Day 87 (of 2021/22) changes… school nicknames and logos… great leadership @remple_dave @downsteresa

Day 87 (of 2021/22) changes… school nicknames and logos…

In all the clutter of good decisions to change antiquated school nicknames that are offensive and/or inappropriate (and finally likewise being done at the professional sports level) a good idea was just shared in my old home town:

As global news also put it: https://globalnews.ca/news/8527996/b-c-high-school-retiring-logo/?utm_source=GlobalBC&utm_medium=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR03_7n92m4-k0O5xUEBayU0UTlMVPMLuCbn-0o6x7CN4NnWmtj3uozupms

When neighbouring community (and rival for hottest daily temperature in canada) was destroyed by wildfire… the learning community reflected on the name and mascot it had chosen in 2017 when it moved on from the older nickname… the barons…

As I tweeted to Vice Principal Dave Remple, (who I coached football at St Thomas More … hate the calendar, but love the championship rings we got… )

“Stupid background to share: the much earlier logo was snoopy cursing the Red Baron… pre copyright lawsuits🤣

Pre 1980

… then my dad (principal at LSS) got one baron designed who kinda looked like a goth from Asterix,

Sorta… most of the 80s

then we got a “better baron” when we got to the current school location…fabulous art teacher made the baron look like he was stepping out of a D&D book.

Again, not exactly….

Honestly, I never really understood why we were the barons… but still got my green and gold jacket… I’ll bring it when we are able to drive the Duffy lake road for recreation travel!”

The shift to the wildfire made sense. There have been some big fires in the area over the years and lots of jobs connected to it (I was once the warehouse manager for the ministry of forests when it still had a station in Lillooet – where I grew up and got used to it being 115 F in the day and cooling down to 100F at night…

But to pivot around 5 years after the adoption? Pretty cool. To look at our neighbours and the devastation in Lytton and say (not wait for others to say) it might be in uncomfortable taste… that’s pretty self aware! And great leadership to show what being a change agent means!

On the radio: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-96-radio-west/clip/15890164-lillooet-secondary-school-changing-school-logo-flame-something

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Day 86 (of 2021/22) 3 non-covid education news stories you may have missed for the week ending January 21 Thanks @ANiChulain , @cbcasithappens , and @brandonbusteed

Day 86 (of 2021/22) 3 non-covid education news stories you may have missed for the week ending January 21 Thanks @ANiChulain , @cbcasithappens , and @brandonbusteed

1. Not quite out of Ready Player One, but are virtual classrooms the next “space” to explore as an alternative to a hybrid model? https://www.euronews.com/next/amp/2022/01/14/educating-in-the-metaverse-are-virtual-reality-classrooms-the-future-of-education

2. Banning “discomfort” about learning about u comfortable topics – huh or hahahahaha. Guess the state where this is happening…. https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.6320691

3. Forbes Brandon Busteed looks deeply at the question (and a key answer) to: what do you believe the ultimate outcome of an education is? https://www.forbes.com/sites/brandonbusteed/2022/01/16/education-must-lead-out-not-stuff-into/?sh=61a0d33f3d67

And some covid stories that may have also been missed but are interesting…!

New Mexico bringing in the National Guard… to cover classrooms… https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-new-mexico-michelle-lujan-grisham-teaching-eaa5e804bc4f3c98efc0c8b14f2fb94e

Other places looking at parents to help out (instead of just teaching your kid, try working with a whole bunch!!!) https://people.com/human-interest/amid-teacher-shortage-schools-are-now-asking-parents-to-work-as-substitute-teachers/?amp=true

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Day 85 (of 2021/22) Mr Landy Classroom Takeover

Day 85 (of 2021/22) Mr Landy Classroom Takeover

Two days in a row I’ve provided coverage due to a lack of replacement staff. Not as common an experience here as it is in other jurisdictions, I know that part. And I love it when I’m asked if “I’ll be okay”. Yes. Teaching is awesome. I do have some skills with the profession having taught stints from kindergarten to grade 12 (admittedly on the humanities side in secondary though I’m proud of my asynchronous History of Math 11 to evade the math gatekeeper of graduation….

