Saturday, April 8, 2017

Innovation in Education Conference

In cooperation with OECTA, the Board hosted its second annual Education Innovation Conference on April 7 at St. Mary’s (OECTA PD Day - AM). I facilitated a hands-on, open spaces session on the use of Social Media 1) in the classroom to benefit student engagement/achievement, and 2) to assist educators in creating an online professional learning network. 

It was a great experience! I enjoyed connecting with people in the school board that I wouldn't normally get to interact with. I ran two sessions and both were full of questions that affirmed the use of social media in education and pushed back against its use. Great conversation ensued and people left feeling like they had a better understanding of how the use of social media can assist them in their work and growth as educators. 


From a leadership perspective, it was great to present timely and valuable information to my colleagues. With respect to the Catholic Leadership Framework, the work I was engaged in falls under the pillars of Building Relationships and Developing People, Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices, and Improving the Instructional Program. As I meet new people and connect with them I am always encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zone to stretch their thinking and learning.


I look forward to more leadership opportunities where I can connect with people outside of my school in order to positively impact the system.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

WCDSB Digital Learning Progress

Today I participated in an assessment of the digital learning practises that my school board has been engaged in over the past few years. Invited by +Ferdinand Krauss to participate, I was along side 14 other educators in our district to examine and evaluate where we are on our digital learning journey and provide next steps for growth and development.

Using rubrics, we evaluated the following 6 areas:

1. Leadership 
2.Professional Learning
3. Content and Instruction
4. Technology and Infrastructure
5. Data and Assessment

We also provided rationale for our assessment in a Real Time Board that Ferdinand created. While we were working, Ferdinand created a screencast of the group's work. 

Here is a video Ferdinand created about what we were doing today:




Working with +Sean Kritz  and +Amy Shantz , we evaluated the Leadership portion of the overall review.

This experience provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my involvement and experiences as a leader around digital learning. Having been part of, and co-chair, of one of the 21st Century Teaching and Learning Blueprint subcommittees, I have been part of one of our District's major student learning initiatives.

The leadership opportunities that I have participated in have helped me learn about and assist with the five pillars of the Catholic Leadership Framework:

  • Setting Directions
  • Building Relationship and Developing People
  • Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices
  • Improving the Instructional Program
  • Securing Accountability
My leadership experiences around digital learning have provided me with leadership experience, as well as perspectives that benefit what I do at my school to support the students and my colleagues. 

The group will be meeting again to continue the assessment process and to provide thoughts and ideas about next steps that will allow our system to improve upon our digital learning journey. I look forward to reflecting on that experience, particularly on what I can do to help lead to further transformation that will ultimately benefit our students. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

What Do You Want Leaders to Do With Technology?

As the PQP2 course comes to an end, our 10 day challenge wraps up with a reflection on the following question: What do you want leaders to do with technology? As I reflect on this question, I can't help but connect the following Catholic Leadership Framework pillars:

  • Setting Directions
  • Building Relationships and Developing People
  • Developing Organization to Support Desired Practices
  • Improving the Instructional Program
  • Securing Accountability

For me, technology has has allowed me to be more efficient, become a global citizen, connect with others to grow as an educator, and to reach students who seemed to be unreachable. Over the last 9 challenges I have enjoyed reflecting on how I use technology as a teacher, but more importantly, how it can be used as a leader.

I want leaders to use technology for the same reasons I stated above. We live in a time where digital is the norm. Mobile devices run rampant and access to the Internet is becoming a right rather than a privilege. Leaders need to have a general idea of what is out there and be open to how the technology can be used to assist all stakeholder in order to benefit the learning of the students entrusted in our care.

As the playing field levels out with respect to access to the Internet and relatively affordable technology, leaders who are connected and using social media to tell their stories and expand their professional learning network, for example, will be in a good position to model the ethical/effective use of technology to their students and community.

The world we live in today is much smaller than it used to be thanks to technology and the Internet. Leaders need to lead digitally as well as face-to-face. As I move into Day 11 and beyond, I believe that I will continue to use technology to grow as a professional and discover new ways to learn from others, share my learning, reach people who were once deemed unreachable, and find new ways to positively impact the the students under my care.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Evolution in Education: Building Capacity among Educators

This school year I am fortunate to be part of a core team of educators who are working on 'connecting' kids and classrooms. Part of our work involves building the capacity of teachers in our system around the use of a variety of platforms/tools to help classrooms and students connect.

The Core 6 engaged in preparation and discussion before our mini conference on Connecting Classrooms. Photo taken by Jess Weber.

Each member of the team is responsible for a particular tool. My responsibility is to assist/support teachers with the use of Twitter to share their learning (and that of their students), gain new ideas with respect to their practice, and connect with other educators and classes.

Core 6 preparing for their work with other teachers. 
As I prepared a slide presentation to help guide the people I would be working with, I made a conscious effort to reflect on the Catholic Leadership Framework as I was getting ready for these particular sessions at the mini conference.

