Category Archives: Developing and Facilitating Leadership

Lead Yourself – Leadercast 2018

Leadercast Live focuses on the leadership issues most relevant to today’s leader. It is a pairing of inspiring messages and rich interaction with fellow leaders who are being intentional about raising their standard of leadership, through a creative, energetic and memorable experience. My school division hosts this annually in our Centre for Education Board room.

It is an exciting time bringing together various PSD employees, vendors, students and community members. I enjoy the excitement energy and thoughtfulness that the day brings. I also like coordinating my hosting efforts by setting up an elaborate theme for the day! I have a fantastic and creative Administrative Assistant that is just so phenomenal. We not only want the speakers to be the focus but also the environment.

Our group was joined with more than 100,000 leaders for the largest one­-day leadership event in the world this past Friday, May 4th!

This year, the Leadercast Live stage featured leaders who explained the power and importance of leading yourself first so you can lead others well. I posed three main questions of reflection at the start of the day for participants:

  • What does it look like to lead yourself?
  • How can you intentionally develop your own leadership skills and style?
  • What qualities do you hope to embody as a leader?

We also had fun with the Lead Yourself and the May 4th Be With You theme. Some of us dressed up as Star Wars characters, all of the food and drink items were labeled with Star Wars references. Leadership books were on display. The tables had the itinerary and lightsabers. The food tables had huge Star Wars LEGO models as well as Leadercast Speaker quotes. This year we had a wonderful set of sponsors – Cisco Canada and Compugen Inc.

Check out the visual summaries (sketchnotes) created by @jgough on each of the Leadercast Live 2018 speakers:

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I also added to the Speaker lineup a few special guests to make the day a little more personalized. We used our Webex platform to videoconference in the following:

  • our own infamous MCHS Choir to sing Oh Canada to start off the day
  • Willa Black, VP of Corporate Affairs for Cisco Canada that spoke about the Connected North program during the morning break
  • 5 Prescott students on how they are leaders in their environments during the lunch break

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Overall, Leadercast Live always sends me away with many gems and takeaways. Definitely, a day that I look forward to in experiencing with colleagues and one that I don’t mind taking all the extra time beforehand in setting up and coordinating.



LTPF Leadership in Lethbridge

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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.

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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 –

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?


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?


Go Ahead, Be Creative!

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 8.14.48 PMMy professional growth plan for this school year isn’t that much of a departure from my previous year’s (see 2014-15), however I do feel that I have a more “leadership” type of focus that overarches my two goals this year. Whether it is modeling what kind of questions to ask of staff during walkabouts, or trying new apps, extensions or add-ons or even blogging/tweeting what is occurring in their school, this will be one of the facets of my work this year. (Our school division is part of the LTPF Leadership Community of Practice hosted by Alberta Ed and I have 4 Principals, 4 Teacher-Leaders and 2 IT personnel collaborating and learning together with 9 other provincial groups this year.) As well, the Learning Services team has undergone changes with new team members. So, my work may change a little or a lot depending upon how each team member requires support and how each school staff require professional development opportunities.


Be Creative is my theme for the year. As you can see in the image to the right, (created based on CrazySexyCool’s poster shop in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa) I not only am holding myself accountable (see goals below), but I want to remind myself daily (the poster will be hanging on one of my office walls) to ENJOY the opportunities along the way.


These are exciting times and each day brings new learning opportunities.



Facilitate, cultivate and design learning environments that provide rich experiential learning and sharing opportunities connected to Parkland School Division’s (PSD’s) Vision, Mission and Inclusive Ed philosophy as well as Alberta Education’s Learning and Technology Policy Framework (LTPF).


  • Acknowledge the diverse needs and contributions of all
  • Offer physical spaces and PD to develop knowledge, skills and engage learners
  • Create virtual spaces and connections both local, national and global
  • Access resources, services, information and collaboration opportunities
  • Hone academic, social/emotional and physical skills through knowledge-building, creativity and innovation
  • Utilize a variety of resources, technologies and spaces to support learning for teachers leaders and students through thoughtful instructional design and collaboration as well as effective assessment of learning
  • Model and share learning experiences to empower real-world and relevant learning experiences


  • Learning Services Team
  • Senior Exec
  • Admin Teams
  • Inclusive Education Leads
  • LeadercastNow daily videos
  • Frameworks: Fierce Conversations, Cognitive Coaching, Bucket Filling, Cooperative Learning, Critical Thinking, Universal Design for Learning


  • Ongoing
  • Monthly meetings: Lead Team, LTPF Leadership Community of Practice, Inclusive Education Leads
  • Biweekly: Learning Services Team

Indicators of Success

  • Contribution to Learning Services work is recognized
  • Learning Services Team work plan is moving PSD Vision, Mission and Commitment Statements forward as per Admin meetings, PSD Voice, Student Advisory Committee
  • Learning Services Team incorporate the LTPF throughout their work with staff


Advance, model and assess the successful use of inclusive technologies to meet business goals, enhance team productivity, engage PSD staff, and remove barriers for students.


