Principal''s Blog

 

September 1, 2015

Welcome to 2015-2016

 

Yes, it's been a long time....I know.  I started this blog with tremendously positive intentions to make it a regular occurrence; however, life as a principal took over very quickly and my blog ended up on the back burner for quite some time.  I was tempted to delete everything and start fresh but I decided to leave the gap in posts there as a motivator to make it a regular occurence.  We'll see how it goes.

 

So, yes...welcome to another school year.  I really hope your time with us is an enjoyable experience.  Formal schooling is certainly a place where memories are made and it's my wish that your memories will be positive ones that you will recall with fondness as the years progress.  If there is ever anything I can do to assist you during your time with us, please do not hesitate to call (895-2241) or send me an e-mail (principal@beachycove.ca).

 

For my first blog of the school year, I want to talk about the importance of regular school attendance and being on time for school, two messages contained in this graphic below.

 

 

I am not advocating for children to come to school while they are sick - that is not my intention at all.  Children who are sick, just like us when we are sick, have a strong desire for their own bed or couch and a blanket, all prerequisites to becoming well again.  

 

I am more concerned with the time missed from school which can be avoided with a little planning and fortitude.  Yes, we aim to have a relaxed school atmosphere and our teachers are simply the best at helping their learners catch up on missed material; however, nothing beats being in the room when instruction is being delivered and learning is being facilitated.  If there is truly an option to keep your young child in school as opposed to taking them out for some reason that can wait, it is my hope that you would opt to keep him/her in school.  Attendance matters.

 

I also find it a bit disconcerting when I see the number of children who arrive at school late for class.  This concerns me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the impact upon the learner who arrives late.  

 

Admit it - we've all been late for something at one point or another even though we like to be on time.  Stuff happens.  The car breaks down.  The alarm didn't go off (or we forgot to set it in the first place).  Someone gets sick.  Trust me - I know that as I have lived all of these experiences as you have.  

 

I want you to reflect for a moment upon how you feel as an adult when you arrive late for something only to have all eyes cast upon you and the stress you feel at that time.  This is for you as an adult with a lifetime of coping skills behind you.  Imagine for a moment the stress being felt by a young learner who doesn't have these coping skills that come from life experience.

 

Let's take it a little further.  When the door opens and a late learner walks in, everything is thrown off track in the class with respect to teaching and learning.  The teacher will often have to stop teaching and work to get the student settled and up to speed on what he/she missed already. This is really unfair to the rest of the learners in the class as they, too, have to wait for things to get back on track.

 

We often think that late studens just slip quietly into the classroom but nothing could be further from the truth.  It is far from quiet.  It is far from stress free.  It induces anxiety.  It is not conducive to learning.  It does not teach responsibility (even though it may be beyond their control).  Now, please understand that I know that everyone will be late from time to time - I get that.  All I ask is that you endeavour to have your child(ren) here on time.  Please don't let traffic and parking be impediments - if they are, please leave your homes earlier in the morning.  Trust me, your child(ren) will be the beneficiaries.

 

Thanks for reading and here's to a successful school year.  Before long we'll be readying for dear old Santa Claus.  

 

Best regards,

Aubrey

 

February 13, 2013

Open Minds at The Rooms...Part II

Today I had the distinct pleasure of visiting The Rooms once again to visit with another class of our grade five learners; they, too, are participating in Chevron Canada's Open Minds program.  For the whole of this week, Mrs. Fillier's grade five class are immersing themselves in all of the various artifacts, exhibits, and archives at this world class facility.  All of which I wrote about the experiences of Mrs. Porter's class in my last blog posting apply equally well to this experience with Mrs. Fillier's class - learning was occuring in abundance.

 

 

As you can see from this picture, our learners were totally engrossed in the guest speaker talking to them about the preservation and restoration of artifacts.  I was particularly taken with the caliber of the questions and comments posed by our grade five learners.

 

 

 

 

I, too, enjoyed learning about the methods and procedures employed by the professionals who work at The Rooms.  I came away with a greater appreciation for our rich cultural heritage and the good work done by the curators and preservationists who work so hard to maintain our tangible cultural icons.

I am delighted at this learning opportunity for our grade five learners and I tip my hat to all of them and to their teachers for their keen, enthusiastic, and insightful participation in this worthwhile project.

Thanks for stopping by; I hope you enjoyed reading about this wonderfully exciting experience.

