Wednesday, 11 October 2017

We Must Evangelize Too

It's not enough to simply be proud of our Catholic institutions. Principals and Vice Principals must lead the way to preserve those very institutions that are threatened by an increasing view towards a more secular approach to education, that sees no value in integrating our very unique worldview into all that we do.

Recently one of our very active councils has introduced ALPHA, a modern evangelization program, to our student body. Students were invited to sign up for weekly talks and table discussions and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised about the initial turnout. There are enough kids in our school who are contemplating big questions about our faith and its place in their lives. I was asked by this council to serve as a table host. Most VPs are pretty busy and I used to think that it was pretty much impossible to find the time to get involved in co-curricular activities of any kind but now I think that when it comes to those activities that are about safeguarding our identity as Catholic schools, we have to oblige.

I'm not at all suggesting that this is the most important activity going on at present time in my school but it's just not that often that a sizable group of young people are demanding time and space to discuss faith and life and the questions they have. Our schools are the places where this ought to happen. The adults need to work in service to our faith need to be there to facilitate those discussions. From where I sit and work, I experience a little sadness almost daily when I hear of kids migrating to our local public schools because they would rather spend the time they would normally have in a Religion course in a more "practical" course that they could use to buffer their average for college or university applications. I realize I am painting schools out to be "credit mills" but it seems that we have moved away from the notion that education does not only serve to nurture the mind, but the soul as well.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Importance of BEING the Standard

For the next two days, I will be attending the Technology-Enabled Leading and Learning Conference. It's my first time attending and I'm leading a workshop on hyperdocs too! Essentially, this is an AMAZING PD and networking opportunity for administrators from all systems across the province and the focus couldn't be more relevant. Keynote speakers and breakout sessions are all centred on the latest pedagogical trends in technology integration. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity because as a leader, I feel strongly that administrators have to be the standard the expect for their teachers. As instructional leaders, we should be actively learning about these trends and making the pedagogical connections. When we model for our staff how to use these tools and dynamic methods of delivery and production, we inculcate a culture rooted in sound instructional practices and relevance. If we can demonstrate to staff that these new tools and methods can be meaningful and useful for the adults, then we can help our staff to make similar connections for students, thus making our classrooms dynamic learning environments.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A Little Shell-Shocked Sometimes

Is it possible to feel a loss of innocence as an adult? I don't think this is a conversation that is typically held, not about well-adjusted grown-ups with lots of education, a well-paying job and a stable home life. But is it possible that in our position as administrators, we experience trauma alongside our kids?

As a teacher, I was really sheltered from what my administrators were dealing with on a daily basis. There very worse issue I had to deal with was perhaps a student swearing in class... I really had no clue what was going on behind those closed doors and well-beyond the hours of the school day. Now
that I've been on the other side of the door for the last 5 years, I can tell you that it's not all sunshine and rainbows. It's not even as simple as dishing out detentions and suspensions on some days. Other days, which are not the majority I must emphasize, snowball into these "incidents" or "episodes" that just consume your days and sometimes weeks, depending on what has transpired. It usually means endless hours on the phone with parents, police and community agencies. Drugs. Fights. Weapons. Sexual assault. Domestic violence. Serious trouble on the homefront. Mental breakdowns. A young life ends too soon.  Interview after interview. Re-interviewing to double-check and triple-check "facts" and recollections. More phone calls. Hours of reviewing security camera footage. Conferral and collaboration with colleagues. Decisions are made. Consequences are imposed. Reports are prepared. Sometimes charges are laid. Sometimes someone is suspended or expelled. Other times, a son or daughter is removed from the custody of their parents. A child is hospitalized. A funeral.

During the "event" the administrator must keep his or her wits about him or her. Emotion has to be kept at bay in order to arrive at an objective understanding of what has transpired so that the best possible decisions can be made based on the information gathered. At the same time, we have to balance the quest for objectivity with the need for compassion.

Eventually, it all ends.

Then what?

In the quiet of the aftermath is when it always hits me. Humanity takes over. Feelings of sadness and anger and sometimes grief for all the lives affected kick in. It can be overwhelming. To an extent, it can feel traumatizing. The facts of these cases are difficult to hear. We listen to a lot of crying and sobbing, yelling and screaming. We provide comfort and consolation and that requires inner strength. We remain logical and calm, which requires restraint and patience. At the end, sometimes you feel like a punching bag. Others, your sweater is soaked with tears.

Then it's a return to "regular" routine. It's not always easy to brush yourself off and move on. Some cases will have a tremendous impact and we have to still be functional. How do we do it? This is when the strength of a team is tested. The administrator in the thick of the incident must communicate what is going on to the others so that they are aware and know that back-up for some of the other day-to-day duties is needed. I can't speak for my colleagues, but I always found taking a quick 15 minute break to drink a cup of coffee or have a quick bite with my partners gave me a bit of grounding or were good opportunities to bounce ideas and get some feedback. Debriefing with my principal in the end is always a good exercise for me. Reviewing all the steps taken and sometimes offering some alternatives is great for growth and learning, since in this role, it all happens on the job. There is no manual in responding to human crises. In this debrief, encouragement is offered and an acknowledgement of the rollercoaster of emotions is offered, which gives me some reassurance that I can deal with the next thing that comes along. Finally, sometimes a little separation is good thing. I'll take a lieu day and spend the day reading or walking or painting or whatever... I can't ever "reset" because, traumatizing those these events may be, there is learning to be processed and practices to reflected upon. Just as I was a reflective practitioner as a teacher, I continue to be so as a Vice Principal because there is no exact science to doing this job.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity


I was gifted the amazing opportunity to travel to Europe this spring with some staff and students from my school to commemorate the Vimy 100 celebrations. We travelled through France and did all the expected "touristy" things - Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame... We also paid our respects to fallen Canadian soldiers at a number of cemeteries maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Before we left, we all researched the lives of soldiers buried in those cemeteries in order to make this experience more real. The kids made connections with real people and families whose lives were more immediately impacted by the tremendous sacrifice that was made for the sake of the freedom of Canadians in the generations that would come afterward. Next we passed through the Flanders, Ypres and Passchendaele in picturesque Belgium. A very interesting and "educational" few days were spent in Amsterdam, where students received a very warm welcome from the mayor Bergen-Opp Zoom, welcoming them and applauding them for recognizing the importance  of this historic event. Finally, we ended our pilgrimage in Germany, where we explore the very metropolitan Berlin and stood in awe of such sites of Budestag and the what remains of the Berlin wall.

