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

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

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.

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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

What George and Basketball Have Taught Me

Today was an amazing day.

Last May I had the pleasure of hearing George Couros’ keynote address via an e-learning conference hosted during the OAME conference.  That day in May he touched my heart and I knew immediately that I wanted the awesome educators in our board to hear his message.

So, today George came to Bracebridge.  He made us laugh and cry and cheer and clap.  He even made himself cry!  My favourite line of the day was when George was wiping his tears, “Sorry, I find myself so inspirational.”  And he was!

He put change and hardship in perspective by telling stories of his Dad and his Greek family.   It put the change and hardship we see daily in education into perspective.  When you consider the challenges that George’s Dad was faced with when he first came over to Canada, can we really complain about moving from Word to Google Docs?

This year I learned about change and hardship from my daughter.  On February 10th, Alexis tore her ACL and meniscus while playing basketball.  What followed was 6 weeks on crutches, surgery in June, inclusion in an ACL study at the University of Western Ontario and hours and hours of physiotherapy.  And you know what…she still wants to play basketball.  To me that is resiliency, dealing with change and having heart.  Alexis teaches me so much every day.

 

So thank you @gcouros for an amazing day and thank you Alexis and basketball for teaching me that change is good.

Today I have written my first blog post.  I plan on making my learning public from now.

I am an educator questioning my way forward.  And I look forward to the questions and the change.

Today was an amazing day!

~Andrea