Day 118 (of 185) what you probably don’t want to hear in math class

Day 118 (of 185) what you probably don’t want to hear in math class

Or maybe you do….if they’re thinking critically in a collaborative learning environment😜

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Day 117 (of 183) creative thinking? How did they think of some instruments?

Day 117 (of 183) creative thinking? How did they think of some instruments?

While attending a music festival with my schools grade 7/8 band, my brain asked some interesting questions
– why was the French horn designed the way it is? Flutes make sense. So do clarinets and saxophones. Trumpets and trombones are a logical evolution of straight horns…..but the French horn??
– Also off: oboe (double reed??) and the bassoon – seriously… did that ‘eureka’ moment happen 
– I still love the movie Amadeus, but it still astounds me how compositions can be put together in such a way to create such amazing sounds
– How can a band of 60 be so quiet (piano?) and then be a wall of sound (forte) within moments!?
– Why aren’t iPads an “approved instrument” yet? (We use them as our chimes)
– Everyone wears the same dark bottoms/white tops. Is it too much of a change to wear “school colours”?
– Music and sports have a lot in common; seating by instrument group like team breakdowns (are the percussions the linemen? What’s a good comparison for the saxophonists – wood or brass??) 
-and….as with sports, practice is essential and both teach the importance of deadlines better than any “worksheet” or essay deadline can, because showtime is showtime! And Adelle may get to have a do-over at the Grammys, but rigor (book review of Angela Duckworths “Rigor” is coming soon) means knowing what it takes to get to that “performance/finish time!”  
– Our music teachers did a great job providing descriptive feedback loops, personalized-ish learning (depending on what instruments are available) and collaboration – why are we making them put a child’s musical growth as a letter on a report card? (Rhetorical question as “Music” is one of the key agitators for why we should be using eportfolios)

Final thoughts 
I was really proud of how the students from our district (two schools came) performed and represented #83learns

Were they a little goofy at times? ✔
Were they serious when it was needed? ✔
Did they create problems at the hotel? X <–but some students from another school were a tad loud….

Did they help each other? ✔ and even inter-mingled as we hoped the self-processed “band geeks” would! (It’s on their t-shirts as a term of pride)

Am I happy that I got to come? ✔ absolutely – and I couldn’t be more proud of the three young music teachers who put this trip together so I just had to be a “roadie” and watch in awe as they inspired some kids into being life-long music junkies!

It takes a lot of time and work to get ready and go to a festival. But it sure seems worth it!! But still….is it just me that thinks one instrument is missing….

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Day 116 (of 185) being the roadie for a bombastic school band (inspired by @theweirdteacher )

Day 116 (of 185) being the roadie for a bombastic school band (inspired by @theweirdteacher )

I love that Doug Robertson likens his role as teacher to that of being a bombastic rock star of a never-ending education funk machine. He’s got a great book about that: 

I love that too – but my role as principal means I need to let the shine on my teachers and be their roadies. 

Whether it’s arranging an extra foamie because the band needs one more bed than hotel rooms will allow…..

Or fetching the diva her americano with almond milk! (Gotta keep the music teacher balky!)

Or looking for the bag that one of the students “put down somewhere”. 
Or waking up at 3am to make sure everything is ready for the day…..
It’s fun taking students “on the road” – and I have been lucky to be at schools that “travel well”…but being part of a new ‘band’ means having to learn fast!

Fortunately most of our students have been part of enough sports teams to understand how to pack. It was still nice to see their faces when they saw we were traveling by coach instead of a district school bus. 

And kinda like Christmas, there was a lot of anticipation that led up to the three performance going by super fast. 

And then, rather than just a grade, they received some descriptive feedback – areas of strength and something specific to focus and work on “next”. Not a huge list on either side: specific, meaningful, relevant and achievable. (Would’ve been weird for the adjudicator to say 8/10 – practice smarter, not harder.)

Instead, seeing the students and our music trencher on stage performing for peers of all ages made for a very special day, and proved why musicians throughout time have traveled crazy distances to make a “show”. And as principal, I couldn’t be happier to (and here I’m stealing indirectly from @theweirdteacher )….
As a bombastic rock star “roadie” of a never-ending education funk machine I embody intensity in ten cities. I have to bring it every day because my audience expects nothing less than my best. I should be on my game even when I feel off because rock stars (and school bands) don’t miss a gig. The class isn’t just the audience, though. Not in my school, not with how I view learning. The class is my band and I am their roadie. I set the tone, I help them when to bring it up and I help  them when it’s time to break it down. I help our conductor wave the stick and they bang the drum. 

