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Creating Highly Effective Teams at Montrose School

This blog is a place for me and my students to express our thoughts, share our learning and communicate information with you our loyal followers. As part of this blog I like to share my ongoing learning journey. This will include writing about Professional Development that I attend, interesting books that I am reading and it may include compelling podcasts that I listen to or inspiring TedTalks that motivate me.

On Monday and Tuesday this week, the staff at Montrose invested some of our PD time into learning about highly effective team building and how to collaborate efficiently within that team. As you know Montrose has had some changes to staff and I am very proud that we are taking the time to really get to know each other and putting TEAM as a priority for Montrose (Because there is no I in Montrose 🙂 lol).

We had Danielle Fullan Kolton come and lead our PD. She has vast experiences from being involved in all walks of education. She spoke with us about strategies we can use to help us work together efficiently. We took personality tests (Obviously, I did the test for my husband too). The personality test was given to shine light and help us to see what our own work style preferences were. We were challenged to think of ways to work through differences of work style with colleagues and given words and phrases to help us in difficult situations.

The part of the day I found most interesting was talking about the Saboteurs of listening. I think everyone struggles with these saboteurs at one time or another. These are not just privy to the education profession. 🙂 We all can be over taken from these saboteurs – one of the biggest ways to overcome them is to be aware.

Here they are in short form:

  • Injecting a narrative from our own experience to identify with the speaker.
  • Searching for something to disagree with.
  • Channeling our inner judge.
  • Pretending to agree with others just to placate them. (Kumbaya moments).
  • Being distracted by cell phone or checking e-mail.
  • Telling yourself a story about how/why someone is feeling/acting and responding based on incorrect assumptions and conclusions instead of facts.

I am  We are all guilty of these at some point in our professional or personal lives. What I appreciated about this PD was the reminder to check ourselves. Danielle clearly mapped out for us how to check ourselves and spoke to how we can gently remind others to check themselves too. Working with different people and different personalities is difficult at times, especially in stressful points of the year (report cards, year end, annual reports, etc. etc. usually the word reports = STRESS! ).

Luckily there are team remedies to help us make a big difference in our collaborative outcomes:

  • Stop talking
  • Be a learner
  • Step up
  • Step back
  • Talk about how you are talking
  • Embrace diversity

One of the points that really stood out for me was; “effective dialogue and collaboration require a specific set of skills, the most important of which is listening. There are no short cuts in collaboration”.

Montrose School is a school with a lot of energy. I am so happy and proud to be a part of a school where we value each other and each others opinions  and we expect everyone to have an opinion. We want to hear it. We are a high impact team and we are only going to get stronger.

The second day of our Professional Development was about mindfulness; as a person, educator and Montrose Teacher. We had Keith Macpherson come and work with us about the topic of  mindfulness. He is wonderful. It was an emotional, fun and very challenging experience and day. I learned a lot about myself, my priorities as an educator, mother and partner to my husband. I looked inside myself to see and understand what I can do FOR myself to BETTER myself in all aspects of my life.

Although I found these days to be a great learning opportunity, I really missed my class so much. It was so nice to see their smiling faces today. I know the school year is just beginning and it is hard to be away and out of “routines” especially in the beginning.  But, I really feel these two PD days have allowed for myself and all of Montrose School staff to get off on the right foot with a good solid ground beneath us.

~ Here’s to being mindful and present this year. I plan to explore mindfulness with my students this year and I can’t wait to have them share their strategies for mindfulness with you.




Owning my own Professional Development – Making Authentic Inquiry Work

The past two days I have attended a PD called Making Authentic Inquiry Work. It was put on by Natural Curiosity (you can follow them on twitter @Naturlcuriosity). They are an institute based out of Toronto ON and have recently expanded their institute PD’s to all of Canada. This was their first time in Winnipeg and the attendance was great! Good representation of great teachers from all over and not just from Winnipeg either, some from as far away as South America, Wow!

They talked about owning your own Professional Development, so I really tried to be present and make the two days relevant to myself and my students.

The two days were great, it was nice to slow down, listen and collaborate together with others. We were learner citizens – a group of people ready to contribute to part of a community, our classrooms and outside community growth.  We came together, we were like minded, we taught in similar ways and if we were not teaching in similar ways we were inspired to.

When I signed up for this Professional Development I was looking for efficient ways to plan for student learning in inquiries. I wanted to learn different ways to assess student learning and show/report on student learning and growth. Over the course of the two days we were guided through an Inquiry approach on how to teach Inquiry learning. What a concept!! We do, you do.

So what is inquiry? “Inquiry is an approach to learning that is directed by questions, problems, and hypothesis or a challenge that individuals and groups of learners work together to address. At its best the learning is driven by student-generated questions. Students, assisted by the teacher, clarify the questions being asked and determine how to answer them. As knowledge is pursued learning is uncovered.” (Connecting the Dots, Stan Kozak and Susan Elliot).

Through the act of asking questions and seeking out answers, I was able to understand Inquiry in a deeper way. I was able to comprehend the process and how to take my students through the Inquiry process in a meaningful way. I saw examples of classroom Inquiries from around Canada and was deeply inspired.

I also shared Our Winnipeg Inquiry that Room 122 is working on. I got some feedback and suggestions on where to take it next and how to involve students in the process. I was challenged to put aside some of my own interests in where I would would like to take Our Winnipeg and guided to see more opportunity for student voice in the learning. It was fascinating and Room 122 students will all benefit from my teacher collaborations. I am grateful to have had a chance to be a part of them, to learn.

I am a learner.

It was a fulfilling, inspiring and challenging two days of growth. I loved it, but I COULDN’T WAIT to get back to my students! Missed you Room 122!


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A time for me to learn!

I will be attending a PD over the next two days called Making Authentic Inquiry Work with some of my colleagues. I am always excited at the opportunity to learn and grow as an educator. This PD looks very interesting as it links well with my philosophy and ongoing learning plan. I will be exploring how authentic inquiry is being applied to address expectations in social studies, science, language arts and other subjects.

My hope is to gain confidence in planning authentic inquiry learning experiences and understand how to apply appropriate assessment methodology to show student learning.

It’s an exciting time to be a teacher! We are learning, teaching and collaborating so differently than we have even in the 11 short years I have been a teacher.

Will let you all know how it all goes!

**Big Hello to our new subscribers!! **

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