Well That’s Fantastic!

Today was a prime example of “WTF ~ Well that’s Fantastic”.   I’m not sure about our colleagues in other parts of the province, but the new “normal” for my day is crossing my fingers that all staff absences are covered by occasional staff.  I find myself checking the system before I go to sleep, when I first wake up and again before I leave the house.  At that point, if there is still an unfilled job, my thought process on the way into work becomes which chess pieces on the board will have to be shuffled today in order to ensure maximum student safety with a less than full force of staff members. There have been days that during my 20 minute drive into the school positions have magically been filled or more often than not, more openings have been created.

This morning, as I drove into the school, I actually allowed myself to enjoy the countryside drive as I listened to CBC radio.  I had checked the system and we were good to go. “All hands on deck” is a phrase that I love starting my day with and I was positive that was how today was going to start.  And indeed it did….until 8:50 am.  At that point our admin assistant popped her head into my office and sheepishly shared that the occasional teacher who had picked up one of our open assignments was refusing to teach in the afternoon.  “She says that she only teaches primary”.   For our staff member who was absent, her day is spent with a grade ½ class in the morning and then with half of a grade 7 class in the afternoon (15 lovely students).

My initial reaction was one of disbelieve and then exasperation ~ one of those WTF moments.   As I went out to the main office, my demeanour quickly softened as I explained that we were in need of her help ~ if she could support the grade 7s in the afternoon (only 15 of them), we would truly appreciate it.  Her response was a curt and abrupt, “I only teach primary”. She was refusing to teach the grade 7s and proceeded to school me on how the posting should have been reflected in TVARRIS.  I’ll admit at that point my demeanour was not overly “soft” as I returned to my office and back to the “chessboard”.   Now what to do? 

At that moment, one of our grade 1 educators was walking past and noticed my look of annoyance.  She inquired as to the cause and before I could finish sharing the full scenario, she piped up and said, “I’ll teach the grade 7s this afternoon and she can teach my grade 1s”.   This selfless, tremendous offer poured out without a moment’s hesitation.

 

For readers who may not be overly familiar with our situation at Sir Arthur Currie PS, we are a brand new school ~ we opened our doors in September.  This grade 1 teacher does not have the luxury of knowing these students as their former teacher. Her interactions with the intermediate division have been limited as a result of our exciting but chaotic first year and yet none of that phased her.

Needless to say, we took her up on her offer and then at the end of the day, we listened with great interest as she shared her interactions, her insistence that our grade 7s enjoy a Read Aloud prior to embarking on their writing task and her explanation of the proper way to use a wobble stool.   And as she laughed her way through the explanation and garnered praise from her colleagues for her wonderful offer of help, I couldn’t help but think to myself ~ WTF ~ Well, that’s FANTASTIC!!!

I bet we’ve all had those WTF days. Would love to hear about yours!

Come write with me….

A few more laps to go….

Last night the Thames Valley District School Board honoured approximately 30 administrators and 1 Associate Director at their annual OPC Retirement Celebration.   About a month ago, when the list of school assignment changes was published, I recall reading, in disbelief, the number of my contemporaries who were not listed beside a new school location, but whose next assignment was listed as “retirement”.  Retirement?? How is that even possible?   Yet, when one does the math, it certainly makes sense.  I was presented (again in disbelief) with my 30 year pin earlier this year and although I rarely look at the pension pamphlet that arrives periodically in the mail,  the last time I peeked, I’m pretty sure that, on paper, my “Freedom 55” is just around the corner.  Although, I currently plan on taking a few more laps before turning that corner.

Last night’s celebration became emotional as I watched with nostalgia, pride and joy as two special honourees were recognized. Both of these educators played an integral part at pivotal moments in my career and I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to express how much they have meant to me over the years.

