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Questions for Reflection on Leadership Moves

Over the course of this year, we would like you to deliberately practice your leadership skills, a minimum of three times, at your school. We ask that you reflect about your leadership practice through blogging. This reflective process will help you to learn about yourself as a leader, and about leadership in general.

When thinking about how and where you will practice your leadership, you might want to consider how you can exhibit leadership in:

-school professional learning communities
-collaborative inquiries
-divisional meetings
-department meetings
-department head meetings
-school council meetings
-staff meetings
-being Teacher in Charge
-professional development days

Prior to finalizing your plan, you should discuss the options with your school principal.

Blogging

You will be assigned to a group of 4 to 5 teachers for a Google+ blog. The blog will be closed to the public, and will be open to your group members, the Pathways to School Leadership team, and Senior Administration.

You have the ability to attach pictures, videos, files, and web-links in the blog.

Please use the following questions to guide your blog.

1. Plan: What am i hoping to learn about instructional leadership?
2. Plan: What, specifically, will I do to try to learn this?
3. Act: What did I do?
4. Observe: What happened?
5. Reflect: What did I learn about myself as a leader?
6. Reflect: What did I learn about leadership?
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Just a quick update before our meeting on Friday!
I've been working hard on more technology integration and our Maker Space. I've been running regular mini-sessions during our staff meetings on tech use (iPads and robots, mainly) and working with a few staff members on planning out our Maker Space. We've had a very busy school year with a lot of extra initiatives going on, so getting staff on board with our library redesign and getting everyone familiar with the latest tech we have in our school has seemed like an extra thing for everyone. A small success, but I think a big one in terms of perception, is that staff are all bringing their iPads to staff meetings now without being reminded to. Yay! I



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"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
(John Quincy Adams)


The presentation during the staff meeting of March 6, 2017 went very well despite having only 15 minutes for each session. The staff was divided into groups that rotated between each presentation. Each information session had to be succinct, brief and clear as too not overwhelm the staff with technical terms. I was fortunate to have a high school teacher helping me present the VEX Robotics.

It was a great opportunity to discuss STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The interdisciplinary nature of STEM could be compared to the whole language approach as it pertains to technology. One cannot separate most of these four disciplines nowadays because they are linked in so many ways in a blended learning environment. Of the four types of robotics presented (LEGO EV3, Sphero SPDK+, VEX Robotics and WEDO Technologies), some of these with their respective software, the little SPRK+ spheres, were very popular because of its simplicity to use, yet complex sophistication within its applications.

We presented autonomous robots, but the main focus was on programming. Teachers are learners like everyone else. Resistance is always proportional to the nature of the subject. If the affinities of the subject are distinct from our own interests, the will to learn a new science is often ignored. Despite this, many teachers showed considerable interest. Resistance or acceptance by the teachers is variable because robots and coding are not common in the classroom (yet). One must also remark that our curriculum does not reflect extensive use of robots except in science and even there, most of the teaching on robotics and coding is occurring during recess or after school.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of STEM, not only in the school environment, but in society as a whole. The importance of problem solving, technological proficiency and numeracy can never be underestimated. I was fully aware that it would not be an easy task implementing the first steps of a school culture based on mathematics, science, technology and computer science (STEM) using Robotics and Coding, but I think we are off to a good start.

That being said, students really like to learn this new technology as it involves using their new iPads. We have several students engaged in learning robotics and coding as the number keeps growing as technology peaks the interest of fellow students. It would be interesting to have students in the near future talk more about science fairs than sporting events like they do now.

Post 2 -- Implementing the Plan - First PLC

On January 10th, our Math PLC team (grades 2-6 teachers) met together to have our first PLC. Steph and I ran the meeting going through the the planned activities and discussions. When it came to the co-planning and co-teaching in the classes, we supported the large group into 2 groups: a primary group and a junior group.
My reflection:
On the whole the day and the learning throughout the day was well received. I did reflect on the importance of having a group who works as a community and are willingly to speak up during a discussion. I believe that other teachers speaking about their experiences with their students has a strong influence. Maybe the influence is there because of the respect that that teacher has within the school or maybe the fact that the teacher is putting the learning of the student at the forefront. I think that it is a bit of both.
Also I reflected that I learned more about the teachers as learners. Similar to our students, adult learners have cues that help you to learn that they don't like certain things and need other supports. It makes me realize that when I spent some time with the teachers earlier in the year, I got to know them as colleagues but didn't really have the opportunities to get to know them as learners. I think that both are equally important so that I can work on my organization and plan in a proactive way.
The next time Steph and I meet with our principal to plan, I believe that we need to think through our day from the lens of each of our learners. I thought that we had done that but we're going to need to be more explicit with each step to unsure that we are broaching on any possible areas for reluctance.


