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Posts Tagged ‘Teachers’

Well…. welcome back to school!  I have seen almost all of the staff in the last weeks.  I have also seen evidence in the school that all of them have returned safely from trips and family excursions to prepare our school!  Everyone has put in so much work to prepare our school for the welcoming of its students and KPS families!  There are a few preparations we are still waiting on (shelves, some furniture, etc.).  Thanks for everyone’s’ patience.
We may have over 540 students registered for school this academic season!  If we realize this population there could be some change to our registers.  Any changes to class lists and structures will wait until reorganization day (Sept. 19th).  We will look to maintain as much as we can when a possible reorg. is on the table.  I will keep you as up to date as I can.
With so much to prepare and do for the first day of school Vice Principal Winney and I want to take one thing off the teachers’ plates (well actually put it on their plate).  Staff need not pack a lunch on the first day as we are happy to provide all staff with a Subway lunch.  We will have subs and all the fixin’s ready for your first break through second break.  We offer staff this lunch in recognition of a great start up, their hard work in preparations and in celebration of another amazing year at KPS.
First week events are limited.  It is always my intention to give staff the time they need with our students, get to know our groups and to begin our timetable right away. Staff are asked to communicate with each other if you would like to alter the schedule slightly on day one. We get right into the timetable so we can trouble shoot any issues heading into reorg. day. Our students know who their teachers are and where their classrooms are. Some may have forgotten.  Please make the time to circulate on the playground starting at 8:50 am on Day one, classlist in hand just in case.  Welcoming our families and students on the playground is always a great way to start the year.  Those teachers without homerooms can circulate as classes begin and make sure every single student feels welcome and part of our amazing school (especially our newest faces).
Over the summer I did some thinking.  I share these next few lines with you in an effort to put on paper a few of my key beliefs as your lead learner:
  1. The most important thing is to be kind.
  2. Collaborative, supportive and positive school culture depends solely on the bonds of interrelational trust within and among all stakeholders.
  3. Learning depends on opportunities to think, do, assess and repeat.
  4. Our primary purpose as an organization is to provide learning opportunities for all.
  5. Learners at KPS will leave each day better prepared, happier and more confident than when they came.
  6. We will learn about, from and with each other every day.
  7. The way we treat each other and our students is the way our students will treat each other.

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    McKena, Zoe and Gavin in back to school garb and pose wish you a great day one!

Welcome Back to Kingsville Public School Everyone. . .
A Rich History,
A Bright Future,
Leading, Learning, Now.
James.

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Please give strong consideration to this homegrown professional learning opportunity….

Why Homegrown? Kristen Wideen, Eric Wideen, Shannon Hazel, James Cowper are coordinating the day with a larger team including other teachers from the GECDSB and WECDSB!

It’s free and we’ll give you all the coffee you can stomach! (there is even an after glow at Rock Bottom!)

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[ http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/ ]EdCamps are held worldwide. They are a free, “unconference” style professional learning opportunity. Professionals gather at one location and learn together. The learning is defined by the participants that arrive that day.

EdCampSWO is being held at the University of Windsor on Saturday, October 13th from 8:30-4 pm.

If you would like to get your FREE tickets for this event see this link. [ http://edcampswo.eventbrite.ca ]www.edcampswo.eventbrite.ca

Sign up today….help us beat the EdCampDetroit mark of 200 participants!

There will be lots of technology-integration learning available:

iPads in the classroom
Twitter for learning
using Smart technologies
Web 2.0 for you
Leading change with technology
iPads in Secondary
integrating tech into your literacy program
LiveScribes in schools
Math and the iPad
blogging, glogging and vlogging!
GoogleDocs, Hangout and SKype in the classroom, etc!

Many GECDSB teachers, administrators, instructional coaches and program consultants are already registered! We are also expecting educators from around Southwestern Ontario!

If you are interested in an awesome professional learning opportunity, check out the link below for more info about EdCamp SWO (south western ontario).

[ http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/edcamp+SWO ]http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/edcamp+SWO

Check it out! Also, please feel free to forward to others who may be interested. Thanks!

You can follow EdCamp SWO on Twitter @edcampSWO

Thanks everyone….see you there!

James

 

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When meeting as a Critical Friends Group (CFG)  it is essential to surface assumptions. Assumptions about the work, about each other. Assumptions about learning and the learners. Last July in Alpharetta, GA we started our 5 day institute experience by exploring our working assumptions for the following days.