Valerie Nielsen, our Associate Director, and I met in Teacher’s College.  We were placed in the same panel and as we had both been married the summer prior to attending Althouse, the mystery of which last name (maiden or married) our professors would use was our first, in a very long line of connections.   We were inseparable, to the point that our classmates would refer to us as the “twins”.  Valerie’s Dutch heritage saved me on many a night as a newlywed who had married into a very Dutch family.

Following teacher’s college, I witnessed, with great respect and adoration, Valerie’s dedication to the continual pursuit of learning ~ from her Masters to her Doctoral degree.  I watched with pride as she went from teacher to learning coordinator to vice principal to principal to Superintendent and then to Associate Director ~ being admired and respected each step of the way.

It was through Valerie’s example and “nudging” that I pursued both my Masters and my Supervisory Officers Qualifications.  She has been that constant voice in my head ~ pushing me to do more, be better.  She will be missed in the “Valley”, but I have no doubt that she will continue to impact education ~ If not locally, then certainly globally.

Suzanne (Barr) Earl was also recognized last night. Suzanne and I met during my final practicum at St. George’s.  She was a brand new teacher, who was kind enough to take me under her wing.  I ended up getting my first contract position at St. Georges and within months we became known as SB2. As two new teachers, we busted our butts and did everything from school shows (completed with complex choreography), to coaching to concerts (complete with funky costumes).  We team taught from the get-go and spend many an evening and weekend planning.   Our worlds continue to intertwine as we both became pregnant at the same time.  Our daughters were born 2 weeks apart and our sons were born two year later, a few months apart. Motherhood allowed us to transition from team teaching into job sharing and we took our SB2 team on the road and became a part of the very first Wilfrid Jury staff.  Our planning sessions transitioned into “mom and baby” swimming lessons first, then lesson planning second, while the babies napped.   Having such a wonderful friend and colleague allowed me to find that all important balance between motherhood and teaching.  Suzanne taught me the importance of true collaboration.  I know that I would not be such a strong proponent of the power of collaboration, if I had not had the gift of working with Suzanne.

I spent the rest of the evening reminiscing about these women ~ the shared good memories, the antics, the tears, the highs and the challenging times ~ the impact that they both had on me as an educator, as a mother and as a learner. I reflected on how education has changed, but how the core beliefs that we shared 30 years ago are still at the center of so many of my decisions.

I admire their decision to take this next step in their journey, although I can’t even begin to imagine that next step in my own life.  They both “just knew” it was time and what a gift that must have been for them.

 

So, here’s to a few more laps…. But like most marathons, I have the power and stamina to make them count, because of the amazing impact of these two educators, who were there with me at the beginning of this race!

Under the Weather

The twinkle lights created a lovely ambiance, the ice was smooth and flawless, families were having a wonderful time looping through the trees and it felt great to have the blades back on.   Although I never competed, in my youth, I spent hours upon hours skating at local arenas and on backyard rinks.  As a teenager I taught figure skating for the local optimist club and as a parent I loved teaching my own children how to skate. My husband had wonderful patience as we tried our hand at several backyard rinks over the years.   So, it was with great excitement that we decided to spend the Saturday night of the Family Day weekend at Storybook Gardens.  The first few laps were a little rusty, but then the blades felt strong and natural.  Our conversation meandered through a variety of topics, just as the pathway meandered through the beautifully lit trees.

I recall feeling confident about turning the upcoming corner, but then within the blink of an eye, instead of catching the side of the blade, I caught my front pic and crashed to the ice ~ knee first.    Following any such tumble, one’s natural instinct is to get up and move on, without causing too much of a fuss.  But as my brain was sending a signal to my right knee to bend so that I could get up, it became instantly apparent that this injury was going to result in more than just a bruised knee.

Fast forward two weeks… Following the news that indeed I had fractured both my knee and my right femur, which required 24 hours of traction followed by surgery which left me with a lovely plate, a rod and several screws, I was home and on the road to recovery.

