Day One at DENSI2016 Is your leadership worth catching?

What does the learning in this session mean to your practice? How will you apply what you’ve learned? What questions remain? Do you have examples of ways you’ve applied these concepts to your school site?

Is Your Leadership Attitude Worth Catching? (Derek McCoy)
Are you on fire for leading change in your school? Do you inspire your staff and students to press the reset button everyday and give their all with renewed effort? Do people see you as the main cheerleader and visionary of your school? They should. During this opening talk, we will strategize and share how to keep a focus on the main thing and be the leaders our schools need. Presentation Slides: http://buff.ly/29WNdcY
I attended the opening session of the Discovery Principal Summit 2016 (DENSI2016) last night.  This is my second year at the conference and am already taken up by the positive spirit of the people here.  Principals from all over Canada and the United States.
Our for session was by Derek McCoy @mccoyderek and I tried to capture some of the moments of his talk in my twitter feed (below).  We also get a question to ponder after each session, which is a great way to reflect on our learning.
Derek said lots of positive things last night, but the main message for me was Attitude.  This is what we need to convey as administrators – and it has to be one that is full of joy.  We are very privileged to have the jobs that we do.  We really need to remember this every day and make sure that we never (if possible) get caught up in the day to day administrivia of the job and keep in mind that our job is to bring joy to our school community.
This can mean many things.  For me, it means constantly trying to think outside of the box.  It means looking for the next great idea that will make the educational experience for our students that much better.
What a blessing to be in this position!  To be able to affect the lives of children and the community every day – as long as we remember that our attitude – being the positive influencer in your educational community is your number one job.

Everything flows from this.

One quote that Derek used last night is the most important for me – “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”

Too often as administrators, I think we go for what is safe or what is politically correct.  This stifles creativity and certainly takes all the joy out of education.

I want to follow what Derek calls a bias for ‘Yes’.  This could change our educational system, currently tied up in so many accountability knots into something wonderful.  If we had a bias towards Yes, how would that spread to your school.  If this spirit spread, what would happen to our school?  What might even happen to our district?

My main takeaway from last night is to keep focused on the joy of our work and living every day by saying yes first.  Maybe we will get some of the absurd ideas that really make a difference

  1. A bias towards yes – what a change that would make in our schools

  2. Learning networks make us better educators

  3. We need awesome ideas to transform education we need dreamers in education

  4. We have to change our teaching from a factory mindset

  5. Paul McGuire Retweeted Dr. Bill Ziegler

    Joy is what education all about

    Paul McGuire added,

Why do we fear 1:1??

1-1

I find it very common to hear all the reasons why moving towards 1:1 in our schools will not work.

We don’t have the funds, the teachers won’t use them, I don’t understand how to use them, collaboration is better – the list can go on and on.  In my mind, these are all just excuses for not taking the creative leap to provide a computer for each student.

We work at a school in a high poverty area.  Every student from grade 3 to 6 has their own laptop.  The grade 4’s are expected to bring their machine home every day and work on various programs to supplement their in-school learning.

The prevailing wisdom seems to be BYOD (Bring your own device) which makes no sense.  While this allows schools off the hook for paying for computers, it creates an opportunity gap between rich and poor schools.  Our parents don’t have the money to buy a computer for their child. We, therefore, are obliged to find the money to invest in machines.

The main reason I am so keen on 1:1 is because the daily use of computers has really revolutionized the teaching and learning at our school.  Teachers have been open to learning new programs like Mathletics, Prodigy Math, the Discovery Education Science Techbook, Google apps and Hapara as a learning management tool.  They are getting into coding and robotics and our kids are very keen on makerspaces.

I can’t claim that all of this is because of the fact that we moved to 1:1, but it did change how we do things here.  The teacher is no longer the sole provider of information.  The teacher is a co-learner with the student.  Teachers are more apt to encourage students to find their own answers to their inquiries rather than depend on one adult.

If these are just some of the benefits we have seen over the space of our first full year as a 1:1 school, why are others so hesitant?

I have no good answer for that question, but for us there will be no going back.

 

Call for Presenters!

Discovery

university of Ottawa

University of Ottawa: Teacher Education Program

“ Minds on Learning for a Digital Age”

September 16 & 17, 2016

Call to Presenters

 

The Teacher Education Program at the University of Ottawa are thrilled to host two days of professional learning that are focused on three goals: Learning, Sharing, and Connecting for a Digital Age.

 

  • Friday, September 16, 2016- 8:30 am -3:30 pm– Professional Learning for Lead Associate Teachers and teacher candidates.
  • Friday, September 16, 2016- 5:30-7:30 pm– Ignite Event
  • Saturday, September 17, 2016- 8:30 am -3:30 pmDay of Discovery presented by Discovery Education

 

We would like to invite you to lead or host a 45 minute-long workshop, presentation, hands on activity or demonstration at the upcoming professional learning event on September 16 and 17, 2016. As a presenter, you will work with groups of educators to explore and share ways to integrate digital media and technology tools into the curriculum and classroom. You might share how you integrate digital media resources into your lessons, share a favorite project or app or anything else you think our attendees would be interested to learn about (like digital citizenship, STEM, Coding…). Your workshop could be done individually, in teams, or in coordination with a community organization.

