For Those Who See

I start each day with reading Seth Godin’s Blog. Sometimes they are short and sweet and provide me with insight, excitement and the encouragement to do a better job today, than I did yesterday. Sometimes they are rather long and I find myself skimming them for catch phrases that I can use in my world of education.  On Christmas Day, as I was waiting for the rest of the Bruyns Bunch to wake up and enjoy the day, Seth’s Blog ~ Learning How to See,  not only resonated with me, it provided me with the inspiration for this post for my own blog.

The ability to see is what sets us apart. We all possess the same tools (a university education, access to supplies, technology); we all are blessed with the same raw products (a class full of eager learners), we all want to do what is right and yet some of us have the ability to not only teach, but to see the endless possibilities of inspiring children to want to learn.  Teaching and learning are two very different actions.

Today in education, one can easily see many negatives such as the current labour relations, the poverty that many of our families deal with, an apathy for education on the part of some parents, a lack of funding and competition with a technologically-entertaining world (XBox, Ipads,Wii etc.). For those who can’t see beyond those negatives, they settle and use phrases such as, “We are doing the best that we can under these circumstances” or “If only we had more of this or less of that, we could make a difference”.

But for those true educators, for those who are brave and determined, they see possibilities at each turn. And even though I know that they are working tremendously hard to continue to hone their craft; what others see is their love of learning, their love of inspiring others, their love of making the impossible seem possible ~ not only for themselves but for the children who are blessed to be in their classes.

Those teachers who see the possibilities in each of their students allow their students to see the endless possibilities that an education and a passion for learning can bring them.

Thank you to those teachers who continue to inspire me to see the endless possibilities of leadership within education.

The Gift of a Memory

Our journeys in education can take us to a variety of schools and in a variety of locations.  I’ve been blessed to be both a teacher and a principal in the same school. Twenty years ago when our school opened, I was thrilled to be chosen as a member of the first staff.  Opening a school is a once in a lifetime experience. After 7 years, I took the opportunity to transfer to county school and from there I entered administration. My second placement as a principal is back at that same school that we opened twenty years ago.  One of the joys for me is to see some of our former students return to our school community as parents of new students.  

Yesterday was the last day before the Christmas holidays and throughout the day my desk continued to overflow with cards and gifts.  As I wanted to make the most of the day and spend as much time as possible with staff and students, I didn’t stop to open any of my gifts.  At the end of the day, I packed them all up and then when the house was quiet, I opened each card and gift.  They were all lovely and very appreciated, but there was one card that caught me off guard.

It was from a former student of mine, who is now a parent at our school.  Within the body of the letter she included that to this day, she can’t listen to the California Raisins without remembering the grade five phys. ed. class that I taught years ago.  I can remember hours upon hours of choreographing music to aerobic routines.  It’s nice to know that they were memorable.

As a teacher, we can never predict which lessons, which activities or which presentations will have a lasting impact on our students. Let’s hope that our impact is a positive one which brings happy memories to former students and that they take the time as adults to share those memories.


Magical Moments

The other day, I saw the most incredible thing…. I watched as students were so entranced with what they were doing in their classroom, that they continued to create, to communicate and to share their stories well into their recess. They were having such “fun” learning that they didn’t want to stop. On more days that we care to admit, students are watching the clock waiting for the magic bell which will allow them to go outside and have “fun”. And yet on that day, in that classroom, recess was the last thing on their mind. The “fun” was happening in the classroom. Oh, to be able to “bottle” that!

Critics would say that they were engaged because they all had hand-held technologies and yet, it wasn’t the device, it was the fact that they had choice of their activity, they were creating something that appealed to them and they were sharing their creations. As I walked in the students all wanted to share, but not just with me, they were sharing with each other and I loved the authentic feedback that they were giving each other. It was one of the those days when all of the theory was being put into practice and it was magical.

What magical learning opportunities are you offering your students?

When was the last time that your students would rather continue learning than go outside?


James Bond has always been known for having the latest technologies at his fingertips. “In 21 films over four decades, the Bond movies have introduced many new technologies to the public”. Yet, in the latest installment of the Bond series, Skyfall, we find Bond saying, “And youth is no guarantee of innovation”. It’s almost as if our hero is struggling with the new world of technology and it’s link to terrorism. A world that he once dominated with lasers, two-way radios and cars with several cool gadgets. James challenges the audience to remember that “human intelligence” still has a place when fighting the bad guys. The entire plot revolves around the theme of “out with the old and in with the new”.

I started to reflect that regardless of the latest technologies, at the end of the day, we need humans as a part of the equation. As a school, we can fill our classrooms with the latest and greatest technologies and yet if the teacher isn’t prepared to learn how best to use it and if the students aren’t prepared to use the technology for creation, then it becomes a waste of resources. Technology needs to be partnered with human intelligence. James can hold the latest gun in his possession, but he needs to know when to pull the trigger. Students can be given hand held devices, but they must be able to decide when to use an application and when simply talking to a classmate might give them the same level of understanding.