This was the first overseas and overnight excursion I have taken since becoming a VP. I think that it's important for administrators to go on these trips to support staff and develop relationships with students. Admittedly, I had forgotten all the work that it takes to put such a tremendous itinerary together and I had a new appreciation for the amount of time that staff had invested in working with the tour operator to design such an unforgettable experience. This time away, 10 days to be exact, gave me time to speak with these teachers, uninterrupted, about a number of topics, some shop and some not.

 I really appreciated being able to make connections with the teachers and I think they got to know me a little better too.

At school, staff act as surrogate parents to our kids but when you are travelling and spending so much time together, that custodial dimension takes on a whole new life. Most of these kids had never travelled before or used a passport. That's right! For some, this trip marked the first time they ever flew on a plane! There is a special sort of vulnerability that becomes noticeable. We took the opportunity to encourage as much free
 exploration as possible to help build their confidence, even though they were so far from home. Students figured out quickly that they had to be resourceful and manage their time and ultimately, they did. I was really proud of them. Now no trip would be complete without a little bit of drama - lost passports, too much money spent and a trip to the emergency room... Nothing we couldn't handle and smile about later.

When we got back, those faces in the hallways that I always smiled at and recognized now had

 names that I knew and shared experiences. I feel so blessed to be connected to these kids and teachers, having gone on such an extraordinary journey. As a former teacher of History, I felt like I was walking on air everywhere I went. I hadn't been to Europe since I was age of the kids that we took. I very vividly remember how I felt coming home from Europe when I was 17 years and I could see a very familiar look in the eyes of our kids when we greeted our families who were anxiously waiting for us at the airport.

I think every administrator needs to take a trip like this every now and then to make these important connections and share these significant and wonderful memories.

To Cindy, Steve and Mark: I can't thank you enough for the privilege of having accompanied you and these wonderful students on this trip that I will never forget.


Monday, 15 May 2017

13 Reasons to Reconsider...

I will admit that I was very concerned when I learned of the raging popularity over NetFlix's series 13
Reasons Why. Before even having watched a single minute of the show, I recall articulating how I felt it was so irresponsible to make such a show that kids so easily have access to. This is a difficult time to be in schools, where so many of our kids are hurting, are struggling with mental health issues and self-harm. Pop culture had just thrown yet another curve for those in the regular care of kids to deal with.

Then my curiosity got the better of me. I watched the first episode and then another. By the time I was through my first sitting, I binged through the first 6 episodes and had it not been for the early hour of the morning, I might have continued. Don't misunderstand. My position hasn't completely changed. I feel a little less like a hypocrite now that I've actually watched the show.

I don't have 13 brilliantly insightful observations, but I have a few I think are worth mentioning.

1. I'm not so sure that the show glamourizes teen suicide in as much as it romanticizes it. Semantics? I'm not sure... When I think of glamourizing, I associate that effect with a degree of exaggeration, a lack of reality. The truth is, what happens to Hannah Baker in this show is not beyond the realm of reality. Maybe that so much could happen to one person is a bit much to take, but I nor anyone can't  say for sure that girls like Hannah don't exist. I was shocked at how graphic and raw a number of some of the most intense scenes in this show were. For me, some of what I saw hit a little too close to home because of some of the kids who have come through my office in crisis over the years. It was more real for me that I was prepared for. Too many similarities. For me, the whole idea of receiving messages from beyond the grave as a means of not allowing anyone to be hurt ever again is dramatic.

2. High school is hard - for everyone. Kids continue to struggle to find their voice and place. Other kids feel it their right in the social pecking order to maintain a certain caste system in place, to make life hell for those who would dare to be different. Kids don't understand each other and can be cruel and hateful (not all of them though...). Bullying continues to be a pervasive issue. There are a lot great ideas to combat bullying in schools but people need to change on a more fundamental level. We all have to accept that we need to take better care of each other and it has to be a shared value. We're not quite there yet.

3. Social media - aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I love it, most of the times. Then there are days when I hate it so much because boundaries are blurred. No one has a private life anymore. One of the most profound quotes from this series is that "... social media has made us all stalkers..." and it couldn't be more true. Trolling and spamming have replaced bike rides and rollerblading. Taking unfortunate videos and posting them online is the new form of spectator sports. It's not kids being kids. This vexes me a lot - besides coming down hard with consequences until kids finally learn, I struggle with this daily as I'm sure a lot of colleagues do too.

4. I was a bit miffed at the portrayal of the school administration and not because I'm VP. The adults in charged are portrayed as somewhat flippant and more concerned with the outcome of the lawsuit than in really examining their practices in identifying and dealing with kids who are in crisis. I've said it time and again that schools are just schools, not medical institutions. Schools are staffed with teachers, not doctors and psychiatrists. Our training is pretty obvious but we seem to need to be everything to everyone these days. I think it's time to stop thinking and saying so. We have an obligation to our kids. Period. If they are hurting we need to know why and put them on the path towards healing. When I student is in my office and has been sharing some self-harm or suicidal ideation, I get to the point with as much love as possible and I ask them:

a.) how they are feeling at that exact moment
b.) do they want to kill themselves?
c.) if they say yes, I ask them when the last time they had that thought was and I ask them to walk me
     through the details

I find that the kids are so shocked by how candid and matter-of-fact I am that they share everything or they are so beside themselves that they are very quick to reassure that while they are feeling very low and depressed never would they ever hurt themselves. But regardless of the direction the conversation takes, the next conversation is with their parents and a recommendation to seek medical attention. Schools can't do this work alone but we spend more time with kids in the span of a day than anyone else. There is a wealth of information in front of our noses. We have to be on the look-out.

No. This book and series need not be a topic of discussion in our classrooms. I know that using pop culture artefacts can sometimes be an effective instructional strategy but this topic is too present in the collective consciousness. I'd rather kids feel that if they have questions, they should be able to ask anyone who works in their school and those adults should be able to give them the most supportive and informative answer they are able. This is an opportunity for Admin to support their staff. I suspect this will be a topic of discussion of an up-coming staff meeting in the very near future. We made a decision not to escalate any angst about this show by addressing it with staff while it is still very present in the media. The topic of appropriate next steps and protocol has come up in previous meetings but in relation to other issues. School communities have to come together to establish a collective responsibility to take care of each other and work collaboratively towards ways of doing it better everyday for the sake of our kids.

Friday, 12 May 2017

To Lead is to be Connected

The nature of leadership is changing. To be a leader is to be a learner and perhaps, the most vulnerable learner in the school. Being a connected leader involves taking risks in order to maximize influence in their schools, communities and beyond. For school leaders, it’s no longer a question of “are you connected?” but rather “just how connected are you?” 