 

If you are interested, please submit a brief proposal for your presentation by May 31, 2016, by sending an email totcrowe@uottawa.ca with the following information:

 

  • Your name, association, and contact information
  • A short description of the workshop/breakout session you would like to present
  • The teacher division most appropriate for your workshop (Primary/Junior, Junior/Intermediate, Intermediate/Senior, or all)
  • The number of participants will be capped at 30 participants
  • Your technology/room requirements (laptop, smart board, projector, etc)
  • Your availability: (please list all that apply)
    • September 16, 2016- morning or afternoon or both
    • September 16, 2016– Ignite Event
    • September 17, 2016– morning or afternoon or both

If you are interested in presenting at the Day of Discovery event could you also register at Day of Discovery

 

For more information, please contact the symposium planning committee at tcrowe@uottawa.ca.

 

We look forward to hearing from and working with you.

Have a great day.

Tracy Crowe

Directrice adjointe, Assistant Director

Teacher Education

Faculté d’éducation/ Faculty of Education

tracy.crowe@uottawa.ca

Tél. | Tel. : 613-562-5800 (4149)

Téléc | Fax : 613-562-5354
145, Jean-Jacques-Lussier (341)

Ottawa ON Canada K1N 6N5

www.education.uOttawa.ca

 

The Innovator’s Mindset: Powerful Learning First, Technology Second

couros

What I really like about this book are the provocations that are put out there in every chapter.  In chapter 9, George Couros writes about the importance of the appropriate technology being introduced into schools, but more importantly, he writes about the mindset that needs to go along with that.

We are trying to implement 21st-century technology with management systems that sometimes seem to harken back to the 19th century.

Our management systems have not caught up to the terrific learning opportunities, assisted by technology that are out there.  Couros quotes Seymour Papert in this chapter and I have to add part of the quote in this post because it defines the bind we are in as we try to revolutionize our inflexible education structures:

So if I want to be a better learner, I’ll go find somebody who’s a good learner and with this person do some learning.  But this is the opposite of what we do in our schools.  We don’t allow the teacher to do any learning.  We don’t allow the kids to have the experience of learning with the teacher because that’s incompatible with the concept of the curriculum where what is being taught is what’s already known.

Seymour Papert, Seymour Papert: Project-based Learning,” Edutopia, November 1, 2001.

What is really needed is a change of course (pg 146) when it comes to the application of educational technology in our schools.

George quotes Tom Murray from the Alliance for Excellence in Education and an article he wrote on “10 steps Technology Directors Can Take to Stay Relevant.” Based on this article, George poses  four questions that focus on the intelligent implementation of technology:

  • What is best for kids?
  • How does it improve learning?
  • If we do ______, what is the balance of risk vs. reward?
  • Is this serving the few or the majority?

These are essential questions – how often are these questions asked when it comes to the implementation of technology?  I believe, in my experience, these questions are asked by technology departments, but too often their way is barred by system decision makers who do not have as clear a vision on how to answer these questions.

Are we really asking what is best for the learner, or are we asking what is easiest, cheapest fastest in the short-term?  Are we really exploring what is best for all learners and do we really have a comprehensive plan to come up with the intelligent implementation that involves all learners – students and teachers alike.

 

OSSEMOOC Blog Hop – What if…

risk taking.png

What if we promoted risk-taking to our staff and students and modeled it openly as administrators? 

This is the ‘what if’ statement that really jumped out at me from George Couros’ book, The Innovator’s Mindset.  As an administrator, I really think that risk-taking has to be part of our job.  How can we expect that anything will ever get done if we wait for someone else in our organization to do it?

This is one of the great challenges of leadership.  Administrators must be accountable to the school boards who employ them.  School boards are ultimately accountable to the public.  This is very clear, but at the same time, I would argue that part of being accountable means taking the risks that are going to push the boundaries of educational practice.

If not the administrator in your school, who else is going to do this?

Taking risks can be a challenge.  We work in systems where compliance to a whole set of regulations is expected.  I recognize this and I take my responsibility seriously.  But, at the same time, I think we are all called upon not to ‘wait’ for the next great innovation, but to play an active role in being part of that next new wave.

This does not mean you have to have to jump on every bandwagon that comes along, but it certainly means that you have to live out on the edge a bit and be willing to take the kind of risks that will create an atmosphere in your school where others will also feel free to innovate and create.

This can get you labelled as a ‘rogue’ from time to time, but at least you are out there trying to make a difference.  The discomfort of being labelled will always pass, but the changes you initiate can have lasting benefits for your school community.

Just imagine.  When teachers and students feel free to create and follow their dreams in a safe environment that accepts innovation what great things will happen?  Things that you could never imagine if you spend all your time being in ‘control’.

I think more of us need to take that leap.  I think it is part of our job.  We were not put in these positions to remain complacent and comfortable.

So, start taking risks and see where this leads!

