Friday, October 30, 2015

6 Awesome things at our school. Part 1

When you are a classroom teacher, your world is often reduced to within the walls of your own classroom.

As a new vice principal, I am loving the fact that I get to visit classrooms ALL THE TIME.

Former colleagues are always sharing teaching ideas and strategies, and this year I have the opportunity to share  all of the awesomeness that I get to see.

Here is a tiny glimpse into some of the "awesome" from our primary classrooms:

Brain Breaks

  • Our teachers get students up and moving with Go Noodle, bins of printed brain break cards, and constant song, dance and movement.  I just love it when I get the chance to join in!! "Swing around your tables like monkeys eating bananas..."  Right On!


  • Making collaboration special. One teacher has group sets of different coloured ball caps that students wear when participating in special collaboration activities with their groups. Each hat is assigned so no head lice worries.  Students get to keep their hats at the end of the year. How fun is that?!

Classroom Greeters

  • As an adult visiting a classroom, it is so neat to be greeted and welcomed to the class by a 5 or 6 year old, complete with a handshake and an introduction. I love this real-world skill being taught.

Fun Attention Grabbers

  • "Macaroni and cheese..."      Everybody freeze!
  • "Class, class..."   Yes, Yes!
  • clapping patterns and so many more!

Lunchtime Friend Reward

  • Imagine getting to invite anyone you want to come to your classroom to have lunch with you?  What a great way to make a students day.  I'm thinking I may want to try this someday at the office (if I ever get time to actually sit down and eat lunch....   :-)

Camper of the Week

  • A classroom with a camping theme (complete with trees and a "campfire" meeting area) has a Camper of the Week. Pictures and info about the student are on display for the week - what a great way to get to know each other and create classroom culture.
This post could continue on and on and on.  Stay tuned for part 2 of the awesomeness that I get to see at our school. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

5 Things I've Learned as a Vice Principal.

This year, I began my latest learning journey.

I became a vice principal: a lead learner.

It is so different from being in the classroom, that I really can't even compare it to being a teacher. I do know that it is challenging. And I do know that I am learning. Every. Single. Day.

Here are my thoughts on 5 of the things, in no particular order,  that I have learned in the two short months I have been in an administrative role.

  1. It's all about perspective. There are challenges with the job, for sure. But, there are challenges with every job. Rather than looking at someone as a "difficult student", it is a "student in difficulty". And as frustrating as it can be at times, as admin,  to figure out how to best meet the needs of some students, I need to remember that there is a classroom teacher who has been struggling for more hours than I have to help that student out. We are all a team, and we have one goal in mind: What's best for kids!

2. Don't be afraid to look silly or have fun.  I think I have had more positive comments and feedback on my YMCA dance moves in the gym with students than anything else. And my somewhat sad attempts at drawing with the 8th grade art class. Thankfully, I'm not afraid to laugh at myself. It seems to help students and staff feel more at ease and I think that it somewhat levels the playing field. Vice principals are people too!

3. Build relationships. This was the first thing that my principal said to me when I first visited the school, and it is so true. One of the biggest tasks I undertook was to create handmade thank you notes for all the staff for making me feel so welcome at the school. It took me a week to make thirty of them, but it was time well-spent. Many people took the time to let me know that receiving my note made their day. Well worth it.

I also take the time to get to know something about each student that I chat with, so that I can connect with them on a personal level. I reciprocate by sharing about my interests, my own children, and even my dog. I love getting to know what makes interests them, and finding common ground; it is incredible currency. It's like money in the bank for a rainy day when you need to have some of those tough conversations with kids, and they are able to open up because they can relate to you. And it totally makes my day when a student asks how my sick dog is doing or if my kid liked the present I bought for him. Awesome!

4. "Turn it off and on" sometimes IS the answer! 

I have tech issues brought to my attention so many times each day that I quickly lose count. I am known for my  love of all things technology, but I don't pretend to always have the answer. Turn it off and on often fixes the issue when other attempts have failed. It never hurts to try. It even works for the photocopier!

5. Focus on the positive each day. No matter how small, I find the "wins" in each day, and I try to share them with others. Playing Lego with a student, showing a class the voice typing feature in Google docs, and supporting staff when they are in challenging situations; they may seem insignificant at the time, but I try to remind myself that they are what is important. No matter how tired I am at the end of the day, it has been worth it.