Connected leaders need to be engaged in active learning. This could be as simple as building a PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter and connecting with other leaders in various systems and sharing in their learning experiences. It could also mean attending professional learning opportunities provided by the school board. “The Tech-Enabled Administrator” was a professional learning series that has been offered in our board since 2014 where school leaders lead professional learning sessions for other school leaders. An administrator sharing their learning with other administrators is a powerful strategy. It’s one thing to read about the importance of leveraging social media at school in a professional resource but it is quite another to see how system leaders have raised the profile of their schools through Twitter and have maximized websites and blogging tools to improve communication and engagement with parents. In leading our own professional learning opportunities, school leaders share insights and considerations that only occur to other leaders, as well as navigate some of the challenges that were experienced along the way. The best resource that connected leaders have is other connected leaders who are taking risks on a daily basis and reflecting on those decisions and the various technologies and applications they used.

A connected leader asks “big picture” questions:

1. What goals do we want to achieve in our schools?
This is not solely about curriculum expectations. Leaders should be looking to the new pedagogies and defining the core and transferable skill sets and competencies that all students should possess, regardless of their pathway. Administrators need to be “in the know” in terms of what the demands of this century are and what the implications are in the classroom. This means being actively engaged with current research or even community partners who can more clearly define what they are looking for in prospective employees, based on the changing needs of the economy.

2. What tools and resources are available for teachers to use to help students reach those goals? How do administrators support teachers?
This could involve:
·         directing staff  to teachers at other schools
·         working directly with central staff to facilitate PD opportunities in the school for both staff and students
·         referring staff to online learning opportunities
·         leveraging PA Days for hands on, meaningful learning opportunities (e.g. carousel model)

3. What training is needed for teachers and students so that these tools and resources are used effectively?
One of the most effective strategies is to look to the existing school leadership and identifying partners from within…

*Who is ALREADY doing this work?
*What are their ideas about seeing this on a larger scale?
*What has worked for them?
*What were the challenges and how were they overcome?
*How can they participate in this process?

This is an affirmation of an administrator’s awareness of the strengths of the staff. Conversations with “allies” are critical in terms of collecting data. It also shows staff that you believe in the value of their contribution, that you are willing to invest time in them.

4. How will we measure the efficacy of these tools in supporting and improving teaching and learning?
The very notion of “accountability” makes people nervous, especially in schools when much of what we do CANNOT be quantified or measured, like collaboration, innovation and engagement. Leaders need to co-construct success criteria with staff. For example, we can examine and analyze school data related to learning skills, we can examine attendance in Applied and College courses when discussing levels of engagement, or teacher inquiry projects can be implemented to determine if self-directed learning is a strategy that students are embracing.

To be more connected, administrators can:

a.)  be a life-long learner: read books and participate in/lead book studies, start your own blog and reflect, sit in on workshops given by teachers as a participant and not as an observer

b.)  join a PLN: seek out a mentor, find out what other leaders are learning and doing, offer in-school PD for staff and share the responsibility for facilitation

c.)   be a model: embed technology and apps in your day to day practice and duties to show staff that technology is as much a means of increased productivity as it can be a means of engagement

d.)  tinker with established practices: flip staff meetings and use the time to discuss to focus on bigger issues that consume more time, all the while leveraging a digital tool to facilitate and record discussion (e.g. Today’s Meet)

e.)  be humble: share your own struggles with your staff, check in with teachers from time to time to learn about what is and isn’t working and attempt to problem-solve collaboratively

A connected leader understands that it’s not the devices or hardware or applications that make the difference, rather, it is the collaborative spaces that are created in the midst of learning about leveraging technology which is where the greatest influence can be derived.  At the beginning of the school year a member of my staff called me a “digital Santa Claus” because of a tool I had developed (The Hub), which lessened the amount of photocopied memos and put pertinent information at teachers’ fingertips. From the onset, I was open with my staff in that the idea for this tool came about from my Twitter PLN, an American principal who had developed something very similar for his staff. With feedback and input from various teachers at my school, I went on to develop The Student Hub as a replacement for the traditional handbook. Being new to the school this year, those conversations were of greater value to me than this tool will ever be because of the physical connections made with teachers on staff and not just the convenience and efficiency that tools such as these afford.  Being connected is not just about being plugged into a device or app. Human connections are even more important in order to establish priorities that are meaningful for all our students. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Making Staff Meetings Flippin' Great!

I loathed going to staff meetings. I know that most people do. If you Google "staff meeting memes" the shared sentiments are a-plenty. These are a few of my favourites:

I get it it. Educators are professionals and can read informational items for themselves so this year, being new to the school I asked my principal for permission to "flip" staff meetings. The "minutes" are distributed in advance of the meeting so that staff have the time to read the pertinent information before the meeting. The agenda consists of two items: clarification of any of the information items and a topic of discussion. The topic is one that affects everyone in some capacity. At one of our meetings, as an introduction to the topic of discussion, we had a teacher demonstrate some effective differentiated assessment strategies. This was well-received, I think, because teachers sharing with other teachers shows practicality and feasibility in a real context. I've made use of Today's Meet to allow people who aren't as comfortable contributing to large group discussions, to still have the opportunity to express their views.

So far, so good! Some topics have been a bit more heated than others... but at least people are talking and engaging and itching. I like it when educators "itch". It means we're thinking and reflecting. Attendance is improving with each meeting, which makes me happy. I want people to feel that they have a vested interest in the topics we discuss. Ultimately, flipping staff meetings accomplishes a few key goals:

1. You spend time talking about issues that matter to the staff and work towards developing a shared vision of effective and consistent practice

2. You encourage collaboration and sharing of ideas across disciplines and departments

3. You facilitate the opportunity to develop and foster teacher leadership

4. You demonstrate that leadership is not a top-down process

Shortly, I'll be sending out a Google Form to solicit more potential topics for discussion. I want staff to feel like their voice is important and that it's being heard.

Sharing The Hub!

Last week I was given the opportunity to share with the vice principals of my school board a couple of projects I took on this year, thanks to the wonderful work and ideas of Brent Coley (see earlier post).  This year I create a Staff and Student Hub - "digital drive-thrus" if you will - one-stop-shops for all information items that can be accessed anytime, from any internet accessible device.

