Take the Pledge?

Okay – so we have been talking about JOY and how to make sure that we are truly creating a place where the love and JOY of learning is at the centre of all we do. But sometimes I worry that this is not concrete enough for people to really understand what they actually need to do. So I was really excited when I found this on Jon Gordon’s weekly Newsletter (jongordon.com). As we head towards New Year’s resolutions, here is a great list to consider. Can you (will you?) take the pledge?

The Positive Teacher Pledge

I pledge to be a positive teacher and positive influence on my fellow educators, students and school.
I promise to be positively contagious and share more smiles, laughter, encouragement and joy with those around me.
I vow to stay positive in the face of negativity.
When I am surrounded by pessimism I will choose optimism.
When I feel fear I will choose faith.
When I want to hate I will choose love.
When I want to be bitter I will choose to get better.
When I experience a challenge I will look for opportunity to learn and grow and help others grow.
When faced with adversity I will find strength.
When I experience a set-back I will be resilient.
When I meet failure I will fail forward and create a future success.
With vision, hope, and faith, I will never give up and will always find ways to make a difference.
I believe my best days are ahead of me, not behind me.
I believe I’m here for a reason and my purpose is greater than my challenges.
I believe that being positive not only makes me better, it makes my students better.
So today and every day I will be positive and strive to make a positive impact on my students, school and the world!

Happy New Year everyone!


Top Five TO DO’s for the Third Week of Advent

As the third week of Advent begins and the joyous waiting is to start, I would like to take time to suggest The Top Five To Do’s for the day, or week, or even the year.  (This is inspired by Tom Peters and a Tweet from his marvelous excellence-centred mind.)

Thank someone for bringing a smile to work to day – do it in the next 30 minutes!

Observe yourself closely over the next 60 minutes – did you LISTEN more than you talked?

Did you remember something you did that brought you or someone else JOY yesterday?  Are you doing it today?  Why not?

Bring someone something for lunch or as a snack.  Leave it anonymously.

Do something unexpected – skip down the hall (or even for one step) dance to a Christmas carol you hear, hum one of your own.  Add some JOY and lightness to the world – even if no one is watching.

Thank you for reading!

Making the Switch – How can teachers let go of the worry of EQAO testing?

I know that we have said that the board improvement plan rests on teachers being able to focus on good teaching and not worrying about covering the curriculum to be ready for “the test”.  I also know though that just saying it will not make it so.

I have been thinking about this a lot.  How can we make a change in the way that teachers view the testing years?  How can we give them the power to release their fears and just teach to the needs of the students they have in front of them?  Teachers tell me that they do not want to let students down by not preparing them for the rigorous nature of the testing.  They are concerned that they must have taught to the questions that will appear so that their students will have the best chance of passing.  They are caught in the dilemma of having to “move on” or not finish the whole curriculum even when students have clearly not mastered the current topic.  What a horrible place to be!

 I think I might know the answer.  What if every teacher focused on teaching problem solving skills?  Instead of having to be sure that every possible question was “covered”, we could focus on giving students the skills to creatively problem solve no matter what question they face.  Skills over content is surely the start of the answer.

What do you think?  Am I being naïve or am I on to something?

Advent: A Time of Waiting

I heard an amazing poem by Joyce Rupp called When that focused on the concept of opening ourselves to the moment and being truly grateful for the things we have.  It pointed out that we often say that we will do something “When we are really ready”, or “When everything is perfect”, or “When the next big thing comes” or “When ….”.  Until this magical When  comes we just wait and ignore the perfection of this moment, the heaps of gifts we already have or the amazing tranquility and beauty that is NOW.

I thought about this in the context of advent and in the context of our Board Improvement Planning.  I know for advent that I need to prepare now for Christmas and that I need to accept that the gifts I have now are bigger and better than anything I deserve.  In board improvement it is the same thing.  We need to stop waiting for When and take action now.  We need to use our talents, our gifts and our hope to bring good things to life now.