Post 1 -- Getting Planned

First of all, sorry for being late in posting, life kind of got in the way.

My original plan was to work on building relationships with the community and the school. Stephanie Clement (who is in another group) and I are at the same school and we thought that we could organize and plan a family night, building parents' understanding on how technology is being used by the students in the school. After speaking with our principal we learned that this was something that the Parent's Council wanted to engage in.
So after doing some reflection on the other areas of learning that I need to do when it comes to leadership, I decided to focus in the area of resistance and building some skills to deal with the resistance that you can sometimes face when being a leader.
So in consultation with my principal, I decided to use a strength that I have (or really an area that I'm comfortable in) to address an area of learning. This is something that Chad mentioned and suggested in one of the discussions that we had. We've decided that Stephanie and I will be working on the planning, organization and implementation some Math PLCs and the professional learning around our Math goal. My focus is specifically working with the Grade 2-3.

So the first steps that I took in regards to this year are:
I spent some time getting to know the teachers in my grade area. I am new to this school and even though I know these teachers, I have not worked daily with them in the past. I felt that learning more about these teachers would help me understand more about them. As we learned in the readings that we did during our first meeting, listening is a skill that all leaders need to access to enable forward movement. Listening helps you "know" more and thus, it could possible help a leader in determining possible areas of reluctance or resistance. I believe that there is a reason for resistance. The resistance that we are meeting has a story behind it and if we can figure out why, then maybe we can address it before it becomes an obstacle. I believe that being proactive will lessen some negativity.
Stephanie and I got together to plan out a PLC Math day. We organized an agenda with the goals that we had previously determined with our principal. On December, we met with our principal to go through the agenda. We received feedback and suggestions and adjusted the agenda accordingly. We organized and invited the teachers to the PLC day.


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Blog_2 Presentation to staff meeting (March 2017)

I am pleased to report that our robotics sessions are going very well. Around fifty students have been trained on the small robots called SPHERO thanks to the assistance of several teachers. It is not an easy task to train children aged 8 to 12 years to program and see in real time, the result of their work in robotics. On my end, my efforts are concentrated on preparing more than 20 to 30 students with the LEGO EV3 robotics. They must not only program their robots to perform specific tasks; they must also build them from scratch. This is the STEM challenge (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at its best. This learning and knowledge will be put to good use in the next robotics competition taking place at the end of the year.

Implementing a school culture is never an easy task as it is like any other change in the educational paradigm. There is always that time restriction that applies because robotics sessions are held during the recess period. That being said, robotics, coding and technology challenges, where uncertainty and rapid change is a constant, requires the students to adapt and problem solve quickly. Children need to concentrate and pay attention for a long period of time. They are learning in a field that is not readily available to them in the everyday world. Curiosity is always the sign of an evolving mind.

While there is lots of discussion about the incoming impact of technology not only in the classroom but in our societies, governments are not yet ready to implement this. It is hard to imagine that the schools will be ready to face these new technological challenges. The current curriculum in the school environment do not reflect this reality to its full justification. Coding is not only a language on its own, its importance on educating the future job creators is crucial for any society. Curriculum should be organic in essence and because of this inalienable evidence, it should be able to readily adapt to suit an ever-changing education world.

We are on the eve of a new revolution; the fourth industrial revolution of robots and artificial intelligence, and we are far away from understanding the full impact of the third industrial revolution of automation in a connected world. In a future world of robots, autonomous cars, artificial intelligence, what will be the jobs of the future? How can you explain to a six years old child that he may not follow the steps of his father because drivers won't be needed? The impact of technology has repercussions not only in the industrial world but also in human activities. We are living in a connected world. Now, in a community of learners, we are able to solve the most complex problems that present themselves in all fields of human interactions. The quantum entanglement of robotics and artificial intelligence will only grow exponentially in the years to come.