The Staff Hub essentially replaces every paper memo that was ever once issued, but no longer is. It also houses a series of online resources and links, making this an interactive document.  There has been a very positive response from staff because they can access information when they need it. Staff have also been very forthcoming with the fact that they have read MORE simply because of the digital format. Staff have also expressed appreciation of the fact that The Hub is live and always up-to-date and have liked having their input and feedback shape the look and function of this frequently-accessed resource.

The Student Hub is equally and perhaps even more so dynamic, and effectively replaces the age-old student agenda/handbook  that no one ever read but one could find a copy on the floor of nearly every locker in the building. In addition, The Student Hub features a number of online resources for students and parents pertaining to mental health, various board programs, and community resources. Our Parent Council was especially please because parents have direct access to this document through our school website and they too, can access it anytime, anywhere for themselves.

This all began as projects I created for myself. School leaders identify a need and find useful and efficient solutions. Thanks to Brent Coley and his sharing, I was able to bring to resources to my school community that has allowed information to be share efficiently using tools already at our disposal. I especially like the time that I am now spending with colleagues from other schools in helping them to establish their own digital environments. In most cases, I've simply shared mine and have helped other administrators to tailor the documents to meet the needs of their staff. There are no original ideas, just re-purposed and transformed ideas. I'm happy to share and receive feedback. It makes us better and it certainly motivates me to continue to search for ways to help administrators do their jobs more effectively and efficiently and to empower students and staff to seek the information they need when they need it.

Here is a copy of my presentation. Enjoy!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

My Love-Hate Relationships with Cellphones

I am a HUGE proponent for the integration of technology into the learning environment. I am not however a fan of how much of my day gets completely consumed by the drama that is caused when kids abuse their cellphones. The volume of cases seem to increasing and it can become overwhelming. Stories are difficult to corroborate/substantiate. It's very grey, very fuzzy...

Sometimes I feel like we've been talking to brick walls over the last number of years. Kids don't seem to be getting the messages we have been sending about the consequences that certain choices yield, not to mention how inhumane it is to troll and spam each other, distribute inappropriate photos, engage in group chats aimed to malign the reputation of another - the list goes on and on. These incidents take place off school property, separate from the school day and administrators are being made to deal with the fallout. I strongly believe that this is an issue that goes beyond school.

So... between the interviewing and re-interviewing, screenshot viewing, the text message reading and the sob-filled accounts about what happened on Saturday night at a party and the phone calls that ensued, I think it's time we re-examine this issue and the people who can support administrators - parents and police. In working with our school resource officers, I know they feel pressured to deal with these matters but they are certainly better equipped than I am. How many more guest speakers do we need to hire? How many more suspensions do we have to issue? Sometimes I feel like schools are on the front line of this issue and made to deal solely with the fallout.  There have been stories in the news about schools banning phones outright and I'm not all that comfortable with that because there is so much potential for good. I'm just so baffled why these tools are being used for so much evil. Maybe there's a bigger issue that needs to be addressed here and the on-going misuse of cellular technology is only a symptom.

I always feel so badly for kids who get caught in the middle of other people's poor choices and I know that it is my job to make their school a safe place for them. As for the kids who hurt other kids, I always want to present them with an opportunity to redeem themselves, to make better choices going forward but I seem to see repeat offenses more often than not. It's disappointing.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

No New Years Resolutions For Me...

Been there. Done that. Never good with the follow through...

I've decided that in place of a New Year's Resolution, I would select a single word that would guide my decision-making and the investment of my energy. This year, I'm choosing PRIORITIES. It's my attempt at keeping perspective of the "big picture", what matters most - making progress, not excuses. It's too easy in this role to become consumed by so many issues, especially those that are beyond one's control, that are less important but can easily take up huge amounts of time, depending on how one approaches certain circumstances.

What are my priorities? My family. My health. My work. And in that order respectively. I am an overachiever by nature and with a little one who depends on me and with whom I love spending time, I will not forfeit what precious time remains in a day so I will continue the practice of not bringing any work home - that's right, NONE. I often forget to eat breakfast and/or lunch. Hell, going to the bathroom has actually been an item on a list of thing to not forget to do. Pathetic, right? I need to be in better shape to deal with the emotional demands of this job, never mind the number of added hours for various events that add up and lead to tremendous exhaustion. I figure now that it's January, it's safe to say that I'm no longer "new" at my school. Time to do what I do. Shake things up a bit. Challenge my colleagues. I've a few ideas up my sleeve that will take some time (and the some of the principal's budget) to nurture, but I have to create my own excited, fueled by the reason I took this job in the first place - to put the needs of kids first.

2017 will be a good year.

Friday, 9 December 2016

These are difficult times...

After reading about Steve Yee, the principal at Oakwood Collegiate, and the week he's having, I can't say I envy him one bit. How does one deal with a school community that was victim of an almost attack on one of the most infamous anniversaries in Canadian history? What's more, this story is all over the news...

Today, principals are called on not only to be prepared to run schools under the most difficult of circumstances, but those circumstances are further complicated when the media gets involved because it multiplies the audience exponentially. Not that anyone is trying to hide anything, but with the number of tragic stories about schools in the news in recent years, it heightens pre-existing anxieties among parents and students alike.  How does he rally the support of his staff, who are very likely to be feeling scared and unsure, to help make the students feel safe at school? How does the principal win the confidence of parents so that they believe their children are safe at school? It's a tough situation to be and obviously he isn't working alone. He has the support of central staff and police services to guide him through this situation. There's not a whole lot of training for this sort of thing. You can attend all the VITRA workshops and training you want but when push comes to shove, there's no knowing how one will react. In circumstances like these administrators rely on the support of superintendents and communications staff for guidance and their school staff to maintain status quo as much as possible to cling to a sense of normalcy and routine. There's nothing like an event like this to derail all the good work schools are doing and for public confidence to waiver.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

PD for Administrators

The one thing I miss a lot about being a classroom teacher is all the wonderful PD opportunities. I love to learn, so there was never any moaning and groaning from me when there were workshops and in-services to attend. As a VP, we have some opportunities made available but we are constantly fighting against time. There just isn't any. It's hard enough to carve out time to eat lunch much less set aside a whole morning or afternoon, even though I would really like to.

