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Archive for January, 2015

​Eds,

We are excited to host a “gathering” of educators on Monday morning. We will come together in the Eagle’s Nest in the morning for some breakfast snacks. All staff are welcome to come and mingle with our visitors. Please sign in at the office and get a visitor lanyard. Our guests are invited to investigate student learning in the grade 2/3 area and the 5/6 area and are invited to explore the rest of the school if they wish. They will be with us until 11:00 or so. School officially begins at 8:30 am. I will speak briefly with all visitors after morning announcements and then you are free to move to observations. Nutrition break lasts from 10:10-10:50.

We welcome staff from Queen Victoria Public School and staff from Indian Creek Public School in Chatham. Together we endeavour to work so that learning is deeper for our students. I wish to thank the partnerships of Principal Moore and Principal Callow and the innovative educators who take the risk to engage with fellow eds. in school observation visits.

The purpose of our gathering is to again recognize that schools are learning laboratories. Having visiting teachers helps us immensely in ensuring that what we say and believe we are doing for students is evident by their metacognitive understanding. We start with the question: Are the students able to articulate their learning in meaningful ways. We ask visitors to help us with this work. We also recognize that visitors take with them learning that will undoubtedly impact work in thier respective buildings. Questions you may want to ask our students are:

What are you learning?
Why are you learning this?
What are your next steps?
How are you going to move forward?

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We have embraced student metacognition (thinking about thinking) as our methodology to learn deeper.

As I personally prepare for a school visit I really only do one thing. I take a mindful stance. Mindfulness is defined as paying attention, on purpose, non-judgementally. Of course this sounds easy. As you all may have experienced, as teachers, the non-judgementally part is the hardest. We as educators (especially at report card time) have been trained to believe that judging is our job. I ask you to take a mindful stance. Join us here at Eastwood to observe students, to dialogue and to learn together.

If you would like to take a look at our learning journey for the last couple years you may investigate our School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and Well Being.​

We will use the attached observation sheets for your visit. We request that you give these observation sheets back to the host school prior to your departure as will will use these observations to grow and learn. We believe that transparency builds trust. If you wish to make a copy before leaving so you can take your notes with you the office secretary Kim or James will be happy to help you.

Looking forward to meeting all of you. Thanks for your patience and mindfulness with our students and our learning environment.

James

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Principal Mark Rinaldi-Ross and I have engaged with our staff during the instructional rounds process this season. Seen here Mark is on the floor observing. He is an amazing leader. Also involved is the impressive staff of Parkview under the leadership of Dave Simone. Our three schools partnered to build trust and cultivate our respective cultures of learning.

Observing. I profess this art is in limited supply in our classrooms today. The kind of observation I speak of is non-judgmental. It is exercised with what I call “interested neutrality.” It must be practised….. and critiqued. The best way is inside the protective environment that protocols can offer. When I say protective I simply mean controlled. Skilled facilitators lead teams of learners through the layered processes of instructional rounds.

I do not believe that observing is limited because our well meaning professional teachers do not want to observe as a value judgment. I suggest that they have not been coached how to, their efforts to do so have not been honoured or they have been too busy “covering” curriculum by virtue of their’s or their leader’s expectations. These obstacles are common derailers of becoming learning leaders.

Engaging with our staff in instructional rounds (IR) involved:
-visits to classrooms to observe student learning
-recording observations
-grouping and naming observation clusters
-dialoging through the process
-addressing strengths and next steps in alignment with school visions and plans

By partnering with our teachers and further with fellow schools through the IR process we, as leaders, address and overcome all three obstacles. The nature of IR reduces the threat of judgment as the focus is on how the students learn together by documenting what they say and do in descriptive ways. Feedback is delivered and teachers listen carefully for patterns, inconsistencies and celebrations. There is no intent to find fault or offer advice. Key here is that only the teachers being visited have the innate knowledge of the learning that has been happening in the room. Visitors simply offer descriptive observations.

The team is coming to Eastwood in two Mondays. We are excited to hear our partners observations. I am so pleased to be part of my school team and the greater team of three schools. I trust my learning stance and interest to sit on the floor and observe student learning will continue to support my teachers as lead learners.

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Our mentor text on Instructional Rounds.

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The School Improvement Plan for 2014-15

The School Improvement Plan for 2014-15

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