 

aubrey@beachycove.caAubrey

February 8, 2013

Open Minds at The Rooms

 

There are invariably many times throughout the run of my workday in which I feel proud to be the principal at our school; in fact, these times and occasions are too many to count.  Given the frenetic pace of this line of work, I don't always take or make the time needed to express this pride in a very public way.  My visit yesterday morning to Mrs. Porter's grade five class at The Rooms has motivated me to get back to my blogging and to share with the wider world, my pride in this whole learning experience for these grade five learners and their teacher.

 

This class is participating in Chevron Canada's Open Minds program which emphasizes the value of allowing students to slow down and become immersed in new and engaging learning environments.  This is very much a curriculum based and interdisciplinary program which was developed by Mrs. Porter in consultation with The Rooms educator, Stephanie Slaney. The focus of this particular project is on the grade five social studies, art,  and English language arts curriculum.

As a school, we endeavour as much as possible to provide as many resources and experiences as possible to supplement our learning experiences.  This includes guest speakers, presentations, and field trips.  Our field trips typically include places like the Suncor Energy Fluvarium, the Johnson GeoCentre, and any other areas of related interest in our town and in St. John's in general.

 

 

I don't always get an opportunity to visit our classes during a field trip but when our school participates in the Open Minds program at The Rooms, I like to get out to visit and witness firsthand the enthusiasm our learners and their teachers demonstrate through the project.  My visit yesterday did not disappoint.  

 

I arrived just as our learners were getting themselves assembled for a discussion on the Innu and Inuit peoples and I was really, really taken with the level of discussion and inquiry during the session.  Our learners were totally attuned to archaeologist, Tim Rast as he shared his expertise with them.  I was so proud to be there and watch their enthusiasm for learning about these aborignal peoples; they did so with maturity and confidence.  As I like to say to our students from time to time, they represented themselves and their school very well, and that gives me cause to be proud of our learning community and all of us who work and learn here.

 

 

Too often, I think that we overvalue traditional classrooms as places of learning.  Yes, they are certainly necessary and much learning ensues within their four walls; however, when we engage in upstream thinking about our learning profession, experiences like the Open Minds program at The Rooms are certainly causes for celebration.

 

 

Throughout the course of the week, our learners participated in the following sessions:

 

  • Designing Exhibits: Past People and Cultures;
  • Looking Deeply at Art
  • Adventures in Art: Mixed Media;
  • Behind the Scenes Day;
  • Investigating Stone Tools with Tim Rast; and,
  • Inuit in Labrador.

 

And, to top it all off, this is but one of the views from the fabulous facility.  The city of St. John's is steeped in history and this view of the Narrows leading out of St. John's harbour is especially iconic and breathtaking.

 

 

So, as we round out yet another busy week here at our school, I am glad I made the time this afternoon to acknowledge our grade five learners and their teacher for their enthusiastic particpation in this wonderful program.  When I reflect back on their experiences, I am reminded of an old CBC motto that used to be aired on its network, "CBC - Canada lives here" except I modify it in my mind when I think about these and other similar experiences so it now reads, "Beachy Cove Elementary - Learning lives here."  I am sure this week will stand out in the minds of these young learners and their teacher for years to come.

Furthermore, we are doubly blessed at this school this year with respect to this program as Cynthia Fillier's grade five class will participate for the whole of next week.  I'm already planning my visit to this session and quite frankly, I'm really looking forward to it so that I can see once again the fruits of our labours as educators.

 

 

October 31, 2012

Listen with your Eyes

 

Last night, at around 9:30pm, I had the good fortune to participate in an online session with other school leaders and lead learners from western Canada.  The session was billed as, "Leadership 2.0 - A Collaborative Learning Opportunity for School Leaders"; at the end of the one-hour session, I can confidently proclaim that the session lived up to the title.

 

It was great to "meet" and network with other lead learners from other parts of Canada, all from the comforts of my kitchen table.  Listening to and reading posts from other principals, assistant principals, and school leaders affirmed a couple of things for me, not the least of which is just how small our world has become in terms of connectivity and relationship building with educators.  Through these online interactions, I have come to realize and understand that the issues before all of us in these kinds of positions have common themes, not the least of which is our shared passion for learning and leading.

 

We all have school buildings to maintain and we all have learners in our charge for whom we want the best possible school experiences.  That was certainly evident in the discussions to which I was privy last evening.

 

These experiences have validated my penchant for taking risks as lead learner and have motivated me to take keyboard in hand this morning to create an entry for my blog which I have titled, "Listen with your Eyes".