Life has certainly slowed down.  I fill my days with reading, writing, watching the beloved miniseries North and South (if anyone can inspire one to wellness, Patrick Swayze can), completing jigsaw puzzles (a past time that is usually only enjoyed at the cottage or over the Christmas holidays) and enjoying the company of friends who have been so wonderful about popping in ~ all from the comfort of my couch! I am determined to be the best patient ever, so that I can return to work as soon as possible.

As the beginning of this month came upon us, I shuffled (my new mode of mobility, with my ever so stylish walker) to the kitchen and switched the calendar page.  I have been a fan of Catherine Simpson’s work for years and each Christmas my daughter faithfully gives me one of her calendars.  I always get a sense of wonderment as I turn to a new piece of artwork.

March’s artwork took me aback as I couldn’t help but see the irony in the picture.  The caption was “Under the Weather” and the picture was that of two young children tending to a Teddy Bear, with an injured right leg.

 

Coincidence???? Serendipity????

I have suppressed the urge the check out what April’s artwork might be.   Here’s hoping it involves dancing, walking and jumping (without the stylish walker).

Come write with me….

 

Movies, Meryl and Me 2

I love going to the movies. I love watching movies at home ~ some of my favourites, I’ve watched so many times that I can recite each and every line (a major annoyance for anyone enjoying the movie alongside of me) and I love it when a good movie makes me stop and think.  Last night I enjoyed one of those “stop and think” movies.  I had the pleasure of seeing “The Post” which stars Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, the Washington Post newspaper heiress (reluctantly as the helm of the paper following the death of her husband) and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, the paper’s editor-in-chief.

As the movie opens, Streep is almost unrecognizable as the unsure of herself, unorganized and unprepared to be in her current position of authority Graham.  Her character stumbles to present her case and defers decisions and actions to the male members of the board.  For those of us who have loved Meryl in so many “strong” roles it was indeed painful to watch.

But then at the pivotal moment when the decision to either go to press or bury the story occurs, her character’s strength shines through, ever so quietly, but ever so powerfully.  It was at that moment that I wanted to stand up and cheer, “Finally”.   As the story line draws to a conclusion there is a visible change in how Graham holds her head, stops fidgeting with her glasses and evolves into a less timid, less compliant woman.

And although it is Graham’s transformation during a time in our history when women weren’t invited to the “Big table” in business ~ every so beautifully portrayed in one scene following a dinner party, when the woman automatically retire to the drawing room to discuss decorating while the men (most of whom answer to Graham) engage in business dialogue ~ that was the central theme, it was the portrayal of Ben Bradlee’s 10 year old daughter that gave me cause to stop and think.

As with most historical fiction movies, one is never sure if the supporting cast members are portrayed as true to life or included for creative flair and effect. So the part of Ben’s daughter may have been an actual depiction or added for flair.  As the news crew transitions from the Washington Post head office to Ben’s home to work through the story, they are greeted by Ben’s daughter (Marina) who is selling lemonade (a well know past time for those of us who grew up in the ‘70s).  The audience giggles as there is a reference to adding something a stronger to the lemonade.   A few scenes later as the mood intensifies and the living room is strewn with piles and piles of notes, Marina flows in with a plastic jug of lemonade and starts to refresh glasses.  I’ll admit that my prediction skills kicked in and I anticipated spillage of lemonade and a room full of anxious newsman rushing for paper towels.  You’ll have to watch to movie to see what happens.

As the storyline nears the end, there is a shot of a stack of dollar bills ~ Marina’s earnings for the day.  Laughter from the audience followed, as Ben Bradlee’s wife places the money in a wooden box.  Although I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and was thrilled that Streep’s character came into her own by the final few scenes, it was the image of Marina’s earnings that stuck with me on the way home. It was almost as if director Spielberg was giving us hope in the next generation.  A generation where women could be entrepreneurial, ingenious and inventive.  A generation where women like Graham didn’t need the approval of the male dominated board of directors to make a decision. A generation where women no longer retired to the dining room while the men talk about business ~  they were there, in the thick of it ~ giving birth to their own business.

