So traditional!!! EARCOS 2008

I am attending the EARCOS Adminstrators Conference this weekend in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia this weekend with over 200+ administrators and presenters from international schools all over Asia. There are some big names here this weekend including Alan November, many heads of schools, and some high-paid consultants. Wow! I am really looking forward to meeting some colleagues and learning about what challenges they are facing at their schools and some ideas they might have that I can take away with me from the conference.

Right now I am sitting in a workshop on changing schools. The presenter is very knowledgeable and has experience that I know I can learn from. However, as I sit here typing away I am completely awestruck by the craziness of this whole conference.

What do I mean by this? Here we are, supposedly the leaders of top-level international schools, sitting in a traditional “classroom-like” atmosphere with the “teacher” at the front, speaking TO us the entire time, as we sit here passively listening. (This is no knock on the presenter- she is excellent- I am just using her as an example of what’s wrong with the whole system).

Sure this is the kind of learning we grew up with, but if we are “charged” with leading 21st century schools, why are we accepting 20th century learning?

And- we keep asking (and being asked by the likes of Alan November) how can we meet the needs of 21st century learners, change schools, make schools more engaging? And we put up with a classroom of all chairs in a row, facing the front, the lecture style delivery of content?

WHY???

Why are we not changing our own practice to reflect the changes our students need? Why are we not having interactive, inquiry-based learning workshops? Why aren’t we sitting at round tables with 4-6 other learners, discussing ideas and questions, problem-solving the problems that are facing our schools today?

The theme of the EARCOS Adminstrators’ Conference this year is “Learning to Lead in a Challenging World” and yet we are still holding traditional, lecture-style conferences?

C’mon people! Take the chance to change the room-set-up you inherit! Make everyone stand up, move the chairs to a circle, order round tables and chart paper so we can doodle our great ideas. Have a blog going during your workshop so people can respond to your ideas and have a conversation in real time. Give us two minutes to reflect on our learning every ten minutes. Don’t lecture to us the entire 70 minutes! Dare to be different!

Can we really say we are learning to lead in a challenging world if we continue to accept traditional learning for ourselves? We need to be talking the talk AND walking the walk!

How are schools preparing kids for success in the 21st Century? A nutty idea…..

Annelies Hoogland and I are attending the EARCOS Administrators Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia this weekend….. yes- a difficult assignment! 🙂

This afternoon we are leading an Elementary School administrators job-alike session on leadership. Hmmm…. a bit of a broad topic! We have brought along with us an article by Tony Wagner about how schools are failing to prepare students for success in the 21st century. In addition to this, we just attended a session by Dennis Harter discussing the same topic; what skill set do our students need to have upon graduation from our schools and are we giving them opportunities to learn these skills?

Sitting at breakfast this morning, Annelies and I discussed the same question- are we preparing kids for success in an exponentially changing world? Answer: NO!

How could we change schools to address these needs?

One idea- start over. Completely change schools. OK- not going to happen right now.

Another idea- continue to ask questions like this and collaborate to figure out the answer even though it will NEVER be black and white. Likely the real road and one that we will continue to follow?

Nutty idea- ensure that teachers and administrators take a mandatory sabbatical every 5 years, and place them in the worksforce so they can get an idea of what kind of skills our students really need to be successful. Skills such as asking questions, being collaborative and flexible, learning how to influence others, problem solving, knowing how we learn best and being connected.
How powerful would this alternative be in showing teachers how outdated our school system is? Would they then understand that preparing for tests and teaching content is outdated?

Something to think about….. perhaps.

The Frustrations of Schools – how do we judge success?

How do we judge when a school is successfully preparing students for success in the 21st Century? Is it through standardized tests? School accreditation? IB scores? International School Assessment (ISA) scores?

Or is it through careful monitoring of student learning by teachers and school leaders? Is it visiting classrooms daily? Is it using data, triangulating all sorts of data, to make professional decisions about how successfully we are preparing students for the rigors of the 21st Century? Who makes these decisions? Where do the conversations take place?

Right now I am worried that we are using only test scores such as IB, MAP (Measure of Academic Progress), ISA etc and I have questions about that. According to The Data Coach’s Guide to Improving Learning for All Students (Nancy Love, Katherine Stiles, Susan Mundry and Kathryn DiRanna) if we judge school success by these standardized tests, we are only using the top part of the Data Pyramid.

