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Learning Excellence

I am currently working as a Principal of a K-12 school, and hoping to begin a doctoral degree...

Updated: 2017-06-22T15:03:41.704-07:00


Exam Week


We are just finishing up exams today, because we had to cancel school for two days last week. We made it through a raging blizzard and no power for about 70 hours (55 conitnuous)! Tomorrow all of our students will officially begin Semester II.

Teacher Meetings


I plan to meet with my teachers over the next few days to talk about: new checklist for walk-throughs, focusing on SLOs (student learner outcomes), differentiated instruction, teacher supervision, response to intervention and school goal review.

Teacher Awards


Last night we had our third five minute staff meeting after school, for three weeks in a row, to present two trophies to celebrate our successes. What a fantastic idea! What great energy, enthusiasm and professionalism. The latest two receipents created the following little song:

Day in and day out
Every day, every day
Differentiated instruction
Is your only way!

You could use a valium too
But this trophy will have to do!

(sung to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb)

They presented to a teacher/Educational assistant combo! Now it is their turn to present next Tuesday to two other deserving staff members!



One of my teachers, Mrs. Anne Stewart, has created two new excellent programs in our school this past school year: an art club and an elementary running club which is an inspiration and an excellent opportunity for many of our kids.

This particular staff member was assigned some new teaching duties this past year and I'm not so sure that she would have chosen those for herself. She is obviously a person with inspirational professionalism. Besides the two new extra-curricular programs, she has taken on a love for one of her newest teaching assignmnets. One of my greatest enjoyments from this past year has involved listening to her. She is always bragging about her kids and what they have accomplished. When she is not doing that, she is spending much of her time thinking about methods on improving their performances. She collaborates and she is willing to learn as much as possible from other professionals.

I wish we all, including myself, could so quickly and easily adapt and grow into a new situation with such dedication and professionalism!

27 More School Days


27 More school days as student contact days, and it is causing me a little stress. I have to finish (okay start) planning class configurations for the fall, but that won't take too long. I already have it "planned". Things will look fairly similar to last year, but the exciting part is the planning for team teaching. There are several ideas and plans in the works. My senior ELA/History teacher wants to do some team teaching with me for Grade 12 ELA and History... I think this will work well, and I could learn more CDN history. I'm not sure exactly how we will set this up on the timetable (how many classes we will actually be teaching together, how we will organize the planning...) Maybe we'll get a chance to meet this week to discuss.

I am worried about all of the needs for subs; this needs to be addressed. I need subs for track, golf, middle years' renewal, class trips, a few more prep days, ROS and NS days.

We are busy planning our awards day and finishing up our PGP meetings with staff. I am also considering our school goals for the fall. We have discussed some ideas including differentiated instruction (we did a little PD around this already), continue with math and writing. We don't need to include guided reading or technology anymore. This is going well- intgrated into practice...

Learning Day


We had a great day on Friday with team teaching in full swing! We just don't know what works well until we try it and take a chance. My grade 3/4 teacher sent me an email and said that their afternoon went well. She was team teaching with the Grade 1/2 teacher and they were focusing on reading. They used the Smart Board, groupings, activities.. This is what she wrote!

Just thought you might want to know that our afternoon was a great success. The students so enjoyed being together and Munsch’s own rendition of the Paper Bag Princess off of the SmartBoard. They were able to do the quiz at the end with 100% accuracy and enjoyed working in groups of 4 to put the events of the story in order from a set of cards and then share the orders. They also enjoyed the muffins and juice (thank you) and then in partners created paper bag princess puppets which are hanging in the hallway by Christa’s door.

We decided that we will do more of these collaborative afternoons together.

I was working in the gym with about 100 middle years' students on pi day with two other math teachers and we had a great time, measuring, sharing,and eating pi. We had fun and we are going to plan more of these days - focusing on differentiated instruction.

Special Learning Day


Data from assessments can provide a focus. On Friday we are having a special learning day including math pi activities, reading activities and writing traits activities which align perfectly with our school goals. These days/goals seem like huge add ons but they provide some alternatives to the regular structure of dayandhave a purpose.