  1. Our work products are better when we collaborate.
  2. Protocols offer equity in voice as well as efficiency.
  3. All 3 jobs: participant, presenter and facilitator require practise in order to improve.
  4. Creating and sustaining collaborative cultures is rigorous and intentional

At times when dialogue is stunted or a group is stuck it may be entirely necessary to voice your assumption in order to move beyond a hump. When it is time for the facilitator to allow time for Q and A it is important to understand that Q and A stands for Questions and Assumptions. If we had the answers we wouldn’t have the questions.  Coming together “beyond the place of right and wrong” makes for rich and fertile learning ground.  Rumi continued “there is a field, meet me there.”  At the heart of the CFG is equity of learning for presenter, facilitator and participant in a place where we can see things together.

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We are all unique, but we are not alone. I can see things you can not see and you can see things i can not. We must try to see what is there together. M. Holquist

This poster was hanging in the space that we were using in the media centre of Alpharetta High School.  Apropos of our CFG work I thought.  You?

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How many times have you heard “Research shows that…”

I saw my first “Back to School” commercial yesterday (July 26) and the How Soon is Too Soon question popped in my mind. Here in SWOntario we don’t start school until September 4th. I digress.

This ad claims that “laboratory tests, over the last few years,” have shown that babies fit in better during those awkward pre-teen and teen years after drinking cola.

Hmmmm…..my math isn’t that bad.

Be careful when you quote, listen to, claim and read research that might strengthen your point. Read critically, question, seek further resources and by golly make sure the math adds up. When it does it makes a world of difference. When the math doesn’t add up we lose the trust we are building in the public education system. As Douglas Reeves says “It makes us all look bad.”

Do you still:

  • have spelling tests?
  • “do” calendar?
  • work in isolation?
  • say “they mark too easy” when referring to colleagues whose students excel?
  • give a student a grade a week later, a month later, never?
  • think a grade is feedback?
  • ban handheld devices in your classroom?
  • show movies on the SmartBoard?
  • believe social media is a fad?
  • believe the best learning environment is a quiet one?
  • demand (parents) or give worksheets (plural) for homework?
  • say “respect must be earned?”
  • use the sentence “the problem with kids these days…”
  • blame the teacher, the administrator, the parents, the students, the school district or rock and roll music…etc.

Now, do you know what the research says about these practises? Does it align with your thinking or challenge your thinking?

It is time to learn something new. Step out of the comfort zone and into the learning zone, the risk zone. Take a learning stance. Find new research. Heck, develop your own research out of an inquiry.

This school year, abandon a practise that you are hearing questioned more and more. Replace it with something new, something different, something from a colleague or even “scarier” a colleague’s blog! Something that makes the kids say…”What has gotten into Mr. Cowper?!? This guy wants us to Tweet our learning? OMG He has changed! He is CRAZEE!”

Yup…there it is. The magic word. Change. Do you believe they used to allow ads like the one above in magazines? They also used to smoke on airplanes, have back seats, with no seatbelts, the size of Montana, give children bottles of ink and a fountain pen? My gosh…the Principal used to use a strap to teach learnin’!

“They” is actually we. We have segregated our schools, isolated our most vulnerable students away from schools, assimilated the culture out of our students and myriads of other draconian practises that kept us from being true learning institutions. Institutions with a culture where the most important learning was about ourselves, about our interconnectedness with the earth with each other (our kids) and about learning.

This year connect. Research shows that, good or bad, the greatest and most impactful aspect of a student’s life (no matter the grade) is their teacher. Connect with them. Learn with them. Know them.

And have fun doing it. (I know Ms Rotundi, I am never supposed to start a sentence, let alone a paragraph, with a grammatical conjunction.)

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Talking with Daniel Pink about Motivation, Engagement and Education in Two Parts. Cross posted at Connected Principals.


My wife Tricia “failed” her first driver’s test. There, the world knows. Her father had dedicated the previous few months to teach her proper. During the first lesson she, her father and younger brother got into the sky blue ’88 Caprice Classic station wagon that was parked in the two car garage.

“Place the keys in the ignition place your foot on the brake and turn the engine over.” Her father stated in his stoic and serious manner.

“But Dad, shouldn’t I. . .”

“Listen, if you want to learn you have to listen. Do not interrupt and listen. I’ll teach and you listen. Now turn the engine over. Good. Place the car in reverse and slowly take your foot off the brake.”

“Dad, when am I going to . . .”

“Tricia, you have to listen and do what I say. Don’t interrupt. I am trying to tell you, you need to listen.” The electrical engineer inside was getting the better of Dad. Learning about things like driving and electricity was not done through trial and error. This was life or death. Get it right the first time.

Tricia was making every attempt to engage with her teacher. She was instead being told to comply. Let’s face it. From the driver’s perspective learning to drive is an engaging process. From the passenger’s seat compliance seems entirely appropriate.

Until you realize you just instructed your 16 year old daughter to drive through the closed garage door. The 13 year old boy in the back seat stating that “she was trying to tell you Dad,” didn’t help.

