One Word- LEARN

It has been a challenging Fall in education.  My main job as Superintendent of Early Learning and Elementary School Improvement is to plan responsive professional learning for educator teams in our board.  Well, this fall there was no professional learning due to the Work to Rule situation.

So, I’m sure you’ve been wondering what I have been doing?  I’ve been learning in many different ways.  I’ve been in many schools; listening, observing, watching, feeling the tone, the mood.  I’ve done yard duty and I’ve listened and watched.  I’ve read books and I’ve synthesized and made connections to the work and learning happening across our system.  I talked to teachers and listened.  I’ve talked to administrators and listened.  I’ve talked to Instructional Leads (ILs), Teacher Researchers and consultants and I’ve listened.

And now I’m ready to learn.  Learn is my ONE WORD that is going to keep me focused for the remainder of the school year.

We engaged in an opportunity with our ILs recently and we invited each person to identify their one word to focus their work for the year.

Some of our teams words were:

Impact  Passionate  Listen  Uniqueness (yes that is a word)  Connecting  Deliberate  Intrepid  Balance  Flexibility  Gratitude  Possibility  Ignite  Serve  Thrive  Appreciate  Why  Simplify

These words filled me with great hope and optimism.  As we start to plan and think about professional learning that is responsive to our system I want to think and remember these words.

I would invite educators to give us feedback about the type of professional learning that works best for them.  We are listening.  We want to hear from you.  We need your voice to ensure that our learning meets the needs of everyone in our system.

So, let’s learn together.  Let’s listen to one another.

Let the learning begin.

~Andrea

A Little Funeral Humor: A Slice of Life Story

This did really happen. I am glad my sister wrote about this funny weekend moment.

booksandbassets

sol

After my father’s funeral on Saturday, most people were going back to my eldest sister’s house for a reception. I drove there with my twin sister, her husband and my mother, who wanted to stop at her place on the way home so she could change clothes and drop off the flowers and urn.

When we got to her apartment building, we dropped Mom at the front door so we could park, telling her we’d carry everything in. After parking my brother-in-law, Tom, took the flowers, my sister, Andrea, took purses because she had a key to Mom’s building, and I carried the urn. Once in the building, we pushed the button for the elevator and got on as soon as the doors opened. We didn’t realize it was going down until it started. No matter. It was only one floor down.

When the elevator doors opened in the basement, a…

View original post 107 more words

What I’ve been learning about math

I’ve had a wonderful last two days visiting some of my schools and engaging in conversations with students, educators and administrators about what they are learning about math.  I’ve used an organizer to gather my learning and thoughts with 4 simple questions:

1)  What are your students learning in math?

2) What are your teachers learning in math?

3)  What are you, as a leader, learning in math?

4) How have you modified your leadership practices to impact what you are learning?

What I’ve seen and heard have me believing that we are making steady progress in mathematics.  Our board math goal is focused on supporting and improving student thinking in Number Sense.  In support of this goal, many of our schools have been using Number Talks with their students.  In a Number Talk, based on the book by Sherry Parish,  children are asked to communicate their mathematical thinking when presenting and justifying solutions  to problems they solve mentally.  These exchanges lead to the development of more accurate, efficient and flexible strategies.  Across the 8 classrooms I visited, I saw consistent processes and procedures used: an intentional use of wait time for students to think about more than one strategy, a gesture used by students to demonstrate to the teacher the number of strategies they have used and  a visual recording of a series of Number Talk threads.  What really struck me was the labelling and naming of strategies for students.  What we label and name gets noticed.  See the tweet below:

One school has even invited parents into the learning they are doing about Number Talks:

So I’m feeling optimistic about math in board.  I commend our students, educators and administrators for the hard work, dedication and focus they are giving to math and the math goal in their classrooms and schools.

If you want to learn more about Number Talks, check out this article:

http://www.mathsolutions.com/documents/numbertalks_sparrish.pdf

Happy Math-ing!

~Andrea

 

 

Thankful Learning- TLDSB-Style

I’ve spent a lot of my time in schools over the last few weeks, talking to teachers, administrators, students and parents about what they are learning.  This is the most joyful part of my job; listening to people talk with enthusiasm about what or how they are learning.

Here are a few highlights:

– I worked with some Kindergarten students who were learning to measure using non-standard units.  I was amazed at their open-ness to learning and the amazing possibilities they saw.  One four year old told me with pride “I am four and I’m already taller than Addison.”  ” I think you are 11″ he then said to me.  “11 what?”  I asked.  “11 measures” he said.

-I co-hosted an Early Years Adobe Meet-Up with 19 schools across our board and some Community Partners.  The meet-up gave time and space for our Early Years teams to consider play and inquiry in the learning lives of our children and to think and imagine what might be next for our students and for us.  Our Early Years teams eagerly made their thinking visible by typing into chat pods which we have now shared out for folks to use as a basis for “next conversations.”

– I facilitated two District Support Visits where the pre- meeting with the leadership teams was one of the highlights of the day.  I am amazed at the “culture of learning” throughout our schools and system.  In one meeting people were so honest and vulnerable about what they still need or want to learn about the content of math.  I was so proud of their bravery for telling their colleagues what they still want and crave to learn.

-I took part in our board’s Ministry Board Improvement Monitoring meeting where I was able to describe the fine learning taking part across our system on behalf of our students.  We talked about math but more importantly, we talked about the collaborative culture of learning where we “learn in teams together” and capacity build across the system daily.