Data Pyramid by you.

What does this mean? That we judge our students success by the most mundane testing tools? I worry that many teachers at our school (and other schools) have gone back to the model of teaching to the test, but not on purpose. My worry is that if we, as international school leaders judge success by test scores, judge good teaching by test scores, value only test scores, then we are not truly preparing our students for success in the exponentially changing world.

What makes me say that?

Tony Wagner writes in ASCD’s Educational Leadership (October 2008, Volume 66, Number2) Rigor Redefined that “even our best schools are failing to prepare students for 21st century careers and citizenship.” He goes on to list the skill set that students will need to have for success in the 21st century:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Collaboration and Leadership
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurism
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination

When was the last time we really looked deeply at our schools and found these skills being taught or even demanded? Can we even say whether or not we see these being taught in schools unless we visit classrooms daily and have conversations about these at the leadership level? Do standardized tests assess these kinds of skills or are they more the ‘drill and kil’l kind of tests?

What do we as school leaders do when we don’t see these skills being taught in classrooms? I think we need to start thinking about what we value, what the 21st century will value, what 21st century employers will value and start judging our school success (and teaching) with a more open mind.

Pimping my Mac and Getting some TLC!

On Friday afternoon I spent an hour getting some TLC from our new Tech Learning Coordinator Jeff Utecht as he pimped my Mac!! It has been a few months since I posted to my blog and I needed some help making sure I could no longer make excuses for not blogging.

Blogging is hard. I keep reading blogs of fellow school administrators as we struggle to keep up and even stay ahead. Bloggers like Andy Torris and David Hamilton, keep me blogging, or at least reading my RSS feeds. Having Jeff pimp my Mac has made a world of difference. Thanks Jeff!

I was reflecting last night, trying to think of my “to do” list. Recruiting season is already upon us and it made me think of the last time that list was empty….. summer? Crazy! How can it be that there is never a time when there isn’t a to do list. The year starts off in August with Back to School issues, this year it was scrambling to open a 5th section of Kindergarten 3 days before the start of school. It then gets in to Back to School Night, meetings, recruiting season, budget, preparing for next year….. the list goes on and on…..

So- when do we take the time to think? David Hamilton asks a great question….. Jeff Utecht also echos similar sentiments…..

Often when I get home at night, all I want to do is hang out with the kiddos and relax, but are you ever really relaxed? Perhaps that is the draw to blogging… a 21st Century kind of digital diary where you can ramble and ramble?

Hmmm… food for thought. Anyways- bottom line: The Struth is back!

Ouch! My Brain Hurts!! Final Thoughts from the VT Conference

Annelies, Nicole and StruanIt has been a whirlwind weekend…. my brain hurts!! 🙂 Annelies, Nicole, Shauna and I have been taking all of our learnings home with us and continuing the dialog over dinner and a few drinks.

What we want to do, what we aim to do, what we can do…. and the reality I suppose of what we will actually get accomplished. Some initial thoughts….. Annelies and I return to ISB next week and start a VT group with interested teachers. We continue to meet as a group throughout the year in our culture of inquiry action group, trying out VT thinking routines and gathering data to check if they have enhanced student learning. Meanwhile, we are collaborating across the ocean with Nicole Davies, Junior School Assistant Head at Havergal College, Toronto, and helping our students makes thinking visible while making connections in a global world. The catch? Presenting our findings at the World Thinking Conference in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia in June 2009. Wow!!!

That’s the global side of just one possibility…. another question I have is how could we get our Middle and High Schools here at ISB involved in the VT thinking? How could we get Ron and Mark from Project Zero over to ISB to run some VT workshops? How could we make ISB a VT school?

Finally, on May 2nd, our school wide Leadership Team is having an all-day think tank session to ensure that we have a common understanding of learning and how we move our school forward. I have volunteered to organize the agenda for the meeting. Annelies and I see this as a perfect opportunity to model some of the ideas we learned at the VT conference to shift our school leaders. Perhaps this will be the “tipping point” we need as a team to really examine what is learning, what does deep learning look like and how can we shift our teachers to be challenging all our student daily to goo deep with their learning? We, as leaders, need to understand this first and then MODEL it, practice what we preach, before we will shift our school.

