Blogging Challenge

There is a Blogging challenge going around our board with multiple people who blog and I have been challenged by Roy Fernandes to step up to the plate and participate as well.  Here are the requirements for the challenge:

1.  Acknowledge the nominating blogger.

2.  Share 11 random facts about yourself.

3.  Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

4.  List 11 bloggers.  They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition.

5.  Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated.  (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

With this challenge in mind, here it goes.

1. The person who nominated me for this challenge was Roy Fernandes and he is an amazing principal in our board who is one of the most depressingly driven and disciplined people I know! I hate people like this who climb Mountains (literally!!) and jog 100 miles per day and still have time to be incredibly compassionate and insightful leaders. Add to that that he is one of the most committed and truly loving fathers I know, and he is easily one of my least favourite people! Enough about him! 😉

2. Here are 11 random facts about myself:

  • I have three amazing kids and one wife with a huge heart and really poor taste in  men!
  • I am an 80s TV fanatic and can pretty much answer any question about cheesy 80s sitcoms! I have transferred this addiction to Netflix!
  • I was transformed as an educator during my 11 years teaching at Mary Ward CSS in Toronto. Amazing place that has a fully Self Directed Learning Program!
  • I love to play, watch, discuss and spend money on golf! The most humbling and frustrating endeavour a human being can undertake!
  • I am a duel citizen as I hold both American and Canadian Citizenships.
  • I am a fanatical New York Yankee fan. I like players who play for the Yankees and hate those that do not until they sign with the Yankees and then I like them. I know this is not logical or even very Christian but it is what it is.
  • I am truly not a tech guy but seem to have an aptitude for tech things and like the possibilities it allows for my education and personal life. (plus I am a guy so I instinctively am drawn to gadgets!)
  • The most influential people in my life are the ones that I have seen doing really important jobs and have done them really well. The second most influential people in my life are the ones doing really important jobs that have done them really badly! Both lead me to teaching and administration!
  • Might say something about the business of my life but I have gotten to a point where I enjoy watching sports highlights more than the actual games and like watching movie trailers more than the film itself!
  • I can’t imagine doing anything other than education but love the satisfaction that comes with building things. Love woodworking and home renovation. (again the tools help!)
  • I am the principal of the school that I was a student in and it is the best job in the world!

Now for the questions that Roy posed to us in the challenge.

1.    Who is your favourite Canadian Hero and Why?

I would have to say is Tommy Douglas. He is the politician most credited with bringing universal health care to Canada. Like I said earlier, I am a dual citizen and so have a lot of family in the US and the peace of mind that comes with health care is something that truly does define our country. An amazing accomplishment in a very capitalistic century!

2.    What is your opinion on the usefulness of standardized tests?

I see the need for standardization as an assessment tool to see what we need to work on but when student achievement is tied to the tests, I have a real issue with it. My issue is with high-stakes standardize tests as they are frought with problems. Also, I would like to see education go from standardized to personalized thus making these types of tests obsolete but for the time being, as a diagnostic and data aggregating tool, they are okay.

3. What would you say to convince me to tweet?

You could talk to me whenever you want!!! Seriously though, it is a the simplest and most immediate access I have to resources and people that can support my learning. Also the fact that these are people that I could never meet otherwise, is something that sold me on twitter.

4. What should I be tweeting about?

Anything. Observations about learning, use twitter to notify people about blog posts, share articles or just let people know about the amazing stuff happening at your school. Lots of options.

5. How do you maintain balance in your life (work, family and friends)

That is a tough one and I have unfortunately seen my friends dwindle because of time. We all say this and there are still opportunities to see each other but there are less and less. I think we are in a great position in education but also a precarious one. Because education is something that everyone can relate to and something that my kids are obviously in the middle of, there can be overlap between home and work. Add to this that my wife is a teacher, and we can spend time talking about work and still have that be personal time. This can also lead to some blurred lines and there can be a feeling that we never really turn it off. Tough one but just keep priorities as a constant topic of reflection is a good starting point.

6. Where would you travel to if you could go anywhere in the world

Greece and/or Ireland

7. What’s the best place you have travelled to in your life?


8. Why do you think many kids and educators are not engaged enough in the school day?

I think there is a decreasing connection between what life and school look like. This is why things like project based or inquiry learning is such a good idea because it makes the act of school look like a more necessary action. We need to see school as real life and not just preparation for it.

9. Do you have any experience with self directed learning or inquiry based learning in the classroom and if yes what’s one tip you’d offer to get others started?

I have a lot of experience in it having taught at Mary Ward for 11 years and I would say that the one tip would be for teachers to just let go. Most of the concerns we have about self-directed learning is our own hang-ups. We think it won’t work because of our pre-conceived notions about learning but those are based on the system that we went through and which is no longer relevant. Just let go and allow for the possibility that it will not be smooth or look like anything you have seen before. In fact, if done right, it CANNOT look like what you are used to!!!

10. What would you change in our education system if you could?

I would make a fundamental change of focus from a move away from curriculum delivery to skill development. The traditional approach has been that learning skills are a means to and end and that end being a mastery of curriculum. I think this needs to be reversed and now that curriculum be nothing more than a vehicle or a context on which to develop skills. This would mean that the learning skills portion of provincial report cards would be the most heavily weighted and that teachers would be discussing skill development instead of seeing themselves as subject specialists. This is a big change and must happen at all levels, but I think one that is necessary to prepare students for the world they will encounter when leaving us.

11. What’s a quick but good dinner menu I would recommend for weekly menu?

I love couscous as a great staple. Trying to get my family to move to it and away from potatoes even though I though potatoes. Use chicken stock instead of water to cook and you are good to go!

Here are 8 bloggers I would like to try this challenge:

Audrey Peace

Carlo Santin

Rachel Thomas

Marcello Macuso

Liane Paixio

Anthony Carabache

Jason Gill

Kyle Pearce

Here are the 11 questions I would challenge them to answer.

1. What is your most distinguishable memory of your own education?

2. What TV show from your childhood would be the one that you would most immediately watch if it was on again?

3. What was your favourite Christmas gift as a child?

4. How have you used social media in the past year to add to your own learning?

5. When was the last time you really considered the physical environment in your classroom and what would you change if you could?

6. In relation to the last question: what factors are keeping you from making that change? Are they enough to keep you from trying it?

7. If you could do anything tomorrow, what would it be?

8. When people talk about you at your retirement dinner, what would you like them to say, and how is that different from what you think will be said?

9. If every child in your class was your own child, how would your teaching be different?

10. Can anyone explain to me why Newfoundland is 30 minutes off the clock of everyone else?

11. What qualities do you look for in a principal?

Let’s see what this leads to ?






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