If we know I’m taking a class, I don’t bother the teacher for a day plan. If they prefer (or it’s a surprise) I’m happy to mostly follow the day plan. Though yesterday I did tweak the “free draw” time to “iPad drawing time” to show the students how they can do that in Notes (and we had enough kids away o didn’t need to arrange borrowing any from neighbours). And today I did to a “dance party” to help transition between activities – I’ve found that kindys like my dance parties – Blinding Lights by The Weekend remains popular in classrooms and in my Month Review videos…

But there are some things I do pretty regularly: set up transitions (I talk about what we are doing generally and then each time we talk about “it”); confirm that I’m not necessarily doing what a regular teacher does/would do (teasing as principal I get to push the rules, but in actuality use the opportunity to reinforce some key character pieces: be nice, take turns, listen, try your best, wear your masks at the right times…)

If we go outside (as we did today) we take time as we enter the forest to be mindful of the stewards both past and present who have helped look after our forest and remind that we take out anything that we have brought in and don’t leave with anything that we find in the forest space.

I find the classroom takeovers (or assignment due to lack of replacement) are helpful to stay connected to the classroom experience (of both adults and children) which is always good. And when parents share a positive comment, it’s nice to know I’m not too rusty! It’s a tough time to be a teacher (and still only at the start of how the pandemic will end up influencing how school is done…)

Also nice when the teachers set things up so I can look good😇

But the ‘regular job’ doesn’t go away; I still had my scheduled 1:1 sped coverage continue, but a slight adjustment to the schedule with less time during recess so I could get between places and more time later when the classroom teacher returned – the reason why a student asked why I was eating in the afternoon and I recounted my day to them… they didn’t realize how busy a day can be! Yet great opportunity to immerse myself into a classroom and thank the teacher for how far they have come in our half year together!

Still hope to takeover more classrooms…!

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Day 84 (of 2021/22) mid season class changes

Day 84 (of 2021/22) mid season class changes

I used to keep kids in assigned classes all year long

Now I consider changes when it’s clear that what looked good on paper is not looking good in practice.

Partly was with some messaging from a board of education that wanted to focus on keeping parents happy, but that shifted into being enabled to making a change when it wasn’t about the parent but about the learner.

So now I’m thinking we should consider taking it one step further yet…

What if we did some rethinks more than once a year… Sept-Dec

Conference for “stay or switch”

Jan-June

Conference for “stay or switch”

Oooh or – again after Spring Break…

Even more so, what if we shifted to a bigger ungraded mindset and didn’t group students primarily based on their year of birth?

Multi age classes anyone? But what about the curriculum for each grade?? Well, I acknowledge every class I had was a multi-grade class just with a common birth year… essentially everyone has their own IEP and are on their own personalized learning journey. Now, this is different than platooning (which I am not a fan of) where students are sorted into groups based on their homogeneous skill level…doesn’t work the way it seems it ought to…) in that the groups can be formed by learning style or classroom approach (eg outdoor learning cohort, PBL, play-based, traditional, etc) and I tend to “like” three year splits (eg 4-6) and then hypocritically will promote 4 grade splits…

Elementary world does amazing things within classrooms and focused on specific years…. But maybe we need to open up those systemic pieces a bit more…

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Day 83 (of 2021/22) Waves – a poem 

Day 83 (of 2021/22) Waves – a poem 

As I continue to try to do some different In my days of learning blog, I found the waves metaphor worked very well for how our responses to the waves of the pandemic are being felt and impacting our mental and physical wellness…. so today, a poem based on the metaphor that I’ve found people connected to!