 

 

 

 

A large part of my role as lead learner is to cultivate relationships on so many levels.  I am talking about relationships with our supportive parent community; with, between, and amongst teachers and our support staff; with, between, and amongst our nearly seven hundred learners; and, all of the various other combinations between and amongst those I have listed.  And, as we know well, the ability to listen is a hallmark of good solid relationships.

 

Given the frenetic pace with which we all live our lives, we ought to take a moment to push the pause button to genuinely and sincerely reflect on our own listening ability.  Are we listening with only our ears?  Do we understand that listening is more than the absence of talk?  Are we listening with our eyes?

 

 

 

 

I, like you, have a million things on my "to do" list today; however, as we all know well, we don't always get to check them all off in the run of a day.  We go about our days preoccupied with the big rocks of life and work and really try to do our best.

 

Based on my online experience last night, I am borrowing a phrase from another participant, "Listen with your eyes!" which is a pretty profound principle when you think about it.  Yes, I'm a busy school leader, but my plate is no more full than anyone else's in this great school - we all have our "to do" lists today and if I am going to effectively "lead" this school, I need to "listen" to the concerns expressed and questions asked of me throughout the day.  I need to clear my mind of whatever it is that might be occupying it at the time and be in the moment of whoever is with me at the time - learners, teachers, support staff, parents, or district personnel.  I need to demonstrate this good listening, not only with my ears, but also with my eyes.  I can convey this genuine listening with my eyes by attending to the moment while temporarily pushing "pause" on that which I was involved before.

 

So, there you have it; "listening with your eyes" is one of the many things that I gleaned from this online opportunity last evening and I'm going to pay attention to it as I go about my day.

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Chris Wejr (@ChrisWejr on Twitter), principal at Kent Elementary School in Agassiz, British Columbia for facilitating last night's webinar; I encourage you to add him to your list of those whom you follow on Twitter.  If you would like to see the slides from this webinar, check them out right here.

 

Thanks for stopping by; I enjoyed writing this post this morning and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

 

As always, I welcome your feedback; please drop me a note if you feel so inclined.

 

Best regards,

Aubrey

 

 

 

October 8, 2012

I am always so proud of our students, each and every one of them.  They all come to us with unique talents and abilities and each of them contributes to the cultural fabric of our school.  I am delighted to present many of our students from grades one, two, and three in the following video.  Take a moment to enjoy and share my pride.  And, as always, drop me a line to let me know what you think.

 

Best regards,

 

Aubrey

 

 

 

October 2, 2012

Please take a look this very insightful video which exemplifies ten common-sense guidelines for parents with respect to cultivating respect for modern technologies which are so prevalent in our homes, schools, and backpacks.

 

As always, I would appreciate hearing from you around this or any other issue related to your child's experiences here at this great school.

 

Best regards,

Aubrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 19, 2012

 

The topic of 21st Century Learning has dominated the discussions at recent meetings of school administrators in our school district.  The graphic below was developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and is referred to as the "Framework for 21st Century Learning".  This particular model is often the one depicted in our school district's deliberations on this all-important topic.

 

 

When you look closely at the graphic, you can easily see the skills, knowledge and expertise that this organization believes that our students must master in order to succeed in work and life.  It represents a blend of content knowledge (what we want our learners to learn), specific skills, expertise, and literacies (which go beyond reading and writing).

 

The graphic gives rightful prominence to core subjects (the green arc) including language, reading (language arts), arts, mathematics, economics, science, and social studies.  Building on this solid foundation will enhance 21st century skills which include critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.  These essential skills must be taught in the context of our core curriculum (often referred to as the three R's but delineated above).

 

When we build on this foundation and combine the entire framework with the necessary support systems which include standards, assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development and learning environments, our students will become more engaged in the learning process and graduate better prepared to thrive in today's global economy.

 

It is no secret that we live in a technology and media-driven environment marked by unprecedented access to an abundance of information, rapid changes in technology tools and the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on a scale not witnessed before.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills maintains, and I quite agree, that our learners must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills such as information literacy, media literacy, and ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) literacy.

 

One small, but important, tool in helping us along the road to 21st century learning is the ubiquitous iPad. ¬†Our teachers at √Čcole √©l√©mentaire Beachy Cove Elementary School are thrilled with the prospects and possibilities presented by iPad technology. ¬†We already have fourteen iPads and we are happily incorporating informational, media, and ICT literacies in our lessons using these tools. ¬†Of course, we are limited by the number of iPads to which we have access which is why we are engaging in our fundraising project (Sweat-a-thon). ¬†Our immediate goal is to provide an iPad to every classroom in our school; our goals will get a little loftier once we check off that one as being completed.

