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SIP Learning

This past friday, I had the opportunity to participate in a School Improvement Visit (SIP).  Two of my colleagues, the principal and vice-principal of  this JK – 8 elementary school shared with us (two consultants, superintendent, system principal) their school data, discussed their SIP (School Improvement Plan) and their journey with the staff.  Together, we used this time to listen, interpret data, ask questions and share expertise.  Our learning conversations were open, honest and very meaningful as we focussed on discussing how we can  build the collective capacity of the staff.

In our time together, we interpreted data that generated a cause for celebration and also offered a suggestion to ask staff how they could improve the learning spaces in the classroom.  Asking the question:  show me how learning happens in the many spaces in your classroom?  For example, the Smart Board or computer create a learning space in your classroom.  Approaching the classroom as a environment where there are many learning spaces.  There was more all connecting back to these two indicators:

  • A culture of high expectations supporting  the belief that all students can learn, progress and achieve
  • Instruction and assessment are differentiated in response to student strengths, needs and prior learning

As a system principal, I admire the courage and openness of my two colleagues, Linda and Pat!  What a great leadership team!  For me, it was the two of them that inspired me.   They modelled the way in our meeting.  They set the example by sharing with us how they encourage their staff, set interim goals and look for the small wins to foster increased collaboration and inquiry with their staff.  I felt their hearts, ongoing optimism, hard work and persistence as they shared with us.  Thank you Linda and Pat as well as Sandie, Delores and Manny for furthering my growth on our journey in continuous improvment.

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Is Leadership Different in 21st Century?

I get excited about change, consider myself to be responsive and positive when change happens and truly believe that in today’s world the only constant is change.  So, after eight rewarding and amazing years as the Principal of Community & Continuing Education for  Hamilton Wentworth District School (HWDSB), I’m moving on in my leadership journey to a newly created principalship in HWDSB.  I officially began my role this September as the Principal of 21st Century Fluencies and I am humbled and honoured to be in this new role.

As I transitioned over the summer, I found myself spending  time reflecting and asking myself more and more:  How do we define leadership in the 21st Century?  Is it different?   What are the key leadership skills of today?   Are they different? What do leaders of the 21st Century do differently when it comes to:

  • inspiring a shared vision and setting direction
  • building relationships and developing together with people
  • focusing on learning and achievement for all

How do leaders in the 21st Century model the way, inspire a shared vision of learning as we move forward in the future?   How do we challenge the process and take risks empowering others to act and make a difference in the lives of our students and greater community?

For me, it starts with setting an example of  how we  learn in the 21st Century.  It is about always learning in today’s era of lifelong learning.   Also, leading  today is about connecting, collaborating and most importantly contributing in a local and global way.  And that’s part of what is different.  How do we do this?  We leverage the use of different tools such as social media to learn and collaborate real-time with others anywhere and anytime.  Our learning  reaches far beyond those we  network with in our schools.

Don’t get me wrong, we must always first focus on the staff and students who are onground learning day to day with us.  We model the way and practice collaborative inquiry with them.

A blogpost written  this week by Chris Lehmann, Principal of Science Leadership Academy  comments on his recent article in Tech & Learning Magazine, Top 3 Leadership Skills.  Chris underlines that leadership  today does not  “focus explicitly on tech skills”. He comments that it is the soft skills that are most important as you learn from your teachers and students in their classrooms.

As I go forward into the future with my team and in my new role, I will be open, flexible, optimistic,  ready to learn from and with all and practice an inquiry habit of mind.