#oneword ~ 2018

As the final days of December descend upon us, I am once again reminded of the annual Twitter phenomenon of selecting #oneword which will become one’s mantra for the coming year.  In 2016, I selected “Unwritten” following a moving rendition of Natasha Bedingfield’s song of the same title, sung by a member of the worship team at church.  I challenged myself to be anything but unwritten.  As I continue to remind myself, writing is a muscle that needs to be flexed on a regular basis if one is ever expected to get better at it.  A great reminder for me, as that muscle has been less than flexed during the past four months. I will do better this coming year.

In 2017, my #oneword was “Imagine”. With my impending transition from a system role to leading a staff with the opening of a brand new school, I wanted 2017 to be filled with all of the possibilities of what such a gift could entail. As I reread that post, I am proud that the staff that was selected for our new school have already started to embrace many of those imaginings.  A year ago, I did not know 80% of these educators and in 4 short months they have taught me so much about effective pedagogy, creating a community of learners and they have embraced the ever-changing, ever-evolving world of SAC.  I could never have imagined being surrounded by such incredible, caring and dedicated educators and loving coming to work as much as I do now!

As I look forward to 2018, the word that I’m going to select is one that was planted in my spirit by my incoming Vice Principal, Matt Lynds. As we went through the process of selecting a mascot for our new school, he came up with the word, Courage ~ and although the school community eventually selected the SAC Coyotes, along with a design, beautifully crafted by one of our students, I haven’t been able to shake the power of that word.

Now that our world at SAC is starting to resemble a fully functional school, rather than a construction zone, we can begin to focus on those decisions which are a combination of exciting and challenging at the same time.

It will take Courage to challenge the status quo when it comes to recognizing students at assemblies and graduations.

It will take Courage to continue to support both educators and parents to embrace the power of digital portfolios.

It will take Courage to refuse to condone practices which do not challenge our students to reach their potential.  There is a reason why we call them “Courageous Conversations”.

It will take Courage to constantly ensure that I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

It will take Courage to stay true to the decision to purchase flexible furniture and to continue to ask those essential questions to our team.

It will take Courage to continually challenge an already highly motivated and exceptional staff to continue to learn more, inspire more, be more.

It will take Courage to intentionally mentor a new VP with a different mindset as to what the job could and should entail and to fight the urge to do things the way they have always been done, just because it’s easier.

Just like my two previous #oneword posts, I have no doubt that the upcoming year will bring many more opportunities for me to experience my #oneword mantra in ways that I have yet to imagine.

As you look forward to 2018, what will your #oneword be?

Come write with me….

A Remembrance Day to Remember

Our life at Sir Arthur Currie continues to be daily celebrations of “firsts”.  This past week was no exception as we finally opened our gymnasium and came together for the first time as a school community. Our charge custodian, Mrs. Comeau, did the honours as she cut the customary ribbon and officially deemed it “Open”.

We also conducted our first Remembrance Day Service, which came together beautifully as a result of a full team effort.  Our cross was built and painted, our choir filled the auditorium with beautiful music, our primary classes sang songs and recited poems and our junior students courageously shared poems they crafted themselves.  When your school’s namesake is a famous WW1 General, there is an unspoken expectation that Remembrance Day becomes more significant. Our service started with a slide show highlighting Sir Arthur Currie’s life and contributions.  Having Sir Arthur Currie’s great grandson in the audience made the service more meaningful for all of us.

As the last post was played, Corporal Arthur Currie (Sir Arthur’s great grandson) saluted the cross adorned with wreaths.  He was moved as many of our young students saluted him back.  Following the ceremony, we toured the classes and our students were thrilled to meet Sir Arthur Currie’s great grandson.  He was besieged with a number of students who wanted his autograph.  His daughter, Lucy, couldn’t quite understand why a group of school children would want her daddy’s autograph.  As the children inundated Corporal Currie with questions about his uniform and the Service, he spoke of men and women heading overseas to fight in wars ~ at which point, his daughter Lucy, spoke up and said,  “But not you, right, Daddy?”.   