The Joy This Week

I have spent the majority of this last week doing work around the district review process.  That meant that I spent a lot of time with students and teachers in the schools.  So, I thought to myself, this is a good MLOG to talk about the JOY that I was able to witness first hand.

So, what did I see?  I saw the JOY in a child’s face as they mixed yellow and blue and got green.  I saw the JOY of a student who figured out how the protractor worked.  I saw the JOY of a huge group of students sharing how to do the Mombo Slide with their principal.  I saw JOY as a student showed me the construction they had been working on, as another student explained that SHARING was essential and as a group worked on figuring out the clues they had been working on to see if Santa was a custodian or not.

But even better than that, for me, was the JOY of seeing the work that teams of teachers are doing to make a difference in their schools.  Little by little, student by student, the work is being done.  The JOY is being shared.  And that last JOY I mentioned was on MY face as I went from one warm accepting engaging room to another.

So thank you for a JOY-filled week.

That November Feeling

I love this time of year.  Not just because it provides us with the white winter wonderland of school bus cancelation, but also because it is time to create the annual Director’s Report.  I am privileged to play a small part in the creation of this report and the reason why I love it is because it causes me to sift through all of the great things that have happened all year and to choose some examples of the things that represent who we are as a board.

Choosing the events is wonderful.  But it is just step one.  The next piece is creating the stories that explain, describe, and capture the things that tie that event to our board improvement efforts.  Stories link one person’s heart to another.  This is why I love to be in the role of the story teller.

This is the perfect time of year to pause and reflect.  The progress reports are in.  The church year is winding down (with my favourite mass, Christ the King, just around the corner).  The bustle of Christmas has not yet begun and the blanket of snow sometimes traps us in our warm homes with nothing better to do than think.

Thank you God for this time!

Monday MLOG: Quantifying

I was listening to CBC Radio (what would I talk about if I didn’t?) and the woman speaking was explaining how she feels that what she does is not quantifiable and how this leaves her feeling unsatisfied.

So, of course, I was thinking that what we do is similarly unquantifiable.  We are not able to say that we have created x number of things or fixed x number of other things.  We do not have a solid product at the end of the day.  We have the delight of knowing that what we are doing may touch the future because we have helped a student to learn a new and amazing concept or skill but we never really know for sure what we do is ever really done.

So, I was thinking… perhaps that is one of the best things about our new board improvement goal.  It allows us to have a quantifiable thing at the end of each and every day.  We can ask ourselves if we saw JOY and how much of it we produced.

SO, how much JOY did you help to create today??  What did it look like?

Monday MLOG: How do I fit in?

So, last week I was telling you about watching an Andy Stanley video that suggested the two key questions we need to answer are:

What are we doing?                       AND

How do I fit in?

I answered the first question last Monday and I said that I would tell you about how I fit in with our board plan in this Monday’s MLOG.

I see myself as a storyteller (what is our story of where we want to go and how we can get there?) and as a joy chaser (finding and celebrating the JOY in our system: making sure we enjoy it and learn from it).  I think that is my role.  I have to bring about change that will help us to keep moving forward and I have to do so in a way that will entice others to want to do it.

Where do YOU fit in?

Two Questions

I was just watching a video about how to make a vision STICK.  The speaker suggested that the key to success was asking two important but simple questions:

  1. What are we doing? ….. and ……
  2. How do I fit in?

So I asked myself!  What are we doing?

Well, I think we are trying to help students find the JOY in their learning.  I think that we have said that we want to hear their voice and engage them in learning so that they will achieve and that the best way to do that is to bring them opportunities for JOY.  This may mean giving them CHOICE or making assignments meaningful, authentic and genuine.  It may mean listening to how students want to share their learning and being flexible enough to accept these ways as communication that allows us to shape our teaching to meet their needs.  That seems to be our board improvement plan in a nutshell.

And then I asked myself, How do I fit in?

And I am going to answer that NEXT Monday in Mary’s Monday MLOG.

How about you?????