-I am amazed daily by the learning happening at #TLDSBlearns.  The learning that teachers, principals, vice principals, DECEs, classrooms and students are doing publically on Twitter makes me so proud.  We are sharing our questions, our provocations, our wonderings and our delight in our students and our own learning.  If you haven’t already, please check out Ridgewood’s Junior Classrooms who are posing questions to other classrooms around patterning and data management and they are getting responses from all around the world.  You can find them on Twitter:  @Team202_RPS and @Team224_RPS.  Awesome public learning.

On this eve of American Thanksgving,  I want to say thank-you to everyone for inviting me into the learning.  Within our board I am privileged to sit with such passionate educators and leaders  who let me listen, ask questions, talk to students and just enjoy the learning.  I am also so lucky to be able to learn with folks at a provincial level who provoke my thinking, ask me questions and recognize the fine work happening in TLDSB.

I am one happy and thankful learner.

~Andrea

Remembering…Christmas in the Trenches

Nothing can bring me to tears like a Remembrance Day ceremony in a school.  Students so solemnly welcoming veterans into their gymnasium and learning spaces.  The students are so respecful and in awe of our veterans who are so proud to be sharing the day with our students.

About 5 years ago, a group of students from Pine Glen, with teacher Jeninfer Clark, told a story of WW1,  the story of the Christmas Truce. Done in tableu style, the haunting music and the story the students brought to life left not a dry eye in the house.

Here is John McDermott’s version…almost as good as the grade 6’s at Pine Glen from a few years ago.

I hope you are able to remember this week.  And I hope you are able to find a ceremony at a school where you can see students and veterans sharing a moment.  It will give you hope.  It does for me every year.

~Andrea

Clancey Teaches Our Family About Loyalty

I first began my System Leadership Journey as the District Principal of Elementary School Improvement in 2008.  At the time, I worked with a Superintendent named Gale Sherin who was close to retirement.  Gale taught me many things about the system and about curriculum.  But I learned about relationships from her dog, Clancey.

As Gale was getting ready to retire from our district, she mentioned that the last thing she needed to do was find a home for her dog because he was getting older and didn’t love car rides.  She knew he wouldn’t make the trip to Florida two times per year that she and her husband were playing on making during thier retirement.

So, our family stepped in.  We had said good-bye to our Zinnia, a free fruit stand dog (that’s another story) earlier in the year and had just started talking about finding a new family dog.  Well, once I heard Clancey’s story I was gone.

Clancey was born on October 16 2002.  He went to his first family in  December of  2002.  This family lived in the home that Gale and her husband eventually bought.  He lived with his first family until they decided to leave their home on the lake.  In stepped Gale to buy this lake house.  Part of the deal was that the dog of the house, Clancey would come along with the house.  Kind of like a package deal.  Gale and her husband lived in the home with Clancey for many years.  I know that Gale’s neighbour and children had a warm spot in their heart for Clancey, who they had known now through two owners, and regularly walked him and played with him.  Clancey had good people in his life.

When Gale chose to retire, our family stepped in.  We visited Clancey in his home, tried him out for a day in our home and then took the plunge to have him become ours.  I remember Gale telling me a few things about Clancey before he became ours for keeps:

1)  He doesn’t like cats ( we had 3 cats)

2)  He doesn’t like blankets.

3)  He doesn’t particularly like men.

Clancey has now been since November of 2008.  We have become his forever family.  He has taught us so much about loyalty and loving the people who are good to you, who feed you, who love you, who throw a stick your way.  From day 1 Clancey was willing to get to know our 3 cats, Hunter, Charlie and Ned Schneebly.  They have become friends and there are days that we arrive home from our learning journies to find the 4 of them all laying on the same blanket or carpet.  And since day 1 Clancey has been Tom, my husband’s loyal companion.  If Tom is  in the room, Clancey’s eyes are on him.   They are loyal companions to each other.

So what is the definition of loyalty:

loy·al·ty
ˈloiəltē/
noun
noun: loyalty
  1. the quality of being loyal to someone or something.
    “her loyalty to her husband of 34 years”
    • a strong feeling of support or allegiance.
      plural noun: loyalties
      “fights with in-laws are distressing because they cause divided loyalties
      synonyms: allegiance, faithfulness, obedience, adherence, homage, devotion; More

10385296_10154745980345335_3051315197183032589_n[1]

I can truly say that Clancey has taught us about loyalty.  About feeling supported and having a strong allegiance to someone.  Even though we weren’t his first family, he is our most loved dog.  He may be getting older (he just turned 12 last month) but he still loves to fetch sticks, go for a swim at the Port Sydney dam, tear apart his “babies” and walk on our trails.

He has taught us a lot about relationships, loyalty and being a family.  I am so thankful that he came into our lives.

~Andrea

 

 

 

Socktober!

This week I had the pleasure of visiting several schools.    I had a pivotal moment when visiting Grandview.

The Principal introduced me to a young man named Aidan, who at only 8 years old was, in her words,  “Doing something incredible”!

Aidan had viewed Kid President’s video about Socktober.   Here’s the video link if you haven’t seen it.

Well it seems that the video really spoke to Aidan and within days of seeing the video a flyer created by Aidan had been sent home, socks started flowing into the school and kids (this is a K-3 school) started making a serious difference by collecting Socks for nearby Shelters for the Homeless.

Here’s a picture of the letter that went home with all students!  And another of the second batch of socks that these amazing kids have collected.

10745020_10205266087596540_734067970_n[1]                                        10743444_10205266087796545_1978309709_n[3]

Once again…our students have amazed me.  Consider the power viewing Kid President’s video has had on this small K-3 school.  I know that our future is in great hands (and feet) when I see acts of incredible kindness like this initiated by our youngest students.

Way to go Aidan!

Way to go Grandview!

This adult is in awe of you!

~Andrea