This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Black Friday.  It’s been a cold week around here but things are looking up for the weekend.  Well, if warm and rainy is looking up, that is.  I hope that Santa Claus brings an umbrella.

In the meantime, check out these great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

The 21st-Century Competent Teacher

Ah, the 21st Century teacher and the 21st Century school.  How many times have we talked about preparation for this?

We’re here and we should be addressing the now.  Which is precisely what Megan Morris does in this post.  There’s a nice personal reflection about the 21st Century Competencies – not of some distant classroom – but of the world around her.

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Innovation and Creativity
  • Self-Directed Learning
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • ​Global Citizenship

She admits that she struggles with the Global Citizenship piece but who doesn’t?  We’ve all addressed and worked with the others for years.  It’s only now that “Global” becomes significant and indeed doable with technology.

I think we’ve all seen people discuss the competencies many times before.  What makes Regan’s post unique for me is that her reflections are indeed personal and she concludes with an area that everyone should consider.

  • Putting Them All Together

Without it, it seems to me that reflecting on the individual competencies doesn’t do the discussion justice.

Tag you’re it!

There are many, many blog posts available for the reading from teachers and they’re certainly worth the read.

But, Ann Marie Luce’s perspective is different.

First, she’s overseas working in a completely different country and secondly, her reflections come from the perspective of principal.  That’s not easily findable.  Principals don’t tend to be this open and candid.

So, this post is about classroom observations and feedback.  On the receiving end (teacher end), it can be a nervous time.  It’s easy to dismiss some recommendations to “you aren’t in the classroom, how can you know?”.  Plus, no matter how well things go, there’s always this requirement of finding something wrong so that the observer can provide a “next steps” for improvement.  In talking with my principal friends, I know that they are challenged by doing this properly and professionally.  Done incorrectly, it can only lead to a bad situation.  That’s not good for anyone.

Ann Marie summaries the typical questions.

How is the teacher doing in regards to classroom management and instruction? What is the relationship between the teacher and students? Is there a sense of belonging and community? Are there routines and procedures in place? How does the environment support student learning? We also look at the instruction. Does it align with the school goals and best practices that we outlined at the beginning of the school year? Is there an opportunity for teachers to assess student learning? What does that assessment look like? Are students actively engaged? Is the instruction differentiated for all students? How is the teacher supporting the teaching assistant in his/her support of students? Is the instruction teacher focused or student centered?

No wonder there are sleepless nights and endless preparations once you get the notice that you’re going to be observed.  Even though the language has changed, I think we all remember a world where “being observed” equated to “being evaluated”.

What I really like about the plan, as described in this post, is how it comes into operation.  There is a concern about being overloaded with feedback and so a plan is shared along with a number of ways to implement any recommendations.

I found this to be an intriguing post to read and get a principal’s perspective on the whole process.

Embracing Discomfort in Equity Work

This post, from Debbie Donsky, is a tough read and even tougher to fully digest.  I don’t know how many time I’ve been through it and find something new each time.

The good news is:

Discomfort occurs when we learn

At every turn, I found myself wanting to say “Yeah, but …”  That’s my discomfort speaking.

She paints a picture of frequent workshop participants

  • The white man with his arms crossed refusing to engage and displaying his anger and disgust.
  • The white woman who is crying and defending herself saying that she is hurt by the allegations.
  • White people who have experienced trauma, discrimination and oppression personally or in their family history who believe they have no privilege.

and then the racialized participants.

You’ve got to work through this.

There are many takeaways and wonders that you will have from this powerful post.  I would hope that the importance of empathy rings through as you read this post.  And yet, we have messages contra to this as shown in the recent policy from the Conservative Party.

Altitude requires Attitude: a trekking adventure in the Rainbow Mountains, Peru with Christie Lake Climb for Kids I, and a new opportunity – Tour de Mont Blanc, July, 2019

You can’t help but admire the dedication to the Christie Lake Climb project given by Heather Swail.

She starts off with a review of the first climb and notes particularly the altitude.  That brought me back to my first visit to Denver and just wanting to go for a long walk.  It was the first time I had to deal with some notion of altitude.

Then, on to Climb II.

In the process, they’ll be touching three countries.  I can’t help but wonder about the border crossings, given how big a deal it is here just crossing into the United States.

OEM Connect Phase 1- Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Through the #ONEDMENTORS initiative, Noa Daniel and team have accomplished something that school districts have sought for years – the ability to engage new teachers in a discussion about their practice – pairing mentors and mentees in the open and candidly online.

Check out the post and the connection to the Digital Human Library.

You might want to get involved yourself.

Test Tube Teaching

This was the first time I think I’ve had someone use the term “low stakes testing” in a blog post.  The author was Melanie Lefebrve.

Isn’t the common thought that if I worked hard to create an assessment or test then darn it, the least you can do is complete it and on time or suffer the consequences.

I find it particularly interesting because the context is post-secondary.  You know; where everyone is an adult, pay tuition, and make their own decisions.

I can testify to this in my work at post-secondary.  The semester always starts out with everyone highly engaged and motivated.  Then, tedium, workload, perhaps job responsibilities, etc. kick in.

As the semester proceeded, I’ve noticed some dips in attendance combined with some students missing quizzes and/or not submitting experiments.

Certainly, it’s fair to substitute your particular type of assessment for her “experiments”.

I like her discussion and approach.  I really admire the work done in the Ontario Extend initiative and how post-secondary people are becoming vulnerable and putting themselves out there.  It’s so nicely done.

Her post opened a question in my mind, coming at it from a secondary school teacher and Business Education Director perspective.  We would work with the Guidance Department and each other to make sure that the time devoted to homework and assignment was age appropriate and manageable by students.  Though it was not said, there also was a sense that some courses were deemed more important than others.

Does the same thing happen post-secondary?  We live in a world in K-12 where homework is being questioned.  Is that a trend that’s seen being carried forward?  In post-secondary where you have professors, lecturers, grad student, associate professors, etc. do they talk to each other to make sure that student workload is reasonable?

Crazy ’bout Conferences!

It was wonderful to catch up with Ramona Meharg at the recently concluded Bring IT, Together Conference and to see her assume her role as one of the Board of Directors for ECOO.

However, BIT wasn’t her first conference learning opportunity from this fall.

Before that, she took advantage of learning from the Thames Valley District School Board.


LitCon is the annual TVDSB Literacy Conference organised by the Literacy Co-ordinators and their Conference Team.  This year it was held at Montcalm S.S. in London and ran from 8:00-4.


iCon is our Board technology conference.   I believe they mentioned that this was year 13 for this great event.  This year the conference was at Clarke Road Secondary School in London. 

And she presented here herself.

Geek’N Out With Genius Hour
(Pleasant warning – Rabbit Hole ahead – long presentation and huge collection of links and ideas!)

It’s been another wonderful week of learning as I wander through the blogs of folks from around the province.  Please do set aside some time to click through and enjoy these blogs.  If you’re inspired, share some blogging love with a retweet or a comment.

And, expand your learning network by following this group.

This is part of a regular series of blog posts that appear Friday mornings.  You can read all of the previous posts here.

My collection of Ontario Edubloggers can be found at this link.  If you’re from Ontario and you blog educationally, there’s a form there that will let you add yourself to the collection.

OTR Links 11/23/2018

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