  • Refine instruction for essential digital literacy, research and inquiry and communication skills
  • Develop opportunities for staff learning and innovation to be demonstrated, shared and showcased
  • Build staff capacity to ensure sustainability and attainment of PSD/School Ed Plan/Tech goals
  • Advocate for the essential and effective uses of technology
  • Refine and demonstrate strong digital literacy skills
  • Explore and connect personalized learning while embracing the use of digital literacies and skills to empower independent learners
  • Foster an active online networking culture
  • Assist staff in taking ownership of their digital rights and responsibilities in building their digital skills


  • Listservs: QIAT, ATLE, ORC
  • Alberta Education, School Technology Branch
  • PLN
  • ERLC Advisory Committees
  • ATLE and ATLE ProLearn
  • TCEA
  • Frameworks: TPACK, SAMR, UDL, DI, RTI, SETT, LTPF
  • Twitter feeds and weekly chats (#edchat, #atchat, #gafesummit, #edtech)
  • Blogs
  • 2Learn
  • GAFE
  • Synergyze
  • PSD – IT Dept, Senior Exec, Lead Team, Learning Services, staff, students


  • Ongoing
  • ATLE Conference – November 2015

Indicators of Success

  • Staff utilizing, documenting success and sharing how they are using technology in learning, for efficiency, etc.
  • Marked improvement between Fall 2014 and Fall 2015 ET/IT survey with Admin
  • LTPF Leadership Community of Practice group is sharing their experiences not only with their staff but with colleagues.
  • Well attended PD sessions and follow up work with staff


Healthy Relationships are Cultivated

relationshipOver the past couple of years on this blog, I have had the opportunity to really develop my leadership abilities by delving into several foundational areas of leadership. These experiences have enabled me to draw into a deeper commitment and understanding about who I am/what role do I play? and what kind of an impact I can make/have made with my leadership.

Some key resources that I’d like to point to are the Intentional Leader guide from Leadercast which contains monthly themes, weekly directions and daily activities. Each week I would review the theme, read and answer the questions, reflect individually, do some action-research and discuss my thoughts with colleagues. This resource was a fantastic way for me to focus my energies to increase my confidence, my influence and my ability to make a real and lasting difference as a leader/colleague. (See my first post about this HERE.)

My second key resource was recently acquired. The Leadercast Now is an online subscription website that allows me to watch specific video clips on leadership followed by choosing and/or creating action steps. The video library has 100s of real leadership scenarios (with regular additions) for me to choose to watch. Just as the Intentional Leader was focused on specific themes, Leadercast Now has 7 behaviors of a Leader Worth Following – simplicity, bravery, beyond you, vision, culture, insight and creativity.

So for the 2014-15 school year, I pledge and will actually book a weekly timeslot to watch one video, make/complete an action item and blog about my findings/learnings.

This week I took time to watch Dr. Henry Cloud’s “Great Leaders Cultivate Healthy Relationships” video clip. Not only is it important to have growing and healthy relationships, but also to have trust, encouragement and connection with others. Dr. Cloud notes that there are THREE important things for humans to survive:


Humans require oxygen to breathe, glucose for food and relationships to grow and develop.

Another piece he mentioned was that it is important to LISTEN to one another. Taking time to ask colleagues questions about a particular situation/topic, “What is it like for you? What is it like for your clients (staff/students/parents)?” Holding a time and a space to share these answers will be key for a department to move on or to develop a new process or to ask for further assistance, etc. The main thing is that people are being listened to…..which in this 24/7 fast-paced global world may not always be considered important. This time allows for encouragement and connection which changes the situation into a more positive light and energy.

Dr. Cloud’s talk reminds me of Kid Presidents Pep Talk for teachers and students:

It also warms my heart to know that I don’t have to do life and work on my own. I am able to collaborate, bounce ideas, disagree, share, learn and give/receive support and encouragement. I’ll take a few moments to either call, email or visit a few key people over the next few days that support and encourage me – hearing/reading these comments are a good thing!


Do you have ideas on how you will build your own leadership abilities and experiences? Feel free to share in-person or online.



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One Game, One Grade will NEVER define me!

