Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Surrounded by Incredible Talent

Recently, I was asked (via Twitter) to reflect of what I like best about my job as a principal of a high school.  My response came like a reflex action – “I am surrounded by the most talented group of students and staff, which in turn, provide me tremendous inspiration and motivation!”

On the last day of school, before our Christmas break, the students’ parliament hosted our annual school talent show.  The students decided to do a parody of Saturday Night Live as their theme  (I have added the two video links related to this show to give you a flavour).

This show, its related videos and live talent was produced  and performed by current students! I am still amazed.

Once again, it reminded me that if we give our students space and permission to be creative and take risks, there is no limits to what they can do.  This talent show is one small example of the immense and varied talent brimming inside our students.
I would like to dedicate this post to all the students at St. Patrick Secondary, who bless me with their inspiring talents and give me the motivation to come to work loving what I do!

J. Bevacqua  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Every tool needs a master craftsperson

Effective teachers transform the lives of learners.  This is a painfully obvious statement.  Many have written about the attributes of an effective teacher and many will continue to weigh in on the discourse. 
Given the recent attention that “21st century learning” and “personalized learning” is receiving in the popular media and the personal excitement that I have felt over the topic, I have been left to wonder……before computers and the internet, effective teachers “personalized” learning for students and were zealously passionate about helping students learn and make meaning of their learning. 
Recently I had my bathroom retiled.  As I watched the master tradesman do his craft, I noticed that, despite his reliance on certain tools, it was his skill and precision that made the project come together!
I am writing this as a reminder to myself: every tool needs an effective and capable user to take full advantage of the wonders of the tool. 
Todays “networked teachers” must take full advantage of the tools of the day – it is our professional obligation to do so.   Effective teachers understand this reality.  More importantly, the effective teacher is rooted in the belief that every child can learn, that they (the teacher) are responsible for igniting their students’ passion for learning and that the healthy relationships they foster matter.  
Figuring it out and invite your comments……

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

21st Century Learning Team

Two weeks ago I asked my staff to consider joining a new learning team for our school related to 21st Century Education/Learning.   My rationale for wanting to establish this team was threefold:
1.       We are in the 21st century
2.       Given that our students are immersed in the 21st century culture and all its emerging technologies – we need to understand where they are to fully engage them.
3.       Many adults do not know where to start in this process and going it alone is difficult.
The Proposed format included:
1.       An open space for learning and asking questions
2.       There will be NO formal agenda
3.       Members bring discoveries, ideas, “how to” and questions to the group
4.       There will be limited formal face to face contact (perhaps once a month.  Most collaboration will take place using social media (twitter, blogs, etc.).  I consider this immersion learning! 
The Goal
Team members will understand emerging digital media in the area of 21st century learning and their implications on the student learning.  Team members will become proficient in using these emerging technologies in their practice as teachers.
Some of the questions that we will seek to answer include:
A.      What is social media and how can it be used in the classroom (e.g. blogs, twitter, Facebook)?
B.      How do we reconcile the pull toward new technology with “traditional” academic skills? 
C.      What is web 2.0 (and 3.0 and 4.0) and how can this be used to engage students in their learning?  Take a look at this for a start 
D.      What are the implications of these technologies in terms of curriculum, school policies and our understanding of school (e.g. LITERACY SKILLS have never become so important, what does community look like, etc.)
I am happy to report that since that meeting over 30% of the staff have agreed to join this team.  The teachers that joined ranged in experience from 3 to 26 years of teaching experience.  
Since the introduction of this team, numerous teachers have joined twitter and/or built their own class web page or blog.
I am not sure what the end result will be but early indications look extremely promising!
I look forward to journeying with my colleagues in this new frontier of 21st Century Learning/Teaching!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Posting, tweeting, blogging, uploading? Who cares what I have to say?

This is my first foray into the world of creating and posting on my very own professional blog.  I have to say that I am overwhelmed with thoughts of “who cares what I have to say”? 
I was raised to be humble and understated.  As an outsider looking into the world of social networking I always thought that telling “the world” what I ate for lunch or what about my favourite TV show is, was a bit “self indulgent” (Simon Cowell eat your heart out!).    I must also admit that, as an administrator, my views on social networking have been jaded by the countless discipline related issues that have involved this type of communication!   
Notwithstanding these apprehensions and perhaps misguided beliefs about social networking, I have always believed in the power of collaboration and teamwork.  I have witnessed, in my personal and professional life, the power of people coming together to achieve remarkable good.  From my ancestors who came to a new land seeking the promise of a better life to establishing high functioning learning teams in my school, I can say with conviction that better things are likely to happen when  not “going it alone”.  
Recently I attended the TEDxUBC event on Future Ed.  For the first time I saw how social networking can be an incredible tool for good (I know, I’ve been slow on the uptake on this one).  My attendance at that event prompted me to join twitter just two week ago.  The subsequent two weeks have been nothing short of eye-opening for me as a professional.  I have been “introduced” to remarkable people, ideas and resources. 
Today I post for the first time.  I still have many questions about social networking and I still wonder if anyone cares what I have to say.  But leave those questions and reservations for another post!