Where did it all lead?

It is the time of year to begin doing some deeper reflections on where I’ve gone in my journey this year. You may recall that I set out to explore the concepts of educational leadership in the 21st century, as well as trying to create a culture of blogging at the school. In many ways, this journey has been a rewarding one, and a huge success. I’ve learned much, and I’ll try to distill this into some meaningful conclusions.

Leading in the 21st Century: Aside from the standards that I’ve written about before, these are the two big take-aways from my reflection on leadership
* Clarity of Benchmarks for Student Success: Different concepts of what education is, and expectations of students and student work vary dramatically, as do what teachers believe their own expectations are, and their criteria for success as a teacher.  It is vital to bring clarity to expectations, and to reinforce, remind and refine these expectations frequently and consistently.

* No Assumptions…Support and Scaffolding: Like our students, teachers need support and scaffolding to succeed. As a leader, finding different ways to show your support (a pat on the back, an unexpected run to Tim Horton’s, a hand-written card) are ways that I’ve shown support. But it is more than this as well. It is having the hard conversations that help teachers grow. These conversations need three things: Get Clear: establish clarity around my role and the mission to allow these conversations to happen in a safe way; Craft: establish what is the behaviour that needs to change, focus on the mission; and, Communicate: Create an approach that takes that particular teacher/parent/coach in mind – not a blanket approach.

Creating a Culture of Blogging: From a year of firsts, and struggles and successes, here are some of my key take-aways…
Blogging is Cod-Liver Oil to some…Our students get tagged with being the ‘digital natives’; however, this is not always true. Many are on tumblr or twitter, etc… but few strive to make meaningful, reflective contributions to their blogs. As I have written before, the skill of meta-cognition is vital to student success. I firmly believe this, and more and more research and teachers are attesting to this as well. So, it may not taste too good at the time, but it’s just so darn good for you!

* Growing Student Success Begins with Students Self-Concepts…As schools in Ontario strive to implement “Growing Success“, many are looking for ways to capture assessment as learning, and assessment for learning. Having students use a reflective blog in this way helps to capture these conversations, and helps students see themselves as a learner. Having the right prompts can help students reframe their approach to studying, or even the way they see themselves in the classroom. Assessment as learning (pg. 31 of Growing Success): “Assessment as learning focuses on the explicit fostering of students’ capacity over time to be their own best assessors, but teachers need to start by presenting and modelling external, structured opportunities for students to assess themselves.” 

So, in order to keep this succinct, I will stop the highlight reel there; but, in truth I have put together a highlight reel of a great year or learning, teaching and growing. Thanks to all who have commented on my blog, read my blog, and encouraged me.

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