“Read as a teacher”

ImageI recently started reading the high acclaimed “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.

As I am about to start reading about the ‘first habit’ Covey makes a point to suggest that I, the reader, read with the purpose to share what I am learning… and then to recognize how that shift in thinking/absorbing the material impacts my understanding…

“…shift your paradigm of your own involvement in this material from role of learner to that of teacher”

I suddenly became hyper cognizant of what, and how I was reading. If you’ve ever see my copy of the book, the margins are covered with commentary.

With Coveys statement came a purposeful/intentional shift in my paradigm – reading to teach – reading to share. It restructured how I read and absorbed the text, deepening my understanding.

Instead of reading purely for personal development/enjoyment, I began to reflect on how the ideas and questions surfacing could be reiterated and put into practice/modelled. How will I take my thinking and my learning and express it/bring it to life?

It has been proven that by asking students to teach each other about what they are learning, they significantly deepen their learning – this pays true to teachers and our own professional development and learning as well.

Teaching is not meant to be an isolating profession.  Connect, Share, Learn

  • Is it time to shift your paradigm?
  • What have you been reading lately — time to share!




Reuniting with my Passion…

I am now just over 2 months into my very first ‘official teaching position’…. I find that when I am reunited with a colleague, a friend or a family member the same question is asked..

So… how are things going so far? 

There is no simple way to describe my current emotional or mental state. The best way I can describe it is…. I feel like a new born baby giraffe, I want so badly to reach up for the highest leaves – to maintain my “go big or go home’ mentality, but my legs are wobbly, I feel uncertain and am still working to find my footing and walk with confidence. The safety net that was my practicum no longer exists…

For a while I have felt in a rut… feeling slightly unmotivated, adjusting to such a change in lifestyle – from full time independent student, to a working professional…

I fully admit that I miss university, but I feel selfish saying it out loud… I miss being a student, miss having my days filled with group discussions, projects and presentations – having peers question my way of doing and thinking and vice versa, I even miss reading academic articles  with the sole purpose of dissecting their meaning.

Please don’t misread what I am saying, I enjoy being a teacher and working with students. I have been indirectly and sometimes directly challenged to reflect and adjust on a daily basis. Being in the teacher role I am constantly evaluating my practice, questioning what I am doing “what is the purpose, what will my students gain….”, BUT I do miss being the student….

With all of this being said, I recently I attended my second “Digital Learning Series” event, and after a series of IGNITE presentations, it hit me… I KNOW that I am passionate about professional development & learning , I know that I LOVE being a student… so, what am I doing to pull myself out of this rut…

I need to reunite myself with my own passions

1. ACTUALLY read the amazing books I have purchased, but have failed to make time to read…. “Drive” by Daniel Pink, being first on my list

2. I have always hoped to one day complete a masters degree, why wait? After months, even years of researching programs. I have finally found one that my gut tells me has potential for pure AMAZINGNESS – SO applications are in progress

3. Attend a CONFERENCE! For those of you who don’t know me, I come alive at conferences… networking, sharing, debating, learning…. *Sigh…Smile* They reinvigorate me.

Do you have some reconnecting to do? 




Connect Ed Canada … 

I was surround by passionate educators,  welcoming me with open arms, into their world of learning… 

Connect Ed Canada  …  A weekend full of thought provoking conversation, collaborating, and sharing.

As a student teacher I often struggle being in a stage of transition, and if you know me at all you know how much I am revitalized by professional development and conference opportunities…. Connect Ed Canada could not have come at a better time…

I witnessed an incredible representation of student centred learning at Calgary Science School. Observing students fully engaged in learning how to learn…

I left feeling inspired & motivated after meeting and conversing with so many educators who are working so hard to change and better the education system…

But feeling slightly overwhelmed by the opportunities and potential that lie ahead…

I laughed, I sang, I learned, I networked, I collaborated, I shared… I got all fired up!

To hear more about the workshops I attended, I have blogged about two already “risk taking” And “my ah ha moment”

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My “ah ha!” moment….

A powerful statement made by Joe Bower in a session focused on rethinking “discipline” has resonated with me all weekend…And has made me rethink my own practice and experiences..

“When a student walks in not knowing how to read, we teach them to read… When a student walks in not knowing how to behave or problem solve, we punish them…”

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Risk Taking – “the lone nut”

Blog post inspired by an amazingly mind stimulating workshop on “Leading an Innovative Culture” lead by George Couros

My thoughts…

Historically the idea of “failure” has been seen as an end, a path of no return – a black hole we feared approaching.
Today we have begun to challenge this view, recognizing the learning that comes from “failure”
As educators we encourage students to “try new things” to “challenge themselves” …to take risks, to be creative and open to share….and we work to convince them that making mistakes and taking risks opens doors for learning…

Moment of self reflection…

Are we as educators modelling this “try new things” attitude to our students? How?

Are we as educators stepping outside the bounds of our comfort zone…adjusting our own teaching practices… Trying new things… or even acknowledging our own mistakes with our students, colleagues and self? Why…why not?

When as the last time you admitted to your students you made a mistake…and then actually tried to change things?

Are we ourselves being creative and innovative in our own teaching practice? And if we are… how are we sharing and collaborating?

When do we take risks?

The willingness to take risks, to be vulnerable and be challenged is rooted in the development of a safe, supportive and trusting environment – through the creation of a learning culture that places value in being innovative, trying something new and accepts “failure” or “mistakes” as stepping stones to AMAZING!