–> Together we make music.

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Day 115 (of 185) a reminder to #kickitlikeagirl

Day 115 (of 185) a reminder to #kickitlikeagirl
Today I received a couple reminders about assumptions. Mindfully I read (and shared the video) Ferdinand the Bull. A bull that doesn’t do what bulls normally do. Almost 80 years old and still able to make kids laugh and learn. 

And it also made me reflect -and share- on a great info-mercial about cultural stereotyping. Specifically when being told you’re doing things “like a girl”. 
And as I am watching my youngest girl improve her soccer skills week after week….and watching more and more girls brace the cold of our indoor soccer facility….I think it’s more and more important to break the stereotypes and acknowledge how words can hurt on so many levels – racially, sexually, genderat, etc and also how these words can be altered and changed each generation….at least I know the language I use is very different than that used by my grandfather. 
So I happily shared Kick it like a Girl with my teachers who are tackling this topic in the classroom:
And I hope more and more kids of all genders will “kick it like a girl”. 

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Day 114 (of 185) exploring new events via volun-told “opportunities”

Day 114 (of 185) exploring new events via volun-told “opportunities”

This year our district “got” to host the provincials for BC School Sports Wrestling. I volunteered because someone from our school needed to go and I live closest (though a wrestling-enthused parent also volunteered a lot and two teachers also picked up shifts). 

When I got there one of my PVP colleagues asked if I wrestled – to which I laughed – growing up in a small community meant school sports were rather limited. As it was said at a recent rural schools symposium, a good part of a rural school is almost everyone who wants to, can make a team. The flip side is that if you’re not interested in ‘the’ sport being offered……

But it was neat looking at an organized event with unfamiliar eyes. I liked that I recognized some people I worked with in the past, and I was able to transfer some of my understandings from sports and jobs that I have done to notice how some things overlapped. 

  • The coach who looked like he was going to punch an official
  • A brother who wanted to get too close to the mat to get ‘the right photo’
  • The autistic wrestler get extra time (from his opponent and his coach) to reset himself
  • The officials working together to decide what the ‘right call’ was for points with some very immediate descriptive feedback (learning on the job) for newer officials. 

I know how much time and volunteer support is needed to host a regular event – so it was a neat opportunity to experience a sport and a provincial event that I otherwise may have never gone to. Always good to explore sports and activities that even though “I” may not enjoy, it did open my eyes to see why and how this sport is perfect for so many!

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Day 113 (of 185) ‘that time’ between New Years and spring break

Day 113 (of 185) ‘that time’ between New Years and spring break

There are a few of us who call each other at ‘this time of year’…..with a warning reminder. It’s a time of toughness that comes with the desire for warm weather meets ‘one more snowstorm’. When the Christmas bills are in and taxes are calculated. It’s a time when things get tough….but because Spring is Coming…we don’t want to think that it’s going to be tough. 

And the last two years, day 113 were ‘the blogs’ that connected/reminded/reflected on this time of year. When we want things to be awesome…..but things aren’t quite right yet. 

Now, today was a good day – our school had volunteers from our local Farmers Market come and run art activities all afternoon. And knowing ‘this time of year’ was coming, we did have plans. 
But….based on Scaredy Squirrels list…..

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Day 112 (of 185) my rebel teenage daughter (with a nod to #sblchat )

Day 112 (of 185) my rebel teenage daughter


My teenage (grade 11) daughter knows how to push my (educational) buttons sometimes. I like to say that she’s my rebel because she likes doing homework… cursive script….to score high points in the game of school.



So tonight (wednesday at 6pm pst is #sblchat – standards based learning which always has some top-notch, published edu-leaders in the field of assessment and evaluation and reporting) it was very appropriate for her to say: Guess how I’m doing in my science class….


and I could tell that it would be an answer that would drive me (and many from #sblchat) a little crazy.




As Ken O’Connor tweeted:

A3 Compliant students who get behaviour points and extra credit are winners and losers. #sblchat


The nice-for-me part is that she ‘gets it’ that it’s part of the game-of-school…the bad-for-me part is that she knows she can get under my skin with it, because I still have to appreciate her academic accomplishments…..!

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