Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Connect and Work Together

I see my leadership journey as a marathon, not a sprint. My thoughts and actions are geared towards a long term goal but because of this fact I don't always give it the time it deserves. I am fortunate to have a colleague in the same building that has a similar goal but I feel like more is needed to keep me engaged and aware of my thoughts and actions and how they can be viewed through the lens of the Catholic Leadership Framework.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the people I know in my school board who are interested in formal leadership. I took some time today to think about why I haven't reached out to them to talk leadership and engage in discussions that can benefit all of us with respect to our work and development as leaders. This thought led to action as I contacted several colleagues and asked them if they wanted to participate in discussions around leadership by examining leadership literature (articles/readings), the use 21st Century tools to connect and grow our professional learning community, and examining our portfolios to prompt further discussion and growth.  

I believe that participating in this type of learning community can benefit my practice, the practice of my colleagues, and our school board by meeting the following Catholic Leadership Framework expectations:

  • establish, in collaboration with staff and other stakeholders, a commitment to purpose and vision which is embedded in the Gospel and energizes our work
  • help staff and diverse stakeholders understand the relationship between the school’s vision and board and provincial policy initiatives and priorities
  • regularly encourage staff to evaluate their progress toward achieving the school’s goals (sipsa/bipsa)
  • encourage staff to develop and periodically review individual goals for professional growth, as well as the relationship between their individual goals and the school’s goals (sipsa/bipsa)
  • model collaboration in our work
  • help staff (colleagues) make connections between school goals and ministry goals in order to strengthen commitment to school improvement efforts
The above expectations will provide us with a great start! I am excited to see what comes from our learning as we start our leadership learning experience.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Self Awareness and Next Steps

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We had our "back to school" staff meeting this week. It was great to see my co workers and hear about their summer adventures. As the day progressed I found myself reflecting on my professional goals for this school year. I was thinking about my growth as an educator and the possible obstacles that could get in the way.

One of the things that came to mind was how important self awareness is - knowing your own personality, who you are, and what you are about. It sounds easy, but I don't think it is for everyone. For example, as I reflect on my perceived strengths and weaknesses, it isn't always easy to acknowledge my weaknesses/next steps because the areas I lack in are becoming ever more important in an educators toolbox.

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Nevertheless, I thought about and verbalized my weaknesses to a few of my colleagues and that got me started on considering next steps to work on in order to improve myself. By having an awareness of the things that I need to work on, I moved into action (a small one) and talked to one of my teaching partners about it. This provided them with a little bit of an understanding of my perspective and why I do (and don't do) certain things. Fortunately, this led to a great discussion about how we can collaborate in a way that honours who I am and who they are.

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In this case, things seem to be turning out to be positive. I am sure it won't always be that way. We all have to start somewhere and in my case I think I'm off to a good start.

With respect to the Catholic Leadership Framework, self awareness would fall under the "Personal Leadership Resources" pillar. Specifically, my attention is drawn to the "Psychological Resources" subsection. The subsection mentions optimism, self-efficacy, resilience, and proactivity. I believe that being self aware is another important resource. Knowing about yourself will provide you with valuable information about your limits and why you believe and act in certain ways. By knowing these things you can work to change them and/or to minimize the negative impact they may have on others around you. For example, if I am the Principal of a school, I am responsible for effectively working with and providing my best self to those that I work with each day. Therefore it is important that I know my strengths, weaknesses, and have a plan to work on myself in order to minimize negative effects on the school community that I am "leader" of.

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I am certain that I will have good days and bad days as I journey on becoming a better version of myself. Looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Innovation in Education Conference

In cooperation with OECTA, the Board hosted its second annual Education Innovation Conference on April 7 at St. Mary’s (OECTA PD Day - AM). I facilitated a hands-on, open spaces session on the use of Social Media 1) in the classroom to benefit student engagement/achievement, and 2) to assist educators in creating an online professional learning network. 

It was a great experience! I enjoyed connecting with people in the school board that I wouldn't normally get to interact with. I ran two sessions and both were full of questions that affirmed the use of social media in education and pushed back against its use. Great conversation ensued and people left feeling like they had a better understanding of how the use of social media can assist them in their work and growth as educators. 

From a leadership perspective, it was great to present timely and valuable information to my colleagues. With respect to the Catholic Leadership Framework, the work I was engaged in falls under the pillars of Building Relationships and Developing People, Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices, and Improving the Instructional Program. As I meet new people and connect with them I am always encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zone to stretch their thinking and learning.

I look forward to more leadership opportunities where I can connect with people outside of my school in order to positively impact the system.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

WCDSB Digital Learning Progress

Today I participated in an assessment of the digital learning practises that my school board has been engaged in over the past few years. Invited by +Ferdinand Krauss to participate, I was along side 14 other educators in our district to examine and evaluate where we are on our digital learning journey and provide next steps for growth and development.

Using rubrics, we evaluated the following 6 areas:

1. Leadership 
2.Professional Learning
3. Content and Instruction
4. Technology and Infrastructure
5. Data and Assessment

We also provided rationale for our assessment in a Real Time Board that Ferdinand created. While we were working, Ferdinand created a screencast of the group's work. 

Here is a video Ferdinand created about what we were doing today:

Working with +Sean Kritz  and +Amy Shantz , we evaluated the Leadership portion of the overall review.

This experience provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my involvement and experiences as a leader around digital learning. Having been part of, and co-chair, of one of the 21st Century Teaching and Learning Blueprint subcommittees, I have been part of one of our District's major student learning initiatives.