As an educator, I always muse about the laws of the universe. Are they real or is it just a mean for our brain to organize itself to make sense of our world. For technology, without the invention of an obscure branch of mathematics, Boolean algebra, and the perseverance of a scientist, William Shockley (who dared to explore the realm of quantum physics to invent the transistor and think outside the box), the 4th industrial revolution would not be at hand. Actually, since the 1950’s, there has been little advances in computer hardware except for the type of human-machine interface that is continually changing. At this time, artificial intelligence can only be understood with a first or second year university course in linear algebra as it pertains to vectors, matrices, complex numbers and probabilities in a fuzzy, logical world. In essence, machines are learning at a rate that the mind cannot comprehend.

Why, as educators and future leaders, do we dare to attempt to find solutions to all the educational challenges that present themselves now and in the future? If I can quote John Fitzgerald Kennedy: "We did this not because it was easy, but because it was hard".

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Bon, nos sessions de robotique avancent de bon train. Plusieurs élèves (environ une cinquantaine) ont reçu une formation avec les petits robots appelés SPHERO grâce à l'aide de plusieurs enseignants dévoués. Ce n'est pas évident de former des enfants de 9 à 12 ans à programmer et voir en temps réel, le résultat de leur travail en robotique. De mon côté, je me concentre à préparer plus de 20 à 30 élèves avec la robotique LEGO EV3. Ils doivent non seulement programmer leurs robots à exécuter des tâches spécifiques, mais ils doivent aussi le construire de toutes pièces. Voilà le défi STEM (science, technologie, ingénierie et mathématiques). Ils mettront leurs connaissances et leurs apprentissages à profit lors de la prochaine compétition de robotique qui aura lieu à la fin de l'année.

La mise en œuvre d'une culture scolaire n'est jamais une tâche facile lorsque cela implique un changement de paradigme. Il y a toujours cette restriction de temps qui s'applique parce que les sessions de robotique sont tenues pendant les récréations. Cela étant dit, la robotique, la programmation et les défis technologiques où l'incertitude et le changement sont une constante, l'adaptabilité pour résoudre les problèmes est non seulement nécessaire pour les élèves, mais essentielle. Les enfants doivent se concentrer et avoir de l'attention pendant une longue période de temps. Ils apprennent à apprendre dans un domaine qui n'est pas facilement accessible à eux dans leur réalité quotidienne mais la curiosité est toujours le signe d'un esprit en évolution.

Bien qu'il y ait beaucoup de discussions sur l'impact de la technologie non seulement dans la classe, mais dans nos sociétés, les gouvernements ne sont pas encore prêts. Alors, comment imaginer que les écoles le sont? Cela étant dit, les programmes d'études actuels dans le milieu scolaire ne reflètent pas cette réalité à sa pleine justification. La programmation n'est pas une langue formelle enseignée à l'école, mais son importance pour l'éducation des futurs créateurs d'emplois est cruciale pour toute société. Les curriculums doivent être essentiellement biologiques et, en raison de ce fait, ils devraient être en mesure de changer rapidement pour s'adapter à un monde éducationnel en constante évolution.

Nous sommes à la veille d'une nouvelle révolution. La quatrième révolution industrielle des robots et de l'intelligence artificielle et nous ne sommes même pas encore à même de comprendre pleinement l'impact de la troisième révolution industrielle de l'automatisation et d'un monde connecté. Dans un monde futur de robots, de voitures sans conducteur, d'intelligences artificielles, quels seront les emplois de demain? Comment pouvez-vous expliquer à un enfant de six ans qu'il ne pourra peut-être pas suivre les traces de son père parce que les conducteurs ne seront plus nécessaires? L'impact de la technologie a des répercussions non seulement dans le monde industriel, mais aussi dans les activités humaines. Nous vivons dans un monde connecté. Maintenant, dans une communauté d'apprenants interconnectés, nous sommes en mesure de résoudre les problèmes les plus complexes qui se présentent dans tous les domaines. L'intrication quantique de la robotique et de l'intelligence artificielle n'augmentera que de façon exponentielle dans les années à venir.