IF I COULD BUILD A SCHOOL….

community hub

This is a great writing prompt that is good enough to drag me away from reading report cards for a few minutes.

First, I have to say how much I have enjoyed the on-going Voxer chat on the Innovator’s Mindset – a great good by George Couros which is great reading and wonderful as a discussion piece.

Some of the conversations have really changed the way I think about innovation and leadership and the constraints put on us by the system we are in.

So, for today’s prompt – I don’t really want to go ‘pie in the sky’ on this one, but there is one thing I would really like to see in schools.

Equity – this is becoming a really big issue for me.

I think there needs to be more of an effort put into schools in low-income areas.  It is not just a matter of not having the same amount of financial resources as suburban schools, it is actually an issue of how we support children and families.

Too often I hear about kids who can’t get support at home because parents are working extra hours or just do not have the capacity to offer the support their kids need.  Many are supporting families on a single income or are dealing with life in a shelter or other issues we can hardly imagine.

Often these families cannot afford the after school sports and recreation programs other families take for granted.  These programs are really important to help kids have a really well rounded education.  We try to provide some of these extras through our school programs, but we simply do not have the resources to bring as many programs into the school as we need.

My ideal school would be restructured to offer a really good tutoring/homework club staffed by qualified teachers.  The program would be supplemented by a recreation or arts program that would take place after the tutoring is done for the day.  The students would all have their own Chromebook to bring home to work on really good digital programs like the Discovery Science Techbook or Mathletics.  We would make sure the students had a healthy snack before being picked up with extra food available if the family was in need.

Our school would be open to parents who could use our wifi to work on their own courses or take advantage of instruction in areas that they need.

None of these things are ‘pie in the sky’.  I know this because I have heard of schools that provide these supports to their families.  The problem is that these are shining examples of what should be happening in all our low income schools.  There are not enough of these schools.

Our school needs to be a hub for the community, especially for our students and our parents – every day of the week and throughout the summer as well.

We have the resources and the models to make this happen if we really invested in making a change in the lives of the most disadvantaged in our society.

All that is missing is the will.

That would be a great school to work in!

 

Four take aways from FETC

FETC Banner

It has been two weeks from FETC in Orlando. Easily the most exciting conference I have been to in a long time. For me, there are some really important takeaways that I have been thinking through for the past two weeks.

First – coding is king (or queen)

FETC gs

Reshma Saujani was for me a highlight of the conference. It is so inspiring to listen to a young person who has taken hold of an important issue and has created real change within a large community. Reshma spoke about Girls Who Code – a group I would really like to bring to Canada. She is making a great effort to get more girls and women into computer science by working with great partners like Google and Facebook and by linking up to businesses across the United States who pledge to hire graduates of the program when they complete their studies.

Apart from this inspiring talk, I saw so many companies that are bringing out new technologies that allow students to learn to code at an early age.

 

FETC 24

Programmable robot by K’nex coming out in July

We have been fortunate enough to buy some of these kits from Lego and Pitsco and we will be adding these to our maker space and science classes as soon as possible. The applications in the class for these kits are endless and the engagement potential makes them so valuable for our teachers. Before FETC, I had never seen any of these kits, now they are being produced by a whole range of innovative companies. What makes these kits really important is that students can learn coding as a way to make machines move and complete complex tasks.

Second – you need a learning management system if you are moving to 1:1

This is something I really never thought too much about before FETC. What I noticed, however, is that most school systems are using some sort of an LMS to manage the use of computers in the classroom. Whether it is Google Classroom, Moodle, Webanywhere or in our case Hapara, you need a way to manage the amount of information your students are accessing and sending back to you in the form of assignments.

We have had Hapara for more than two years, but it never occurred to me that as we move closer to a 1:1 school at all grade levels, the most important digital tool that we can make available to teachers is a management system.

Within two weeks of returning from FETC, I arranged a half-day training session for all of our teachers and we hope to follow this up with another session this April. Teachers are now starting to use Hapara to send out material to students and monitor their work during the school day. It is amazing that I had to go so far to learn the value of this great program.

Technology tips are everywhere

I took in at least three workshops that acted as a survey session on technology tips for the classroom teacher, for the administrator, for anyone. These sessions were so important. Which such a huge selection, you really had to take in a few of these sessions – if you could get in, they were very popular.

FETC 40

Twitter notes from The Top Ten Technology Tips to Transform Teaching in one hour!

The pace in these sessions is so frenetic that the only useful way to take notes is through Twitter. I wrote tons of posts during my time at FETC and tried valiantly to quickly use as many tools as I could so I could remember what I was learning and pass this on to our staff.

Last take away – if you get an opportunity to go to a conference go!

To be honest, I don’t know how you can get by these days without getting to a conference whenever possible. My passion is education technology and I use Twitter and a whole variety of blogs, but there is no better way to stay current than by attending one of these great events.

You all need to get out and learn, talk to people who are making the innovations then take back as much as you can to staff.

Finally, I leave you with some of my visual impressions taken with my new GoPro. It’s a bit jumbled, but I hope it gives some sense of the great creative energy of FETC.