Day 3 Dispatch from the VT Conference – April 12, 2008

My mind is spinning… so much great conversation and thinking. I love the challenge…. I hate the amount of things I want to change at our school. Ugghhh!! Was just reading an article from Parker Palmer (author of “The Courage to Teach” and at the end it mentioned that Palmer “is spending 1993-94 as Eli Lilly Visiting Professor at Berea College”. So- this article outlining the shortcomings of education from 15 years ago still rings true today….. how high is this mountain we are setting out to climb? Hmmm…

Ok- Mark Church is starting:
Four Fundamental Shifts from a Story of Work to a Story of Learning
• Focus
• Engagement
• Depth
• Thinking

What makes a powerful story of learning?
– connections to prior knowledge or experience
– opportunities to use/tap into learning styles
– being challenged to think and then explain/defend your thinking
– being challenged to try a new experience, especially if is risky
– being forced to use data to explore a different answer

Ok now- thinking routine time!

Generate
Sort
Connect
Elaborate

Day 2 Dispatch from the VT Conference – April 11, 2008

Again- excuse the lack of proper writing- this learning and thinking was so exciting….. a babble of wonders!!

Today we have (Finally??) been joined by the one and only Nicole Davies and her colleague Shauna Lang (who I can’t believe is Brian Lang’s little sister!!!!) from Havergal College, Canada. Welcome Nic and Shauna- glad you finally joined us!!! ☺

Ok- here we go with Ron Ritchart “The Difference it makes: how VT shapes teaching and learning”.
Changes we have noticed from culture of thinking:
• Students’ conceptions of thinking
• Students’ perceptions of their classroom
• Teacher change
• Classroom shifts

Students’ conceptions of thinking
Looking at student conceptual maps of “thinking”. What did they show??
4 major categories of responses:
• Associative- comments that were assoc with thinking, but not descriptive of the actual act of thinking
• Emotional – an affective connection to thinking
• Strategic – comments about a specific action one takes when engaging in thinking. What specific strategies can I use to help me build understanding?
• Meta – reveal greater awareness of the nature of thinking. Focused on the nature of understanding and conceptualizations of building knowledge.
Overall:
Students develop from emotional to strategic around grades 5-6. Huge jump in each category between pre and post test. Shows that teachers need to embed VT in everyday teaching. Big jump between surface and DEEP learning.
Until you can name a process, you can’t direct it. Therefore a student who can articulate a thinking strategy (don’t get caught up in something irrelevant), can direct their thinking and achieve DEEP learning.

Students’ perceptions of classrooms (- through student surveys)
• Teacher goals for mastery of learning (eg. My teacher wants us to understand work, not just memorize it)
• Teacher goals for performance (my teacher lets us know who has the highest grade
• Learning as collaboration (my teacher encourages us to share ideas and opinions)
• A community of learners (my teacher tries to help when I am struggling)
• Academic efficacy (I am certain I can make a positive contribution to this class)
• A press for thinking (teacher presses me to think- what makes you say that?)

Teacher Change
3 connections:
• Teachers sense a greater connection to other teachers increases as they move from soft to hard collegiality. Hard collegiality challenges teachers to become lifelong learners. Soft- makes it safe to go to work everyday. Which one will improve your daily practice???
• Teachers sense of connection to themselves increases as confidence in their own teaching and their efficacy is enhanced. “Professional Voice”
• Teachers sense of connection to their students increases as they come to know them as learners and thinkers.
• Leads to re-energizing of teachers!!!

How do classrooms change when teachers create a culture of thinking?
• More voices are heard of students who would not otherwise speak (confidence). Has leveled the playing field.
• More questions get asked and the class discussions become richer and go deeper
• Students own ideas and questions become more integrated into the curriculum
• ESL and IS students become more active participants (thinking requires a lot of language, but the VT routines allow them to think in their own language)
• Students become more engaged as learners in the classroom VS. workers in the classroom

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE WHEN YOU TRY TO MAKE THINKING VISIBLE?

Check out L.A.S.T protocol on VT website. For looking at student work with a team.

WHEN THE EDGES SOFTEN (Mark Church)
Revisiting Thinking Routines

Color, Symbol, Image: A routine for distilling the essence of a topic
Eg. One student went with a sound instead of a symbol. Wrong? No- softening the edges of the thinking routine.
Where thinking routines are used powerfully:
• Teachers use routines flexibly in new and novel situations. They own not only the steps, but it’s position, timing and leveraging.
• Students feel their thinking really matters. Teachers really are interested in what students are thinking and there is significant content worth thinking within.
• Thinking routines both create thinking and they reveal thinking. The thinking that gets both created and revealed actually carry us into new, further deeper territory.