In the last 5 years, the only trouble with PD, apart from the lack of time to attend, is that it doesn't always meet the needs of administrators, especially since the needs of our schools are so different. PD needs to be rooted in an immediate need and for principals and vice principals, those needs are defined by their own school communities. Yes, there are "big picture issues" that affect us all and in those cases, it would be great to have presentations from associations like CPCO and OCT or even give workshops on taking effective investigative notes, best practices in completing teacher performance appraisals, public relations... those sorts of topics that have implications in a number of complex arenas. On matters of curriculum leadership and technology, for example, PD needs to be self-directed. There are a number of effective and CONVENIENT ways for administrators to have some quality professional learning and they can do in their PJs, which works for me! Here are some suggestions that are by no means exhaustive:

1. Twitter - it's not a passing fad and there are A LOT of credible educators in the Twitterverse willing to sharing ideas and resources. There is always an evening or weekend discussion happening and in the PLN I'm building, the administrators I follow are from all over the world so there is never a lull in the posting of success stories, links to great ideas and good Q&A.

2. Pinterest - no... it's not just for stay-at-home moms who need craft ideas to keep their little one's busy. There are endless pins to a multitude of online resources and websites for pretty much anything. Most of what I have learned about GAFE, for example, has come as a result of a number of pins I have discovered and the online modules they have led me to in order to learn the various apps.

3. Maintain a blog - when do we take the time to reflect and process the learning that takes place on the job? Sure, we speak with our colleagues about our experiences but sometimes the exercise of writing helps to consolidate some of our learning and maybe we don't have to be quite so guarded. That said, we need to be mindful of what we post. I will admit to a couple of lapses in judgment. The need for total honesty (despite any disclaimer that posted views are "unapologetically" our own) needs to be balanced with the reality that as administrators we are agents of our respective districts and school boards. Ultimately we are on side of our system, and there are times when we don't like what we see, but this isn't the environment for disgruntled ranting.

4. TED Talks - YouTube houses a vast array of video clips that are bound to leave you more curious and intrigued and wanting to learn more about any number of issues that affect schooling.

I also think there is an opportunity at the very local level - the school admin team - to carve out some learning goals at the beginning of the year and work together on how to achieve those goals within the team. Those goals should to be centred on the needs of the school since administrators are in service to the school community. Perhaps the team can decide to engage in a book study. It's a bit "old school" but sometimes it's good to put the Chromebook away and engage in literature that we can physically highlight and annotate and make connections. Maybe each month, one member of the team agrees to lead a short workshop on a specific topic, something interactive and hands-on that can be shared immediately with teachers and students to improve an aspect of teaching and/or learning. The team can even invite a member of the central staff in to meet on matters that may be beyond the expertise of the school team. Engaging other school teams that are working on similar issues and/or projects is also a good strategy. For example, I've just submitted a proposal to the Ministry for some funding for our school because we will be implementing French Immersion in September of 2017. Three other schools will be doing the same in the following year. This is a great opportunity for all of us to form a PLN. I've proposed that members of each team visit a school that already offers the program so that we can observe and determine what would work in our schools. This is an opportunity for collaborative unit and lesson planning, resource creation and promotion of the program. Each person brings a unique skill set and experience to this learning situation so the amount of PD in this case would be invaluable.

In any case, good PD is only good if it's needed and solves real problems. Don't get me wrong, learning for learning's sake is also important. We have to model a positive attitude for our staff and teachers do the same for their students. In a milieu where time and resources are increasingly sparse, we have to get bang for our buck.

Maybe I'm Just a Chicken...

I hate confrontation.

People who know me think that it's absolutely hilarious that I have the job that I have, especially since I encounter confrontation and conflict practically on a daily basis. I'm not laughing about that, trust me - especially when it comes to having those "courageous" conversations, whether it's with a teacher on staff or a parent. I've been thinking about the reasons why perhaps some administrators experience a little anxiety over the prospect of having these kinds of conversations and I've narrowed down my educated guesses to the following, in no particular order:

1. the need to be liked
2. fear of the unknown, namely the reaction of the individual
3. the desire to avoid the involvement of the union
4. physical and mental exhaustion
5. trying to find "the right time"
6. second guessing of one's own judgment

If we don't have these conversations, the repercussions are worse, I think than any of the reasons listed. Personally, it's not worth the risk to one's own credibility to not have these conversations. Especially in the case of having courageous conversations with teachers, the rest of the staff need to know that as a leader in the school who is committed to a specific vision, you are going to be consistent and see that vision through with integrity and authenticity. They need to see that the purpose of these conversations is to get everyone on board in the best interest of kids and for the sake of cohesion as a school team. I think that administrators also have to be open to the possibility that having these conversations may unearth some valuable information and insight that need to be considered and may actually cause a shift or revision or reshaping of the vision. I would imagine that doesn't happen quite so often, especially since a good leader get input in crafting the vision in the first place so that all the players are vested.

I'm in my fifth year as a Vice Principal and I was asked if it gets easier having these conversations. I don't think it does. The reality is that in front of me is another human being and no two will react in the same way or be equally responsive to what I have to say. Each time feels like the first time in that sense. I'll admit - I don't want to be the reason why someone's day is ruined, no matter how supportive I am committed to being. No one likes being called to the office. BUT as time goes on and my own confidence with my professional knowledge grows and  I establish my credibility with staff, I know I have no choice but to have these kinds of conversations when the need arises. I always rehearse or discuss "the plan" with my principal first. Two heads are better than one. He reviews the list of concerns or issues that I need to address and provides advice on how to best approach some of those concerns if I'm unsure. Being new on staff, his insight is invaluable. Sometimes, he sits in on those conversations, depending on the circumstances. I've learned that the best place to have those conversations is away from my desk and rather, at a round table and in closer proximity. When speaking, I stick to the facts - incidents, dates and times - and avoid generalities and universalizing statements. I don't write anything during the meeting (although once it's over, I will quickly document a summary of outcomes for my own memory). The more casual the presentation, the more at ease the individual is. I genuinely want people to know that am there to support them, despite the "us and them" dynamic that sometimes arises in our profession.

So I've concluded that perhaps I'm not a chicken. I still want to be liked but I really want people to know and feel and believe and see that I am there for support, not to throw anyone under the proverbial bus.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

"How 'bout some salad on the side?"

Tonight was Parent Teacher Interview and for the last few years, our Parent Council has paid for a staff dinner that is prepared by the students in our Hospitality program. This is so great on so many levels:

1. The appreciation shown by our Parent Council towards our staff goes a long way.

2. Eating a meal that is prepared by kids gives them a sense of pride and validation.

3. The ritual of sitting down and breaking bread together, if only a couple of times a year, is a very intimate way to build a strong sense of community with staff.