On one of our snowed in nights this winter I had the opportunity to speak with Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Surprisingly he was snowed in at his location in Washington D.C. as well. For over 45 minutes Daniel, Jodie and I talked about motivation and engagement versus compliance in the educational setting. His insights into the system of education and the connections to his research for Drive are timely and certainly transferrable.

The text below is a record of that conversation presented here with Daniel’s permission. The conversation has been edited for presentation purposes. Thanks to Daniel Pink for his interest in sharing his thoughts, ideas and perspectives with educators.

JC: Variations of the carrot and stick can be seen in classrooms all over the world, certainly in North America. How can we unlearn some of these practices, practices of – to be kind of flippant about it–candy and detentions, so that kids can be motivated to learn more?

DP: For adults unlearning things is far more difficult than learning things so it’s a very tall order. One of the things that‘s happened is that we essentially created a set of assumptions that the way people, whether they are big people or little people, perform better is if you offer a reward or threaten them with a punishment. What’s disconcerting is that this is true some of the time. The danger with our kids is that if we treat them in a way that suggests that the only reason to do something is to get a good grade or to avoid a punishment we essentially sacrifice an enormous amount of talent and capability. When learning is open-ended, collaborative, when it’s about the strategy rather than the right answer then the approach is valuable in terms of helping kids think.
JC: In Ontario we have had a recent change to our report card system driven by a document called Growing Success: Assessment Practices from K-12. Learning skills are at the forefront of a child’s progress. The rest of the report card uses the traditional letter grades to rate a student’s performance. What are your thoughts on assessment, evaluation and reporting processes that happen in schools?

DP: You have to know how kids are doing. The problem is that often the assessment ends up driving everything. It basically becomes the purpose rather than feedback on the purpose and that is incredibly distorting. When you focus entirely on the performance goals, you often have a very thin, fleeting mastery of the material. It could actually be doing kids a disservice. You want to measure learning skills and you need a measure of performance. What concerns me is less grades per se than when grades basically become the goal rather than learning as the goal. If grades are the goal then people will go for the grades and may miss out on the learning. Again, I don’t think you necessarily have to get rid of grades but you have to put it into context. I don’t think there is an ideal evaluation system but before you get to the ideal evaluation system you have to go to the first principles. We are evaluating things because we want to give people feedback so that they can learn. We are not evaluating things as the end in itself.
There’s a difference between a learning goal and a performance goal. They are not the same. Our schools, especially in the States, are focused entirely on performance goals because they think that learning goals and performance goals are the same. Policy makers, even parents, haven’t reckoned with the fact that they are two very different things. I’ll give you the best example of this I can an example that you can relate to in Canada. I took French in secondary school and in university for six years. Every marking period of every semester I got an A in French. I can’t speak French. Why? The reason is I didn’t learn French; what I did is I performed on tests and quizzes. But if you throw me on the streets of Quebec City, in a French speaking part, and I get lost, I’m not going to find my way back home. If I had focused in those six years on actually trying to learn French maybe I would have gotten a B but I would probably be able to speak French. We’re obsessed over performance goals and we’re sort of thinking that if the performance goals are right then the learning goals will follow and that’s just not true. In fact, the opposite might be true. That is, if we focus on the learning goals then the performance will end up taking care of itself.

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JN: How do we change the minds of the students who have been going for that grade all along?

DP: It is really difficult because as an individual you are taking on an incredibly heroic and daunting task. You’re saying how can I deprogram and reprogram my 25 students, and then all the students in the school, and then all the students in Ontario. It’s a very daunting task because every other message they are getting, whether from parents, from policy makers, from the design and architecture of the school’s evaluation system itself, is telling something opposite. So you’re going up against really ferocious headwinds. The way I look at this is you’ve got to start small. Try to reach one or two kids. If you can do that, that is progress – you’ve made a difference in one or two kids’ lives. Try to reach one or two parents. Find one or two fellow educators who are with you and you have a little alliance and that’s how institutions change. That’s how society changes. We all want to be able to say “Whoa! Here we go – we’re going to change it all.” And it doesn’t work that way. It’s slow and it’s one by one. What keeps teachers going is the opportunity to affect one or two kids and to have those kids be better human beings because of their presence

To Be Continued . . .

carrots + sticks < love, “Click” change and Teacher / Learner by Libby Levi for opensource.com

You can follow Daniel (DP), James (JC) and Jodie (JN) on Twitter

@danpink, @cowpernius and @iteachELL

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I have to meet this science teacher.  I mean it.  Having a student work with these mediums and allowing for this level of responsibility must have required much work.  I want to know what was involved in terms of his or her (the teacher’s) learning.  This student must be completely engaged.  Great work.  Another example of the work teachers do to engage young people in learning.

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Possibly the best stink eye on a kid that I have seen!

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