Taking Pride in Your Work

    When you really listen it's amazing what you can hear. Yesterday I was at the grocery store getting a few items when I overheard a conversation in the produce section between an older grocery store stocker and a younger stocker in training. It was the message that the elder delivered to his trainee that really lifted my spirits and had reflecting on life in a school. As he demonstrated how to arrange the apples he turned to his younger friend and said "Yesterday I arranged the Granny Smith's so perfectly that I stood back and didn't want anyone to touch my creation. That's how you should feel after everything you do here. Take pride in what you do!" Wow, what great advice. As I finished my shopping I kept thinking back to the advice the elder stocker gave to his protege and how it could apply to life...
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My One Word for 2016

    For the past week I have been reading with interest a number of posts from member of my PLN with their One Word for 2016. To be honest I hadn't heard of the concept until I attended a session at the Learning Forward Conference in Washington in December. After learning about how an administrative team used the process with their staff to develop One Word for their school I thought this would be great for me, so I purchased the book and began my journey. If you haven't read One Word  I can assure you that you can finish reading the book in about 45 minutes. The book leads you through a simple 3 step process to find your One Word - Prepare Your Heart, Discover Your Word, Live Your Word. Following the guidance of the authors I found the process be very reflective, and deeply personal. It...
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The Ontario College of Teachers - Inspiring Public Confidence

    Did you know the Ontario College of Teachers licenses, governs and regulates the Ontario teaching profession in the public interest? The College is responsible for approving teacher education programs, and setting high professional and ethical standards. So what does this mean exactly? The Ethical Standards and the Standards of Practice describe what it means to be a teacher – or indeed a teaching professional. Every teacher working in a publicly funded school is certified to teach and in good standing with the College. Not only do Ontario Certified Teachers (OCTs) have the knowledge and skills needed to help children learn and succeed, they’re also guided by a set of professional and ethical standards. These standards are something we put into practice in our classrooms every single day. They serve to remind us of our commitment to student learning and well-being. They encourage us to strive for greatness and...
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A Month of Blogging

  "My blogging life is basically goalless. I like the zen nature of that, and paradoxically, it improves results." ~ Seth Godin   Well it's over. My month long challenge of blogging every day has finally come to an end. Looking back on the 29 blog posts it has been a real learning experience. There were days that I struggled to come up with a topic but suddenly an idea found me. It may have been that I was more present than normal through the month so I was open to seeing clearly what was in front of me or it may have been that I just pushed myself to get my thoughts and ideas into a post. Either way it has been a wonderful experience.  Over the month of June my posts generated over 10,000 hits, 33 comments and 100's of shares on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn. But...
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What it Must Feel Like

  "A good teacher is like a candle — it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~ unknown author   On Friday I made my way out to the front of our school to change our sign for the summer. As I opened the case an older neighbour was walking by and said to me "I bet those two are leaving for the summer happy people!" At first I was a bit confused but then I looked at the letters I was about to remove and I realized what she meant. The week before we put a message on our sign congratulating 2 of our teachers on their retirement. Both teachers had an amazing career, positively impacting students. But then I began to think about what the neighbour said. I wonder what it must really feel like to retire?  I can only imagine the emotions that a retiring...
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Photo Booth Fun

  "After the stress of getting our hair and nails done and dressing up, the dance and Photo Booth let us be  ourselves."  2015 Mitchell Hepburn Grad   It was a great night! The students and their families were treated to a special night as we celebrated the graduating students of 2015. After all the certificates and awards were presented it was time to let off some steam and have fun. This is what graduation is all about. Celebrating and having fun, not stressing about awards or marks. And as you can see from the picture above the students certainly had fun. If you've never had a Photo Booth at a graduation ceremony or other event I would highly recommend it. Get lots of props, a good backdrop, some lighting, good music and you're set. The kids will take over and have the time of their lives. The night flew...
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Graduation, Awards and Celebrations

