Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shining the Light

A lot has happened in the last few weeks! As a result of our principal taking a position that became available at the Board level (Congratulations again, Dan!), the names on the office doors in our school have changed.  Our former vice-principal was a natural fit for leader of the administration team (Kudos to  LeighAnn) and, after some scrambling to put together and submit my first real CV in over 20 years, I was asked to become assistant principal.

I have to admit I did hesitate for some long moments before deciding to apply. And not because I lacked confidence or doubted my ability to lead others.  As I started to compile notes for my resume, I was sort of surprised by just how often I had been involved in leading professional development at the school level and beyond.  But for me, those opportunities to share and learn with and from others has been a natural extension of being a teacher at Matthew Elementary. Our school has, for a long time now, emphasized teachers working together as grade level partners and across divisions.  The spark of an idea, the light in each others' eyes as we discuss the progress of a student, the warmth of  teachers' affection for each other and especially for their students...all visible in our school!  I was already part of a great team of dedicated teachers...why change direction now?

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I have always welcomed teachers into my classroom ...many have dropped in after school to ask a question, seek resources or discuss issues that arose.  (Being the "most-seasoned" elementary teacher on staff helps!)  Others have visited during the day to observe such things as a Writing or Reading workshop or to see grouping strategies being carried out. 

And I love sharing my passion for teaching.  I truly enjoy discussing the big ideas and the small details that go into making the most of the experience for everyone in the classroom. Being a sponsor-teacher to three student-teaching interns was one such experience that provided me with opportunities to nurture a love of teaching and model the reflective practice of life-long learning as a teacher. (One of those young women is my teaching partner this year!) 

Now I welcome the chance to expand my leadership role in our school in perhaps a little more formal way. I look forward to having the time to visit other classrooms and share in their commitment for the work they do each day!  I hope to support them in their professional learning as we aim to implement the best of what is changing about education and teaching practices. 

I also hesitated for another reason ...the position takes me away from the classroom, our classroom,  for part of each day.  I wondered about the relationships I strive to build each year with my students and how they might be affected by my absence. I work with students each year to build a caring classroom community...would that still be possible?

I thought about all the classroom experiences I would not be there for if I wasn't involved in teaching all the subjects.  I also considered the missed opportunity to carry through the full team-teaching model we had intended to implement in grade five this year. 


I reminded myself that many of the things that I love to do in the classroom with my students are in the Language Arts/Social Studies block! Book talks, writing conferences, Global Read Aloud, hands-on projects and so much more... I will have lots of time to get to know my students and them, me.  There will be many opportunities for learning/playing/working together!

I also know the teachers who are in the classroom are wonderful teachers in their own right and they will do amazing things with our students.  I will have some time to get to work with them and that's terrific!  

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I believe this year will be about opportunities to shine a light on the teaching and learning that occurs each day in our school.   I welcome the opportunity to go into classrooms and see (and share) more of what my colleagues are doing!  

I also thought about how my new role will provide opportunities to bring certain activities to more classrooms, especially as I can be there to help set them up! 

And by using part of my new position as Learning Resource teacher to help foster a love of reading and writing for various purposes, I also look forward to getting to know more of our K-6 students and see their zest for learning, creating and collaborating in action!  For example, I have ideas that I would like to put in place to engage our learners in making the most of the technology we have available.  

So yes, I am excited about this school year, in ways I hadn't anticipated.  I love the change of direction for me professionally and the chance for leading new learning opportunities for our school community!  Who knows where sharing those sparks of teaching and learning may take us! 

Image from here

 "Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." --William Butler Yeats

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