#together - My One Little Word

"The best way to predict the future is to create it" ~ Abraham Lincoln   I can't believe that it has been an entire year since I last posted to my blog. Too long. I can sit here and make excuses but at the end of the day I need to make a commitment to write on a regular basis, which I will do! However, this post isn't about my writing goals for the year, it's about what my "One Little Word" will be for this school year.   It always amazing to me how things manifest when you're present in the moment and pay attention to what's happening around you. This summer as I enjoyed the break with my partner Jenny and my beautiful daughter Zoe, I reflected a lot on my first year as Principal and what I learned about leadership. The time I spent with the two...
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#Open - My One Little Word

    I've never really been "into" New Year's Eve celebrations and everything that comes with it. I am however keen on making changes in both my personal and professional life through constant reflection. Last year I came across the One Little Word movement and it had an immediate impact on my thinking. As I worked through the process the word Mindful came to me. It was my One Little Word until this September. As this point you might be thinking why September? Why not January? Well it really comes down to what I consider my  New Year.  September is when everything changes for me. School starts, the action begins and the work of making the best possible learning environment for students is well and truly underway. So this past summer I began to think about my One Little Word and how it could fit into my professional life. I...
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Empty Hallways, Busy Mind

  "School's out for summer." ~ Alice Cooper   Today the hallways are quiet, the classrooms are empty but my mind is full. It's always a weird feeling for me the day after students have left for the summer. There's always the odd student returning because they forgot something important in their desk or just to say one last goodbye to their teacher, but for the most part it is eerily quiet. But as I said, my mind is full of thoughts about next year and how I can help move the school forward and support students and teachers. So as my mind continues to spin thinking about ways to best support students and teachers next year, below are my thoughts. More integration of our developmental education students. In fact, we have considered changing the name of our developmental education students to active learning students. For me integration of our...
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My Idea

  "The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it's to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they're valued." ~ Sir Ken Robinson   Yesterday my post asked the same question to 5 leaders from my PLN that I respect. The question was; "If you had the power to make 1 change, and 1 change only that would help to improve schools, what would it be?" They didn't disappoint with their responses, they were great.  Soon after I published the post, Aviva Dunsiger ( @avivaloca ) asked what my 1 change would be. I'm glad she asked because I had planned to post my idea today. As I considered the many ideas that would have a positive impact on schools I kept coming back to something I see almost every day in some shape or form - inquiry. Whether it's...
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5 Leaders, 1 Question

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.   What I have been thinking about a lot lately is the big idea of change, and in particular, making 1 change that would have the biggest impact on students. So with that question in mind I reached out to 5 leaders in my PLN that I have the utmost respect for. Each has made an impact on my practice as a school administrator and as a learner. Below are 5 leaders responses to the question: "If you had the power to make 1 change, and 1 change only that would help to improve schools, what would it be?"   Sue Bruyns ( @sbruyns ) - Learning Supervisor, TVDSB. Master principal and teacher respected throughout the district for her knowledge, work ethic and love for kids. Although it might seem trivial, I...
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Leadership and Learning

  I love quotes. The quotes I appreciate I find motivating and inspiring. Sometimes when I read a quote it resonates with me because it's something that I've had difficulty articulating. In any case finding and sharing memorable quotes is part of my day. I have an app on my iPhone that I browse each day and I have an extension for chrome that provides me with thousands of quotes in many categories.  My favourite quote of all time is the one pictured above - "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." ~ John F. Kennedy. For me it speaks to everything that a school administrator should strive for. As a leader when you are learning on your own, or co-learning with colleagues and staff you are demonstrating the values of what a learning community looks and feels like. That's why I love that quote. I'd love to hear...
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Inspiration

" No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world." ~ Robin Williams   Inspiration can come in many forms. Words, videos and actions by others can have a huge impact on your work or your life. This month I'm inspired to follow the lead of a colleague and friend who I admire for her leadership, values and conviction to education. For the month of May @sburyns blogged about something every day. 31 thoughtful and inspiring posts. There wasn't a day that went by that I wasn't inspired by her post. So for the month of June I am going to follow her lead and blog every day. You might read this and think I'm crazy to attempt this in possibly the busiest month of the school year for administrators, but I'm up for the challenge. My only fear is where the posts are going to...
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Lead Learner or Co-Learner?

  If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader John Quincy Adams   I first came across the term Lead Learner in 2013 at EdCamp Leadership in New Jersey. At first I thought that it was a unique way to demonstrate that the leader in the building was also a learner. For me, this is an important message. The leader is also a learner, a life-long learner. I didn't really think much more about it other than I wasn't sure if I could give myself that title if I ever became a principal. Then two recent blog posts pushed my thinking about the title lead learner. Pernille Ripp ( @pernilleripp ) wrote a very insightful post describing what the term Lead Learner means to her. You can read the entire post here . While she understands the meaning behind...
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The Time for Excuses is Over

"We can no longer afford to sustain a school structure built for a time long past." ~ Eric Sheninger The quote above is one that resonated with me immediately after reading it. I received my copy of Digital Leadership - Changing Paradigms for Changing Times by Eric Sheninger shortly after it was released from Corwin. Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to start reading it until last week. Better late than never. Although I am only on chapter 5 there have been times where I have caught myself saying "Yes!" out loud and times of quiet reflection about the path my school is currently on. It was chapter 2 - Why Schools Must Change and in particular the section titled The Time for Excuses is Over that is the inspiration for this post. During my time as a classroom teacher, learning technologies coordinator and vice principal I have tried to...
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4 Reasons Why You Need to Be a Connected Educator

"A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate." ~ Seth Godin   Last week I attended EdCamp Leadership in New Jersey held in the beautiful (but cold!) STEM Building at Kean University. It was the second EdCamp that I've attended and it didn't disappoint. I attended sessions on BYOD and Branding with Eric Sheninger and a session about what teachers really want in back-to-school PD with Joe Mazza. But the session that really got me thinking was with Tom Whitby on the importance of being a Connected Educator. The discussion led by the passionate Tom Whitby and my own thoughts on being a Connected Educator led...
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Build on Your Strengths

"Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?" ~ Benjamin Franklin This post has been a long time coming. A year ago I was given a book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath which immediately went on the bookshelf to be forgotten, until I did some reorganizing a few weeks ago. I knew nothing about the book or the author other than it was a Wall Street Journal Bestseller, and I got that from the cover! With my Comparative Education Masters course finished I decided to make it my next reading, as I could tell from flipping through it that it wouldn't take long to finish.  The premise of the book and the research behind it is that almost any learning program is trying to help us become who we are not. In other words, helping us develop our weaknesses. The author Tom...
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Feedback - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

"Feedback is the breakfast of champions." Kenneth Blanchard For administrators, giving feedback to teachers can be challenging. This week I had two very different conversations regarding classroom practice that had me reflecting on the process of providing feedback, and how it is received by teachers. Feedback is something that I have valued throughout my life as a student, athlete, teacher, learning coordinator and administrator. For those that are open to feedback it is a powerful tool for growth. However, the challenging conversations that occur when discussing classroom practice can be good, bad and even ugly. The culture that is prevalent in the school will have an impact on how these conversations go, but as the leader you must instill the idea that feedback is always for support. Create that culture by valuing your staff as the professionals they are and demonstrate that you are willing to take risks and lead by...
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