The 2013-2014 school year is now complete. Report cards have been sent out, financial statements have been completed, ordering has been done and our caretakers are now busy at work cleaning up the building after a busy year. To reflect on everything that happened would be too daunting, however I would be remiss if I did not have a final post to sum up the year. After all, the in tent of this blog is to provide a platform for me to reflect, and what better time to reflect than at the end of the year. So, with that in mind, here are my top 10 highlights from the year that was.
10. Not only surviving, but thriving in my new classes: This year I had to teach grade 1 math and grade 10 information processing. Both of these classes were new to me, and in September '13 I was very nervous about how these would go. Overall I was quite happy with the learning that occurred in these classes, the students were engaged and I could see their skills grow during the year. I learned a lot as well, and next year will apply this to IP10 as I am not teaching grade 1 math again.
9. My role in the music pilot: This year our school agreed to pilot a music program that focused on integrating music into other classes. My role as a leader was to work with the division support person and our teachers to bring this to fruition. While there were some exciting developments along the way, overall I would not say this was a resounding success. What this does mean is that there is a tremendous opportunity for us next year as we can look to improve on this endeavor.
8. Learning for Life presentation: Every May all of the schools in our division come together over the course of 4 weeks to share their learning stories from the past year. This year we talked about our work in the area of reading intervention, student engagement, and our graduation rates. My admin partner and I spent the year crafting our presentation and, even though we presented on a Friday afternoon, I felt the information we shared was accurate, informative and conclusive.
7. Leadership outside of the school: This year I was able to lead outside of my school in a few different areas. I continued to serve as the liaison between our school division and the Sask School Based Leaders association. Along with this I sat on a committee with the STF as we updated the current version of the new teacher handbook. Finally, I took over as the social coordinator for our division administrative team, which required me to organize a year end golf tournament and retirement banquet for 100 administrators in our division. The event went off very well, and I was pleased with the feedback from my colleagues.
6. Supporting independent learning: This year I was given the opportunity to teach Life Transitions 20 and 30, and after the first semester it was clear the students were not engaging in the content. I took a chance and turned the learning over to them, creating an Independent Learning Project where each student was required to learn what they wanted to learn. There were some students who could not wrap their head around this approach while there were others who flourished. Evidence is available here: Learning What I Want!
5. Engaging in learning conversations: This year, more than ever, I had the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with my colleagues about a multitude of different educational topics. Some of the conversations were easy as our views were congruent, however there were times when our philosophies clashed. In the end these conversations always focused on student learning, so comfortable or not, they were necessary and productive.
4. Creating a division web site to support my colleagues: Our school was part of an assessment pilot project where we moved away from traditional percentage based reporting to criterion referenced reporting. Essentially we have done away with percentages and are now focusing on providing timely and meaningful feedback to parents through well crafted comments that speak to a child's strengths, areas for improvement, and plans for getting them there. As we were one of 5 schools in our division of 44 schools taking part in this assessment residency I felt there needed to be a place we could collate our efforts. To achieve this I created a web site that is built by teachers, for teachers. Have a look: Earning to Learning.
3. Convocation from the U of C: In the spring of 2013 I finished my Masters of Education degree from the University of Calgary. In November of 2013 I attended my convocation. This was important to me because all of my learning in this course occurred online and going to the University and meeting my fellow students made it all the more real. For a person who didn't believe going to post secondary school was a reality, earning my masters degree was a big deal!
2. Guiding the ship home: This June was a tumultuous one that saw my admin partner and school principal have to leave early for the year to get a major surgery completed. This left me in the position of sole administrator in our school. There have been many times when I have been the only administrator in my school, however this situation was different because all of the responsibilities of the principal now rested on my shoulders. What was to follow was two of the most hectic weeks I have ever known as situations that were completely out of the norm began to occur. All of these occurrences were a real test for me, and I'm happy at how the year concluded.
1. This Blog! Creating and maintaining this blog has been a wonderful experience. It has allowed me to reflect openly on what has been happening in my professional life and hopefully has been "food for thought" for you. I have really enjoyed this endeavor and look forward to picking up with it in the fall.
Until then, as always, comments are welcome!