Waves

Wellness is a journey, not a destination

And yet waves travel from great distance

To erode and wear down

Successively

Some bigger than others

But all cumulative in their impact…

Physical damage

Emotional wear and tear

Mental anguish

All part of what to expect

Or a disruption

Or a distraction 

Whether the cliffs of insanity 

Or the minds region of limbicness

The foundation stands

What it can and weaknesses 

Grow and ebb and flow

Like flotsam and jetsam 

Catching the unexpected in a turmoil

Where one can’t tell which way is up

And what day is which

Hours and minutes flip flop like

The churning under flow 

  • both in sea as in the mind 

Waves grinding boulders into sand

Carving cliffs into works of art

Creating new through destruction

Making the mind bend and flex

Pivot as it does the best it can

Holding firm and making changes 

hypocritically and without choice

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Day 82 (of 2021/22) #BlueMonday – fake smile strategy

Day 82 (of 2021/22) #BlueMonday – fake smile strategy

With all due respect to Bobby McFerrin, I am reframing one of his timeless classics – and while the media likes to say that “today” is the saddest day of the year, my blog usually identifies around day 113 being the toughest in the education sector – so I am eyeing March 1/2 much more than January 17… but it’s a full moon tonight, and we like looking for patterns connected to lunar activity… though as I re-read/listen to the song, it may be a tad full of toxic positivity…. 😉

****

Here’s a little blog I wrote

You might want to read it note for not

Don’t worry, be happy

In every life we have some trouble

But when we worry, we make it double

Don’t worry, be happy

DOn’t worry be happy now.

Ain’t got no place to aim your cough

Somebody came and took your test

Don’t worry, be happy

Your doctor say your appointments late

They may not be able to mitigate

Don’t worry, be happy

(Here, I give you my handle [@technolandy], when you worry, dm me, I make you happy)

Don’t worry, be happy

AIn’t got no mask ain’t got no symptoms

But got a booster to make you smile

Don’t worry, be happy

‘Cause when you worry your face will frown

And that will bring everybody down

So don’t worry, be happy

Now there, is the blog I wrote

I hope you learned it note for note

Like good little children, don’t worry be happy

Now listen to what I said, in your life expect some trouble

When you worry, you make it double

But don’t worry, be happy now!

Put a smile in your face

It will soon pass, whatever it is

Don’t worry, be happy

I’m not worried. I’m happy….

*****

Wow in reviewing this song (for which I was a big fan when it first came out and love love love the video) there’s definitely a fair bit of toxic positivity. BUT… on media-created events such as #BlueMonday maybe we can switch our mindsets… and use one of my weirder strategies – not inspired by the song, but definitely connected to it:

The Fake Smile Strategy

This is an odd one, but it does work. As Bobby said, “put a smile in your face”. Fake the actions of a smile with a goal of keeping it up for 120 seconds… most (I rarely go with the universal ‘all’) the time, you won’t reach the count of 90 when you stop counting because you actually feel better – a study by Paul Ekman in 1990

referred to it as a “Duchenne smile” – a full smile that involves facial muscles around the eyes (so make it a big one!) produced a change in brain activity that led to a happier “mood”. It is not a long-term fix, but when you are told that today you should feel ‘blue’, it can be a good circuit breaker for the brain! I’ve loved sharing this strategy with others and getting the feedback when some keep using it beyond the one time I provide the idea!

AND, when others see you smiling, much like a yawn, it can be contagious (in a good way)! Happy “Blue Monday” in the meantime!

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Day 81 (of 2021/22) 3 non-Covid education news stories you may have missed for the week ending January 14 thanks to @nsdmorrison , @crvnewsbrendan , and @janellacbc

Day 81 (of 2021/22) 3 non-Covid education news stories you may have missed for the week ending January 14 thanks to @nsdmorrison , @crvnewsbrendan , and @janellacbc

1. PLAY! It’s a good thing! And for ages 3-8 it’s as effective as adult led instruction… well, guided play that is… free play opportunities likewise important, but neat study on guided play: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorrison/2022/01/12/children-learn-more-through-play-than-from-teacher-led-instruction/?sh=22080f6430bb

2. Several First Nations have reached an agreement with the government of Canada to return education rights to its own nation. Since education is typically a provincial issue, (except for some French language pieces) it makes sense for nations to have their own system… https://beta.ctvnews.ca/local/vancouver-island/2022/1/11/1_5736449.amp.html

3. Black Excellence Day https://blackexcellenceday.ca has marked its second day (with a slight shift as the previous title of “black shirt day” reminded many of the fascist movement in the 1930s… good point since the point is “being anti-racist”) https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.6308420 I blogged yesterday about the importance of this event since too often in Canada we want to believe our country has less racism than it actually has…

And some covid ones…

Only took till “day two” before some BC schools had ‘functional closures’ https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/two-b-c-schools-move-to-functional-closure-after-holiday-break-says-ministry/wcm/ccd6eaf7-9cd9-4b22-9eaf-33188e71cade/amp/ my staff has been surprisingly robust (and even our student attendance has been within january expectations). But kinda getting the vibe that I should qualify that with “for now”…..

