You too can have an AMAZING practice

I had the privilege of joining a group of engaging and passionate PSD teachers one morning last week.  We came together to talk about the meaning of innovation and specifically their individual experiences of innovative teaching within their respect practices.

I am currently reading for the third time one of my all-time favorite books, “You Can Have an Amazing Life in Just 60 Days” by Dr. John Demartini.  In this little book, Dr. Demartini reveals 60 inspiring laws or universal truths that he has researched and practiced over a span of twenty years.  According to Dr. Demartini these truths have enabled him to live a truly fulfilling life and he has dedicated himself to studying and sharing these truths as they apply to personal growth for anyone interested in learning about them.  Every day he presents a different law, provides some example and a practical application to daily living.  He then prompts the reader to reflect on this law and apply the law to their own lives.  In this way as the reader integrates the laws into their own lives they are rewarded by a fulfilling and enriched daily living experience.

So you are probably asking yourself, “What is the connection between this little book and my experience with the PSD teachers?” The simple answer is that as I listened to the teachers in the room sharing their experiences and responding to the tasks at hand I couldn’t help but see the connection of what they were telling us, to some of the laws that I was reading about.  Here are a couple of examples:

Law of Love

This is Dr. Demartini’s first law.  He teaches that everyone longs to be cherished for who they are, and that if you share the truth of your own heart the people you touch will become the wonderous individuals they’re capable of being. That is, love individuals for who they are, no matter what.  He says that if you do they’ll become more, accomplish more, and have more in their lives – and so will you.  The power of unconditional love is unsurpassed in its power to transform.  If you were as lucky as me to be in the room with these teachers you would have heard them telling their stories about their students from a place of unconditional love.  To these teachers every student was important, every student was valued and every student had something to offer.  They expressed a desire and responsibility to create an environment where every one of their students could thrive.

Law of Reflection

This is law number 42. The law of reflection has to with judgment – judging ourselves and judging others.  Dr. Demartini teaches that what you say to others and what you see in others is a mirror or a refection that is meant for yourself.  Those traits that we judge in others are often traits within ourselves that we need to learn about and address.  A perfect example was a story that one teacher told about a student that she found particularly challenging.  She was frustrated and often felt impatient.  As she reflected on this situation she reported that one day she realized that this student was teaching her patience – she no longer saw this situation as a challenge but as a gift.

Law of Growth

A third law I thought relevant is the Law of Growth.  This law teaches about the willingness to let go of old practices and relationships that allows both you and others to evolve. A couple of stories that depicted the application of this law came from the stories that a kindergarten teacher and a middle years teacher told in their group. Both teachers talked about how a change in thinking allowed them to have the courage to allow their students to take responsibility for their learning.  In the first story the teacher reflected on how she used to direct students through a particular task and when she turned it over to them to figure and stood back to observe, rather than direct amazing things happened.  Real learning took place.  In the second story, the teacher shared that where she once believed that there was one way to solve a problem – her students taught her that when they were encouraged to make their learning visible and they worked cooperatively together, many different pathways lead to the solution.

So the relevance of this book to my observations of the teacher’s discussions is the connection to PSD’s exploration of changing practice.  In PSD we are busy exploring the “how” to implement an inclusive education system by changing practice to respond to the changing demographics within our classroom environments.  I’m thinking that if individuals consider the universal truths of unconditional love, reflection and growth they too can experience a journey towards an “amazing practice”.

 

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Student Engagement Through Innovation

One of PSD priorities is engagement – of students, staff and community.  Continuing our engagement feedback loop, today in PSD we had a wonderful opportunity to bring together a group of teachers to talk about student engagement and innovation.  We asked a number of questions, one of them being;  what is innovation in education?  Here are some of the responses:

“Innovation is about creativity, originality and the teacher’s role in setting the environment for the students.”

“Innovation is doing what works best for students; not what works best for the teacher.”

“Innovation should NOT BE change for the sake of change, it needs to be purposeful.”

But what does innovation “look like”?  That was also shared by participants in the day.

“Innovation models risk taking, it’s more about the process than the product.  It captures more learners and learning styles.”

“Innovation allows ALL students to shine.”

“In order for innovation to be successful, the teacher also needs to be comfortable to take risks and learn with their students.”

This was a great opportunity for PSD to hear from our teachers that inspiring education is alive.  It was exciting to hear the passion in our teachers voices are they strive to ensure our children are ready for the 21st Century.  We are keenly aware that innovation is not only associated with technology.  We know we have teachers who have embraced the shift from a focus on knowledge acquisition (what to learn), to the focus on skill and competency development (how to learn).  Teachers are helping students “think to learn” and “learn to think”.

Hearing our staff speak about innovation needing to be purposeful, that we are a learning organization and the importance of creating an environment of creativity was inspiring today!  We look forward to hearing more from staff.

It is exciting to be on this journey of creating a school division where exploration, creativity, imagination and aspiring to reach one’s dream is alive and well!

 

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Supporting Our Children

In Alberta we have been talking about inclusion, wrap around services and the RCSD model (Regional Collaborative Services Delivery).   What are examples to show this work is coming to fruition? In Parkland School Division I am excited to share our story about a recent Traveling Low Vision Clinic that was hosted at our PSD office. The Low Vision Traveling clinic ensured that no one was working in isolation, an example of collaboration at its best; doing what is right for children. Partners in attendance worked from their area of expertise to contribute to solving each and every child’s educational challenge created by visual impairment. This one stop shopping as some call it saved a great deal of time, ensuring that professionals worked together to create a full service program that would have taken months for families and educators to access.

This innovative work is essential to ensuring inclusion comes alive and every child is supported both in and out of school. No longer do we need to be talking about what it might look like because the example of the Low Vision Clinic provides us with the experience and confidence to move forward on initiatives, bringing them to life.   Parkland School Division Board of Trustees speaks about risk taking as long as we are doing it in the best interest of our children.   We cannot wait for Provincial mandates, we must move forward to support our children now!

Below is the video that was recently shared across the province.

Thank you to each member of this team for ensuring our children are supported and able to strive to reach their dreams. I am proud to be part of a school division where we always focus on what’s best for children.

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Superintendent’s Message – November 2013 #PSD70

Well, you’ll probably notice something a little different about my monthly message. Yes, we have changed things a bit – moving to a video message instead of a written message. And, there is a good reason for that. As an innovative school division we are always looking for new ways to communicate with parents, community and our staff. It’s our plan to use my monthly video messages this year to highlight many of the unique programs, successes and milestones we see across all PSD schools. It’s my hope that you’ll find my monthly messages informative and engaging. I look forward to you checking back each month to see what’s new and exciting in PSD.

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Superintendent’s Message for October

Well, you’ll probably notice something a little different about my monthly message. Yes, we have changed things a bit – moving to a video message instead of a written message. And, there is a good reason for that. As an innovative school division we are always looking for new ways to communicate with parents, community and our staff. It’s our plan to use my monthly video messages this year to highlight many of the unique programs, successes and milestones we see across all PSD schools. It’s my hope that you’ll find my monthly messages informative and engaging. I look forward to you checking back each month to see what’s new and exciting in PSD.

Please check the video below for my October message and have a great month!

Tim

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