En tant que pédagogue, je me pose toujours des questions sur les lois de l'univers. Sont-elles réelles ou est-ce juste un moyen pour notre cerveau de s'organiser afin de donner un sens à notre monde. Pour la technologie, sans l'invention d'une branche obscure de mathématiques, l'algèbre booléenne et de la persévérance d'un scientifique, William Shockley, qui a osé explorer le domaine de la physique quantique pour inventer le transistor et penser en dehors de la boîte, toute cette technologie ne serait pas à portée de main. En fait, depuis 1950, pour les ordinateurs, le matériel et l'équipement informatique n'ont guère évolué et il y a peu de nouveautés, à l'exception du type d'interface humain-machine qui est toujours en évolution constante. En fait, l'intelligence artificielle ne peut être comprise qu'avec une compréhension basique d'un cours universitaire de première ou de deuxième année en algèbre linéaire en ce qui concerne les vecteurs, les matrices, les nombres complexes et les probabilités dans un monde de logique floue. Les machines apprennent actuellement, et elles apprennent à un rythme exponentiel qui bouscule l'esprit.

Pourquoi, en tant qu'éducateurs et futurs administrateurs, osons-nous tenter de trouver des solutions à tous les défis éducatifs qui se posent aujourd'hui et à l'avenir? Si je peux citer John Fitzgerald Kennedy: «Nous avons fait cela non parce que c'était facile, mais parce que c'était difficile».

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My initial leadership move is surrounding our math PLC group. I think the direction of the group ultimately is to strengthen our SIP by bridging a gap between elementary and secondary as well as have collegial and professional dialogue regarding student success, strategies that work, and finding and implementing common strategies to develop student talk.
This process can be difficult, as each professional brings to the table their own strategies, ideas, needs and strengths. I plan to actively engage in professional dialogue, question resistance using my personal resources and influence positive growth and change.

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I've been playing with robots nearly all weekend (which is a great way to spend a weekend, btw!)

I'm in the process of planning my school's Hour of Code in a more deliberate way that includes more grade levels. I've been doing Hour of Code for a few years now, but with grades 4 - 8. This year I'm bringing it to our JK - 3 students as well.

I've been running a computer science class for our 4-6 students this year which includes 4 students from our Self-Contained class. Students with limited reading abilities have been working on Course 1 on code.org while the others have been working through Course 2 (and some have gone onto Course 3). These are a few of my observations:

The activities in Course 1 are geared toward pre-readers and low-readers. It helps develop hand-eye coordination skills needed to run a computer mouse -a skill just starting in many of our kindergarten students and needed by some of our Self-Contained students. The first few activities require dragging and dropping and directional sense. The activities progress at a very reasonable pace, forcing students to "see" the world from different vantage points - as they move their Angry Bird around a maze, the directions they give their bird depends on the bird's position, not the student's. It also helps develop that directional sense of "above, beside, below" etc. and gives instant feedback as the child watches their program unfold. Repeating loops is a much more advanced skill, but I'm seeing the students start to "get it."

Code.org uses a form of Javascript behind its blocks. My grade 5/6 students have been programming Spheros to simulate the solar system and its programming uses a version of C behind its blocks. I'm seeing students transferring knowledge from one situation to another in a way that they don't tend to do with the traditional subjects in school. My students don't transfer their knowledge of conventions from Language class to writing a paper in my science class, yet they are able to apply the logic behind coding in one language to coding in another despite the fact that the blocks are different languages entirely. I think that a lot of this is the novelty, but also the level of engagement that doesn't tend to exist in traditional writing tasks.

In my Visual Arts, we have been doing pixel art based on binary codes and then solving and creating word puzzles using binary. My students are seeing the logic behind the way a computer "thinks" and applying it in different problem solving situations, particularly in math.

Basically, I'm seeing my students thinking more logically and sequentially since deliberately adding more computer science concepts into many of my subjects. It's challenging my higher achievers, but also encouraging my lower ones because of instant feedback and the self-esteem that comes with "controlling" a machine. I'm excited to start pushing this with our younger students to see what state they are at by the time they get to the junior grades.

