“You WILL feel UNCOMFORTABLE…”

This post is long overdue…but here it is…

“You WILL feel UNCOMFORTABLE”

It may sound strange that the one statement I needed to hear, to settle my nerves as I began my residency stay at Royal Roads, was that I would feel UNCOMFORTABLE.

“Feeling uncomfortable means you are in a place to learn”

My Residency stay in a nutshell: two jam packed weeks, 12+ hour learning days, deep thinking and purposeful questioning, laughter and tears, extreme exhaustion, brain break adventures, and the start of amazing friendships.

From the moment we arrived, as a group of strangers we were thrown into a whirl wind of learning and collaborating. From ice breakers, and class discussions, to late night papers ands and group presentations, we explored the vast world of learning and leadership.

Class discussions fuelled the flame of my curiosity. My cohort being incredible diverse, offered unique experiences and perspectives broadening my view on leadership and learning…You learn more when you surround yourself with diversity…

Thus far this journey has forced me (in the most positive way) to reflect on who I am as a leader and as a learner, to better be in tune with who I am in order to support those around me.

I was challenged and I felt uncomfortable

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Video Share: What it takes to be a Great Leader

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This is a wonderful video discussing some ideas about what it takes to be an effective Leader (Roselinde Torres: What it takes to be a great leader)

Video Link HERE

Some points that stood out for me:

1. ‘Shape your future, don’t just react to it’  – Don’t be a ‘head down leader’ but instead look around corners – anticipate change, and make a decision to change ones course of action in the present moment. I am still working my way though Stephen Coveys book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” — but this really links to Coveys idea of being proactive, not letting your environment control take control.

2. A reflecting point, what is my capacity to develop relationships with people different than myself? A more diverse network offers more solutions, alternative perspectives and new insight

3. Be Brave! Creativity, innovation & risk taking, “Great leaders dare to be different”. This reminds me of the video ‘Making a movement’ (TED talk by Derek Sivers) and the idea of a lone nut! If you haven’t watched this clip, it is a must.

 

 

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Critical Thinking Challenges!

Credit: Brenden Riley

Over the past couple months I have participated in a “Critical Thinking Dinner Series”‘ hosted by Surrey’s own Stefan Stipp – a discussion based workshop looking closely at creating ‘critical challenges’ and scaffolding the development of critical thinking skills into everyday classroom activities.

Check out The Critical Thinking Consortium for more resources and ideas. The tools of critical thinking must be explicitly taught, and students need opportunity to practice and continue developing these skills across the curriculum.

As I began this adventure of scaffolding ‘critical thinking’, I posed a question to my French classes — “what is critical thinking?” to which students responded with statements such as….

  • Critical thinking is hard
  • I dont like critical thinking
  • We had to do that once
  • I dont know what it is…
  • Looking at a topic from different sides
  • Thinking really hard?

As I only see my French classes twice a week from anywhere between 50 minutes to an hour, I introduced critical challenges in three stages – even though I wasn’t able to directly integrate it into other aspects of their educational program, my focus was to expose the students to the idea of critical thinking.

I linked my ‘critical’ challenges to one of my French PLOS “responding to creative works from the francophone world”.  What I found most interesting during this scaffolding process was how the students thinking began to change.

My Observations…

During our first class discussions students were very concerned with not having the “right answer” – but after a while students began to realize that as long as they could support their response, there was not ‘incorrect’ answer — the creative juices began to flow, and students began looking closer and closer at the details within the paintings, coming with the most spectacular and deeply reflective ideas.

Below I have briefly outlined the 3 activities I tried with my classes…

1. Group Challenge I found a series of paintings by a Francophone artist, and as a classes we had a group discussion about the paintings. I posed questions to the class that almost forced them to make connections – “what story is the artist trying to tell?”,  “who are the people in the painting?”  and with each response students needed to support it with evidence from the painting, a reason WHY.  To close our off our discussion students had to give the painting a title (with an explanation)

2. Independent Challenge #1 Paralleling the first activity students picked a painting out of a bag, completed a brainstorm of ideas (what they see, feel, think, wonder), titled the painting and justified why and explained what story or emotion they felt the painter was trying to tell.

3. Independent Challenge #2 As an extension of the first two challenges students researched and choose a piece of art from the francophone world. This could be anything from a painting or sculpture, to a song and even fashion design. Depending on what the student chose they had to find the title of the piece and discuss WHY they think the artist named it that and again, what story was being told. As an extension, students looked at world or personal events that occurred during the years before the piece was created and discuss how those world events could have been an influential factor in the piece.

Closing thoughts…

  • Be patient… start small
  • It is okay to be unsure as to whether or nothing something is a ‘critical’ challenge. Try it anyways! You are probably doing these already and may not know it!

 

 

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“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!

 

 

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Don’t take that tone with me…

The power of ‘tone’….

