education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
As a teacher, I loved those “teachable moments.” Those moments you couldn’t prepare for ahead of time but when they happened you knew your students were grasping something spactucular. It was in these moments where I felt that I was teaching my students how to become learners. They were not only engaged in the content I was teaching but they were loving the process of learning. As a teacher, there was nothing I wanted more. I wanted my students to love learning.
Reflecting over the last few months, I see many of these moments when working with my staff. From goal setting to reflection on teaching, my teachers have grown through their work and our discussions.
During our goal setting sessions and conferences, teachers faces lit up as they discussed where they wanted to take thier students and how they were going to get there. One novice teacher even went away from her team goal after discovering it wasn’t the best fit for her students. These discussions led teachers to think about differentiation and students’ needs in a way they haven’t thought about before. Teachers were learning how to move their classes forward!
Another moment came when a teacher and I met for a post conference. Her lesson was great. Age-appropriate, engaging, and students were able to communicate what they were learning when I spoke with them. However, when we sat and talked about the lesson, she was not happy with procedures for clean up at the end of the lesson with this age group. We talked about what she does with other grade levels, about conversations she had with other teachers, and her ideas. About a week later, it happened. She came running into my office saying, “It worked, it worked.” Her idea, the one she brainstormed during our post conference, was working. She was so excited that she took pictures and placed this in her professional growth portfolio. It was this moment, when she was able to reflect on what she did and where she wanted to go that she had her teachable moment.
As we move into 2013, I hope we strive to recognize these teachable moments and capitlize on them! They are there for our taking and it is up to us, as leaders and as teachers, to get the most out of each moment, teaching and leading others in learning.
I have recently been participating in Leadership 2.0 where I have enjoyed learning from other leaders as they share their experiences as they discuss the Alberta Principal Standards. Today, Chris Smeaton, superintendent of Holy Spirit Catholic Schools in southwest Alberta, said that “reasearch suggests that technology has little impact on student learning. Why? Teaching practice remained the same.”
This quote struck me as I was having this very conversation today with a visitor to our school. I was asked about the amount of smart boards in our building. As this conversation evolved, I expressed my opinion that it isn’t about the gadgets but about how we use them. If we have the latest and greatest technology but use it like a chalkboard, we aren’t going to be able to improve student learning. We have to teach differently, not just with different tools. We have to ensure that technology is a tool to improve learning not just a toy!
So what does that mean for you and me? As a teacher, it means finding ways to teach differently with the technology we have. We must reflect on each and every lesson and determine if student learning improved through the usage of the technology in the lesson. As administrators, we must go into classrooms and see the technology. We must view technology through the lens of student learning and work with teachers to determine the effectiveness of these tools. If the technology is being used to teach the same way, we must engage teachers in conversations in order to change teaching practices which will lead to student learning. This may take researching, collaboration, and coaching.
Let’s work together to change this statement so that we can say that improved teaching practices, with the usage of technology, are improving student learning!
first steps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Recently, I was challenged to begin a blog in order to reflect on my experiences as a school administrator. This challenge excited me and the ideas began to fill my head of all that I could write and share about leadership and the continuous journey we walk each and every day. Prior to sitting down and taking the plunge into the blog world, I wrestled with the title of the blog in that I wanted it to encompass everything I had not yet written. You know, all those ideas that were in my head as well as all of those that I knew would come through out this journey.
I imagine leadership like taking a walk. There are many ways to get to your destination but you must choose the journey purposefully. And you must walk it! Each and every day, walking out what you believe matters most. And in my book, that means my walk is clearly focused on leading with student progress as my focus. I must try each and every day to take this walk and not get sidetracked by the many paths that need my attention but are not as important as leading to ensure student progress.