One of my morning reads is the Leadership Freak.  This week, there was a really interesting piece of reading in the post “12 Powerful Ways to Make People Feel Powerful“.  That wasn’t all that was in there but the list of 12 appears towards the end of the article.  I’d suggest that it’s a good read for administrators and teachers and also students as they work in groups.

As with most good posts, it closes with a call to action – basically with a couple of questions.  The second one was interesting “Who made you feel powerful? What did they do?

I immediately zeroed in on advice I got from my father a long time ago “Do good by making others do better”.  When I put the two of them together, it made me really appreciate a couple of leaders that entered my life.

One of these leaders was a principal.  This person truly led by example.  There was no activity in the school that he didn’t take part in.  There were clearly activities where he didn’t belong – my computer club being one – but his presence was inspirational to the students just for being there.  In the beginning, I’ll admit that it was a little freaky but once I saw the results from him doing it, I appreciated it so much.  It really validated my efforts.

Later on, as a consultant, I had a superintendent who took his job as leader to the next level.  It seemed that his only goal was to ensure that we were successful.  He pushed us in so many ways.  A couple of examples.

This was another freaky one.  Quite often, we would have to attend the same event in London.  It only made sense to drive together.  He always insisted that I would drive.  That wasn’t a problem; I enjoy driving.  But, his part in the trip was interesting.  He would bring a notebook full of computer and computers in the classroom questions and I was more or less interviewed the entire distance.  Thank goodness for the ONRoutes at Tilbury and Dutton.  The first time we did this, it felt like a job interview!  Then I realized he was doing two things – first, testing to make sure that I was consistent with my convictions.  Secondly, he would learn and then when he would face the  board of trustees, he was on top of what was happening.

The second example really showed his commitment to the group of us who worked for him.  It was a year of financial cutbacks in the board and consultant professional learning budgets were set to zero.  The superintendent budgets remained in place.  I worked with a couple of people who had been working on a provincial conference for at least a couple of years.  They got to go.  Sadly, I didn’t.  It was later that I found out that he quietly had shifted his budget to them.  My take away was his commitment to the good of the group.

To this day, I remain appreciative for these (and other) actions.  They confirmed that there were people who supported me and I guess they did make me feel powerful.  I don’t know that I fully appreciated the extent of these efforts at the time but I did come to.

How about you?  What efforts of others made you feel powerful?


OTR Links 09/20/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I’ve got to start this post with a big round of appreciation to Aviva Dunsiger.  Even though she lives 4 hours from me, she knows my blogging habits.  When a post didn’t go through yesterday, she knew it immediately and let me know.  I had to do some work – for some reason WordPress always goes to April in the Chrome browser.  I still don’t know why.  I’m back home to Firefox to write this post so I’m hoping that there are no glitches.  In the meantime, check out Aviva’s blog – she’s always good for an interesting post and you’ve probably seen many references to her blog from mine.

On to some of the good stuff this week from Ontario Edubloggers.

Life in Uganda

There’s a lot being said about Visible Thinking these days.  In this post, Jaclyn shares some of the questions that her class are asking about Uganda to phrase their thinking and research.

Often, we see this sort of thing at the end of the activity.  By placing it up front, students have them at home and at school for reference, parents see what’s happening and it’s bound to make the thinking deeper.

Singing the Homework Blues

Could there be anything that says “back to school” more than worrying about homework – whether as a teacher or a parent?

It’s a tough topic.  If you’re doing any reading about homework, you’ve probably noticed the discussion around the value of it.  In fact, there are some districts that are banning it altogether.

I remember, as a student, having to spend an hour after school in my room “doing homework”.  I recall a variety of activities like writing, colouring, drawing, or my favourite – doing mathematics.  Now that I’m blogging, I wish that I’d paid more attention to writing – I keep getting nailed as a passive writer.  Grrr.

After supper, I had to go back to my room for another hour.  This time, it was to practice playing the guitar.  We were paying for the lessons and I guess my parents were determined to get their money worth.  It probably worked – playing the steel guitar, I’ve known more Hawaiian or Country & Western songs than any student should have to.

As I think about it, the guitar and most of the homework was painstaking practice and repetition.  You’ve got to love the drill and kill – not!  But the fun was in finding a new way to solve a problem or to create a new song on the guitar.  That stuck with me.  As a new teacher, I thought that I had to assign homework.  I can’t remember what was the most useless activity; taking it up or going around checking to see who had done it and who hadn’t.  Later, I ditched the drill homework.  I had subscribed to “Games” magazine and used it as inspiration to give puzzles for homework instead.  Immediately, there was an uptake in doing these puzzles and coming to class on time was a priority since that’s when we solved the puzzle as a class.  And, when you peel back the onion, what’s computer science if not solving puzzles?

Making My Thinking Visible…the MMM Goes Public!

Donna Fry gave me a heads-up on this new blog.  I’ll be honest; I don’t even know who the author is but the first post is interesting.

At first blush, I think it goes beyond just making the thinking visible.

It’s about making the leadership visible.

It definitely goes out on a limb.  Everyone gets a chance to see the message and respond to it.

I wonder why more leaders don’t do this.  (Actually, I know the answer to that and I’m sure that you do too.)

GBL beyond Minecraft

When I read the title to Diana Maliszewski’s post, I thought that maybe she was going to talk about the recent Microsoft acquisition but, in fact, it turned out to be about Bop It!

I’d never heard of this before but really enjoyed Diana’s description about how she’s been using it.

If you’re teaching Drama and Dance, you might just want to check this out.

It sounds like fun.  I wish I was in this class.  I wonder if Diana will bring it to the BIT Conference for a little more social fun.

What a great collection of shared learnings from Ontario Educators this week. Please check out the original posts and all of the work from the Ontario group. There’s always something exciting happening.

OTR Links 09/19/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

More with the Google Maps Gallery

A while back, I had shared how much fun I had poking around the Google Maps Gallery.

Last night, I went back to see how the development of the resource was going.  I found some really interesting maps.  People are taking advantage of this.  Mapping a school district with its catchment areas is a natural.  Check out the Yakima School District.



Now, I’m really interested and poked around some more.

I’ve always been a fan of the David Rumney Map Collection.  Parts of the collection now appear here.

Check out our little part of North America in 1827.


It’s absolutely a wonderful resource.  Take some time and poke around for yourself.  If you enjoy a good map collection, you’ll love this.

OTR Links 09/18/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Need a Conversation?

The 2014 Bring IT, Together conference will soon be here.  It promises to be three days of learning and connections that you can get nowhere else.

Despite that, there might be a topic or two that you want to explore deeper.  Or, perhaps you want to have a conversation with someone new?

Last year, the conference committee set aside an area for those types of conversations.  In the best spirit of the unconference, it was a place to sit and chat about technology, education, and goodness knows what else.  The area was at the back of the Exhibit Hall and we had chairs, scribble spaces, and more to facilitate the conversations.

We liked what happened – it was new for the ECOO folks.  We’re looking for a repeat this year. 

At the Niagara Falls Convention Centre, there’s a really cool gathering space that will be devoted to this.

Grab a coffee or a water and use the place to learn or continue the discussion.  (There will be a whiteboard so that you can sign in with your Twitter handle.)

We’re hoping that the need for ad hoc conversations will start at the conference and there will be a sign-up board for discussions. 

In advance though, the planning committee would like to get started on the scheduling of ideas.

To that end, they have created a form here so that if there’s a burning issue in your mind or just some connections or learning that you need, you can express your desires in advance.

This is YOUR area to extend the content of the conference.  Please use it!