Tone of voice.. an element of communication that can often be lost or misconstrued, whether that be through the use of devices or during face to face conversations. Tone, whether we like it or not greatly influences a conversation – it can be used as a a tool to convey empathy and kindness, to intimidate or induce fear,  or to highlight ones position of authority. Tone has power to change the meaning of a statement…

Through a recent occurrence I recognized that although ones ‘tone’ amidst conversation is a pivotal, so is ones perception and reaction – especially if the tone is perceived in a negative light. The way one choses to perceive and react during conversation is within their control…

It is important to speak and listen with purpose and consideration – to be self aware and socially aware, recognizing we are all human; with experiences, triggers & emotions, that influence our perception and reaction to conversation & day to day life scenarios. 

My learning moment… 

Earlier this week I had a doctors appointment and was asked if it would be alright for a medical student completing her ‘practicum’ to take the lead – understanding the value of a practicum experience, I of course agreed. Part of this appointment was to review some blood work, blood work which revealed I have high cholesterol. Although I was not entirely surprised by this news given my family history I was still not happy with these results…

To provide a little context for readers who do not know me personally, I work out anywhere between 5-6 days a week (grew up a competitive athlete) and eat a diet that has minimal to no dairy/gluten, zero red meat & I cannot remember the last time I had a fast food meal… To add a layer of emotion to this scenario, I will share that 5 years ago my Dad had emergency open heart surgery after finding out the main artery of his heart was 100% blocked. 8 months prior to these he completed a 25 day trek through the Himalayas. He was by every definition fit and healthy, and to many his surgery came as a shock.

 Needless to say,  genetically – I kinda lost the coin toss on this one…

Unaware of my family history or current life style, this new doctor chose to use a tone I perceived to be very demeaning and inconsiderate when asked “what can I be doing to lower my cholesterol?” … A question to which she responded “well you should probably start exercising more and watching what you eat, try and eat healthy”… Whether or not she meant it to be said in a negative tone, I, the recipient took it as such. Recognizing that my reaction to this statement was rooted in emotion as I held back tears…she excused herself to retrieve my long term family doctor – who understanding my family history reassured me the number was not high enough to be concerned as of yet, that we will continue watching it, medication was not necessary at this point and there are things we can try to hopefully lower it naturally….

In retrospect I recognize I could have handled this situation differently – I reacted out of frustration and fear… I observed first handedly the impact that tone truly has…. 

Things to think about…. 

  • How self aware are you in regards to your tone of voice? How does it change? How may people perceive it?
  • What purpose does our tone have in different situations?
  • How do our students perceive our tone?
  • How often is tone lost and messages misunderstood through the use of text and emails?

INTERESTING VIDEO TO CHECK OUT David Coleman Talks about… Tone of Voice

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Be a Duck… let it go

                                  “Be a Duck”

“Be a Duck..” A metaphor…how  to handle all that life throws at you – A ducks waxy feathers allow them to sit in the rain without really getting wet… the water just slides off. Stress, emotions, expectations, uncertainties that we hold onto can become toxic and unhealthy, putting a strain on relationships, clouding judgement and hindering personal awareness and growth… and like a duck, we must allow ourselves to let it slide off 

Hmmm, things to think about…. 

1. How do you cope with different types of stress? Reflective Runner? Worry Relief Workout? Emotional Eater? Girls Night Gab? Dear Denial Im Back?  

What about IN the moment?  

From now on, I am going to be a Duck… let the stress slide off my back

2. How can we develop this self awareness and self management in ourselves and our students?  Social and Emotional learning is making its mark on  todays educational system. A large component of this centres around the idea of “Self awareness” & “self management” – being able to identify how we feel, the root causes & then how to manage these emotions – ideally nurturing resilience and capacity to cope with stress in a healthy way. 

George Couros recently shared an article that very much ties into the idea of “being a duck”,  LETTING THINGS GO, releasing thoughts/personal critisms/stressors that may be holding you back…

Article:  “50 things to let go before your next birthday”(Angel Chernoff) 

What are you going to let go of today?Quack Quack…

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My Debut…

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Last night, I was one of 4 “IGNITE” speakers at the monthly Digital Learning Series Dinner hosted by the Surrey School District. 

I am calling this  “My Debut into School District 36”  and although there are things I would definitely change and improve on – like slowing down and remembering to breathe….I am proud of myself and am very humbled by the experience. I may have stumbled over words and spoke at a mile a minute – but that didn’t seem to matter. What mattered was that I was willing to try, to be brave and take a risk…I felt unbelievably supported. 

As I always say…. “you gotta start somewhere”

My topic of the evening was that of professional development, something I have become extremely passionate about over the past 5 years. 

6 Reasons why I LOVE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT!  

  1. I thrive off of  being challenged to think in new ways & to reflect on my practice
  2. I see value in making connections with individuals who are passionate, who believe that change is possible and bring new perspective and unique experiences to a conversation 
  3. Equally important to making connections is maintaining these connections, and developing relationships even friendships that I can continue to learn from 
  4. Sparking new passion – professional development exposes me to new things and sparks new interests
  5. Emotion: I begin my pro-d journey feeling eager and curious. I leave feeling inspired, revitalized, sometimes angry or frustrated with myself — which I convert in to MOTIVATION & ACTION
  6. Bringing what I learn to LIFE! Why go to pro-d if I am not willing to try new things, take what I learn and put it into practice. I take risks so my students feel safe to take risks …. every moment is a learning moment. 

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