As the families gather on the compound my eyes scan the crowd for his familiar face. We promised we would find each other on the first day. You see, I know he is nervous and he knows I am too. Singer, songwriter Ani DiFranco sums it up best: “I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.” We are both new. This is where we overlap. It is his first day here as a student and it is my first day as Assistant Principal. Each fall, schools open their doors to new faces. From the Old French word 'comunité', meaning commonness or everybody, “COMMUNITY” is the word that comes to mind as I watch the students, parents and teachers embrace the excitement of the morning. Everybody is here with a common goal and the energy is palpable. There is a tug on my dress. I look down and see my new friend. “Ready?” he says.
So what did I learn today? I learned that every child has something important to say about their learning and they will amaze us daily when we let them. So…. I am spending my first days being amazed.
Jennifer George is Assistant Principal at Douglasdale School with a passion for literacy, history, and curriculum that inspires. Twitter @firgeorge
The end of the school year is always a time of reflection. It gives us an opportunity to look back and say what went well, what didn’t and what do we need to work on. This year is no different as May and June have been a flurry of activity with graduations, year-end celebrations, and partner events. The common element though has been students, a reminder to all of us of what is really important.
Education is the core of our work and our values are the fundamental beliefs in which guide our work at the Calgary Board of Education. Putting students first, knowing that learning is our central purpose and that public education serves the common good, provides focus for each one of us regardless of our role. Because the cool thing is, we all have a part to play in public education and we are all in this together.
From the dedicated staff in facilities who ensure safe and caring schools, some of whom have been with CBE for over 35 years (WOW), to our kind lunch room supervisors and our caring education assistants who support our students, to our specialists in planning, transportation, Human Resources and Technology who without their support our massive organization may just grind to a halt. All these folks work tirelessly to ultimately support the work of our teachers and here is what I know; teachers are a rare breed. They are hardworking, selfless, caring, role models to our students who put in countless hours to ensure that our students are engaged and successful.
However all of this would not be possible without our partners, over 350 corporate and non-profits who provide programs, services, supports and financial aid because they also care about student success and making this world a better place.
Everyone has a stake in Public education and the stakes are high, as we strive to meet the demands in an ever changing world. Dealing with change, difficult decisions that result from change and often scrutiny can be stressful and demoralizing for those intimately involved in education who have devoted their lives work to making this world a little better. But here is the thing, we are all human and sometimes we make mistakes and we need to learn from those mistakes so that we can be better for our students and that is why we need to reflect.
CBE 182 has given our staff, students, parents and stakeholders an opportunity to share the great work that is happening each and every day in our school. We are able to hold our heads a little higher and to showcase to the world that at the Calgary Board of Education we are determined, resilient and committed to student success.
To everyone who is involved at the Calgary Board of Education, Congratulations for a great year, Thank you to each and every one who contributes to our organization and hears to moving forward together.
Joy Bowen-Eyre ( @JoyBoweneyre and Joybowen-eyre.ca ) is Trustee Wards 1 & 2 with the Calgary Board of Education. She loves running and traveling and is the proud mum of 3 #yyCBE students.
I have a great learning story.
I went into Sra Flor’s grade 2 class to read with the students in February. I don’t speak Spanish, but I can help with technology integration. Sra Flor and her students were learning how to create a class book using a word document. The lesson did not go as planned, however; Sra Flor then had the chance to show me all the amazing student created videos and digital stories that the students had created. She asked me how she could share them more efficiently with parents in D2L. I had given her a copy of Kathy Cassidy’s book, Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades and Sra Flor showed me, through digital examples, that she had read and examined the book in detail. As a parent, you can’t be more touched when a teacher actually appreciates a gift - and applies it to her own class, which includes my son.
I encouraged Dalhousie teachers to consider some of the CBE PD opportunities that encourage authentic integration of technology - and a bunch of them took the challenge!
Since that day, I attended #EdCampYYC, where I was able to learn with a variety of teachers from Dalhousie as well as with teachers from around the district. I sat in sessions with my son’s teachers and was so proud to be in the room as we engaged in a critical examination of how we teach, learn and engage with our students. I have also helped the school with some Google Apps for Education training as the school transitions into the Google world.
What I learned that day in February, when one technology lesson did not go as planned - is that my child really benefits and learns from watching the perseverance and risk taking of his teacher. I was just lucky that I was included in one of their learning paths this year. Sra Flor's grit and determination is evident every time I am lucky enough to be in the classroom. I truly appreciate her patience and willingness to be transparent in including me in her learning in order to provide opportunities for her students. How many parents can say that they learn with their child’s teacher?
The story does not end as the year ends….next year I will continue to support the school in its new technology adventures, and I look forward to watching Sra Flor and the other teachers support each other to provide choice for CBE students and each other.
Verena Roberts (@verenanz) PalliserBB Teacher,Consultant - Changemaker Goal: To Find & Create Collaborative & Innovative Learning Opportunities.
If Something Isn’t Working
A class that I work with is creating life-size wooden puppets for an original production at their school. The students are using scraps of wood and metal as their materials.
This week I noticed that the limbs of the puppets had been carved down significantly – in fact about half of the original wooden leg had been cut out and sanded down. I asked Jordan who busy re-attaching the bottom portion of the leg to the knee component, why he had changed the legs and arms so significantly.
He replied, “Well, it wasn’t working. We did a trial run of attaching the puppet to the puppeteer and he couldn’t move himself or the puppet. It is supposed to look realistic. Not really realistic, but you know, suggest at being realistic. So then Yazi (the puppeteer), and the other puppet maker and I figured out that it was all because we hadn’t thought about how heavy all the pieces together would be. It just wasn’t working. So, if something isn’t working, you change it, right?”
In just a few sentences Jordan very simply explained how he, having criteria, having peers to think through his problem, and the power to make decisions about his learning and the product of his learning, was able to adjust from something that wasn’t working for him, to something that would. Jordan reminded me that as an educator, sometimes it isn’t about getting it right, but about having the courage to change something that isn’t working.
Erica, @eboycegraham is a learner, a teacher, a lover of adventures and a drifter of the fine classrooms and schools of the CBE.
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