It was at that moment that it hit me ~ the true meaning of why we ensure that each year, in each school, we take the time to teach our students about the importance of Remembrance Day.  We honour those who lost their lives in battles, who never had the chance to return to their children. We honour those who are currently fighting battles, who pray each day that they will be able to return to their children.  But more importantly we focus on Peace in the hopes that our children will never know the pain of loss of a parent as a result of war.

Neglect Nothing…Or so we thought!

“Thorough preparation must lead to success. Neglect nothing” is one of the famous quotes from our school’s namesake, Sir Arthur Currie.  One month ago, I would have embraced that quote and been quite confident that we, as a school team, had completed months of thorough preparation in anticipation of our school’s opening on September 5th 2017 ~ that we had neglected nothing. Furniture and equipment were purposefully and intentionally selected to allow for collaboration and teamwork in each learning environment. Resources and technology purchases reflected our idea of an innovative learning space where iPads and Chromebooks are as easy to access as pencils and pens.  Incoming staff were prepped for the upcoming journey. Conversations about student centered learning tasks and reimagining assigning homework beyond the instructional day occurred in June.  Paper planners were not forgotten on the order list, they were intentionally left off as we wanted to dive into electronic forms of communication between home and school.  Timetables, class lists and supervision schedules were prepared and distributed.

The idea of starting from scratch, building community and creating a school culture different from any other were the foundation of months of planning, the lens through which I did my summer reading and the focus of many of my Tweets to my PLN.

But it wasn’t until our opening day and the subsequent few days that followed that together we learned that our success was going to look different than first anticipated ~ regardless of the months of thorough preparation.  Delays in furniture deliveries, ongoing construction projects,  missing resource orders, partial pieces of this and that and an unprecedented additional 125 students created the conditions for our team to bond quickly and to be prepared to rethink our plans.   Within days, we needed to find a way to get 42 seating options and table tops into a grade 5 room.  Teachers who had planned to teach combined classes were now teaching different classes as we welcomed 5 new classes.  Staffroom furniture became classroom furniture and folding tables doubled as meeting tables. Subsequent days brought interviewing for 6 positions, continued management of daily deliveries; not to mention the regular start of the school year busyness.

Then the reality hit ~ although we had prepared ourselves for the lack of Learning Commons/Gym, the odd missed order and sharing our space with our construction crew, nothing could have prepared us for increasing our school population by 40% and the additional commitment that that increase was going to need on behalf of the whole team.

Yet through it all, the Currie Crew has flourished ~ active learning happening in classes, numeracy assessments, Terry Fox Run, soccer games, planting trees in our community and even a school wide event wherein we all painted a memory piece for future generations are just a few of the amazing first month accomplishments.  The success of these activities seems that much sweeter, knowing the challenges that were occurring in the background.

And although we still see the benefits of Sir Arthur’s quote, I’m wondering if a more appropriate quote for us might be:  You can’t spell challenge without change. If you’re going to rise to the challenge, you need to be prepared for change.

What has the first month of this school year brought you?  Any unanticipated changes that have led to deeper successes?

 

Come write with me…

Always Leave Them Learning

“Be worried and fascinated by the future”.  Those are the final few words in Fullan’s “Indelible Leadership ~ Always Leave Them Learning” and those seven words sum up my thoughts as I look towards opening a new school in 2 short weeks.

As in his other books, Fullan provides his readers with much to ponder as he discusses 6 interlocking tensions for today’s leaders:

1) Breakthrough moral imperative and uplifting leadership

“Wanted…leaders willing to throw themselves into the deep end as they save others and themselves”.   Deep Leadership is about “creating things that we never imagined”.   As I look towards co-creating a brand new school culture ~ along with staff, students, parents and community members, I can’t help but wonder how we go about creating a school culture where people want to be a part of it ~ not because they live in a specific boundary, but because if they had a choice, they would choose us.