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Photo Credit: wiring71 via Compfight cc

Over the past many years, our school leaders and teachers have worked towards a more growth-mindset learning environment. We’re following some of the powerful suggestions found:

  • in Carol S. Dweck’s book Mindset
  • by utilizing Growth Mindset Feedback (see the growth minded language frames below)
  • in Susan Scott’s book Fierce Conversations
  • in Rath and Clifton’s expanded edition of How Full is Your Bucket?
  • with The Leader in Me focus

We’ve even revamped our K-9 report card, now in its third year, to ensure that it is more student-focused and emphasizes ‘how’ students learn as opposed to just ‘what’ they learn. This better supports the growth and development of our students.

Yet, what sparked this interest and reflection of having me review how our division is modeling strength-based learning? It was a blog by Principal Doug Enders, specifically his December Message that I just read this morning. And once again, it reminded me the importance of the power of our language and our actions. We can always improve ourselves with hard work and effort.

Here are the Growth Minded Language Frames: (From Mindset Works EducatorKit and PSD70 Inclusive Ed Leads)

As students work on their learning objectives, growth minded language frames (seen below) will allow teachers to ensure students remain persistent, resilient and focused on the process of learning.

When they struggle despite strong effort

  • OK, so you didn’t do as well as you wanted to.  Let’s look at this as an opportunity to learn.

  • What did you do to prepare for this? Is there anything you could do to prepare differently next time?

  • You are not there/here yet.

  • When you think you can’t do it, remind yourself that you can’t do it yet.

  • I expect you to make some mistakes.  It is the kinds of mistakes that you make along the way that tell me how to support you.

  • Mistakes are welcome here!

  • You might be struggling, but you are making progress.  I can see your growth (in these places).

  • Look at how much progress you made on this.  Do you remember how much more challenging this was (yesterday/last week/last year)?

  • Of course it’s tough – school is here to makes our brains stronger!

  • If it were easy you wouldn’t be learning anything!

  • You can do it – it’s tough, but you can; let’s break it down into steps.

  • Let’s stop here and return tomorrow with a fresher brain.

  • I admire your persistence and I appreciate your hard work.  It will pay off.

  • Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  • There is no wrong answer

  • The expert in anything was once a beginner.

  • We learn by doing.

  • It’s about the effort not the product.

  • Try, try again, you have nothing to lose.

  • There is no wrong answer, just a different question.

  • If you think you can or can’t you’re right.

  • We all learn from our mistakes.

  • Let’s just break this down. You did OK on this, let’s build on it.

  • Would you like to look at this? (show example)

  • Not to worry…other people are struggling too.

  • Everyone has strengths in different areas.

  • How else can we look at this?

  • Do you want a partner?

  • Let’s break this down.

  • Einstein (or other) struggled with concepts as well and look at what he accomplished.

When they struggle and need help with strategies

  • Let’s think about how to improve (the accuracy of) this section/paragraph/sentence/word choice/logic/description/problem/calculation.

  • Let me add new information to help you solve this….

  • Here are some strategies to figure this out.

  • Describe your process for completing this task.

  • Let’s do one together, out loud.

  • Let’s practice (skill) so we can move it from our short-term to our long-term memory.

  • Just try – we can always fix mistakes once I see where you are getting held up.

  • Let me explain in another way with different words.

  • What parts were difficult for you? Let’s look at them.

  • Let’s ask —— for advice—s/he may be able to explain/suggest some ideas/recommend some strategies.

  • Let’s write a plan for practicing and/or learning.

  • If you make ______changes, we can reassess your score.  Let’s discuss a plan for you.

  • Show me what you know.

  • You start and I’ll stay with you.

  • Let’s try working with a buddy.

  • Let me show you an example.

  • Teach me how to do this.

  • How can we help you?

  • We learn by doing.

  • Use the references around the room.

  • What is another way we can do this?

  • Show me your thinking.

  • Let’s break it down.

  • Let’s have (student A) and (student B) show each other.

  • Let me show you how I would solve this. I will say my thoughts out loud so that you can see/hear what I’m doing.

  • How can we break this down?

  • Let’s work together.

  • This is what works for me.

When they are making progress

  • Hey that’s a tough problem/task/concept that you’ve been working on for a while.

  • What strategies are you using?

  • I can see a difference in this work compared to ___.  You have really grown (in these areas).

  • I see you using your strategies/tools/notes/etc.  Keep it up!

  • Hey! You were working on this for awhile and you didn’t quit!

  • Your hard work is clearly evident in your process/project/essay/assignment.

  • I really like what you’ve put down here. What else might you add?

  • Look how far you’ve come. (Show example of previous work compared to current.) I wonder how far you will come in another month?

  • I’ve seen growth in your work.

  • What is your next goal?

  • What strategies have worked well for you? Not so well?

  • Good job at using the criteria!