Quebec may have parents supervise classrooms (while teachers teach remotely from home…) https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/mobile/quebec-parents-could-be-asked-to-supervise-classrooms-if-teachers-are-sick-1.5738755 and some US states are considering similar… I did TOC (sub) while I was working on my degree when I came home from university, but the “me” before and after teacher training… very different…

And the untold story of a schoolteacher who liberated Easter Island https://longreads.com/2022/01/04/we-wish-to-be-able-to-sing-easter-island-atavist-magazine/amp/

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Day 80 (pf 2021/22) #blackexcellenceday Eve

Day 80 (pf 2021/22) #blackexcellenceday Eve

Friday is the day we will be acknowledging Black Excellence Day. Last year it joined the Orange and Pink Shirt day movement to have a visible connection, but there are some troubling historical connections to black shirts and fascism… so, the name shift makes sense… https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/black-excellence-day-anti-racism-bc-1.6308420

And in Canada, we can’t pretend that because we aren’t the US, that racism doesn’t exist… it’s still here… subtle in some cases -one mom talks to me about how her two children are treated differently when they are in public as they do have different shades of skin colour. My oldest girl has a friend who connected with a news story that came out this week that connected to a school she had attended… https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/education-bullying-antiblackracism-1.6241163

As a white male, I’m aware that there are parts of my day that are not universal – such as if I pulled over by a police car… I’m wondering if a light is out or if I misread the speed limit. Not much more than that. I’m likewise empathetic (and willing to explain) that for many communities, police, paramedics, fire & rescue, and educators are not “the heroes”.

And it doesn’t help when trustees such as Scott Henry in Cypress-Fairbanks (Texas) thinks more black teachers is leading to lower school district performance… wow… https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/education/amp/Cy-Fair-ISD-trustee-s-comments-on-Black-teachers-16769915.php

just… wow…

This isn’t right, and it’s why we do need more awareness (training) around the systemic pieces / knowing that many will point to socioeconomics because terms such as “white privilege” are not universal – but if you/we/I don’t see key elements of discriminatory practice… there is a reason…

So Friday I will be wearing black to be a visible marker that I hope I can be seen as an anti-racist ally. Much as why my nameplate includes my pronouns. Much as I advocate for students who are often excluded because “they” ruin the learning experience/opportunities for others. And as I often do “unofficial jersey day” every Friday, I am glad to be able to incorporate a very appropriate football jersey…

I once said that I don’t wear many symbols (ribbons et al) beyond the poppy because I need those causes to be as meaningful as remembrance of the sacrifices made towards peace (especially after the rise of fascism in WWII). And in that tone, I wear orange shirts. Pink shirts. And black… On key days, but at other times as well, because we can’t just be anti-racist one day a year. Mindsets matter all the time – and character is what you show when you’re not wearing a labeled shirt!

Links: https://blackexcellenceday.ca

let’s get going being anti-racist. every day.

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Day 79 (of 2021/22) one word – thanks @chrkennedy

Day 79 (of 2021/22) one word – thanks @chrkennedy

West Vancouver superintendent Chris Kennedy reminded me that it’s time for a “one word” challenge https://cultureofyes.ca/2022/01/06/my-one-word-for-2022-focus/

It’s always daunting and challenging to try to think of “a” word to use to define the upcoming year. I like Chris’s word: FOCUS – as that will be required in order to ‘stay on target’ (Star Wars reference there).


I also like “Flexibility” because it connects to both our mindsets as we pivot to react (sometimes proactive, but not often) to Covid influences on our community AND my own attempt to use some yoga to improve my own physical flexibility (never been good, but lately even tighter than usual despite doing better on the belt size).