I do think that we may be over assessing, which causes unnecessary stress to the already stressful day of an educator. In addition the changing curriculum adds to the stress, so it may be helpful to postpone provincial testing until the new curricula has been in place for at least a full year.

Great Extra - Curr This Weekend!


Today we are hosting Senior Boys' Conference and it looks like our boys are off to Regionals! At noon they defeated Davidson, my old home town, in a bit of nail bitter! It was an exciting game, tied at half, and we ended up winning by about 15 points! Excellent Team Work Boys!

Last night my daughter who is playing Midget girls' hockey won the first of three against Elrose. They won 4-3 in overtime and my girl got the winning assist. She had a great shot on net and the Captain put in the rebound! Elrose comes back to play Game #2 on Wednesday. Tomorrow they play Game #1 for Provincials, South Final, against Fort Quappelle.

I talked to my son yesterday who is attending University in New Mexico to study and to play golf. He said that his game is coming along well. He has been working really hard and he loves it! He is also really enjoying his classes and he is moving into a pre-med degree. He sounded great, but I really miss him!



A few tidbits from my over stimulated mind:
- PHD in Ed Tech
- PD should be 95% school based - now we just need an efficient and effective model
- The one astounding thing about this job, is not multi-tasking, but rather the vastness or erratic tasks. It moves from the building having no water to filing police reports and neither of these two tasks relate directly to "instructional leader" which is my top priority!
- Special Learning Fun next Friday - we'll see how it goes! I need to get on this by the end of the week.
- staffing plans - will do some drafts this week

Another Degree


I have been considering completing my application to the University of Calgary - PHD - but I am having difficulty deciding between Educational Leadership and Educational Administration. If anyone has any words of wisdom for me, I would really appreciate some...

Learning Focus


I have been perusing some ed blogs and there are several administrators who have some excellent ideas about dealing with some of the always present issues such as cell phone use, attendance... and I think that I may try a few.

After teaching for over 20 years, I have to think back on my experiences. What constituted success in dealing with on-going discipline concerns- involving the students, no tolerance for disrespectful comments/attitudes, one to five critical rules, etc. I always ignored, what I considered to be irrelevant behaviour - like coming in two minutes late. If I had a habitual late student, I tried a few things like talking to him, having a quick fun thing at the beginning of the class... If those things didn't work, his/her problems were much bigger than my talks, my consequences... I never let those things consume me - other behviors like flicking something in a desk - I would just quietly walk by and remove it or give a little look...? I had excellent class control and management. I focused on learning - I spent all of my time on this. For the first 20 years of my career I focused on exciting lessons and relevant activities and now it needs to be on student learning. I wanted the students to be engaged all the time and the other management issues became insignificant.

Next week my staff is meeting and we are going to brainstorm what/how on how to create a Learning Day. I want the focus of our school to be on learning. We are going to connect this learning day to our school goals. Hopefully it will be great!



Nutana Collegiate in Saskatoon has made a decision to replace a failing grade on a high school student’s transcript with “incomplete” in an attempt to aid students in their educational endeavors. Prairie South School Division has also implemented new strategies for grading practices. Some of these include:
Do not punish academic dishonesty with reduced grades. Include only achievement. Use other methods of consequences.
Don’t include student behaviors in grades (effort, participation – unless included in the curriculum, attendance, adherence to class rules, etc.). Use only individual achievement evidence; don’t include group scores in grades. Compare each student’s performance to preset student learning outcomes; don’t assign grades based on student’s achievement compared to other students.
Don’t include zeros in grade determination when evidence is missing or as punishment. Zeros do not show evidence of learning. Use alternatives, such as reassessing to determine real achievement or use “I” for incomplete or insufficient evidence.
Don’t reduce marks on work submitted late, provide support for the learner.
There are several other “big ideas” for grading practices and the entire document can be found on the PSSD website under Documents, Curriculum & Instruction, Assessment and Grading Practices.

