a reflection of their learning, not an average of their work over the year. Where are they right now? What have they learned? Where have they grown and what do they need to work on? There really should be no surprises for parents or students when report cards come home.

We are in an exciting time in education! Will we make mistakes? Yes. Will we learn from them? I hope so. Can we help students to learn this as well? We must…

Going from “Back to the Basics” to BETTER…

April 9, 2014
Recently, an editorial appeared in the Edmonton Journal with the headline “Alberta Education’s radical curriculum reforms will damage economy, limit our children’s future.” Wow! Definitely worth a read if you are an educator.

Brutal. They make so many bad or unproven assumptions, it is amazing something like this was published. It assumes the old system was good. I did awesome in the old system because I could memorize, not because I could think. It did not prepare me at all for later life. I think it is our job to give our kids a BETTER education than the one we received!

I am not even going to start going over the in accuracies and brutal assumptions contained within this editorial. Instead, I am going to go with my heart and my passion in my response.

Education is a growing and changing field. Even over the course of my career, it has grown and changed immensely, from changes in assessment and formative assessment, extensive development of educational and assistive technologies, the way we report and work with parents, the way that learning takes place in language arts, mathematics, arts, physical education, and how we work with students social, emotional, and psychological needs.

Sorry folks, education is changing and getting better. We are learning more every day about how the brain works and about how students learn, and that drill and kill is just not the best way to learn.
I don’t know about you, but my education did not teach me how to think, be a critical thinker, be a reflective thinker, be creative thinker, or how to be able to be an effective learner. I was excellent and at being able to replicate what the teacher did on the board during math without any understanding of why  I was doing but I was doing. I was excellent at memorizing and reading a book and being able to remember the information it until the test, then lost that information immediately because I did not need it for more than the test.
The moment this changed was when I found the desire to become an educator. All of the sudden, my work in University became important and authentic, so there was a reason I was learning and beyond the test at the end of the course. I went on to get an excellent GPA, went on to get a masters degree in education, and went on to become a current principal. Now it all made sense and there was a reason that I was learning what I was learning.
I loved many of my teachers and no they tried to do their best. Education looked differently back in the 1970s and 80s when I was a student in school. If it did NOT look different, that would be when we need to be concerned!
I love my job because I am always learning. There is no binder that I can pull off the shelf to tell me how to do my job, what the right budget and staffing scenario looks like, or how to work with any specific student.
I don’t want to go back to the “Good ol’ days,” as they just were not that good. We need to look at creating a BETTER education for our children, rather than going back…
Work hard, learn tons!

CILO – December 12, 2012 (12-12-12, How cool is that!)

December 12, 2012

Happy Triple Twelve Day! (12-12-12…)

As we are heading into the end of 2012, take some time to reflect and celebrate the learning that has taken place at Keeler School and in your classroom over the past four and a half months. Keeler School can be so proud of the growth and the work that students are undertaking, as well as the thinking that we all continue to improve in around how we design and develop opportunities for excellent student learning.

Thank you for utilizing our CILO time to effectively build upon the work we need to undertake. The discussion, conversations, thought and reflection that takes place is wonderful to watch and follow. As adults, we need to take the time to work in collaboration with others to design robust learning tasks and obtain feedback about instructional planning from colleagues and mentors. This will not only build up and develop our own understanding around enabling students to learn best, but as well helps us as a complete staff to assist in advancing the learning of all of our colleagues.

Have a wonderful afternoon!


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