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Category Archives: Excellence in Professional Practice

Keeping the Thoughts at Bay

notebook

Notes, note-taking, messages, information – it’s all important at different times throughout my day and work week. I use all sorts of tools to take notes, but for the short ones, like a quick stand up meeting, a voicemail, phone call or quick “to do” list, I have relied on a physical notebook for the work that I do.

Sure, I use GSuite applications and Notes iOS app on my smartphone and laptops, but my “go to” note taker has been the 9′ x 6′ (23cm x 15cm) notebook that I use each school year. Just like my previous teacher notebooks, when I was in the classroom, this one is in paper form and stays in my office. However, lately I have noticed that I want something more available to me, whenever the need arises. I turned to Google Keep for this.

gkeep

Being a school division that uses the Google Suite of Applications, it was an easy tool to turn to. I’ve dabbled with it, seen other teachers use it effectively with their students, but I did not quite have a continual and mindful purpose in using it.

Here’s how I’ve started to use Google Keep:

  • in Google Chrome settings > on startup > add Google Keep tab to the “open specific page or set of pages” during start up so it is ready for me to review when I sign in.
  • install Save to Google Keep chrome extension for this items of interest that I’d like to look further into (otherwise I use the Diigo chrome extension for blog posts, larger information for later use (no time limit).
  • use the Google Keep iOS app on my smartphone. I love the audio note feature here as it keeps the audio while also providing a transcript.
  • use the Google Keep iOS app on my smartphone to make a drawing. Whether it’s a quick description or a math problem, I’ll have it saved for later use.
  • within GKeep, create labels. Right now, I’m using monthly labels and color backgrounds. Gives me a quick overview of what’s occurred or occurring in a specific month.
  • within GKeep, you can easily add collaborators or save to a Google Doc. Information doesn’t just have to reside with me, crowd sourcing is easy here.
  • within GKeep, the Remind Me feature is getting a lot of use. Now I don’t have to highlight or sticky note my notebook to ensure things get done. I do use Google Tasks within my Google Calendar so this remind feature is fantastic. The reminder can be set for a date/time or even a location.
  • within GKeep, adding images, making lists, or just typing notes gives me some creative writing choices.
  • within GKeep, you’ll never lose a note. Just search for it! It even uses OCR so you can take a picture of a page with text (textbook, magazine article, etc.)  which will also be searchable.

After a couple of weeks, my digital notetaking is doing well. I do scribe some items in my notebook and transfer them to GKeep. I think that after Christmas Break I will “hide” my print notebook whereby I will need to use GKeep exclusively. We’ll see how that goes!

 

 

Make Yourself Open to Opportunity

Kare Anderson is a super story teller and brings us into her world where everyone can make a difference. Not only are we all “smart” at something, we also can connect with each other and also connect others so they can network and learn. If our stories, our ideas and/or our products/services are presented by people who are startling (grab your emotion), compelling (show you there is a way) and credible (some experience), then change can and will happen.

It’s a great video to watch yourself, but even a better one to watch as a group!

Ask yourself/group – How are we using our collective talents to create a better society? Are there others (outside organizations/people) that we should tap into to help with our cause(s)?

 

Pigs + Innovation?

Design Thinking

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Critical Inquiry

And many more concepts are certainly part of the education vernacular in 2016. These are not new concepts, however what is NEWer, is that schools, administrators and teachers are re-inventing the use of flexible learning opportunities by changing how the school day looks and feels. No more, ALL students should use the same No.2 pencil AT THE SAME TIME, but more time given by teachers to provide a space for students to engage in some really interesting learning.

The commercial below reminded of the amazing ‘innovative’ work that I get to see within PSD70 and via the #psd70 hashtag of engaged and effective learning!

 

 

To continue your learning, check out:

DESIGN THINKING

ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT (also ENGAGED THINKER, ETHICAL CITIZEN)

The Alberta Education system should strive to install the following qualities and abilities in our students:

  • Engaged Thinker: who thinks critically and makes discoveries; who uses technology to learn, innovate, communicate, and discover; who works with multiple perspectives and disciplines to identify problems and find the best solutions; who communicates these ideas to others; and who, as a life-long learner, adapts to change with an attitude of optimism and hope for the future.
  • Ethical Citizen: who builds relationships based on humility, fairness and open-mindedness; who demonstrates respect, empathy and compassion; and who through teamwo9rk, collaboration and communication contributes fully to the community and the world.
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: who creates opportunities and achieves goals though hard work. perseverance and discipline; who strives for excellence and earns success; who explores ideas and challenges the status quo; who is competitive, adaptive and resilient; and who has the confidence to take risks and make bold decisions in the face of adversity.
  • Some great documentation is found with the Cross Curricular Competencies, created by the Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium (ERLC).

CRITICAL INQUIRY

  • Critical Challenges found in Alberta’s Social Studies Program of Studies (password-protected). Once in LearnAlberta portal, then search “Critical Challenges” and you’ll find a goldmine of resources!
  • The Critical Thinking Consortium is also a great place for these resources. Some free but to dig into some more amazing stuff, get a membership! They also have some Critical Challenges but also so many more resources.
 