Tonight, our Admin team decided to up the ante by serving. I think it's good to for staff to see Administrators showing their gratitude and respect for teachers and all that they do through simple acts of humility. Kind of takes the idea of servant leadership to a different level. It was a great experience and I'm looking forward to doing it again. Having the outfit helps!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Mentorship is a Privilege

Today I spent the afternoon with my "mentee". I've been asked to mentor a new Vice Principal, T. I'm kind of nervous and excited and wondering what on earth can I offer this lovely woman??? We participated in a large group PD session and she asked me to hang back after it was over. We chatted about how her first few months in the role have been going. She was very clear that she had no regrets and was really enjoying the role. A lot of stories that she recounted were so familiar and her feelings and reflections certainly struck a chord with me. I could tell almost instantaneously that her heart was crafted for this position. She seems to be getting a handle on the knowledge as time goes on but she is rightly motivated. She is going to be a great advocate for kids. It's going to be my privilege to listen and ask or answer questions. I'm excited about checking in with her to see how she's doing. I'm honoured at how receptive she is to feedback beyond her own team. It's funny... she recalled a conversation she and I had while she was discerning and she asked if I remembered what I had said to her and for the life of me, I couldn't (and I was secretly crossing all crossible body parts that it was a nugget of brilliance... lol). She told me that I had said that the key to being in this role is embracing the team you're on. I was so relieved! It's also interesting that this is a well-timed reminder for me personally... I'm really looking forward to spending time with T. All of our system's secondary principals and vice principals will be participating in our annual conference next week and I hope to have more time to chat and tell stories because that's where a lot of our learning in this role happens - in the sharing and exchanging of experience and wisdom. I think I stand to learn a lot from this experience. I think I am going to be forced to take a hard look at my own practice as she works through her own. There's as much PD in it for me as there is for her.

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your 
riches but to reveal to him his own." Benjamin Disraeli

Friday, 11 November 2016

Remembering at School

Today is Remembrance Day. I've always been a proponent of this day being a stat holiday because of the significance of what and who we are remembering. I think I'm beginning to change my mind. Each year, Canadian schools prepare observances of some sort that often involve some pageantry, a member of the armed forces who comes to speak to the kids and in our case as a Catholic school, an offering of prayers of thanksgiving for those who have gone before us to secure our freedom and those who so courageously have taken up that cross to do the same today. If not for this opportunity that kids get at school, would they take the time at 11am to sit in quiet contemplation? Would they care? I'm reminded of a video that I think I have shown every year that I have been in education. Do you know "Pittance of Time" by Terry Kelly? The song is based on a true story and video so beautifully illustrates it:

As time goes on, what and who we remember evolves. The First World War seems so far removed from this generation of kids that there doesn't seem to be the same appreciation for the profound sacrifice that was made over 100 years ago. I can't think of a better time when we have a captive audience, to teach kids about the importance of what those young people did for our country so many years ago. The cost of was high. Canada lost 10% of its population during World War One. And while there have been so many wars and conflicts since, we need to show our kids that the loss and suffering that was endured was not for nothing. I think kids need to hear about the value of suffering and the need for resilience - two very uncommonly heard messages these days. I look at my students who are wonderful in their own right but I doubt so would be ever to do now what young people did so long ago when they enlisted to fight for Canada. It's not a criticism. Different times. Different priorities.

As educators, we are privileged to have this opportunity to honour our brave men and women of yesterday and today and we owe it to our kids to be examples of humility and gratitude.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Never a Dull Moment!

There's nothing like a short-handed Friday... What can go wrong does. Trying to juggle a teacher evaluation in the middle of it all. Students are crying because of this drama or that and their mothers presenting themselves to defend their honour... You try to find humour and you end up shaking your head more often than not.

Today was fun. My partner and I got called up to a classroom because there was an "intruder". We get to the class and see that there is a supply teacher in charge (fantastic...), every other kid out of uniform, one full-out snoring under a hoodie... and one who doesn't even go to our school! Yes, a complete stranger managed to find his way into the building and decided to "hang out" with his friend and thought it was perfectly ok. When we hauled him out into the hallway I asked him why I shouldn't call police. He was shaking and beginning to tear a bit so we escorted him out and told him not to come back. I called over to his high school to let them know what went down and we all chuckle because sometimes that's all you can do when there's nothing to say about a situation. I ended up issuing a no trespass notice. There is really never a dull moment in this role... Never. Ever.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Snooping Leads to Endearment

So I'm new to my school this year and one of the strategies that I found worked like a charm at my previous school when I just began was snooping. I use my mad ninja skills to quietly sneak into classrooms, labs and the library to see what kids are up and learning. I've had a lot of fun! I learned that in the Medieval period, artists used egg yolks as a binding element in tempera paint. I came upon a research session in our library where students were trying to convince me that Deet is NOT the root of all evil. I've walking in on students learning how to make French pastry and in sneaking into one of our hospitality classes, students gave me amazing pointers on how to make salmon. Seeing flipped classroom in actions and witnessing Holocaust memorial lessons makes me excited and serves to remind me that there are ALWAYS fantastic things happening in our schools across all curricular areas.

My snooping usually results in catching the teacher totally off guard when he or she finds me in the middle of a group of students engaged in debate or mixing paint or tweeting the model being built. There isn't much time for annoyance to set in because I, along with the kids are having a good time and who can honestly argue with that? It's been a hoot grabbing hold of these moments since I've started here. I think people are beginning to see that in spite of my role, there is nothing pretentious about how I approach my work. I hope people see that I am hands on and haven't forgotten why I came into education in the first place.

Counting My Blessings

Friday was Faith Day. It is intended as a break for our students, and a much-needed day of contemplation and thanksgiving for those of us who have answered our calling to accept our role as educators in this unique and separate systems. I feel fortunate everyday to work in an environment where I can freely live my faith and attempt to model for our kids what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ on earth. Days like these are especially important to me because they afford me the gift of time - time to reflect, to relate with the staff and even time to catch up with my principal on the drive up. This year's event was held at Loretto Maryholm (check out the view in the photo above) and while I will admit to have moaned and groaned about the distance away from the usual work location, I later appreciated the drive up because of the good, uninterrupted conversation that was had during the car ride up. We are so mired in the daily grind that we sometimes forget the importance of making time for building relationships and to connect on any other level other than the business of schooling. I strongly believe that Catholic education is my calling, my life's work and how I contribute to the ministry of the Church. In each encounter, I seek to find answers to the mysteries of faith, of life. I hope in my example to our young people that I demonstrate that our faith is real, something that is lived out and practical, not just proclaimed.  I want our kids to know that while it isn't always easy to be a discipline of Jesus in this fallen world, it's not such an unbearable burden. Days like Faith Day also afford me the quiet contemplation we so often lack in the busy-ness of the everyday to reflect on our journey. Our guest speaker this year was Theresa Gadoury, a consecrated woman living in the world. She reminded us of of the evolutionary nature of faith and how it grows from love and trust and how that same process of faith in God transfers to faith in others. Sometimes, it's good to not speak, to hear the much-needed wisdom of others. In this case, she began her presentation with a prayer to God to let us all hear what we needed to hear from her and it really did the trick. I left Faith Day feeling a sense of peace that seemed to have been absent since the craziness of the school year began. Sometimes, you have to drive a bit of a distance to find that kind of serenity. It was totally worth it.