  “Like any other tool for facilitating the completion of a questionable task, rewards offer a "how" answer to what is really a "why" question.” ~ Alfie Kohn   It was the summer leading into my first teaching assignment that I read Alfie Kohn's book "Punished by Rewards." It had a huge impact on how I decided my classroom would function. It was an idea that I really hadn't thought deeply about because growing up playing lots of sports I was blessed with a large trophy case to display all my awards. Thinking back on my younger days, however, I really didn't pay much attention to the awards and trophies. They were just there, in my trophy case for all to see. I was more concerned about participating and playing with my friends. I wasn't playing for the trophies. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to win, but the award...
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The Photographer's Eye

  "Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true." ~ Jacques-Henri Lartigue   When I began this month long blogging challenge the best piece of advice I got was from Sue Bruyns (@sbruyns) when she said that my photographer's eye will become my writer's eye, constantly looking for the next idea for a post. Sue was right. Along with being more present I have found myself being more observant to the things happening around me, using my photographer's eye. Photography is a passion of mine. It's something that I picked up in my early thirties and have continued to work on my craft. I'm asked often about tips and tricks, what I like to shoot, and what equipment I have. So here you go! Camera - I have a Canon 6D. It's an entry level full frame camera with a 20.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor...
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Father's Day

  "The most important thing in the world is family and love." ~ John Wooden   The quote above says it all for me. Being a father is special, but the most important thing is family and love. Yesterday as I received text messages, emails, and phone calls wishing me a happy Father's Day I couldn't help but thank my lucky stars for the joy that is my daughter. She is growing so fast that I need to remember to enjoy every second I can and not let those moments pass. It feels like just yesterday that my little leap year baby blessed us with her presence. My hope for her is that she knows how much she is loved not only by her mother and father, but by her extended family as well, because family and love are the most important thing in the world. I hope all the...
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What Makes a Field Trip?

  "Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you." ~ Frank Llyod Wright   I have lasting memories of many field trip my from elementary school career. Montreal, Quebec City, Niagara Falls, the Welland Canal, Fort Henry, Casa Loma and Pond Mills were just a few that pop to mind. We loved them all and never wanted to miss them. They were great fun, but learned a lot, even if we didn't realize it at the time. I'm beginning to feel that field trips today have changed and I'm at a loss to understand how this has happened.  I look back on what I learned on those trips and I'm thankful for all my teachers that took the time to find learning experiences that also were a great deal of fun. The history lessons in Montreal, Quebec City and Fort Henry meant nothing when we...
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Saying Goodbye

  "Saying goodbye doesn't mean anything. It's the time we spent together that matters, not how we left it." ~ Trey Parker   Today was the day that many teachers and administrators dread, the year end assembly where staff members that are leaving or retiring are recognized. It's always a difficult time, not only for those leaving, but for those left behind. I don't think I've been to one where there wasn't a tear shed. Today was no different. Our school said goodbye to a number of staff members who will be heading off to new assignments or retirement. The students gathered in the gym without really knowing who was leaving. So in a way it was a bit of a shock to many as they learned who wouldn't be with us next year. Of course I realize how difficult it is for the people leaving. They get up in...
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Yoga, Mindfulness and Little Buddies

  "With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment." ~ Nhat Hanh   I've been lucky to be trained by some amazing yoga teachers. Baron Baptiste, Paul Grilley and Shiva Rae have all helped me to gain a deeper understanding of yoga and mindfulness. I have experienced the benefits of each of these practices. But more and more we are seeing the benefits that they have for students. There is plenty of research now to show how a regular mindfulness practice in school can have a positive impact with students.  Our school is lucky to have a teacher who has experienced those benefits too. If you were to walk into Jenny's grade 8 classroom you would hear, see and feel a classroom culture that is steeped in mindfulness. They enjoy the yoga classes Jenny leads...
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We All Have a Purpose

"Our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." ~ Dalai Lama   Have you ever come across someone that feels like their life doesn't have a purpose? Even though that person, in your eyes, lives a life that positively influences others? This is especially difficult for teachers when they have a challenging class or events outside of school in their personal life that influences them negatively. Teachers need to know that they always have a purpose, even if they don't realize it. Their purpose is sitting in front of them every day.  I've always believed that teachers have a great influence over students. I clearly remember all my teachers and the effect they had on me as a student and a person. Some may not have known the impact they were making, but I knew it, and so...
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Is Innovation Possible in Education?