2) Master content and process

“Be right at the end of the meeting, not at the beginning”.  This one will be an easy one, as our year will be filled with lots of unknowns which will require discussion, disruption of past thinking and an openness to new and innovative ways of doing things.  I will not enter any of our meetings with any predetermined outcomes.  We’ll need to come to consensus as a school community.  Our mission and vision will be our guiding compass.

3) Lead and Learn in equal measure

One of the many things that excites me is learning about how to create a culture from the ground up. What will we use to measure our success? My mind is filled with numerous statements of inquiry.  If we are intentional about creating learning environments that meet individual needs then students will be poised for greater engagement and achievement. If we are intentional about building community before delving into content then students will be more likely to collaborate when creating evidence of their learning…. And the list goes on.   So much to choose from ~ where to start?

4) See students as change agents

“The secret agent is the student”. I truly believe this statement and hence my passion to return to a school and to support a staff as they ensure that our students see themselves as capable, competent and change agents.  A school community where voice and choice are the norm and that all community members have access to technology which will allow them to create, to share, to empower and to build upon their natural curiosity.    We have been intentional in creating learning environments which look different that the standard rows of desks and chairs.  Our students will know from Day 1, that life at Sir Arthur Currie will be different.  Our job is to ensure that different = better.

5) Feed and be fed by the system

I have always believed in the power of being connected to the system ~ but to ensure that it is a reciprocal relationship.  The system has a great deal to learn from schools as schools have a great deal to learn from system perspectives and latest learning.

6) Be essential and dispensable

There should always be a balance between leading and learning and whether right or wrong, I’m anticipating that this year, the scales will be tipped more towards learning.  It’s imperative that our school community embraces the fact that We Are All Learners ~ me included.  Although this will be my third school, as a school principal, I do not want to passively do what I’ve done in the past. We expect teachers to “change it up” each year to meet the needs of their new group of learners ~ so should we as administrators.   I’m also aware that we’re about to start a new school community with an energetic, dedicated and dynamic staff that will undoubtedly be there much longer than me.  So building leadership capacity will ensure that the culture we create from day one will continue long beyond my tenure.

So…back to my opening and Fullan’s closing remarks.

Worried? Not really! From my initial meetings with the staff, my meeting with some of our incoming grade 7 and 8 students and a few meetings with some of our parents, the Sir Arthur Currie school community will indeed be caring, inclusive, innovative and poised to challenge and engage our students.

Fascinated?  You bet!  The possibilities for a brand new school are endless. The trail has yet to be blazed. As others are enjoying the final two weeks of holidays, I’m anxiously awaiting for our journey to begin.

Are you “worried and fascinated by the future?”   Come Write with me…..

On the Way to the White Lily

This morning the lake resembled a sheet of glass ~ or more like a mirror with the perfect reflection of the long needled pine trees, the various selection of docks and the unique rock formations native to the Severn waterways. Perfect for a kayak ride.  So, with my paddle in hand, I headed out for a morning journey through the channel ~ swiftly at times, concentrating on the angle of the paddle and the rhythmic shifting from side to side and slowly at other times enjoying the beauty of the view that one can only truly appreciate from being directly on the water.

I had brought my camera for those “just in case” moments and the stillness of the water afforded me the opportunity to capture a few shots, without the fear of tipping.

Two hours later, as I neared the cottage, and started to brace myself for the docking procedure (still my least favourite part of the kayaking experience), I decided to loop to the other side of the peninsula and check out our one white water lily.  I’m not sure why we only have one lily ~ there is a multitude of lily pads ~ but just one lone lily.  None the less, the conditions were perfect for a water level picture of the lily so onward I ventured.