Learning with CASS and AbEd

I had the opportunity this week to attend a conference with my Senior Executive team. It’s not often that I have an opportunity like this to sit at the same table with them, although I do get to see and touch base them individually within the school division. It was nice to sit and listen to their thoughts during the keynotes. I was also busy during this conference by hosting two sessions:

Leading into the Future with Learning Commons

The Canadian Standards of Practice for Effective School Library Learning Commons allow schools and school divisions to support a continuum of growth through various activities and learning opportunities. This session will share the work that Parkland School Division has taken on over the past two years as well as showcasing the ERLC Learning Commons Demo sites.

AND

Leadership in the LTPF: Cultivation, Capacity and Convergence (with participant notes)

Parkland School Division administrators who are members of the Alberta Education LTPF Community of Practice will share their journey of LTPF implementation at each of their sites (K-12, French, Christian, Alternate, Rural, Urban). The session will have participants reflect and share their own assumptions, inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes that they may already be thinking about and connect it with the strategies and successes that PSD has seen during this CoP work.

Feel free to check out some of the participant tweets, resources and images that were shared at https://storify.com/nlakusta/cass-abed-learning-symposium#publicize.

 

 

LTPF Leadership in Lethbridge

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 4.46.55 PM

About 70 participants (administrators, teachers, edtech personnel, and I.T. made their way to Lethbridge over 1.5 days to meet together to share their learning in how they were embedding the Learning and Technology Policy Framework (LTPF) specifically the Leadership policy. Holyspirit School Division (#hs4) was hosting the event.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 4.47.38 PM

It was fantastic to return to my alum as I was both a student and then later a teacher in this school division. I currently have friends and nephews who work and study in this division.

 

Chris Smeaton (@cdsmeaton) reminded our group that his work as a leader is to build relationships with all stakeholders, hire people who are better than you, create a culture of learning and risk-taking.

 

Rhonda (@rljessen) gathered most of our tweets from both days and you can review them and the many images below.

Day 1 – https://storify.com/rljessen/leadltpf-cop-3rd-f2f-meeting

Day 2 – https://storify.com/rljessen/leadltpf-cop-f2f3-lethbridge-day-2

 

For me, I admire those teachers in #hs4 who are looking at engaging, motivating and incorporating different ways of learning for students in 2016. When I was a student in Lethbridge, it was a very different school division. My classrooms had blackboards and white or yellow chalk. Technology was 16mm and beta videotapes (yep, that’s awhile ago) and we all had the SAME supplies, the SAME textbooks, the SAME desks. Education and neuroscience have moved ahead (thank goodness) and infiltrated the classrooms that our group walked through today. Our students are different, our teachers are different and our society IS different.

Some #psd70 leaders share their experiences HERE.

I look forward to seeing #hs4 move further in ingraining technology so that it’s accessible whenever students require it. Their infrastructure, response to BYOD and more collaborative opportunities certainly need to planned for but they have a great foundation started. I welcome any of their teachers and administrators to visit any of our Parkland School Division schools (#psd70) or even have a virtual visit via Skype or Google Hangout. Our school division is heavily invested in critical inquiry, design thinking, BYOD, GAFE and blogging (eportfolios).

 

What About Millenial Leaders?

New-Leader-Infographic

The University of Denver recently released an infographic “Building the New Leaders – The Rise of Millennials in Leadership Roles”. For me it was creating first the understanding of what these millennials bring to the leadership table and what skills that need to be further developed. As well, how does an organization, like my school district, work with both non-millennials and millennials in leadership roles?

 

The Power of Relationships

Sticks and Stones

Photo via https://twitter.com/daniellfrazier/status/697817028350967809

Recently, AASA, The School Superintendent’s Association held a National Conference on Education #NCE16. Some of my twitter colleagues happen to be attending this and from afar I was able to gleen off some learning moments, gems and resources. One of which was @DanielLFrazier’s photo of a quote from @dave-weber. Daniel, a Superintendent from Litchfield was attending Dave’s Sticks and Stones Exposed: The Power of Our Words presentation. It was the quote that got me hooked and then it was my persistence in tracking down more information that has me writing this blog and then ordering Dave’s book!

So, this post first off shows the power of my Twitter PLN. Once again, and daily, I find gems, stories, ideas, connections, research, opportunities for not only my own professional focus but for my colleagues. These virtual relationships allow me to engage in more consistent and constant ways that pre-Twitter would be very difficult to do.

Back to the quote and the understanding of the importance of relationships. We’ve all heard in education that teachers DO make a difference, administrators DO make a difference and the specific evidence that goes along with it. However, what got me to think deeper is THIS quote. Have I really thought about the relationships with staff being a predictor of student achievement before? Not as a direct focus no (informally through staff retreats, teacher VS student activities, etc.), but it did get me to ponder….what can I do from a district-support level to engage, encourage and offer the environment in order for this to occur. I don’t have a checklist established yet, maybe reading Dave’s book will establish some parameters for me.