Saturday, December 13, 2014

Driving down the 21st Century Teaching/Learning Road


My school board is on an exciting adventure and I am happy to be part of it. Last year the WCDSB informed the community of its 21st Century Learning and Teaching Blueprint. The Blueprint provides our system with an outline of key student outcomes and the working groups that have been created to support the system (staff, students, and parents) in "Driving down the 21st Century Teaching/Learning road". 

As co-chair of the Social Media & Digital Citizenship working group I am part of an amazing team of staff members from a variety of positions in the Board. Last year we worked on identifying what needs to happen to assist our system in leveraging Social Media to benefit teaching/learning and produce responsible digital citizens. This year our task is to develop resources around the use of Social Media and to collaborate with the Religion/Family Consultant around digital citizenship connected to our Religion program.

Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices

One of the major developments in our system to help us realize the outcomes and vision in our Blueprint involves the implementation and use of Google Apps for Education (GAFE). GAFE provides a wonderful set of tools that assist users with such things as productivity, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. At the school level, staff and students are learning when it is appropriate to use the tools and how to effectively use them.

As a classroom teacher with experience and knowledge using GAFE with my students I have been working on
  • educating my colleagues,
  • inviting them to develop their understanding of GAFE, 
  • supporting them on their learning journey, and 
  • encouraging them to implement the use of it in their practice
This process is a dynamic one that takes on many forms, occurs in a variety of ways, and requires differentiation based on the needs of the learner. In order to help and support my colleagues as they embark on "driving down the 21st Century Teaching/Learning road" I have 
  • facilitated 'lunch and learn' sessions, 
  • met with staff individually in formal and informal capacities,  
  • initiated Google Hangout sessions during and after school hours, and
  • have had colleagues visit my classroom to see what 21st C learning might look like
Here are a couple of artifacts around our 'lunch and learn' sessions and Google Hangout that have been facilitated.

Google Slide prepared to give staff an idea of how they can use slides in an innovative way.

Email sent to staff to bring them together to activate their GAFE accounts.

Screenshot of the Google Hangout event:

Learning Along the Way

As I reflect upon the the practices I have mentioned above, the richness of my experiences and leadership comes from working with others and learning with and from them in order to benefit our practice and the learning of our students. Part of my reflection about my leadership involves looking at the Catholic Leadership Framework and seeing how my experiences connect with the framework and what I can do to grow as a leader. As I reviewed the framework I noticed that my experiences fit within a variety of pillars in the framework. With respect to this particular blog post it was the "Developing the Organization and Supporting Desired Practices" pillar that really caught my eye. I could really identify with and the practices listed in the 'Developing collaborative cultures and distributing leadership' sub section. It is affirming to know that the work I am doing in helping move the Board's 21st Century Learning and Teaching Blueprint forward in the system and my school has me engaged in practices that have been deemed important ones for Catholic school leaders. 

As I continue reflecting on and recording my actions and thoughts about my leadership journey I look forward to spending more time with the Catholic Leadership Framework to compare/contrast my mindset and practices with those listed in the framework. I anticipate a worthwhile learning experience as I discover alignment and conflict through the lens of the framework.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Power of Self-Reflection

recently attended the second session of my Boards Leadership program and I have to say that I left satisfied with the content and conversation.

After a recap of our first session and a brief talk about our assigned readings we talked about the power and importance of self reflection. One of our lead learners gave us an example of the impact and benefit of self reflection by telling us about the crazy day he had at work and how he ensured time to reflect on his actions and words. At then end of the story his point became clear - self reflection is a habit that is an essential ingredient for effective leadership. 

Our discussion about reflection got me thinking about my self reflections - when, where, why, and how I reflect. I realized that self reflection is actually one of my assists and that I could further benefit from it by becoming more aware and systematic with them.

Even though I engage in self reflection quite often, I don't always welcome it. This is no surprise to me because sometimes my reflections are brought on by negative experiences. It isn't easy to immerse yourself in a process that will cause discomfort, but I am learning that the discomfort tends to lead to positive results.

As I was thinking about blogging my thoughts about the benefits of self reflection, with respect to leadership, I stumbled across an app created to assist in reflection. 

It is called Pine, here is its description:

Seeing as how I use my smart phone for a variety of reasons each day, I thought it would be neat to use it to 'check in' allowing me to "appreciate the ups, handle the downs, and start noticing the things that are in the way of getting the most out of life". 

Here are some screen shots of the introduction to this app:

In the next day or two I will start using this app to see if it fits with with who I am, the work I do each day, and whether it helps me meet my goal of becoming more aware, systematic, and skilled with respect to self reflection. I have, and continue to, experience the benefits of self reflection. The growth that comes from taking the time to seriously think about my actions and motives is second to none - this is why I must continue to become better at it.