"For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate." ~ Margaret Heffernan   The definition of innovation from Merriam-Webster is: the introduction of something new; a new idea, method or device. Innovation in education seems to be a popular topic with boards of education. But what is innovation really? For many, the word conjures up images of computers and technological advances, which is partly true. Innovation, however, can manifest itself in many ways. It could present as alternative furniture, unique school and classroom design, or even alternative and creative timetabling. The difficulty is that the organization looking to innovate must have a culture that promotes and celebrates innovative ideas. In other words employees must be free to create new ideas and to think differently. Without this culture the concept of innovation will only be ever be a "buzz" word.  George Couros has written about innovation in...
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Don't Raise Your Hands Students

"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." ~ Thomas Paine   This morning I woke up and had a topic for today's blog post all set in my head. Then as I began my normal morning routine of reading my Feedly and Zite feeds I came across an article that really got me thinking. It takes me about 25 minutes to drive to work and the entire ride all I could think about was the article and the impact it could have on students. The title of the article was Some Aussie schools ban students from raising hands in class , and I'm not sure how I feel about it. This method of teaching was developed following some research that found that smarter students answer the vast majority of questions, which has been dubbed "The Hermoine Granger Effect," after the extroverted bookworm in the Harry Potter...
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Jumping in Puddles

“What do parents owe their young that is more important than a warm and trusting connection to the Earth…?” ~ Theodore Roszak I consider myself somewhat of a country boy. My grandparents had a large farm not too far from where I grew up. Every summer from as early as I can remember until late high school I worked on the farm. I'm sure that's where I developed my early morning routine. I have so many memories of the farm. Learning to drive the big International tractor, getting chased down the lane by an angry chicken, hitting home runs over the fence into the corn field, learning how to milk cows and my favourite, sitting atop the bales of hay stacking them neatly as my grandfather drove the tractor. All great memories, none of which were inside the house. Well, unless I count my favourite couch to nap on after...
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They're Like Metronomes

"Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future" ~ Dennis Waitley   I've been asked many times what my philosophy of education is, by people in education and those outside. During one of my Principal qualification courses I was asked to write my philosophy of education and defend it to the group and the instructor. As a piece of writing it was fine. It was honest and thoughtful but nothing spectacular that would get me published in a leading educational journal or magazine. But as I entered my sixth year as a vice principal I began to really pay attention to the subtle nuances that are the centre of every educator - the students. It's not that I didn't recognize the differences in how students learned before now, but something really changed in my philosophy of education, more specifically...
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3 Things Schools Can Learn from Germany's World Cup Win

  "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." ~ Babe Ruth   Spain 1982 was the first World Cup that I remember being totally engrossed in. I was 12 years old at the time playing for an Italian soccer club where I was the only Canadian on the team. Every game I watched was a learning experience. I realized quickly the passion Italians had for the game and how it was entrenched in their culture. I remember our coach telling us to watch every game, picking the player that played our position and to watch only their movements. I remember watching the Italian hero Paolo Rossi score 6 goals in the tournament. But what I remember most was how Italy grew...
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5 Observations on Connecting With Today's Students

Below is a guest blog post from Tim Elmore. Tim is the President of Growing Leaders and author of Habitudes. He is committed to training the next generation of leaders. Enjoy. I'd love to hear your comments.   Because of the rapid cycles of change we're experiencing these days, I propose that we must rethink how we connect with students every four years. Let me suggest a few. The following observations are about Generation iY (i.e. students born since 1990) that may help you as you attempt to communicate and connect with students today:   Observation #1: They want to Belong before they Believe. Today's students are different than those of past generations. They don't necessarily make decisions based upon logic or statistics. I know professors, salesmen and ministers who will try to convince a young person about something before they build any sense of relationship or community. Students today...
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The Spirit of a School

  "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself" ~ John Dewey   It's Spring Break here in Ontario and the snow just doesn't seem to want to stop falling so today I decided to do a bit of organizing, as well as, back up my computer and iPhone. As I started saving the the school pictures from my phone something hit me - school spirit. People will have different ideas on what school spirit is. In fact if you had asked me when I was in high school or university my answer would have been much different than it is today. Back then I would have said school spirit is much like the picture at the top of this post. Athletics and teams were the heart and soul of a school. They brought everyone together, cheering and supporting their peers and having some fun doing it. I...
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