Embracing the Spirit, Embracing Each Other

Being a member of any team is always an interesting experience. Lots of different experiences. Lots of different philosophies. Different talents. Different approaches. I was very fortunate at my previous school to be a part of a team that was so naturally cohesive and part of the reason for that, I think, is that many of the different aspects that I began listing were so similar. We were on the same page all the time about everything everyday. It was weird, but awesome. This year I find myself on a different kind of team and I think that the Almighty figured I could stand to learn a thing or two. Each of us couldn't be more different. Everyday I have learned something new. Sometimes the lessons are harder to learn and accept but it's learning just the same.

Today's Halloween experiment was proof that when we put our mind to it, we can be quite the unit. I think we have come to be very supportive of the collective. It's been an absolutely MENTAL two months, bogged down by ministry initiatives and many projects. In spite of it all, it was important to all of us to come together on this novel occasion and join our students in the spirit of the day. Today was good.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The Bearer of Bad News

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that often in my role, I have to tell parents a lot of things they don't want to hear - their child is failing multiple courses or that their son or daughter's poor choices have resulted in a suspension. I think that becoming a parent and growing in this role while simultaneously growing my role as Vice Principal has had an effect that even I underestimated. I deal in fact so naively, I try to trick myself into thinking that if I stick only to the facts, I won't allow any emotional reaction or prediction of outcome interfere with how I conduct myself. Typically, the fact-finding process is pretty straight-forward - interview kids, searching lockers, viewing camera footage... Secretly, I hope though, that I'm not going to have to break a mother's heart with what I find. The other day, I conducted an investigation into allegations of sexual assault. When the student and her mother came forward to see me, I could tell that it was not only difficult for the young lady to share her account, but it was equally if not more so difficult for her mother to sit quietly and listen. All I could think of my daughter and what if the roles were reverses and I was listening to her tell this story. It's moments like these where the internal fight to remain objective is real. There's a whole other side to this story, a young man, who also has a mother, whose heart is also going to be smashed to pieces when she hears about what has been alleged. Within minutes of this investigation reaching its conclusion, I met with a mother and her son who is so credit deficient he's basically a year behind his peers and I had to have a very frank conversation with a mother who has clearly done all that she could to avoid this very scenario, but was now having to hear about the prospects of her son either not graduating from school or having to leave to finish his diploma in an alternative education program. Both situations are obviously different but the result is the same. In moments like these I default my thinking to the wisdom of one of my mentors - what one positive thing can you take away from today? For me, being thanked by all moms for looking out for their children, despite the possible outcome, is always it for me. I think that if a Vice Principal can demonstrate that if the shoe were on the other foot and roles were reversed parents could trust that the same amount of time and effort would be invested in seeing to safety and security of their child, parents are grateful. Parents, I think, would rather their son or daughter have a Vice Principal who was paying attention to the state of academic affairs and sending out flares in October rather than offering limited options in June when it's too late.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Need to Be Liked

My grade 8 teacher was the late (and truly great) Classford Johnson. I remember his class like it was yesterday, including something he used to say on a daily basis: "I don't want to be loved, I want to be understood." As a kid, I knew what he was getting at. He wanted us to respect him, his rules and expectations. If we got along, great. If we didn't, it didn't matter to him as long as we respected him, his rules and his expectations. Most of us loved him. He was tough but fair. He appreciated a good joke and laughed with the rest of us when we something was funny. My memory of Mr. Johnson and his infamous phrase came into my head quite a lot in the days after I had bid farewell to the staff and students of the school I have just left. Admittedly, I was confused. As a kid and as a classroom teacher, I never really paid much mind to what people thought of me. I have always abided by the Golden Rule when it came to my relationships at school and hoped for the best. I couldn't help but wonder as I was packing my boxes, was I loved or understood? Or both? Is is possible for teachers, in particular, to both love and understand their administrators? Is liking the Administration important to teachers? In all my years of being a VP so far, I hadn't paid any conscious attention to any of these questions. I was cognizant of the relationships I was building. I never once stopped to wonder if they were as important to the teachers as they were to me. I am especially curious now that I am a new addition to the staff at my school. 

I had previously tweeted the link to a Time magazine article called "How to Get People to Like You: 7 Ways from an FBI Behavior Expert". Here's a summation of the salient points, taken directly from the article:

  1. "The single most important thing is non-judgmental validation. Seek someone else’s thoughts and opinions without judging them." I find this especially important, being new on staff and trying to get a handle on things are done the way that they are. Even if everything inside of me is screaming, "Change! Change this NOW!" making time for these conversations tames my bullish instincts to want to trample the china shop, especially if I know I can introduce a positive change or a more efficient method. I'm forced to process and understand the history of practice or thought in order to inform any decisions I eventually make.
  2. "Suspend your ego. Focus on them." This is especially hard for me, joining a new Admin team. It's always interesting coming together with people who have different kinds of experiences and strengths. I logically know that what I should expect of my colleagues is that we are all working together, united under our principal's vision, and making decisions that are in the best interest of kids. Any challenges that are met along the way - philosophical or pedagogical - can be worked out at a meeting table and behind closed doors. 
  3. "Really listen, don’t just wait to talk. Ask them questions; don’t try to come up with stories to impress." Going into my fifth year as a VP, I have learned that listening isn't the absence of me talking. It's resisting the urge to begin planning or thinking about what I'm going to say next. Being in this role has afforded me a greater sense of self-awareness and has forced me to more conscious of the body language and gestures I use, the number of times I interrupt people and the types of questions I ask to demonstrate genuine interest. I goes a long way.
  4. "Ask people about what’s been challenging them." Still working on this one... I find that people are more interested in complaining than having constructive conversations that involves presenting solutions to problems. 
  5. "Establishing a time constraint early in the conversation can put strangers at ease." I laughed out loud at this one. It's a sober reminder that even in my profession where engaging with people is what we do all day, there are still a number of adults with less than adequate social skills who need support too.  
  6. "Smile, chin down, blade your body, palms up, open and upward non-verbals." Self explanatory, me thinks...
  7. "If you think someone is trying to manipulate you, clarify goals. Don’t be hostile or aggressive, but ask them to be straight about what they want." It's funny but I find that this often makes people uncomfortable, but I guess that's sort of the point. I've always prided myself in being the type of person that doesn't play games or indulge those who do. I think this is why, for the most , I have been able to get along with most people I've with whom I have worked. What you see is what you get. I think that by expecting the same in the others and being direct, there are fewer games to be played. On the other in a very small percentage of the people I've encountered along the way, this amount of straight-forwardness makes other uncomfortable and honesty can sometimes cause people to "itch" and even retreat so that the chance to catch on to them evades you. What's especially sad about the latter situation is that it's all too obvious from the onset. It's always a challenge to work with this sort of person and demonstrate your desire to work with them in spite of the games.
In all honesty, I'm hope I'm liked. I don't think I have ever expressed that in writing our aloud before.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Sometimes Name-Calling is GREAT!