These are some of the suggestions based on educational research to allow opportunities for all students, students who are academically gifted, students who have learning difficulties, students with low self-esteem, students with health problems, students who come from dysfunctional families (according the Leader Post when discussing the Nutana initiative), students who belong to gangs or who are drug and/or alcohol abusers. One other new initiative of our school division is the encouragement for students to become involved, with his/her parents, in the student-parent-teacher conferences (formerly known as parent teacher interviews). This initiative seems like the one which may have immediate benefits because it is imperative that the students and his/her parents become engaged in learning. Each student from K-8 has identified educational goals on his/her report card and one of the most common suggestions to reach these goals is this: My parents can support me by helping: questioning me for my tests, reminding me to do my homework right away, and just helping.
These are all just a few attempts to try to enable all students to have an opportunity to be successful in the educational system. Positive communication between parents, teachers and students could be the most effective way for all students to gain the opportunity for educational success. Some functional and/or parents may not align their personal beliefs with these attempts, but perhaps there may be some benefits for those who are truly in need of support.






The conference was inspiring and I have so many ideas out learning and assessment. (There were a couple of guys passing notes during the session which I found distracting, and someone stole my pen as I was laboriously trying to take notes - haha). Most things I think I knew, but until you actually hear them, think about them and then speak them, I don't think that the connections were complete. I am going to work on a presentation for my staff tomorrow and so I will spend some time sharing some thoughts with you.



I am heading to a conference tonight on Improving Learning Results. Hopefully I will gain some insights and varying opinions on using assessment to improve school results. We are currently working on school goals which if worked on should translate to better scores, and I am completely convinced that focusing on student learning and strategies aimed at certain aspects of curriculum will improve learning and scores.

If we, as educators, focus on problem solving or writing traits with every grade across the curriculum we will or we certainly should produce better problem solvers and writers. Will this necessarily equate to better, well-rounded young adults? Perhaps. I think that working towards these goals along with positive attitudes, hard work, and differentiated instruction will produce better students, and different types of assessments should prove this.

I will reflect on the conference when I am back.



Thanks to mrsuff! This voki application is fantastic! Social learning and connectivism at its best!



Apparently now I need a voki... Ok, after volleyball tomorrow I will work on it. Do I need to switch to Wordpress or can I get this somewhere else?

My daughter is in grade 8 and she won first in bantam golf yesterday in Assiniboia. She shot a 48, and she was completely annoyed that she could not play another nine holes. According to her, she has never played a tournament with only nine holes. (I haven't counted how many touranments she has played, but I doubt she has played in an overabundance of them yet.) I am really not over ecstatic that she is golfing, because my son's passion is golfing which has taken him to New Mexico to the University of the Southwest. He just started August 15th and I don't want another child leaving the country. I am somewhat selfish and I want my children within driving distance. He loves it down there and I can barely get him to talk for a minute on the phone.

I am presently teaching some math to grade 8 and I have presented them with the seventeen outcomes. Tomorrow we are going to create math portfolios and they each have to create one item to represent their learning for each outcome. They can redo an assignment, create something new, ask for a performance assessment... We discussed it on Friday, so hopefully it will work. I haven't taught math (which is my favorite) for a couple of years, so it is taking me a bit to get used to it. I am attending Ahead of the Curve this week, so this should guide me in my assessment journey.

Back at It


Hi Everyone,

I have decided that I have taken a long enough break from blogging and social networking. I just couldn't continue for awhile, but it is time. I need to re-connect and continue my journey of learning. I was re-reading a comment from Kelly Christopherson from quite some time ago. I has written about some busy and crazy things and he just said to let it go. I lost my brother to suicide a year, and this was the second suicide in my immediate family. I will describe some of the issues involving these tragedies in the months to come, which I hope will continue my journey of healing.

I am Prinicpal for my second year, and my immediate plan is to begin a doctoral degree. For the few people who have followed my blog, I completed my Master's Degree just over a year ago.



We have had an extremely difficult week with the sudden passing of one of our grade twelve students. It is so shocking and it is with such sadness with which I write this. I have been hoping and praying that our staff and students find comfort with each other. Thank you to the many people who have sent their words and gifts of comfort(image) .