What can you identify as markers of Initial, Developing and Strong use of routines??

Initial Developing Strong
Teacher • Systematic
• Structured
• Rigid
• safe • learning
• modifying
• reflecting • natural
• softer edges
• modify
• risk-taking
• flow
Student • safe responses
• familiar ideas
• few connections • recognize own thinking
• “Shifting!”
• Developing confidence • Natural
• Risk-taking
• Self-motivated
• Deep connections
• Outside the box thinking

Project Zero Visible Thinking Conference- Amsterdam

Random Thoughts from Day #1 of the conference:

Project Zero VT Conference 2008

“Deepening, Embedding & Outreach”

Amsterdam April 10-12

 

Dispatch #1

We have arrived at International School Amsterdam for the 3 day Project Zero Visible Thinking Conference. From Harvard’s VT Team are Ron Ritchart and Mark Church. Unfortunately, David Perkins was unable to make the trip across the Atlantic due to family matters.

Annelies and I are psyched for some thinking and challenge to bring back to Bangkok! I am even more challenged to blog all about my learning this week so that my tech gurus (and good friends) can learn from my learning, as I constantly do from them. So…. Justin, Jeff, Kim and Dennis…. here goes!

First thing that strikes me as I walk into the room is the number of VT schools that have come from all around the world to participate. Wow! Serious travel miles spent here!! Check out the VT website (www.pz.harvard.edu/vt) and click on “VT Network” to get an idea of schools around the world that are into VT!

OK- what do I want to get out of this conference????

Two things: One, an understanding of some of the challenges that other schools are facing in implementing the VT routines and two; what strategies they are using to implement the culture of thinking and having their staff move forward and buy in to the way of thinking. I guess an offshoot of this would be to meet and connect with other like-minded individuals and schools that I could use to collaborate with over the next few years in this area.

www.pz.harvard.edu/vt

Check out “What’s new” section of website to see new thinking routines and Ron says that a book of the VT routines will be published soon. Cool!

OK- After our Gallery Walk of all the VT routines teachers at this conference are using, some random thoughts going through my mind are….. :

  • VT routines are being used by teachers for students age 3-20+. That’s right- university level students are being taught using these routines and their reflections are very positive.
  • Out Leadership Team needs to adapt more VT routines in their meetings. This would lead to more focused meetings especially on student learning. One that sticks out for me is “I used to think, but now I think”. We could go so much deeper in this area with the LT+ members.
  • Many teachers are using protocols to focus on student learning at team meetings. These keep them focused and prevent the presenting teachers from dominating the conversation, trying to explain why or why not students met their academic objective for the lesson.
  • We need to support our teachers in how they document the learning that is going on in their rooms. Documenting leads to understanding from both the kids and parents and eventually celebration! Documentation should be out in the quads so that parents can understand what’s going on in the classrooms and be involved in the learning.
  • Using VT routines to do ECE portfolios makes them more focused and perhaps gives children a better understanding of how their learning is progressing. It also could make it more manageable for teachers in putting them together.
  • What about asking kids “Is this work or is it learning?” What kinds of responses do you think you would get from 90% of kids 90% of the time? Hmmm….. Scary??
  • How come there are many public school in the USA that have adopted the VT thinking and yet at a school like ISB, we are still moving in the infancy….. perhaps a new challenge??

OK…. Verbal diarrhea…. Done. Next up…. Mark Church is presenting random thoughts and notes from his many travels to many different schools around the world. One of his key questions when he goes into any class: What’s going on in this classroom? What do the kids think of their learning? Is it powerful?

Mark categorized his notes into 6 areas:

Post it mania

Great thinking gets spoken, but then it’s gone.

Whiteboards get erased.

The thinking that’s happened in this space lingers only in memory.

How is student thinking made visible in my classroom??

Why would this be important?

How can we get all the kids to think critically, not just the one or two?

—- Post-its are about “ideas that stick”!!

What thinking do I want to archive in this space? What do I want to be able to come back to time and time again?

Special of the Day vs Regular Fare

Teachers are eager to try the VT routines. Can sometimes lead to “rolled eyes” syndrome.

How can you embed the thinking routines throughout your daily teaching instead of at the start/end of the unit??

