You Are Important but You Are Not Indispensable

from from Kim Schonert-Reichl & others

Every student needs two adults in his/her school who believe he/she will be a success in life.  Every teacher needs two colleagues who believe they will be a successful teacher.

Some thoughts on taking oneself too seriously, especially teachers.
And the importance of being present.

In the moment, when the child is looking to you for guidance, compassion, inspiration or comfort, you are the most important person to the child in front of you.  And, in the moment, you will be that for each and every person you encounter in your day.  In that moment you are very important.  I have heard it said that the present is where we touch eternity.  (The mathematician & physicist in me sees that on a number line).

However, you are not indispensable.  You are not the only one who can do your job.  Others may do it differently.  Overall, they may do it better or not as well.  Doesn’t matter.  They will take attendance and set about the supporting students in their learning.  They may be more or less compassionate than you would be.  They may be more or less thoughtful than you would be.  Regardless, the world will not stop turning simply because you are not in your classroom today.

Today, and on the day when the students leave your class and eventually your school (or you leave the school) you leave a hole.  But the hole is temporary.  Others step into it.

The hole you leave is like the one left when you remove your hand from water.  It quickly fills and there is no evidence of your presence except… the ripples on the surface that travel outward from where your hand was.  What you do is important and how you do it will have lasting impacts.

Inspired by conversations with Angie Burgess 10 years ago and Len Drugge today.

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Some Current Pro D in the VSB

Much of my VSB “work” has been moved to this site.

Current Pro D that I am involved in is highlighted on this page.

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eMentoring in Science for Female students

Registration for the fall session for SCWIST’s fall 2012 eMentoring session ends Oct 6th.
(SCWIST = Society for Canadian Women in Science & Technology)

Female students in grades 11 & 12 are encouraged to apply.

The session runs from Oct 15 to Dec 7, six weeks in total.

A flyer for sharing this with students is attached below.

Questions: contact Jeannine McCormack at
eMentoring Poster Fall 2012.pdf

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Six Steps to Starting the School Year

I am on the mailing list sent out by Laura Copeland ( and she recently shared the following:

Anne Davies recently let me know that she has started a new ‘series’ on her blog called “6 Steps to Starting the School Year”.  The first step has been posted on Anne’s Blog on the left. The next five steps will be posted over the next while. This might be something you want to forward to your colleagues when the time is right.

After I read it, I asked her about leaders and what they do to start the new school year. She said, “They do the same kind of things, just for a different audience. When it comes to beginning with the end in mind there are lots of examples. Here are a few:

System leaders have the agreed upon priorities to guide their work and will engage the people with whom they work in co-constructing criteria around what it looks like when successfully implemented.

School principals will co-construct criteria around school goals. For example, one principal co-constructed criteria with the entire faculty around their school goal of assessment for learning. They went on an artifact hunt early in the school year, mid-way through the school year, and again near the end of the school year, to find evidence of working towards and meeting their school goal.

Professional learning communities will often co-construct criteria around their norms of collaboration or around their learning goals.  

The most important thing is that the learning destination for the system, the school, or the learning community is clear – not just in terms of words but also in terms of the evidence of achieving the results.”

There is much reading in Anne’s “Six Steps” and Laura makes the very important point that all of us, regardless of our roles & audience, need to have a clear learning destination and evidence that we are moving towards it.

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Gairdner Symposium in Vancouver [ Monday, October 22, 2011]

This year’s Gairdner Symposium will be held at the Child & Family Research Centre].  This student symposium will be opened to Grade 10-12 students and will provide a unique opportunity for students to listen to presentations from two  Gairdner distinguished award winners, meet health sciences experts and have the opportunity to tour research labs. This year we will feature new research labs and  we will probably offer students the opportunity to visit three research labs instead of two, as in the past.

The Gairdner National Program [], established over 15 years ago, takes place in 16-18 academic centres across the country, is unique in the world of awards. Gairdner awardees travel across the country, from St. John’s to Vancouver, to present their work and meet with students.  Gairdner Student Symposium 2012

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AfL Overview — a syllabus for teachers

This is a first draft of an AfL syllabus I generated for myself as a way of summarizing much of what I was learning & using.

Your feedback, especially critical, is welcomed.

If you want to find out more about the KNOW’s you might want to check out this presentation and this post.

I plan to append a reading list but for now this reading list will have to do.

Unit Plan – AfL – June 2012

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Great first post on Taking Risks & Using Social Media for Professional Learning

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AiA Note to Self

Usually, I attend a workshop or presentation and leave with one (and sometimes morethan one) inspiring idea or strategy that I want to put into practice.  Unfortunately, by the time Monday morning rolls around and the busy-ness of the school day begin, I have forgotten about it, and any notes I may have taken.

On Feb 17th, we hosted a morning Assessment workshop and ended it with participants  writing a short “note to self” on a postcard.  On the flip side of the post card they were asked to put their contact info so that it could be mailed to them as a reminder.  Today I am “mailing out” the postcards that have contact info on them.

Below is a slide show of the postcards that did not have any contact info — if one of them is yours, consider it sent 🙂

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If you know me, you’ll know why I totally love this.


I think the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy is wrong.

Hear me out. I know this statement sounds heretical in the realms of education, but I think this is something we should rethink, especially since it is so widely taught to pre-service teachers.  I agree that the taxonomy accurately classifies various types of cognitive thinking skills. It certainly identifies the different levels of complexity. But its organizing framework is dead wrong.  Here’s why.

Old-school Blooms: Arduous climb for learners

Conceived in 1956 by a group of educators chaired by Benjamin Bloom, the taxonomy classifies skills from least to most complex. The presentation of the Taxonomy (in both the original and revised versions) as a pyramid suggests that one cannot effectively begin to address higher levels of thinking until those below them have been thoroughly addressed. Consequently (at least in the view of many teachers who learned the taxonomy as part of…

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The Start of Something Beautiful

In the May 2012 issue of Education Update Brad Kutz shares how he shifts students’ focus away from grades and onto learning.  (article)

Brad’s front-loading is similar to the work that I have seen many teachers in Vancouver doing (in Mathematics, Science, Socials, and English) and it is having a very positive effect student engagement & learning.  This can be explored further in Chapter 3: Clarifying, Sharing & Understanding Learning Intentions and Success Criteria of Dylan Wiliam‘s recent book Embedded Formative Assessment.

Some of the key pieces to this work:

  1. focus on specific learning targets* (phrased in language that students can understand)
  2. share learning targets with students
  3. refer to learning targets whenever introducing/exploring new material
  4. “engage students in a conversation about what it means to demonstrate proficiency”
  5. give students multiple opportunities to show proficiency

*sometimes called learning intentions or learning goals

Note: Learning Intentions do not need to be reductive or a simply checklist.  This caused me angst when I first started this work but Cindy Strickland’s work on Differentiated Instructive was very helpful to me.  Here’s my story…

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