I have been enjoying my Easter holidays, and I am presently in Minot with my daughter and my mother. My mom decided that we should take a little holiday and since my husband has to work and my son is golfing it up in Utah, I thought why not? We are going to do some shopping and some swimming today, so how does it get any better?

The school year has been going by so quickly and I am feeling mixed emotions. I am a little sad that my boy is graduating will be moving away to school, but yet I am so very excited for him. He did very well on his SAT's and he has opportunities to head to the states on academic and athletic scholarships which is his dream. I am also quite excited that my first year as principal is almost over because I have learned tremendously and just like the first time you try anything, you just know that you will be much better the next time. In addition, I was feeling such grief 0ver the loss of my brother through most of the year, I know that I completed many tasks with only a small percentage of my being.



On Friday, I was sharing blogging techniques with some of my staff. We discussed different methods of blogging/web pages. Some of the staff thought that maybe we should use our school web page to build their classroom blogs/pages, but they didn't want to put pressure on the rest of the teachers to have to have one. Some teachers would have no problem keeping up a blog/web page, but others would. I think that we are going to use links; I plan on helping some of them create their first few posts on their blog.

Social Software


My grade nine students finished their presentations of the advantages and disadvantages of using social software, specifically Facebook, before Christmas. Some of them uploaded their finished presentations onto Slide Share. Basically most of them really didn't care whether it was allowed at school or not. There were two or three that felt strongly that they should be able to access it at school, mainly because they didn't have high speed internet at home. There were a few more that felt that it should not be allowed at school, and most of these reasons included the inappropriate language and alcohol pictures. Some felt that it has become a huge popularity contest, where some kids were just not allowed to be a part of the Network. This I found interesting; it was something that I had not thought alot about until we started the project. The rest of the class really didn't care one way or another; they could understand why it might be blocked and since then the issue has resolved itself. I had asked our School Division to block it and since then it has been blocked off and on. Most of them don't try to use it, and I have told them very cleary that they have signed an acceptable use agreement.

Over the past month or so, I have heard of a few businesses, some very large, who have blocked Facebook from their employees. Some students have said that there are places at work who are not allowing the use of cell phones at work or there will be suspensions.


More on Facebook


I am having my grade nine computer class complete a webquest on social networking. They have to create a presentation/debate for the class on their opinion as to whether or not social networking sites should be allowed or banned within the classroom. I can see already that some have conflicting opinions. I think that most students think that all of the sites are harmless, but they have to take on the perspective of different groups of stakeholders including parents, educators and even online predators. Once they have researched various sites and perspectives on social networking, they have to take a stand. The next step is to create a presentation which includes some technological presentation. I am in the process of creating a rubric to guide the student outcome.

I used the following webquest site to get started:

I have temporarily blocked facebook to motivate; perhaps that was a bit drastic, but I wanted to get their attention.

Social Networking


Facebook continues to grow in popularity with the kids at my school. I think that most kids from 7-10, have a profile.

I started using facebook a couple of months, and I quite enjoyed connecting with some of my friends and relatives, the ones that I usually don't get a chance to see or to talk to on a regular bases. Connecting with people and socializing is critical; the Internet can't replace those f2f relationships, but this tool is powerful in keeping connections alive.

I encourage my students and my children to use the tool appropriately. Don't let it replace the f2f relationships. Rather, use it to nurture and even create some relationships. For some kids, it can give them some confidence in beginning a "converstation", but hopefully they don't become reliant on a tool to maintain or begin f2f relationship.



I have now been in my new role as Principal for a couple of weeks and things seem to running well. I only get to teach Grade Nine Computer Class which is great, but I'm not supposed to teach at all. I know that I will really miss teaching English. I am presently showing my Grade Nine class my blog, so that we can create some class blogs together. I haven't decided if they will create blogs with a partner, or with a small group. We have spent some time discussing privacy and confidentiality issues in relationship to Facebook and personal blogs.

They are also working on creating tables using WORD as well as Movies/Power Point biographies. We plan to spend time this year working on Podcasts, Spreadsheets and Publisher.