So, back to Hour of Code. My initial plan was to have all students work on the Hour of Code activities on Tynker, code.org, etc. but then we received a bunch of robots for our library redesign. My new plan is to have my Gr. 5/6 students experiment with and design activities to do with the JK-3 students using the robots. This is a lot of work to push into the week before, but I'm pretty confident that my kids have the foundation to learn new robots and to design cute little activities for the little ones to try. I think I'll create classrooms on code.org JUST IN CASE :)

I'm not worried about student engagement in this endeavour. I'm hoping that more teachers will be on board. Also, I'll need to communicate respectfully the need to care for our robot pals and their function as learning tools, not toys or time fillers. My heart would break if our little robots were damaged through misuse!

Wish me luck!

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Where do I begin with this blog? Last year, I was in the process of implementing a school culture based on mathematics, science, technology and computer science (STEM) using LEGO Robotics (EV3) for grades 4 to 8 (done during my spare time; recesses and after school). The EV3 brick has more CPU power that all the computers combined, and this was used to send the first man to the moon. I was thinking that if I can impress on the students that it is better to become producers or creators instead of just consumers of technology, my goal would be achieved. As well, if the students became more aware of science and technology and the direct impact it has on their environment, home, school or otherwise, the gist of it would be accomplished.

My challenge was to bring pedagogy of complex thinking to their level as an educator. If students started to develop a curiosity about things in their own environment and to solve problems as they go along in a community of learners, this meant that the teaching methodology was working in encouraging students to challenge accepted knowledge. Also, I had as many girls and boys interested and involved in learning technology in this brave and new world. It was interesting to note that the children had no gender bias, which is still something that seems to percolate in certain high technology fields.

Students performed very well and exceeded expectations. They competed at the regional robotics competition in Timmins last year and earned first place. We had all-girls team winning the gold and bronze medals.

What I learned is that anybody can achieve success if they are motivated, passionate and put in a position where they can perform to the best of their abilities. At the same time, students learned that attitude went a long way in order to achieve the goals that were set "a priori". As well, students realized that the process was more important than the final result. In engineering, you cannot achieve perfection; you try to be as close as possible.

This was last year. Now that I have embraced the path to leadership, my immediate goal was to recruit more teachers so that many more students could be involved in STEM's robotics. After sending an email to all the teachers on staff asking their help in promoting this fourth "R" in learning (Reading, wRriting and aRithmatic) in our school, I was surprise by the response. Three other teachers were willingly ready to give up their free time in order to help me in this endeavor. After my initial surprise, I use this opportunity to introduce another layer of robotics base of OVAL coding (Sphero SPRK+) to compliment the LEGO EV3 robotics based upon C coding. Keep in mind that I am teaching at the elementary level in Cochrane. Also, not all teachers are comfortable with the field of robotics because this it is happening in real time in the real world as contrary to coding in a virtual environment. Factors such as friction, symmetry, acceleration, mass, force, direction and weight can have an adverse effect on the final outcomes in robotics. But at the same time, the wonderful world of robotics enables us to model our skills as a lifelong learning experience with our students.

Presently, more than 50+ students have shown an interest in robotics and the numbers might keep growing as more and more are inclined in learning coding. We have opened the field to only students in grades 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. This is a student-driven activity that compliments what is being taught in mathematic and science classes presently. The first students selected already downloaded the apps (EV3 and SPRK+) on their iPads. Also, I will ask a limited number of students in grade 2 and 3 to participate at a later date. "Et bien oui, on parle aussi en français."

Challenges are numerous for us as it pertains to lessons planning, multiple simultaneous projects, physical space, equipment, behavioral issues and non-traditional teaching. As a team, it is empowering to envision a better future for our students and that no child is left behind when it comes to technology. Like our board motto says: "Together, we inspire innovation and a passion for learning". This reminds me of the double-split experiment in quantum physics where light and matter behaves like a particle when we look at it, but as a wave when we turn our heads. The same can be said in education. When we focus on individual learning in student-driven activities, the results rhyme with success in the school and the school board.

More to come...


Blog_2 Presentation to staff meeting (early 2017)

Blog_3 Retroaction (April 2017)
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Good Afternoon, everyone. Just a quick check-in to see how everyone is doing on planning their leadership opportunities back at their schools. I know elementary is working on progress reports, but you should be completing you plan shortly so you can try your leadership move prior to Christmas. If anyone would like some assistance, try bouncing your idea off of the group via this Google Community.

I look forward to seeing what everyone has planned.

Cheers,
Chad
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