“Do the VT routines if we get time this week”….. wrong way of approaching the learning task. How can we shift this paradigm?

VT needs to be ongoing patterns of cognitive behavior used daily. School needs to be “known for” the thinking.

To Kill a Mockingbird Syndrome

See, Think, Wonder- kids knew the book too well… couldn’t think outside the box.

The selection of the thinking routine is very important. Hard to think and wonder if there aren’t big ideas to think about.

*** We have had the same experience with planning for staff meetings- what is the purpose/outcome that we want from this? Will this routine get us there??

Episodes to Arcs

1980s/90s TV episodes (Jeffersons, Brady Bunch, Seinfeld) as “stand-alones”. Never related to last week’s show or next week’s show. Only one character to follow. One plot.

2008 TV shows (24, Lost, Heroes, Grey’s Anatomy) are all related to last week’s episode and set up next week’s show. Story unfolds and advances and thickens over time.

Can you say related to learning??? Big Idea for classrooms?

Learning feels different when it is not woven into other things. Making connections makes learning DEEP!!!

Preaching what you practice (and practicing what you preach)

“I tell them all the time that thinking is important.” – from a teacher.

What’s really happening in the classroom? Are you telling them to think or engaging them in thinking???

Kids won’t become risk takers or curious if they are not given opportunities to do so. Challenged? In today’s classroom they can’t be risk takers because they won’t get A+.

Off the Wall

When thinking comes off the wall and drives learning in the classroom. Therefore, take the posters off the wall and into the classroom action!!!

This is generating new thinking.

Mark’s presentation was amazing! We ended up going out for dinner and spent a lot of time discussing his ideas and how well he articulated the shift that needs to happen in education. Wow! Can’t wait to keep learning, reflecting and being pushed!

Reflections on recruiting and blogging

Blogging is hard! I really want to be a blogger- I want to be like Justin Medved, Kim Cofino, Dennis Harter and Jeff Utecht, my colleagues now and an in-coming colleague. I wish I could post daily, weekly, monthly?? Although I have to admit, I do find it hard. Why? Because the above-mentioned people are really smart. Period. They have a network and are tapped into some very cool thinking. I do read lots of blogs through my RSS feed….. and I know I need to take the next step and comment on other people’s blogs more often. I know that- I am having trouble managing that kind of time commitment, but at least I am aware of my weaknesses in the blogosphere. I look at the reader maps of these blogs and go “wow”!

When I was off recruiting talent in North America over the past few weeks, I kept writing blogs in my head from some of my experiences, but somehow those didn’t quite transfer onto the computer as I might have hoped. So…. here I go again, inspired in part, by my administrative colleagues Andy Torris, who is also a blogger and has shared some of his recruiting thoughts on his blog.

Having just returned from a teacher recruiting trip to North America, I find myself with many thoughts going on around my head. First of all, what a great experience it was to go recruiting representing one of the top international schools in the world. Second, understanding more deeply just how highly regarded out school is in the international world. Finally, how I believe we, as international educators sometimes lose touch with how lucky we are to be living and working abroad.

Unlike many of the parent clientele at our school, we rarely have to travel and be away from our families for work. I have many friends in our community who literally do not see their children from Monday-Friday because of their work/travel commitments, especially here in Asia. I am able to have two of my children here at school and can be home in five minutes if necessary. I coach my son’s soccer and T-Ball teams and often can watch my daughter’s swimming lessons. Most importantly, I am home for dinner every night and put my children to bed. How lucky is that??

So- being asked to travel to North America for 2+ weeks to recruit teachers was a great professional opportunity for me. Attending first the Queen’s University Recruiting Fair in Kingston, Canada I got a very clear picture of just how highly regarded the school is worldwide. (I also got to experience again just how cold Canada is in the winter- it had been a while!!!) Case in point- over the weekend, we offered five positions and received five acceptances. We had more than 100 people request interviews with the school and unfortunately, could not accommodate everyone because of time constraints. Contrast that with the experience of a colleague representing an international school in Venezuela. He offered more than five different teachers the position of high school Chemistry teacher and was turned down by all five. Why? Most likely it was the “CNN effect”, people see the news about a country and jump to conclusions about what is would be like to live there.

Bottom line- five offers, five acceptances. Wow!