As I reflected, I quickly realised that the work that I would be engaged in melded well with the following Leadership Framework expectations:

1) Building Relationships and Developing People
  • acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of individuals and teams
  • consider opinions when initiating actions that affect their work
  • build upon and respond to individuals unique needs and expertise
  • encourage teachers to reflect on what they are trying to achieve with students and how they are doing it
  • lead discussions about the relative merits of current and alternative practices
  • challenge educators to continually re-examine the extent to which their practices support the learning of all their students
  • facilitate opportunities for staff to learn from each others
  • suggest new ideas for learning
  • encourage individuals to develop and review their own goals for professional growth and the relationship of those goals to school goals and priorities
  • encourage educators to try new practices that are consistent with both their interests and school goals


Working with a group of teachers about how to use Twitter to leverage this particular tool to connect classrooms and kids. Photo taken by Jess Weber.
2) Developing the Organisation to Support Desired Practices
  • model collaboration in our work
  • foster mutual respect and trust among those involved in collaboration
  • encourage the collaborative development of group processes and outcomes
  • help develop clarity about goals and roles related to collaborative work
  • encourage a willingness to compromise among collaborators
  • foster open and fluent communication among collaborators toward building and sustaining a Catholic professional learning community
  • provide adequate and consistently available resources to support collaborative work
  • provide people with leadership opportunities and support them as they take on these opportunities

The above mentioned expectations were not the only ones that were addressed in the work I was engaged in at the mini conference but the Building Relationships and Developing People and Developing the Organisation to Support Desired Practices pillars were the two major ones.

The mini conference was a great opportunity to help move educators in a direction that will assist them with their professional learning/growth and the achievement of their students. I look forward to continuing to grow as a leader as I assist others in improving their practice. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Connected Principal (Digital Leader) and the Evolution of Educational Leadership




Tomorrow I am spending the day learning with my Principal Qualification Program Part #2 colleagues. We have been provided with a release day to gather and continue to learn about the role of a Principal. On top of learning from and with my colleagues, I will be sharing my understanding of the importance of, and what it means to be, a digitally connected Vice Principal/Principal/Leader.

It has been a bit of a whirlwind putting the presentation together but I am looking forward to sharing my learning with my colleagues in the course and my social media PLN - some of which have been integral in the preparation of my presentation.

Looking at this experience through the lens of the Catholic Leadership Framework I believe that my presentation will assist in Building Relationships and Developing People, Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices, and Improving the Instructional Program. 

There are a lot of benefits to being a connected digital leader that fit very nicely with the expectations of the Leadership Framework. Connected leaders can leverage digital technologies/tools to help establish (or be part of) collaborative cultures, building productive relationships with families and the community, connecting the school to a wider environment, stimulate growth in the professional capacities of staff, modelling the school's values and practices, and providing instructional support. 

With this in mind, I hope that my colleagues will see that being a digitally connected leader is not an "extra" but that it fits in nicely with the society we are currently living in and the work that we do in Education. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

PQP2 - Formal Leadership Learning

I'm very excited to be enrolled in the Principal Qualification Program (part 2). I am surrounded by a great group of formal and informal leaders in my system and look forward to learning with them and from them. It is important for me to note that one of the main reasons I decided to take this course now is because of the instructor who will be leading our learning. I have had the opportunity to work with +Rodney Eckert when I worked under his supervision a few years ago. I find him to be an authentic and effective leader and enjoy listening to him and engaging him in educational discussions with him.

Rod Eckert

It will be nice to connect my learning in the course to the Catholic Leadership Framework, especially the pillars that I feel I need to work on. When I look at and reflect on the Leadership Framework I know that Securing Accountability is a pillar that I will need to spend time reviewing and learning about in this course. I am not naturally attracted to that section of the Framework so I know that I will need to put effort into learning more about it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I'm an NTIP Mentor...Finally!

Seven years ago I felt like it was time to take a risk and put myself "out there" by making it known that I wanted to be a mentor to newer teachers. I remember finishing up my teacher performance appraisal and telling my Vice Principal that I was feeling good about my development and that I wanted to be considered as a potential mentor for new teachers. My VP agreed and let me know that he would make some calls about my interest.

Unfortunately, he was told that they didn't require any mentors at that time. I never stopped looking into it. A couple of years later I asked about it again and was told that mentees got to choose their mentor so if I wasn't contacted then I wouldn't be a mentor. Last year I found myself having a conversation with a consultant working within the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP) who told me that the system for recruiting mentors would be changing. She was correct, a few months later there was a call for mentors and I put my name forward to be considered.

It took seven years but I am really happy (and feel privileged) to say that I am now an NTIP Mentor! A list was put together and I was contacted by two teachers who will be going through the NTIP this school year. I am excited to have the opportunity to build a positive relationship with other colleagues and offer them advice/guidance about the awesome work we engage in on a daily basis.

Looking through the lens of the Catholic Leadership Framework, the opportunity to participate in the NTIP allows me to assist in building relationships and developing people, developing the organization to support desired practises, and improving the instructional program. The opportunity to work on a variety of leadership expectations while formally supporting the growth of others who are relatively new to the profession is welcome.

Aside from offering my perspective and experience to other teachers, I am looking forward to learning from them and seeing/hearing about the awesome things they do to improve their practise and the learning of their students. I look forward to blogging more about my experience as a mentor with respect to the Leadership Framework. This is only the beginning - I look forward to the journey that I am embarking on and the positive changes that come with/from it.