Thursday, December 3, 2009

Farewell to a friend

If you are one of the few people who read this, let me take a moment to apologize. I am writing this post simply because I could not find another outlet to express how I felt without becoming a complete mess.

To "G":

Thanks for who you were. You were a colleague, a contractor, a mentor, but most importantly I am proud to have called you a friend. You taught me a lot about leadership and I hope to be able to make you proud as I progress down the road of my career. I hope that when I am done I will have made an impact on half as many students as you did in your career.

I am truly sorry for not paying a visit to you in the last few months. I could not imagine a world without you in it and there was not a time where I thought that you would not defeat the cancer. I believed that you would be there in the fall as our football team played Weyburn in an exhibition game where we would finally get the chance to bring our marching band on the field and show Weyburn how it was supposed to be done.

Finally, I hope that you are in a better place. All of your friends that you left here will do our best to look after your family. I know they will be okay since you will also be looking down on them and taking care of them in your own special way. I will miss you.



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Attendance Policies

Now that I am done EC&I 831, I want to continue using this blog to reflect on my first year as an in-school administrator. Kelly asked a five part question on his website and each part would require a blog entry. I am going to focus on the question, What areas need improvement?

I guess that all schools are looking for the "perfect" attendance policy. In my limited experience as an administrator and with my 18 years of teaching in my career the most accurate statement about attendance policies that I have heard is that all attendance policies will do in the end is punish the students with honest parents. We all know of situations where a parent/guardian has blatantly lied to the school about an absence because they don't want anything "bad" happening to their child or they believe that the school has no business interfering in their business.

So, I guess this is a call for help. What do your high schools use for attendance policies? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Perhaps if we put our universal heads together, we might be able to come up with an attendance policy that actually does what is intended ... make school a high priority in the life of all of our students.

I look forward to reading your responses.


Monday, April 14, 2008


I know this is a week after our last class but I have always needed time to reflect on the past 13 weeks of class. Besides after I drove home from my f2f class last week I had to pack to get ready for the trip to Saskatoon the next day as a majority of our administrators were going to the Safe Schools conference in Saskatoon. Anyway, here are my thoughts about EC&I 831.
1) I am glad that I took a second online class. The first one, let's say, was bad. This class restored my faith in what an online class could be if someone put the time and effort into creating it. It also helps when the professor has the skills that Alec does.
2) One challenge that I faced was not being able to get in on all of the back-channel discussions during class. I loved the discussions but I could only read them and there were times I found myself typing a response only to realize that this was recorded and I could not reply. It was unfortunate that I was taking a f2f class on Tuesday nights in addition to this class, but it was the only way that I could finish my degree by April so that I could work on my golf game for summer. It was 13 very long and grueling weeks, but I hope it will be worth it when I get my handicap back down to where it was before I started my Masters degree three years ago.
3) As I have written earlier, PD is valuable when you can take something that you learned and apply it in your practice. There are many skills that I will be able to take from this class and apply them in my school. Part of the learning was in skills with programs like Animoto or VoiceThread, but some of it is knowing that there are a number of free resources out there that teachers can use and those programs engage students and produce a quality product. And even if I don't know of a tool that I can use, I know that I will be able to call upon my the people in my expanded network of contacts for assistance.
4) Finally, thanks to everyone in the class for your comments, support and commitment that you have made to this class and your fellow classmates. Corey and Dean - I will meet you on the stage at Convocation!

Mathman33 (Walter)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Major Project Complete

Today I finished the final video for my major project. This really isn't a teaching video but it does contain my reflections of our class with about a week to go. If you wish to see the final video in the set, click here. I hope that you have enjoyed the videos. I know that I have learned a lot in making them. Feel free to use them in your school if any of your staff members are interested in learning how to use any of the featured programs.


Technology is great when it works ...

Technology is great when it works but it is sure frustrating when things don't go well. For the past couple of days I have been finishing up my latest video on networking (click here to see the video). Well, the video is only a portion of what I had intended. I had two other sections, one dealing with Moodle and one involving Second Life. For some reason the program that I am using to produce the video did not like those segments and I was losing the video during the rendering process. In addition to the rendering problem, Camtasia was only letting me record one voice take at a time so if I messed up the audio (which happened frequently) I had to exit the program and restart the program. I don't know if this is a conflict with Camtasia or my headset, or both. On the positive side it seems that short videos are viewed twice as often as long videos so hopefully that will mean that more people will watch this video and discover the power of networking. That's all for now. Have a good day.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

After listening to last nights recording of class with Chris Lehman I found not only his discussion to be interesting but reading the back channel discussion was fascinating too. In particular, I was interested to hear and read the comments about standardized testing and how it relates to our provincial Assessment for Learning (AFL) program. I believe that the primary reason that our provincial system moved towards a standardized assessment practice is due to the public demand for an increase in accountability for our government structures due to the corporate practices of companies like Enron. There was a comment in the discussion panel that the STF initially had some reservation but then has done nothing about it since. I strongly disagree with this comment. If it was not for the efforts of our federation, the system that the government put in place would probably resemble the structures that exist in Ontario or British Columbia and it would have happened many years ago when a number of provinces were jumping on board with faulty U.S. data driven models. I am also thankful that I am a member of the federation that is diligent in ensuring that the current government stays true to its assessment FOR learning initiative instead of an assessment OF learning program. The one missing factor that people fail to recognize for the reason we are not like other provinces is because of the time and effort our federation spends on building relationships with our partner organizations. Because of our unique relationships and the trust (a very key concept) that exists between the partner organizations we are privileged to work in a system where the STF input is considered before decisions are made. The STF does not agree with all of the decisions made by government but at least we have a system that allows them to have a respectful conversation in the decision making process.

My final thoughts for this blog are more in terms of questions. The questions stem from Laurie's discussion about her sons. Laurie said something to the effect that she believes that her sons might have a lack of engagement due to a lack of vision and no sense of purpose. Chris showed us that their mission and values statements consist of three questions: How do we learn? What can we create? What does it mean to lead? Earlier in the class we heard that the majority of careers that our students will work at have not been created yet. Therefore, how do we create that vision or that sense of purpose to prepare them for something that most of us probably aren't prepared for either? Just curious to see what you think. I know what I believe but I will leave that for later.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Making a Difference

In the last three months I have become addicted to The Ted website is full of videos that are sure to inspire and entertain almost anyone who visits the website for the first time. For all teachers that read this I would encourage you to check out the Dave Eggers presentation, Once Upon a School, or visit the website. It is a 25 minute video that will demonstrate how some people want to make a difference in the lives of the students that we teach. Inspiring!