In order to get to the lone lily, I needed to paddle through what I had always thought of as a layer of just leaves.  Most of the leaves had various brown spots, making them look as if they were diseased in some way.  These leaves cover most of the surface area within our little bay and to be honest I hadn’t given them much thought.  But as I slowed down and angled the kayak towards the lonely lily, I noticed something popping up beside one of the “diseased” leaves.  As I got closer, I saw a beautiful, delicate and intricate red flower.  Upon further investigation it became apparent that the whole bay was filled with a sea of these flowers ~ flowers that were unnoticeable from the shoreline. With the help of the zoom feature on the camera, it quickly became apparent that the little red flowers were even more striking than the single white lily which was my initial quest.

Later that night, as I reviewed the pictures on my camera, I couldn’t help but wonder if we, as educators, sometimes miss the beauty of the smaller more notable things on our quest for the big significant things.   How many small red flowers do we miss in our quest for the white lilies?

Have we become so focused on the big picture prizes ~ such as EQAO ~ that we’ve forgotten to get in the water and notice the multitude of smaller, more notable, more delicate and more bountiful prizes. Those day to day examples of learning, curiosity, questions and “aha” moments need to be experienced while we are in the “water” with our students.

Anyone can see the white lilies from the shoreline. You can count them and even predict when they will be in full bloom and when they will close for the evening and rest.  But if we truly want to understand the landscape ~ or in this case the ecosystem of the bay ~ then we can’t stay on the shore.  And just like truly taking part in student learning, we need to get in the water (which includes the excitement and sometimes fear of the launch and the docking) and look beyond the “diseased” leaves to experience the beauty.

What have you been pleasantly surprised by, when you “got into the water” and learned alongside of your students?

Come write with me….

Construction Zones to Classrooms

The smell of honeysuckle and lilac, the sight of beautiful magnolia blossoms that sparkle and fade all too fast and the sound of robins greeting each sunrise with joyful chirps are all welcomed signs of spring.  One of the other sure signs of spring in the Forest City is the numerous construction projects which sat dormant during the winter but come alive as the snow melts and the days become longer.

Last week, as a result of one of these many construction projects, I dutifully followed the detour signs through a subdivision close to the Education Center.   Along with the make shift speed bumps, I noticed this sign “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here” on many of the front lawns.  I immediately slowed down and found myself taking extra care in checking my mirrors and blind spots.  I watched for unexpected distractions such as stray balls rolling onto the road as a result of a missed shot in a driveway hockey game or all too focused dandelion pickers unaware of their surroundings and any potential dangers.

I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if we took that same sentiment and transferred it to our schools.  What if on all of our schools signs we professed that we “Teach Like Our Own Kids Go Here”.

I recall a time when I overheard a teacher complain that at her daughter’s school no one was stepping up to coach one of the sports teams.  Yet that same staff member wasn’t volunteering any of her time at the school that she worked at to do any coaching.  I found it rather ironic.

When we think about the classroom environment that we want for our own children, do we do our best as eduImage result for school signcators to replicate that for our students?  Do we greet our students at the door every morning and let them know that we are so glad that they are here.

When there is an issue with another student, do we take the time to investigate and help problem solve the situation with care, kindness and fairness?

Do we provide choice in our tasks and honour and embrace student voice because we truly believe that our students have something worthwhile to say?  Do we take the time to read what our students are reading so that we can suggest that “just right” book and watch their faces light up because they know that we care enough to go the extra mile?

Image result for teacher reading a bookDo we provide our students with multiple (differentiated) ways to demonstrate their learning, because just like our own children are individuals (I often wonder how my own three children, who had the exact same environment as children have grown into such individuals with their own set of unique strengths) our students have their own backpack of strengths.

 

When assigning multiple tasks to be completed at home, do we as educators stop and contemplate the impact that our “homework” will have on our families.  How would we feel as a parent of a student in our class, managing night time routines which include assigned homework?

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate that many of my own children’s teachers where incredible and I’ve worked alongside of educators who “teach like their own children go here”.

But what If we ALL taught like our children were in our class, can you imagine the impact?

Come write with me…..