Questions to ask PQP pt 1&2

Later on today, I will be speaking with candidates from OPC’s Principal Qualifications Program Parts 1 & 2 about my journey as a connected school leader. I always find it funny when I get asked because I don’t see the ‘connected’ part as a separate part of my role. I see it as integral to what I do.

The School Level Leadership pillars of the Ontario Leadership Framework talks about the importance of building relationship and of nurturing a collaborative culture. I find it critical to reach out to the education world beyond your building. If you don’t, think of the expertise your missing.

To the candidates, I’m sure you’ll have some questions for me. And I’ll be happy to answer them.  But I also have a series of questions for you as you think about school leadership as a possible next step in your teaching career. There is really no order of importance or perceived insight to these questions. This is the result of a 30-minute ‘brain dump’. Others may choose to add questions in the comments. You may choose to reflect on them publicly there as well. I look forward to meeting with you today.

Peter

Food for thought

What will the critical skills be in the world for which we are preparing our students?

Whose world are we preparing students for?

What technology do you think people are using?

Are you technically proficient?

Are you prepared to be an agent of change?

Can technology have a positive impact on student learning? If so, how?

Can technology have a positive impact on your work? If so, how?

If you’re looking to be a lead learner, are you connecting yourself to a world of learners?

What about the Ontario Leadership Framework? What pillar(s) might connecting be able to enhance?

What tools would you expect staff to be able to use?

What tools would expect students to be able to use? What tools do they use?

What’s different about the world in which we live now in comparison to the world in which you lived when you where in school? What’s different about your classroom, both physically and pedagogically, and the one you were in as a student?

Guest post – “Learning? Thinking? Or thinking to learn?

Cheryl Van Ooteghem, the Principal of Program, wrote a piece in late August 2014 about the important role that we play as parents to model how we ‘make our thinking visible’. I asked her permission if I could include it here. She said ‘Yes’. 🙂

“Learning? Thinking? Or Learning to Think?

Everyone sends their child to school to learn. Or do we? Do we send our children to school to become programmed robots who simply regurgitate facts and formulas, or do we send them to school to learn to think?

Learning is not about committing ideas to memory. Learning is about exploring ideas and building on our understanding of the world. Remember your two year old child who never stopped asking “why”? They were learning to make sense of the world around them. Learning is about problem solving, generating ideas, analyzing facts, critically evaluating decisions and asking questions to make sense of things. David Perkins in Smart Schools (1992) says that “learning is a consequence of thinking”. Scores on a test (depending on the test) are not evidence of learning.

I know as a parent, I often said to my children; “think about it”, “think for yourself, or “what do you think?” For those of you with pre-teens and teens, I’m sure, like me, there were plenty of times you wished you knew what they were thinking (well, maybe not all the time)!

As parents we need to model thinking and learning for our children. Instead of saying “I don’t know” or “because I said so”, we need to share our perspectives, insights, ideas and misunderstandings with our children. We need to share how we plan, organize, make a decision and seek clarity at home or at work. We need to share our thinking with our children so they can develop their own ideas and learn how to think.

When our children offer a differing opinion, we need to value what they have to say, instead of allowing it to become a “because I said so” power struggle. We need to ask our children this simple question; “what makes you say that?”, and listen – really listen. We need to have them explain and share their thinking with us. Even when their ideas are very different from ours, we need to give them their voice, and then offer ours with an explanation as to why we think that way.

Tonight when your children come home from school don’t ask them what they learned today or what they did. Instead, ask them what made them think today. When they look at you as if you have two heads and have completely lost it, ask them more questions. Push them to think. Together, we need to encourage them to question what they see and read on the internet, we need to model for them how to make informed decisions, and we need to prepare them for jobs not yet created.

Excited, interested energy is learning, because that’s when thinking occurs; that’s when children own their learning, and that’s what going to school is all about.”

FFTF enters the blogsphere

For several years now, I’ve been forwarding an item on a weekly basis to school and Board colleagues entitled the ‘Food For Thought Friday’ (known from here on in as the FFTF). This artefact is often an article, a video or a blog that is intended to cause the reader to think about their own educational practice or to start a conversation.

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of blogging and, in my ‘other life’, have managed a non-educational blog for years. Yet, the idea of putting myself ‘out there’ in education has always been intimidating to me. What finally pushed me over the edge was a subtle word of ‘encouragement’ from a senior administrator with my own school board in a very brief F2F conversation last week about Canadian administrators one should follow on Twitter. I also look at some of the classes in my own school with students blogging about their learning and feel a little embarrassed that the students are fine to put their learning ‘out there’ but that the principal has cold feet. That doesn’t wrk any longer.

The FFTF will now be part of a weekly blog post. If that’s all I do for the time being, so be it. If all it means is starting a larger conversation for a few people, I’m happy with that. If, at a future point, the blog becomes a place for added transparency in my practice, that’ll work too.

This also opens the weekly FFTF up to ‘the world’. Feel free to comment and discuss at your leisure.

Peter

December 6th, 2013 FFTF: I was discussing the uses of Twitter as a tool to learn and connect professionally. This is part of the same conversation referred to above that finally pushed me to get the FFTF onto a blog (almost one full year after my initial commitment to do so). The Superintendent and I agreed that one of the first things needed for a successful venture into the Twitterverse was to have appropriate people along for the journey. I was funny how as a school and a system leader, we both had George Couros at the top of our list of people to follow. George’s post entitled “Our Thinking has to Change” challenges some outdated perspectives on our role as teachers, particularly as it applies to current and emerging technologies that we use with our students. It also highlights the importance of our relationships with students and how that must adapt to encompass the tools of our ever-changing world.

http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/4278

Happy FFTF, everybody.