I believe…
Making mistakes is human, it is a natural, self reflective process that encourages problem solving and collaboration.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
Vincent Van Gogh

My final thoughts…
Be “the lone nut”…. take a risk, see what happens – sharing new ideas, trying new things, being innovative and creative is how movements begin… recognizing that “failure” and “mistakes”. Model to your students what you expect from them…

I have posted this video before, but I really believe it is representative of the message I am trying to highlight …. Taking risks can lead to change and growth in self and in others.
“The Lone Nut – Starting a movement”

Professional Development :)

As many of you may know, I love conferences and professional development….. LOVE.

I hunger for  professional development…. crave case studies and am absolutely reenergized by networking!

Most recently I attended the BCTF-NTC: British Columbia’s Teachers Federations, New Teachers Conference where I was exposed to a whirl wind of new ideas and met some amazing people willing to share their stories of learning and growth!

Below are the sessions I attended with a BRIEF taste of what I learned, as you can see.. IT IS A LOT!!

1. Managing Stress in School Aged Children – Building Resilience!

Ah Resilience, such a meaningful word sweeping through our society! Promoting mental health and social emotional well-being.

What can we do to help build resilience in our students? AND in OURSELVES!

– Focus on inner strengths

– Build your support network! NETWORKING!

– Be AWARE of yourself and of others

– Work to develop social competencies such as effective communication and problem solving skills

2. Strategies for Discussing Controversial Issues

Some food for thought…

Discussion controversial issues in the classroom allows students the opportunity to think critically, increase awareness of self and of global circumstances, develop and communicate their opinions.

Some tips for discussing controversial issues…

“Set the Stage” by developing Ground Rules with your class!

1. Respect all views

2. Listen to others carefully

3. Take turns talking

4. Give opinions in a respectful manner

Give your students a chance to develop their thoughts and develop their ‘background knowledge’ and be sure to debrief with your students as to what strategies they found to be effective in expressing their POV.

3. Project Heart

This session what quite moving.. and quite overwhelming. Two First Nation Elders shared their stories with us, revealing the harsh realities of  a residential school experience and life after. They made one request to use as educators…

“We are asking you to care, and acknowledge where aboriginal students are coming from”

The session facilitators introduced us to Project Heart, a program designed to honor the courage of residential school survivors//intergenerational survivors, as well as acknowledge the lives lost. To educate the public about injustices of the past and work toward building trust and empathy in a movement forward.

4. Socializing Justice: Taking Action on Racism 

How do we discuss racism that has happened in the past?…

Just as discussing ‘controversial issues’, when discussing racism or reflecting on past events keep in mind the following:

“4 agreements of courageous conversation”

1. Stay engaged

2. Experience Discomfort

3. Speak ‘your’ truth

4. Expect and accept non-closure

How do we respond to racist actions that happen now in our own school and classrooms?

Food for thought – Respond to what a student DOES .. not who they are

– Responding to what a student does does not make assumptions about a students character but are statements based on FACTS/EVIDENCE/PROOF

– Reflect on how you can make your response a ‘learning’ moment – ex. Disect the language, where did it originate from..

– How can we make people aware of racism? CELEBRATE diversity through cultural events… PROMOTE EMPATHY and ACCEPTANCE of DIVERSITY!

5. Teaching Models for Sustainability  –  “Be the Change – Earth Alliance” 

Learning Locally… making REAL WORLD connections

Looking at PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with your local and global…



What can YOU do in your classroom?…Composting? Looking at where things come from and how they arrive? Gardening? Reconnecting with nature?

6. Professional Development – Giving Purpose to PRO-D-Days 

Professional Development has to be ABOUT YOU.. this your chance to be SELFISH//

What do YOU want to learn about, in what areas do YOU want to grow…

Most Importantly… what are YOU going to do to make it happen…You must be a SEEKER of opportunity…

Professional Development is YOUR RIGHT and YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

6 Purposes of Professional Development (paraphrased from presentation)

1. Building and strengthening self as a professional body

2. Development professional relationships

3. Being exposed to new teaching methods

4. Being exposed to new educational theories

5. Encouraging life long learning/professional development

6. Promoting collegial conversation – Collaboration and







Mind Blown by MindUp

Mind Blown by MindUp! Working to build mindfulness, emotional intelligence and resilience in students! Ah HOW INSPIRING!

Today I had the incredible opportunity to be trained in MindUp – a curriculum rooted in Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) which aims to help students understand how their minds work and how emotions impact their learning

MindUp infuses academic learning with the promotion of self awareness by giving students a sense of control over their state of mind. The curriculum gives opportunity for students to develop strategies to ‘quiet the mind’, resulting in,  increased clarity and problem solving ability when faced with stress and therefore increased RESILIENCE. 

– My goodness how I could have benefitted from the MindUp strategies growing up!

MindUp recognizes the need to provide students with skills and strategies to be aware of self and to be mindful of their their emotions. It is about educating for student overall well-being as an avenue for academic success and social development. It makes links to brain physiology, the power of our senses, living with optimism, gratitude and kindness!

As I am a student in the Social & Emotional cohort I have observed throughout my BEd experience that there is a push to develop pro-social behaviour within the classroom and that “21st Century” learning highlights the importance of developing emotional intelligence – MindUp being an incredible launch pad for this movement in the classroom!

What is so amazing about the MindUp Curriculum is that it is not a single entity that taught alone, it is meant to be infused and integrated into teaching practices. I hope that one day these practices of de-stressing become infused into society and normalized, so many individuals move through life at such a pace that the value of life experience pass them by.

De-stress…recognize the beauty of life, spread kindness — make the world a happier place.

Education is the front line for these positive movements. So I am jumping on board!

If you haven’t checked it out already! Here is the MindUp site! http://thehawnfoundation.org/mindup/