  • Positive communication (video, audio, email, text, notes) with home by student/teacher.

  • Show the Principal the good work you had done.

  • Present your learning to the class.

  • I would like to use your work as an exemplar for other students.

  • Your hard work is making a difference.

  • What has made the difference in your growth?

  • Encourage the perseverance.

  • I am impressed with your determination.

When they succeed with strong effort

  • I am so proud of the effort you put forth to/in/with ______.

  • I am very proud of you for not giving up, and look what you have to show for it!

  • Congratulations – you really used great strategies for studying, managing your time (behavior, etc.).

  • I want you to remember for a moment how challenging this was when you began.

  • Look at how far you have come!

  • All that hard work and effort paid off!

  • The next time you have a challenge like this, what will you do?

  • What choices did you make that you think contributed to your success?

  • It’s exciting to see the difference in your work now when I compare it to your earlier work.

  • I can see you really enjoyed learning ____.

  • That’s awesome, what did you do differently?

  • Look at your success when you try your hardest/do your best work?

  • How did that make you feel?

  • I knew you could do that! Way to go!

  • What was different for you today that made you work so hard?

  • What is your next goal?

  • How can you apply what you’ve just learned to….?

  • You took a risk and look at your results!

  • I would like to share your success with the rest of the class – your effort paid off!

  • You’re a great model.

  • Remember the feeling of success.

  • How can we transfer this effort?

When they succeed easily without effort

  • It’s great that you have that down. Now we need to find something a bit more challenging so you can grow.

  • It looks like your skills weren’t really challenged by this assignment. Sorry for wasting your time!

  • I don’t want you to be bored because you’re not challenging yourself.

  • We need to raise the bar for you now.

  • You’re ready for something more difficult.

  • What skill would you like to work on next?

  • What topic would you like to learn more about next?

  • Wow, look at the gifts you have.

  • Could you be our expert resource on….?How could you extend this? Take further?

  • Please teach this to the rest of the class/group.

  • What would be the next step – how can you take it further?

  • Find someone to help.

  • Create a project/research topic that demonstrates your understanding.

  • How can we generalize this skill to another area?

  • Show them the skill sequence. What’s next?

  • Do you feel you put forth your best effort? How can you improve on this?

  • Intentionally praise the effort not the product.

  • How can we take this in a different direction?

  • What would you like to do now?

What other resources are you using to promote a strengths-based learning environment? It’s always great to hear what other administrators, teachers and parents are framing their conversations and learning.


Intentional Leader: Excellence is Doing Small Things in a Big Way

Monthly Theme: Excellence
Week 4

This week I was to focus on how I can model excellence by putting my signature on the work that I do through the small things I do.

Excellence is to do a Common Thing in an Uncommon Way - Action Quote

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I really appreciate Booker T. Washington’s quote made over 160 years ago. This reminds me personally of my parents who model excellence in their daily life. My father, a business owner and German immigrant, showed me that customer service and a flair for building strong relationships was key to his success (he’s semi-retired now). His fervor for making people feel at ease and including them in conversations helped his business excel. (For those of you from Southern Alberta you may have heard of it as Otto’s Spudnut and Ice Cream Shop.) As for my mother, her French Canadian agricultural background and career as a Teacher, allowed her to travel the world and challenge its occupants from time to time with my brother and I tagging along. My mother also became my dad’s business partner so they certainly showed how two people can work and live together harmoniously. My parents continue to have high expectations of us and now their grandkids. Their continued support is important in an age where 24/7 anytime, anywhere access and can be fleeting of support.

This quote also reminded me of a tweet from @shareski sharing a video about “The biological advantage of being awestruck” and then it hit me that there was a book I had wanted to read and not yet done so….The Book of Awesome. This book by Neil Pasricha is on my “read this” list and after reading through my Week Four work, thought I’d better get to it. So, at this moment, I have put both The Book of Awesome and The Book of Even More Awesome on hold at my local library. I’ve even started to follow Neil @1000awesome on Twitter and look forward to reading more of his blog where he initially started his 1000 Awesome Things as a small reminder of the free little joys that make life sweet.

So, I now thought (without reading the book of Awesome) why not think of little ways to put a personal excellence signature on the work that I do? What would it look like? Here are some ideas:
• Share tidbits of information via the weekly employee Online newsletter
• Send out specific emails filled with resources, PD opportunities for administrators, specific groups of teachers
• Tweet and retweet out #psd70 happenings
• Encourage and sign up PSD stakeholders to share their learning on the 184 Blogs project

My focus now is how to change the ordinary things I do into things that I do better or more memorable than ever before. No small feat/task but one I know that I can really on my Learning Services Team, network, PLN, family and friends to support me in.