The leadership opportunities that I have participated in have helped me learn about and assist with the five pillars of the Catholic Leadership Framework:

  • Setting Directions
  • Building Relationship and Developing People
  • Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices
  • Improving the Instructional Program
  • Securing Accountability
My leadership experiences around digital learning have provided me with leadership experience, as well as perspectives that benefit what I do at my school to support the students and my colleagues. 

The group will be meeting again to continue the assessment process and to provide thoughts and ideas about next steps that will allow our system to improve upon our digital learning journey. I look forward to reflecting on that experience, particularly on what I can do to help lead to further transformation that will ultimately benefit our students. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

What Do You Want Leaders to Do With Technology?

As the PQP2 course comes to an end, our 10 day challenge wraps up with a reflection on the following question: What do you want leaders to do with technology? As I reflect on this question, I can't help but connect the following Catholic Leadership Framework pillars:

  • Setting Directions
  • Building Relationships and Developing People
  • Developing Organization to Support Desired Practices
  • Improving the Instructional Program
  • Securing Accountability

For me, technology has has allowed me to be more efficient, become a global citizen, connect with others to grow as an educator, and to reach students who seemed to be unreachable. Over the last 9 challenges I have enjoyed reflecting on how I use technology as a teacher, but more importantly, how it can be used as a leader.

I want leaders to use technology for the same reasons I stated above. We live in a time where digital is the norm. Mobile devices run rampant and access to the Internet is becoming a right rather than a privilege. Leaders need to have a general idea of what is out there and be open to how the technology can be used to assist all stakeholder in order to benefit the learning of the students entrusted in our care.

As the playing field levels out with respect to access to the Internet and relatively affordable technology, leaders who are connected and using social media to tell their stories and expand their professional learning network, for example, will be in a good position to model the ethical/effective use of technology to their students and community.

The world we live in today is much smaller than it used to be thanks to technology and the Internet. Leaders need to lead digitally as well as face-to-face. As I move into Day 11 and beyond, I believe that I will continue to use technology to grow as a professional and discover new ways to learn from others, share my learning, reach people who were once deemed unreachable, and find new ways to positively impact the the students under my care.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Evolution in Education: Building Capacity among Educators

This school year I am fortunate to be part of a core team of educators who are working on 'connecting' kids and classrooms. Part of our work involves building the capacity of teachers in our system around the use of a variety of platforms/tools to help classrooms and students connect.

The Core 6 engaged in preparation and discussion before our mini conference on Connecting Classrooms. Photo taken by Jess Weber.

Each member of the team is responsible for a particular tool. My responsibility is to assist/support teachers with the use of Twitter to share their learning (and that of their students), gain new ideas with respect to their practice, and connect with other educators and classes.

Core 6 preparing for their work with other teachers. 
As I prepared a slide presentation to help guide the people I would be working with, I made a conscious effort to reflect on the Catholic Leadership Framework as I was getting ready for these particular sessions at the mini conference.

As I reflected, I quickly realised that the work that I would be engaged in melded well with the following Leadership Framework expectations:

1) Building Relationships and Developing People
  • acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of individuals and teams
  • consider opinions when initiating actions that affect their work
  • build upon and respond to individuals unique needs and expertise
  • encourage teachers to reflect on what they are trying to achieve with students and how they are doing it
  • lead discussions about the relative merits of current and alternative practices
  • challenge educators to continually re-examine the extent to which their practices support the learning of all their students
  • facilitate opportunities for staff to learn from each others
  • suggest new ideas for learning
  • encourage individuals to develop and review their own goals for professional growth and the relationship of those goals to school goals and priorities
  • encourage educators to try new practices that are consistent with both their interests and school goals

Working with a group of teachers about how to use Twitter to leverage this particular tool to connect classrooms and kids. Photo taken by Jess Weber.
2) Developing the Organisation to Support Desired Practices
  • model collaboration in our work
  • foster mutual respect and trust among those involved in collaboration
  • encourage the collaborative development of group processes and outcomes
  • help develop clarity about goals and roles related to collaborative work
  • encourage a willingness to compromise among collaborators
  • foster open and fluent communication among collaborators toward building and sustaining a Catholic professional learning community
  • provide adequate and consistently available resources to support collaborative work
  • provide people with leadership opportunities and support them as they take on these opportunities

The above mentioned expectations were not the only ones that were addressed in the work I was engaged in at the mini conference but the Building Relationships and Developing People and Developing the Organisation to Support Desired Practices pillars were the two major ones.

The mini conference was a great opportunity to help move educators in a direction that will assist them with their professional learning/growth and the achievement of their students. I look forward to continuing to grow as a leader as I assist others in improving their practice. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Connected Principal (Digital Leader) and the Evolution of Educational Leadership

Tomorrow I am spending the day learning with my Principal Qualification Program Part #2 colleagues. We have been provided with a release day to gather and continue to learn about the role of a Principal. On top of learning from and with my colleagues, I will be sharing my understanding of the importance of, and what it means to be, a digitally connected Vice Principal/Principal/Leader.

It has been a bit of a whirlwind putting the presentation together but I am looking forward to sharing my learning with my colleagues in the course and my social media PLN - some of which have been integral in the preparation of my presentation.

Looking at this experience through the lens of the Catholic Leadership Framework I believe that my presentation will assist in Building Relationships and Developing People, Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices, and Improving the Instructional Program. 

There are a lot of benefits to being a connected digital leader that fit very nicely with the expectations of the Leadership Framework. Connected leaders can leverage digital technologies/tools to help establish (or be part of) collaborative cultures, building productive relationships with families and the community, connecting the school to a wider environment, stimulate growth in the professional capacities of staff, modelling the school's values and practices, and providing instructional support. 

With this in mind, I hope that my colleagues will see that being a digitally connected leader is not an "extra" but that it fits in nicely with the society we are currently living in and the work that we do in Education.