I’ve had a variety of words such as Passion, Dignity… but 2022 seems… weird… We are now into the third winter where covid has been impacting us and that means, while many crave a ‘return to normal’, almost a quarter of our students have only known “this” style of learning (limited/no large gatherings, masks, hand washing, etc) – and I teased in an online gathering that we should be good to continue what we’re doing until the current pandemic ends in about six years. It got a laugh, but I’m not completely joking…

So that along with the milestone that I have had to make now that I have reached an age that is now older than what my dad made it to means that I need to be more ‘future focused’ than ever before – and not just ‘for the system’ but for myself. So this year, for the first time in about 7 years, I am going to create a “5 year plan” for myself. I get regularly teased about whether or not I should consider a “district level position” but I always reflect that many mentors who were in board office positions lamented that ‘the best job ever’ was being a principal… something I have shared with my VP (he likes retelling my share to him when I welcomed him to the worst job in education – vice principal – as it is stretched in so many directions – but it’s worth it because it’s about 2 metres away from the best job in education. Though I am envious of possibly influencing ‘the system’ adjacent from our school…. Hmmmm…

So I believe my one word needs to reflect to my mindset of looking forward for what is next in my career. Not considering a change involving a U-Haul as my professional and personal life are both 9s (Howard Stern reference) and we have one more child to cross the graduation stage. So it’s extra weird coming up with a 5 year plan when I’m pretty darned content with darn near everything…!


So… my #oneword for 2022 is gonna be contemplative. I’ve got even more thinking to do than usual! Any suggestions of what I might consider doing next?!?

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Day 78 (of 2021/22) happy blog-anniversary! 10 years of recording my thoughts! Thanks for the push @gcouros

Day 78 (of 2021/22) happy blog-anniversary! 10 years of recording my thoughts! Thanks for the push @gcouros

My time flies. WordPress just let me know that it was a solid decade ago that I started the blog experiment that has turned into the “days of learning” idea put forth by George Couros, though not interpreted in the way he intended… 180 days of learning – shared but not necessarily 180 by an individual. In fact, at a presentation to other PVPs, I made it clear: don’t do this. Don’t do a daily blog. It is hard. It isn’t neatly written. It is hard to maintain on some days. It is not ideal. But… it gives me great reflection each day… it is easier for my kids to find than my dads journal that wasn’t found until I was well into my career (and then confirmed that some/many of my wild ideas come from the articles that he likely read while I was in utero – stories about gradeless classes and distrust of report cards are not new and we’re well pointed out 50 years ago during reflections of this experiment we call “schooling”.

My biggest takeaway: if it seems like it logically makes sense, it probably is the opposite! The more accurate the % the less I trust it; every grade 2 student doing the same learning activity on the same day is great for pacing guides but does not consider the individual; etc etc. it’s hard, but for me it’s worthwhile for reflection, but definitely not for everyone. It’s why I am exploring more in the realm of PBL (project based learning) and portfolios instead of “grades and reports” – kinda acknowledging that everyone is on an IEP and does not need to have the same “common knowledge” as ‘everyone’ – while also acknowledging the power of generalists over specialists at times. Conflicting and hypocritical? Yep! That’s me!

Still better understanding the power of personalization and the mix of introverted and extroverted skill sets. Sometimes a group of one is fine. And my learnings can be seen in my varied reflections. Some good and deep, others “approaching expectations”.

But again, mindset matters. My audience is myself and my kids – if they choose to become educators, it may be useful (I still love leading through my dads journal) and if not, we’ll… whatever… they can see my thoughts! The fact that others like to take a look is a bonus! I’d do a much better job editing and phrasing what I write I’d focus on one per week or so if I was targeting a specific audience (eg assessment geeks)… my mindset is thinking about 180 days of learning… kinda like a range of 180 degrees, not a complete circle but from one point to an opposite… a spectrum of Eduthinking. It’s what has gotten me to teaching some university courses… signing a book deal… keynoting… teaching better… being more present with my family… all good pieces.

Daily blogging is hard. Don’t do it. So glad I’m doing it!

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