This was a very busy week at BPJPII, but a rather exciting one. I was out of the building for 3 days, (truly this is getting to be a problem that I will have to address), but truly the majority of that time was spent on stuff that I think will have impact on our school.
Tuesday was our K-12 principals meeting and a big part of that was planning our SSLN (Student Success Learning Network) goals and work. This is the first time I have been involved in an SSLN from an admin side and I was a bit concerned about it truly. I was not sure what my principal colleagues from local elementary schools would want and truthfully I was afraid that they would want to focus on Math instruction. This is a common theme in most SSLNs as elementary schools are concerned about how best to prepare their students for the rigors of high school Math. I was concerned because my math department is constantly being called out to events and projects and so I was looking to spare them yet another initiative. This is why it was so great to have the other principals say how their staff was looking to take a break from Math as well and would like to focus on something different, maybe outside the box. Music to my ears, and so we discussed the ideas of The Third Teacher. About how to rethink your space to make for a better and more learning conducive space. The conversation was great and people were immediately on board so that is what we are going to do. We created a blog called East Side SSLN (since we are the most eastern group in the board), and we will use that space to share our learning and to collaborate with each other.
On Wednesday I was out with our SSI (School Support Initiative) group getting training on our newly purchased iPads. This was a very productive day because the group got a chance to work on the basics of the machines and then discuss how best to use them and their instructions were rather clear, that we need to see immediate use of the devices and implementation was the key of basically a bit more than half the day. On a side note, this is what board PD needs to look more like. A group with a target and idea in mind, being trained on equipment that they actually have in their schools. They were using the machines that have been designated to their department and so they can easily see how this training will have impact on them.
I went from this PD Session to our Department Heads meeting and this was great as well. We talked about how we could make our meeting time more meaningful than simply me talking and them taking notes to bring back to their department. I acknowledge that this element is important, but there has to be more, and quite frankly, I am getting tired of the sound of my voice all the time. The heads said that they would be interested in having more mutual learning from each other especially with the new initiatives that we are moving through. With this in mind the next heads meeting will have people talk about how they are using the iPads and how their environmental rethink is going. Great stuff.
I spent most of Thursday out at an educational law conference and while it was very good, it was more about my own learning than about immediate application to our school.
Friday night we had IB De-Stress night and that was fantastic! This was a night for our IB students to blow off some steam and recharge as they are involved in a very stressful and demanding academic program, and a bit of fun and creativity is just what the future doctors ordered. I asked if I could talk to them about The Third Teacher and a possible project for them to earn some of their C.A.S. (Creativity, Action, Service) hours. The night was a total success as we had some great conversation around the idea of them rethinking their space. I put the challenge to them to consider the places that they learn and if our school is doing the best job of catering to this very real need. Of course they said that there were deficiencies and were excited when I gave them the change to discuss those in groups and then plan for how they could change it. The statement that I think made the most impact on them at the end was when I said, “I am here, as your Principal, saying that you will have influence over what your space looks like. You WILL have the ability to change learning here at Pope.” Amazing what impact it can have when students think that the ideas they generate will actually happen. I will blog more about this on Monday as I have to go through their ideas, but just know that this was a productive and progressive night.
All in all it was a busy week (3 nights in row at the school for events!!), but it was mostly building towards stuff and I hope that this continues. Like I mentioned earlier, I have to do something about being out of the building so much, but most of the time I spent away this week was actually influencing the learning at our school so I can take that as a success. Just want to make sure that this momentum continues. The work in progress (me), continues its progress….