Category Archives: Uncategorized

Preparing for the Year: Areas of Focus

Fresh from three days of thinking, planning, and collaborating with Admin colleagues from across my board at our Leadership retreat, my mind is definitely spinning. As a newer administrator, I’m very grateful for opportunities to share my thinking with those who have more experience. I’m grateful that I am part of a small board where we truly do have the opportunity to get to know one another and our schools. There were two topics during this week’s learning that I am focusing on:

Culturally Relevant Related Pedagogy
How can we be better at providing conditions that invite safety, belonging, and engagement for First Nations students?

Part of a pilot project with the Ministry of Education, this work intends to strengthen authentic and meaningful relationships with our First Nation partners. There is no doubt that students need to feel safety and a sense of belonging, (which I wrote about last year when I reviewed The Third Path. When I think about it, there are so many elements of the school day that do not reflect Indigenous ways of knowing and learning – and we can certainly think about how we might do a better job of reflecting the needs of our learners. A great example was our discussion on smudging. Our system often, (or always, per Human Rights legislation) provides accommodations for students requiring help to self-regulate, (such as administering medication, taking breaks, etc.). However, we have not traditionally provided the same accommodations for Indigenous students who might use smudging to the same effect. The Ministry did produce a policy paper in 2013 on Culturally-Responsive Pedagogy and while the content is powerful, this work really aims to meet specific local needs. The key to any of this work includes consulting with our First Nation communities to ensure any work we do is respectful. I’m on about that, too – so I look forward to this project.

Usha James – Critical Thinking Consortium
What are some powerful steps we can take to create thinking environments that nurture thinking in all our learners?

This question is our board’s critical inquiry question. Usha James, Executive Director of the Critical Thinking Consortium, led a powerful session on creating thinking classrooms. Administrators were invited to consider how the use of inquiry in schools might lead to deeper, more meaningful engagement of subject matter for students.

From the Critical Thinking Consortium

A few years back, I was lucky enough to work with educator Trevor Mackenzie through a Teacher Learning and Leadership Program (TLLP) on Inquiry in the Classroom. I am excited that this pedagogical model is being expanded in our board; it changed my classroom when I started using it. From an principal’s perspective, inquiry can also shape my conversations with colleagues when talking about their lessons, their practices, and their classrooms and for my own work, inquiry will guide my own problem of practice as I work towards a goal, (I’ll share more on that later) for my own learning within the school.

Three days of powerful discussions, learning, and sharing definitely leaves the brain in a state of chaos, so I’m happy to be able to digest some of the information here. The work also added to my never-ending to do list, but that’s awesome, as well. These two topics provide clear purpose to our work and I am very, very excited about them.

Gearing Up for 2019-2020 at Marathon High School

I’ve been preparing for a new year, a new school, and a new role for about two months now, and though the reality of my amazing opportunity hasn’t fully set in, the enormity of the task of preparation is definitely sinking in. A new school means getting to know new people, past practices, partnerships, protocols, policies….and possibilities.

The role is one I’m most definitely excited about: Principal of my old high school! How cool is that!? What a way to celebrate 20 years since I graduated from Marathon High School. In fact, when I graduated, I was selected to be Valedictorian. When I delivered my speech, I took a picture of the audience. I certainly could not have foreseen the future then, but this picture is important to me because seated in the first rows are the educators who helped me get to where I am. Though I won’t have the privilege of working with my former teachers, I’m lucky to have many of them in my circle.

Anyway, the adventure begins this week with setting up my office, getting to know staff, and 2.5 days of learning with colleagues from across our board and though returning to a consistent schedule will be a shock to the system, I’m excited for it. In the meantime, lots of reading and wonderings about:

  • What does effective leadership look like at Marathon High School?
  • How do I build trusting relationships with my people?
  • What can I do to build student engagement to create a positive learning environment?
  • How can I work to balance mental health and well-being with academic achievement within the school?
  • What don’t I know that I need to know?

There is, I am sure, so many things that I don’t know. I know from my first year as an administrator at B.A. Parker Public School that come the first day, I’ll be hitting the ground running – but that’s a good thing. I think one of the biggest challenges is entering a school where I don’t have the same relationships with people like I had over the past 14 years. For that reason, I think it’s important for me to observe, to listen, to be patient, and to build relationships. I cannot – and will not – go in like a bull in a china shop because that is neither my style nor a system that ever seems to work! I do hope that I will have an opportunity to reflect, to be open, and to be vulnerable on this blog.

I am going to head back to reading, reflecting, and readying myself for this incredible adventure! Stay tuned!

New Role, New Excitement

I cannot believe that it has been an entire year since I made a post on this blog. I had great intentions of blogging my journey as a first-year administrator, endeavouring to capture the excitement and challenges of the Vice-Principal role at B.A. Parker Public School and Geraldton Composite High School. However, the nature of the job, the growing up of my daughter, and a ridiculous load of additional qualification courses ate up pretty much all of my free time. In hindsight, I’m disappointed, because I think there would have been some good reflections if I made the time to record them. But alas, I did not.

However, I just shelled out another $120 to maintain WilsonTeacher.ca for yet another year AND I have the opportunity to start fresh, this time as a first-year administrator of a high school – my old high school! According to my high school yearbook, I have essentially reached the pinnacle of my life.

So, apologies for the lack of updates but I will work to remedy this site’s content. In the meantime, please continue to browse!