 

We firmly believe that iPads represent one tool that will help us teach creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration.  We want our students to stand shoulder-to-shoulder (or even above) with their peers from around the globe in terms of their life and career skills, learning and innovation skills, information, media, and technology skills, as well as in our core subjects.

 

As always please send me an e-mail if you have any questions or concerns.  Thank you for your kind support.

 

Kind regards,

 

Aubrey

 

July 30, 2012

 

I am taking advantage of what is somewhat of a semi-cloudy day outside to come inside to to my office and catch up on some of the different things that need my attention over the summer.  Staffing is time consuming but represents one of those things at the top of the list for school leaders during July and August.  We can everything else in place but if we do not have our recruitment completed, then we are lost.  Staffing is always an exciting endeavour in my experience, as we seek to find the brightest and best teachers to work in this wonderful school to help us achieve our collective vision.

 

On top of that all-important task, there is summer maintenance, learning resources, orientation kits, and the 2012-2013 calendar to be prepared.  Competing with all of these things during the past month has been the incredible sunshine and blue skies which, admittedly, won out for the most part - I am human after all.

 

So, at the halfway point of our summer vacation, I thought it timely to use this forum to reconnect with our school community to let you know that we are still here, busily readying ourselves and the school for our opening in September.  We are getting almost daily e-mails from families transferring into our school in September coming.  In fact, our enrolment broke the 700 mark a little while ago and today we are at 701.  That, of course, is subject to change as time goes on.  Invariably, there will be some more students coming to us and there will probably be some who will be leaving us.  If you are in this situation, either moving to us or moving away, please let us know by e-mail.

 

You should also remember that on our opening day for students in the fall (Wednesday, September 5, 2012), we will adhere to the following schedule:

 

Grades one, two, and three:  8:30am

 

Grades four, five, and six:  9:30am

 

Our busses will do their first run in time to have our students in grades one, two, and threehere for our 8:30am start and will then leave to do their second run to have our students in grades four, five, and six here by 9:30am.  We do this to alleviate the tremendous traffic congestion on our lot and the roads leading to the school.

 

That's all for today; now I have to return to the cloudy skies and give my daughter a ride to work.  Thanks for stopping by.  Please send me a note to offer your comments or to ask any questions.

 

Best regards,

 

Aubrey

 

April 15, 2012


Well, here we are, very much on the downward slope of this school year; Easter vacation is now but a memory as I sit here at my dining room table enjoying the morning sunshine (yes, you read that correctly - morning sunshine) beaming in through the windows.  This moment of solitude marks the beginning of what is for me, the fastest 10 weeks of the school year.  As soon as tomorrow starts, so will the preparations for winding down this year and winding up for next year - nothing short of amazing as to how we can balance this frenetic pace that leads us to the end of the school year.

 

Learning will still be our focus as we embark on these last two and half months; that is why we exist.  We have a lot of ground left to cover and a lot of school events to enjoy but the challenge will remain for all of us to keep our focus on learning.  Before we know it at the school, we will up be up to our necks in assessment evidence which we will sift through and make final determinations on our term III progress reports.

 

Thanks for staying with us so far; you are tremendous partners in this learning journey and we appreciate your presence.  We cannot do it without you.

 

Fasten your seatbelts and let's get this Boeing going!

 

Aubrey

 

 

March 31, 2012


We are live!  Welcome to our new school website.  

 

I am thrilled to have partnered with the lovely and magical Sandra at Zircon Web Design who made this happen.  Sandra and I have never met face-to-face, but after a few telephone conversations and a few e-mail exchanges, she worked her magic and made this happen super quickly.  No change, edit, or suggestion was too big or too small as it was a "tell me what you want and I will deliver" kind of philosophy from which she worked.

 

Our school website has evolved over the past few years to be one of our primary communication vehicles with the broader community and it is important to us that we keep it current, interesting, and modern.  While the old iterations fulfilled their purpose very well, the time was certainly here for a fresh new look and I couldn't be more happy with the end result.

 

This site, while fresh, clean, and brand new, will also evolve over the coming days, weeks, and months as we try to make it "just right" in terms of its size, scope, and value.

 

Thanks for visiting; I'm glad to have you with us.

 

Aubrey