Friday 26 July 2019

A Balancing Act

We have all heard of the analogy of Life and Juggling Balls. My recent mentor used the analogy to explain the role of a Principal. As an administrator you are constantly juggling far too many balls in the air. It is easy to think how can I possibly keep these all in the air - the numerous requests, support and demands from students, staff, parents, Supervisors, and email are just a few of the jobs to balance. The list could go on for miles. Now look at the demands and tasks and separate them into glass balls and rubber balls. If you drop glass balls there is sure to be a devastating outcome as the ball shatters into millions of pieces. Taking more time to clean up then to have completed in the first place. When you drop the rubber ball it will eventually bounce back. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks and demands that face you in your career determine which ones are glass and which ones are rubber! What can you let go of by passing on to someone else.

The concept of flexibility, on the other hand,
helps you to reign in the juggling act by helping
you to prioritise what̢۪s ...

Shout Out!

Richard Byrne

I wanted to take a minute to do a shout out for Richard Byrne's Practical Ed Tech Tips. I can spend hours watching his you tube videos for tips and tricks. 

Just recently I wanted to import my blog into a google site and found a quick tutorial on Byrne's channel.

Monday 15 July 2019

New FSL Teachers

The FSL teacher

When you have core French teachers in your school do they feel included in Staff PD? Do they play a role in Collaborative Inquires? As a leader do you struggle to provide instructional leadership for new FSL teachers?

Across Ontario school boards are facing the crises of FSL teacher shortages and Principals are dealing with a revolving door of new teachers. 

Moving forward I am working on a  professional learning plan for new French teachers in my building.

Of course for all new teachers there are procedures to share to welcome them to the building:

  • Staff handbook (I am working on a digital version on google drive)
  • Staff Calendar and Email
  • Tour of the building, timetable, supervision schedule and keys to the school
  • School Improvement Plan 

For FSL teachers I would also include the following resources
  • New FSL Teacher Handbook 
  • Including Students with Special Needs in FSL Programs
  • Welcoming ELL's into FSL Programs
  • Listening to Learn: A Differentiated Approach to Teach Listening in Core, Extended & French Immersion

Since we run collaborative inquires during staff meetings it is important to think about how the FSL teacher fits into the groups. 

Food for thought:

How does the staff view FSL teachers in the school? 
How do FSL teachers collaborate with other FSL teachers? 
What resources are available in the school to support FSL teachers? 
What resources are available in the board to support FSL teachers?

Teacher Resources:
Ontario New FSL Teacher Handbook:

Resources for new teachers can be found at this site:

Instructional Leaders:  A website that shares professional learning materials from CEFR provincial initiatives with Ontario's English-language school boards, to support effective planning, instruction and assessment in French as a Second Language (FSL) programs.

Friday 12 July 2019

What are the components of an effective Collaborative Inquiry?

What are the components of an effective Collaborative Inquiry? 

An effective collaborative inquiry should stem from an urgent student learning need. When brainstorming student learning needs best practice is to come to the table with evidence based on data, observations and conferencing with students.

In the "Facilitators Guide" Donohoo outlines how to "Frame the Problem" with your team. Her approach is easy to follow, allows for everyone to have a voice and provides examples.

Once you have the problem you are looking to solve you want to develop an inquiry question. The "Question" is what guides the inquiry (the actions, data and evidence). When developing the question it has to be explorative and promote discovery, begin with the words how or what, and specify the focus of your team's inquiry.

Donohoo suggests using a sentence stem when creating a question for a collaborative inquiry:

What is the impact of .... (classroom practice/ teacher action)  On .... (Student Learning)

Here are some examples taken from the "Facilitators Guide"

1. What is the impact of using exit cards with my students?
2. How can we work with teachers to help students achieve success in their written work through student led conferences?
3. How can 'Self Assessment Matrixes' be used to improve the self regulation skills of adolescents?

Next the team must determine a story line that will connect their preferred future with specific strategies that will be used to improve teaching and learning. These are framed as If...Then statements.


If teachers use exit cards at the end of a science lesson then teachers will be able to determine student learning and next steps.

It is important to determine what evidence will be collected in order to answer the inquiry question.

Donohoo sorts the type of data into four types: Student Learning Data, Demographic Data, Perceptual Data, and School Process Data.

In my experience working in collaboraive inquiries it is not as important to dwell on the type of data as it is to determine what evidence will be collected, how it will be collected and by when.

Getting this information in writing and agreed upon by the team helps to keep everyone on track as it is easy to walk away from a group meeting, return to the classroom and continue as normal.

Setting dates to come back together as a team and report on how things are going is critical as well as providing time for this to happen. We have used staff meetings to work on collaborative inquires.

The research for Collaborative Inquiry comes from the following resources:

Monday 3 September 2018

Why morning meetings?

I have been looking into the concept of morning meetings. Being tribes trained a lifetime ago makes me familiar with the idea of community circles but the morning meeting that comes from Responsive Classroom has 4 distinct components:

1. Greeting
2. Sharing
3. Group Activity
4. Morning Message

The morning meeting was created with the intention of spending 20-30 minutes in a circle each morning.

So, the question I have been pondering is can I dedicate 20-30 min of the day to morning meeting? Will the outcome be worth it? Will students benefit from the time we spend in morning meeting?

One of the pros of morning meeting is the goal of merging academic, social and emotional learning and the reinforcement of sense of belonging. Especially in a time where we see an increase in student difficulty with self regulation, emotional well being and increase use of technology.

My gut says try it and analyze the results to see if students are meeting the intended goals. 

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tar Heel Reader - Easy to Read books

I was introduced to this website at a conference: Tar Heel Reader. The best news is that access to the website is completely free! Who doesn't love free resources.  I would suggest pre-reading the selection of books you would like your students to access. 

You have to email for a registration code if you would like to be able to write a book.

You can access books written in a variety of languages. I chose French books and found that I would have to be fluent in French to ensure the pronouns were correct before allowing students to read the text. However I was thinking I could publish my own books. I could see using this for social stories!
Excerpt taken from website: "Tar Heel Reader, a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces, including touch screens, the IntelliKeys with custom overlays, and 1 to 3 switches. Click here to learn more about alternative access methods."
"You may write your own books using pictures from the huge collection at Flickr or pictures you upload. All books should be complete, edited, and revised to the best of your ability before publishing them to the site. While you are working on them, please save them as drafts."
Here is a sample page from the book "Busses"

Thursday 16 August 2018

Digital Meanderings: #EpicPals

Digital Meanderings: #EpicPals:  EpicPals is a collaborative reading project that utilizes Epic! Books for Kids,  Padlet, and Flipgrid. I can't wait to try this in the classroom. Great resource for teachers and Epic is free for educators - Bonus!