A Year in Review

As another year comes to an end I cannot help but use this time to reflect on the learning that happened. It was a very exciting year, with lots of activity and meeting amazing educators.

Educators who have Impacted my Learning

I want to start this blog post with a big Thank-you to some great friends and educator. This year I have met some incredible people and educators who have pushed my thinking. Without these relationships I don’t think I would have has the success that I have had. If you are not following these individuals you need to:

Matthew Oldridge: big thank you for all of the math learning, questions, posts and great conversations.

Brian Aspinall: Thank you for all of the help with computer programing and pushing my thinking in education. Truly an star in our field.

Rolland Chidiac : Thank you for always pushing my thinking and helping me grow in as an educator. Also for being an amazing friend and colleague.

Michelle Cordy: Thank you for your friendship, your jokes and your expertise. You are an amazing educator, leader and friend. Look forward to the journey ahead.

Scott Monahan: Thank you for always answering my questions. You are always there for any help.

Helen Chapman: Thank you for being an amazing educator. You are an inspiration for all.

Julie Millan: Thank you for being a leader and pushing my learning. Also for your help with GAFE and your encouragement to continue it in our board.

Shivonne Lewis-Young : You truly are an amazing educator. Thank you for your leadership in blogging and your expertise in Genius hour.

Neil Lyons: Thank you for pushing my thinking and help with GAFE. It has been great to connect with you and look forward to the learning journey ahead.

Sharon Moskoitz: Thank you for the amazing connection this year. It has been a blast working with you.

Aviva Dunsiger: Thank you for always pushing my thinking with your comments and your posts.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank these educators for there help and expertise. All of you continue to push my thinking with your amazing questions, your expertise and your friendship. Without you I would not be where I am today. Thank you for your help, whenever I ask.

Biggest Aha Moment:

This actually happened pretty recently. As I have blogged before my daughter started kindergarten this year and it has opened my eyes to a whole different look into education. Before this moment I don’t know if I truly understood how important the relationship between parents and teachers is. I mean I know that in order to have true success with student growth you need to have a partnership but it was always during various reporting times or if the student struggled.

When my daughter went to school, for the first time I was in the dark. I couldn’t help but think about how many times I left parents in the dark or made them have the feeling that they didn’t know what was happening.   Newsletters are amazing and so is little notes in the agenda but is that enough. How else can we open the doors to our parents so that they are truly a partner in students learning?

Because of this feeling I decided to do a couple of things:

1) Regularly tweet what is happening in the day.
2) Storify my daily tweets with questions and suggested activities for parents at home
3) Have students write a monthly newsletter telling parents their goals, next steps and success
4) Regular celebration of learning: This happens once a term. Parents come and see students portfolios, solve some problems with the students and share in their successes

I know that these may seem like a lot of extra things for us as teachers to do but to be honest it has really simplified the classroom. Students are taking more pride in their work because they have an audience, parents ( at least in my opinion) enjoy the communication, and there are a lot less questions being asked about my program because parents are always in the loop.

Greatest Impact on my Teaching: 

This year I had two impacts on my teaching. The first was I learned about the wonderful world of Google. Before this I knew what google was, I mean I used it for my own personal use but for education I never even knew what impact it could have. In April I attended the Ontario GAFE Summit in Kitchener and I had my mind blown away. I was truly in awe at all of the possibilities of GAFE (Google for apps for education) in the classroom. I came back from that summit and told my principal about it, signed our school up for a education domain and the rest is history. This school year, my whole classroom has been on GAFE accounts. We use it for assignments, editing, researching, presenting, math and homework. All of my assignments are online where students and parents have access to it. Students also have online portfolios and are in charge of updating this website. If you are not using google I highly suggest that you try some of the amazing apps and learning that comes with GAFE (oh did I mention that it is free).

My second impact is my learning around inquiry. I want to say that I have always been teaching through inquiry and problem solving but it has been me asking questions and then letting the students explore. Now, I have students ask the questions and then go and explore their questions. Opening up the inquiry process to the students allows the students to have better control over their learning. I also have now started with bigger opened questions (e.g. what is the best celebration? Why? or how does the qualities of solid, liquids and gas affect our life?). Having these open ended questions for students guides their thinking but still leaves the learning up to them. They are the ones that design experiments, draw their own conclusions and share it with the classroom.  My role is to guide, facilitate, assess, and scaffold where needed.

Greatest Impact on my Leadership:

This year I was able to take part in the TLLP (Teaching Learning and Leadership Program). This Ontario Program was created to improve the PD (professional Development) in Ontario. The PD is proposed by teachers and run by teacher. If you have not had the opportunity to apply for this funding I highly encourage you to do so.  For a full report on my learning you can read this link.

My personal learning has been how to clarify a vision and build it within a school community. Before I started this journey I thought that a vision could be communicated easily and then, with careful planning, implemented. I learned it takes more than that.  Building connections among staff members is critical, understanding what others think, honouring their opinions, and finding how everyone can fit into the vision is all part of the process. For a school wide approach to take hold it takes strong individuals to lead but it also takes patience, guidance and understanding for it to sustain itself.  This process was not about bullying my way through people to get the project done but by understanding how to encourage all learners to see the bigger picture.  It taught me that a leader needs to have a clear vision but also an understanding heart. A leader needs to see who is on their team, where their understanding is, and how to assist them in their learning and growth.  It taught me to always see the good in people, that resistance is not always about not wanting to change but that people don’t know how and it is the job of a leader to understand where they can assist.

Working On: 

There are many things that I want to work on for next year. The first is learning more about GAFE and all of the amazing things that come with it. I also want to learn more about computer programming and implementing it in my classroom and curriculum. The final piece is finding more time for my family.

Best personal Event:

My teaching is not all that makes me. This year has also bee filled with many cool personal events. This year we welcomed my son (Micah) into the world. Having two kids defiantly changes things but it has been a joy to watch them both grow.

Overall, I cannot believe how fast the year has happened. I look forward to what next year brings and the learning that will come with it. Before I leave I challenge you to reflect on your year:

Who has been the most influential educator in your year?  
What has been your biggest AHA moment?
Greatest impact on your teaching?
Greatest impact or learning in your Leadership?
What are you still working on?
Best personal Event

Would love to see what your learning has been.  I would also like to thank all of my readers for reading my rambles and thoughts. Blogging has been another great experience this year. May next year be a great year for you.