The other wow was that it cut down my need to go on to the Cambridge recruiting fair and allowed me to return to Bangkok 5 days earlier than expected. What I took home with me from Canada was that I am truly blessed to work at such a challenging and highly regarded school. There were more than 100 teachers at that fair that wanted to come to our school. Wow!

Why do I mention this? Another little anecdote: my wife is taking an on-line course right now through a Canadian university on Special Education. Most of the teachers in her network on this course work in the public school system in Ontario. The subject of budgets came up this week in her course. At our school we have a large budget and are able to provide many many resources to help teachers provide the best possible learning situations. Contrast this with one story from an Ontario teacher taking the Spec Ed. course: “our school principal last year left the school $40,000 in debt, so we have no budget to order materials for next year”. No budget!!  Another teacher told my wife that to get a laptop for a spec. ed student, they had to log over 90 hours of one-one time just to apply for a grant! Wow!

My point? I think international educators often (sometimes?)  forget just how lucky they are to be living and working in great schools overseas. We have large resource budgets, great facilities, tons of technology, and most important- fantastic students and colleagues. Added to that the opportunities to travel and learn many different cultures….. Wow!

Uh Oh- I goofed up!

Although I sometimes think I know it all (….. YEAH right!!!), this past week provided me with two perfect examples of how much I still have to learn. The interesting thing about being an international school administrator is that A) some people think you know it all and B) lots of people think you know nothing! I can only hope I am somewhere in the middle.

Example #1- last week we held a parent-teacher conference scheduling meeting to get all of our teachers together to ensure that schedules of siblings etc worked out. This year I decided that it was time for our school to go tech, be more environmental and to make everything easier for students, parents and teachers.

To make a long story short…… things didn’t quite go as planned. We did all the little things… tested the parent survey, collated the data using real students etc etc. But within the first 10 minutes of the meeting, it was clear that it had BOMBED! Data was missing from the survey results, schedules were messed up and instead of making things easier for teachers, I had made things harder and had wasted some of their valuable time. Uh Oh- I goofed up!

What to do? The scheduling had to be done and we weren’t going to waste another meeting doing it…. so I did the next best thing: admitted that I had goofed up! I went back to my office, opened my e-mail and wrote a sorry e-mail to the whole staff. Bottom line- I goofed up, I am sorry.

When I arrived at work the following day I was amazed at how many of my staff had replied to my e-mail in a positive manner. Many staff wrote to say thank you for admitting my mistake. It turned into a learning experience for all of us- often you need to mess up to get better. How true is that, especially in education??

Example #2- comes from one of my favorite blogs, Leadertalk.org‘s “Change Management: A 21st Century Skill”. It talks about attending a recent Michael Fullan lecture where Fullan laid out his “6 Secrets of Change” (from his new book). For me the one that hit home the most was:

#1 – Love your employees – focus not only on student and customer satisfaction, but, also create schools and districts that focus on quality of life for teachers and administrators

Hmmm… love your employees….. do school administrators really have time to love their employees with all the changes they are trying to make to schools these days? How do you love your employees and maintain that professional relationship? Hmmmm…..

Answer- drink! No, I mean socialize, go out and share some time outside school. Appreciate the hard work of your staff often- not just when they do something really well like finish parent/teacher conferences. We haven’t done that enough. Uh Oh- I goofed up! In trying to change the school and make it better (I hope!) we have not had enough celebrations and thank yous with our staff.

One of the things posted in my office is The Canoe Theory (how Canadian?)- “if people are in the boat with you, they are less likely to drill holes in it!” We need to remember to bring people into our boats and to do that we need to constantly be building trust and working on our relationships. So- this Thursday is our next Staff Social and my goal is to make this a monthly event- a time to relax, leave school right away and enjoy some downtime with our staff.

An aside to this story- last Thursday we had a Professional Day with a twist. Staff were invited (told!) to take an hour in the middle of the day to exercise, do yoga, play tennis, go for a run, have a manicure etc. We even provided yoga and aerobics classes during that hour that were optional. The point is- we tried to honor the need for staff to use the professional day not only for learning, but also to have fun and do something with their colleagues that they might not otherwise do. It was a roaring success! We received so many e-mails about how it was the best PD Day ever! Cool!

I guess the point of my post is that we are always learning. Everyone goofs up- that is part of life. More importantly though is that you learn from your mistakes and keep trying to get better- that is what we want from our students and what we should want from our staff and colleagues.