I've been called a lot of names in my day, but today took the cake. Our very lovely chaplain paid me a visit today and called me "cyber Santa". It just make my day. The name-calling came on the heels of some technological initiatives of mine that went 'live' today. This year, as a part of my own personal growth plan I plan to increase our school's online presence by expanding to various other social media, namely Facebook and Instagram. I also took over the existing school Twitter account and made a few adjustments. The aim is to promote our school with as many different types of social media as possible and provide parents and the wider community with options in how to learn more about what is going on at our school. In my efforts to help streamline administrative and operation procedures and processes, I had planned to introduce a number of paperless processes, managing the school's master calendar through Google Calendar, whereby each staff member has view only access to the all approved events, and The Hub - a Google Doc containing a series of hyperlinks to critical documents and folders containing relevant and useful information that teachers require access to year-round, but historically have received piece meal, via countless photocopied memos. I've got three words for my staff this year: No. More. Memos. So far, the response has been really positive. Here's a partial screen shot:

Essentially, this all reflects a shift in the mode of communication and using the tools at our disposal to work more efficiently. I got the idea for The Hub from +Brent Coley and his fantastic YouTube video.

The admin assistants are thrilled that there isn't endless amounts of photocopying to be done during this harried and hurried time of year. My principal seems very pleased with the ease through which staff can access exactly what they need. For that, I'll endure a little name-calling.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Digital Leaders Leverage Social Media

I've only been an administrator for a short while, but I have met a number of Principals and Vice Principals over the past five years who still shudder at the thought of having a personal Facebook account or become suddenly overwhelmed by the prospect of engaging on Twitter. When I ask about the possibility of establishing accounts for their schools, the silence is sometimes deafening and the the looks are their faces are too priceless, almost as if to say aloud, "... but why would we do that?" I'm not sure what it is. Are the age-old misconceptions about social media still pervasive? Is there anxiety about one's ideas floating around in cyberspace? Are we still afraid of the "evils" lurking amidst the users of the Internet? Are people simply stuck on the word "social"? News flash folks: education IS social (the last time I checked, there are an awful lot of people in the mix...). Knowledge IS a social construct. Literacy and Numeracy (an pretty much everything else that is taught and learned) ARE social practices. Leveraging social media is a golden opportunity to expand an individual's and a school's social network, facilitates access to a multitude of resources and provides a variety of platforms on which to share in the many success stories our schools experience everyday.

Tonight (as I'm typing actually), I'm participating in an online discussion with educators everywhere, facilitated by Mark E. West @ShiftParadigm, with the  hashtag. These were the questions posed:

Participants in this discussion shared how social media has been personally beneficial by being part of supportive PLNs with like-minded educators that crossed geographic boundaries. Twitter chats such as this one are definitely a hit, and I can personally attest that it is a really neat experience to be in the comfort of my own home, in my pjs, sipping a cup of coffee and being a part of such a rich and relevant discussion. Educators remarked on how much they valued the support and inspiration they not only provided by received from others. A lot of ideas were shared about how social media is being incorporated in PD opportunities. From what I could tell, many were describing cultural shifts happening in schools and entire districts as more teachers and administrators were taking risks. It was refreshing to read how one educator commented: "

A4-Honestly, it's helped me shift from "that's the way we've always done it" thkg to being vulnerable, exp possibilities. @vkcommeducate

YES!!! This has been a truly invigorating experience, to be connected with like-minded educators who see value in social media the way that I do. It's nice to know that other educators are looking to contribute to our profession in new ways. I makes me hopeful.

This year, one of the goals on my annual growth plan is to increase my school's presence on social media. As someone who is new to the school, this is THE chance to get to know as many people as I possibly can. This will afford me endless opportunities for collaboration with staff and all the councils, teams and clubs within the school. I'm excited! What I am planning to propose to my principal is the following:

1. the creation of a main school Twitter account; the function of this account is to share pertinent information, recap daily events at school and within the classroom when it is appropriate, and make connections within the community in order to promote the fabulous work our students and staff are doing; I also want to be able to promote all of the council and club Twitter account and assist them in increasing their following

2. link that Twitter account to a school Facebook account

3. create a school Instagram account that is linked to the Facebook account

4. there is already a school blog in place of a newsletter but no one reads it because it isn't really promoted well, sooooo.... I plan to use all of the social media accounts to send out notifications of new posts to promote the school; this is especially important since students contribute to this blog and parents appreciate it

5. work with the head secretary to have links to all accounts on the school website

The purpose and aim: to give parents as many options as possible for keeping up with the latest comings and goings. Yes, I want to take this on and it's not for lack of work to do. I believe that as a digital leader, I have to model for students and teachers how social media can be meaningful in an educational context. In fact, Eric Sheninger, in his book Digital Leadership (Corwin 2014), writes that principals MUST do this work themselves so that teachers can see how it can be integrated in  their classrooms (p. 43) and it will also help students to see how they use their devices in a new light. Using social media is also an effective and efficient way to communicate with parents about the school's progress and keeping the community informed about school goals (p. 43). Another incentive to use social media is the following:

"Transparency through the use of social media breeds attention to programs, initiatives, and leadership style. Good news travels fast, and social media transmit the news to numerous stakeholders who are embedded in these spaces..." (p. 182)

I think that speaks for itself.

Wish me me luck! I hope my principal is as receptive as I am excited. He and I have worked together before so he knows my position on what being an administrator in the 21st century is all about. If nothing else, I really believe this will allow me to support him as the leader of a vibrant and exciting school community that I am thrilled to be joining.