Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Power of Connection

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This quote applies to all stakeholders in the education system. Whether we are speaking about how students, parents, teachers, education assistants or administrators feel, there is little doubt regarding the power of connection. People want to feel that they are valued, that they have a voice and that they are members of a community.

I want to focus now on the feeling of connection amongst educators.

There has been much talk over the past few years about people in the field of education building their own  PLN (Personal Learning Network). The feeling of connection that comes from a PLN is powerful. I have spoken to many people about the role that Twitter can play in developing a PLN. Most of us already have some sort of electronic device, a cell phone, a tablet…that’s all you need. Reaching out to connect with others in the field of education and sharing expertise can be a valuable learning experience. After all, many of the challenges that you face as an educator are not unique to you, your school or community. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands  of people out there who have or are experiencing many of the same challenges that you are and can share their stories about what has worked and what hasn’t. Connect with some of them, have conversations, get feedback on your ideas, take charge of your professional development.

Sure, often when I mention Twitter and other forms of social media like Voxer, I have often been met with “eye rolling”, often followed by “I don’t understand Twitter”, or “I don’t believe in technology”. The fact is, that technology is a part of our lives and most definitely a part of the lives and future of our students. If you are unsure how to use it, then have someone teach you.

You can also build your PLN by attending conferences and workshops about topics that are of particular interest to you. It is easy to get caught up in daily routine with all of the things that seem to pile up on your desk. You can get so focussed on attacking the tasks, prepping, marking… that you don’t take the time to pause and search out experiences that can help you to grow, to connect with new people and have new conversations. Go to a conference and take advantage of the opportunity to share new ideas and opinions, you may even find that you gain a new energy that you otherwise may not gain while staying within the four walls of your classroom. If you do choose to attend a conference, try to sit with people you don’t know, dont just sit with people that you can talk with every day, you already know their opinions, their experiences. Branch out. This can be difficult for those of us who are more introverted but believe me, you will be glad you did. Connecting and collaborating are important skills that we want for our students, don’t you want the same for yourself?

 

 

 

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Learning Can Be Messy!

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First of all, an update on my #OneWord2017, “balance”. I’m working on it and have made some progress, I’m proud to say. I am making an effort to try new things. I decided to try out a paint night with friends. You know, the ones that you hear about on Facebook where a group of women get together to have a glass of wine, a few laughs and try their hand at painting. At times it was difficult to hear our instructor as people were laughing and having a great time. It was so much fun and the interesting thing is that while everyone is painting the same picture, the results are all unique. I was apprehensive at first, I’ll admit that, but once you get started and dab some paint here and dab some more paint there, before you know it you have a painting. As a matter of fact, I liked it so much I decided to sign up for another session.

This weekend I also spent some time at the curling rink watching my son skip in a bonspiel. I remember when he was 9 and he had just started to curl. He is 17 now and will be heading off to university in September. (Don’t know how that happened, where the time went?) During the bonspiel I watched as he skipped very good games and made some great shots under pressure. It was so enjoyable to watch him play. Curling has been such a wonderful learning experience and I am so proud of him.

As I reflect on these two things, my painting experience and my son’s growth as a curler, there are so many lessons here that can be applied to life in general and to education. First of all, take risks, you’ll be happy you tried something new. When I arrived at the paint night event I remember looking at the painting sample that was on display, the one we were all, supposedly, going to try and duplicate. I turned to my friend and said, “I’m not so sure about this, how am I supposed to do that?” But you know, once you get started you see that it is doable. Just relax, don’t stress, and remember to enjoy yourself. It can be messy…I had paint up to my elbows! Learning something new usually is, but when you start to see it all come together its pretty amazing and you most certainly feel a sense of accomplishment.

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With curling, I watched my kids when they were little (my daughter also started to curl when she was in Grade 4) go from barely being able to push a rock, to easily sliding off the hack while getting a rock to curl just the way they wanted. They went from developing the physical skills to developing the psychological skills. Strategically reading the game, deciding what calls to make and how to focus on a shot, take a deep breath and make it happen. Anytime we learn something new we first gain basic knowledge and skills, move forward into the understanding and application of that knowledge and then progress to critical thinking, often working with members of a team to be successful and collaborate on decisions.

You know, last year I didn’t watch my son play a full game of curling. I was always too busy with work. Here’s to continuing to make 2017 a year with more “balance”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance, my #OneWord for 2017

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Balance, my #OneWord for 2017

Funny, the last time I posted in my blog was January of 2016. I haven`t written since then because I was “too busy”. In 2016 I started a new position as a principal of a Middle/High school and, believe me, the learning curve was quite steep. I have enjoyed the learning and challenges along the way and am continuing to learn new things every day. While the year was also sprinkled with fun new travel experiences that I shared with family, upon reflection I realize that my day to day was often consumed with my work.

 

When the Christmas holidays rolled around this year I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I wanted to approach 2017. I am not usually one for  resolutions but when I read in social media that a lot of people were going with the #oneword type of resolution I felt that this was something I could do. I have seen many great #oneword choices, words like believe, growth, pivot, grit, be, hope…the list goes on and on. So, after much thought, I decided to choose one word to be my focus and that one word is balance.

I know that I tend to be an “all in” type of person, I have to be busy all the time. So this concept of balance is not necessarily going to be very easy for me. I am very good at advising other people about the need for balance, the need for them to remember to take time for themselves and slow down. Now, the challenge is, to apply that same advice to my own life.

I, like most, want to do the best I can for the people in both my personal and professional life and in order to do that I plan to be mindful of balance. I started by reading four books over the break which were for pleasure. I love to read and read a lot but over the past year or so my reading list was dominated by books about education. I plan to keep working on balance in my life, whether it be balancing the good with bad, work with play, spending with saving, you get the idea. Wish me luck!