#OTRK12 Follow Up: Professional Learning

On Thursday April 23rd at #OTRK12, I was very fortunate to spend an hour of time with educators from all over Ontario discussing professional learning.

Thanks to @Tina_Zita for the poster describing my session.  The focus was sharing about how leaders balance and blend online and onground ways of learning. Finding the sweet spot!

Tina Poster OTRK12

What an honour and privilege to share parts of my journey in how I learn and grow with my staff at @AncasterSrPS.

Here is the slidedeck that guided our time together:

While navigating the slidedeck, there was also a GDoc – OTRK12 Professional Learning where participants contributed their thinking, wondering and questions. THANK YOU EVERYONE! <—Please add more and include your twitter handle!

Here is a copy/paste of the participant contributions as we navigated the slidedeck together:

PART 1 – Open up!  (slide 4)
Where do you stand? 

  • Questioning an idea, a practice, a belief leads to enthusiasm and takes the conversation on a new path and level of thinking.
  • I stand in the sweet spot!
  • Mistakes are an important way to learn
  • Questioning with colleagues is important – but we all need to be willing, not just one questioner…
  • I agree in a trusting relationship-tina
  • You will not grow as an educator unless you make mistakes….
  • Mistakes matter – leads to innovation and deep learning.
  • To learn from mistakes have to be reflective, and sometimes that means dialoguing with others.
  • In my role I feel like I need to always  be learning new things and sharing them with my “students”
  • Risk-taking is important for everyone’s learning.
  • Mistakes are important now in my learning, my mindset has changed.
  • Mistakes create a culture of collaboration…consider them “miss-takes” and see that you can always put on a new lens.
  • I am floating in the middle.

Think about your best learning moment.  
What was going on?  Who were you with?  Where were you?  Why was it so good?

  • with like-minded colleagues who had slightly different knowledge and skills from me. They challenged and provoked my thinking, but I still felt that I had something to offer too.

PART 2 – Anything goes!  (slide 5, 6 & 7)
Share professional learning models – onground and online  – it’s always a blend. 

PART 3  Ask away!  (slide 7)
What are your tough questions about facilitating professional learning?

  • How do you feasibly meet the needs of different learning styles providing PD at/from a system level?
  • How do we support teacher autonomy, voice, and agency in their own learning and yet support system improvement?
  • How to make it comfortable for the “unwilling”?
  • What do you do with ‘that teacher’ that is just not open to change? We can all think of ‘that teacher’ – especially with a ‘no opt out’ environment
  • One way to increase comfort is to allow anonymity… but that can lead to nay-sayer voice. Help?

PART 4  List it up! (slide 7)
Let’s list together how to create a “no opt out – engage everybody focus”

PART 5  What do you wonder? 
Discuss why your practice matters most of all as a connected learner.

Wonder individually & as a group what’s the next best move in y(our) learning & make a plan.

  • I wonder why some people are afraid to share online?  How can we respect introversion, people are less comfortable sharing? How can we help they build their capacity while balancing learning differences?
  • How are teachers who aren’t yet comfortable teaching students to be? What is the responsibility of Teacher’s College’s to build this capacity in new teachers?

Here’s a stream of tweets from participants that provoked me to think more deeply about my practice and how I support the professional learning of my staff.

So what’s next? After reflecting the past few days, here’s my further share with all.  It is a must to have a menu of professional learning models, protocols and strategies in mind because one size does not fit all staff – either as an individual or in small meaningful groups.  Relationships matter most of all and then one considers  the context.

Here’s where I go:

  • be seen as a learner first and foremost
  • it all starts with trust & relationships matter most of all because learning involves taking risks and being comfortable with being open about what you don’t know
  • know the interests, strengths and needs of your staff by asking them
  • ensure that there are many points of entry for staff (adult learner)
  • learning models need to be presented with choice & openness
  • know that it is not going to be perfect and that’s the best part – uncomfortably messy is when we learn the most
  • embrace resistance because that is often when you learn about barriers and what’s in the way —> then do something about it!
  • the best learning with staff happens on the fly, 1:1 and starts with their question or wondering
  • encourage and embrace DIY with your staff
  • really think deeply about how your staff share about their learning f2f and make personal connections to how it makes them feel; listen carefully to their words as they guide you to the next level of support personalized to them
  • build in time for your staff to share also how their learning makes a difference in how kids learn; this matters for many reasons ~ it celebrates their growth, creates a culture focussed on learning  and impacts overall continuous improvement in your school —> become experts together!
  • ASK THEM FREQUENTLY:  What are you learning? What do you want to learn? How best do you learn?  —> This stuff can change and will change and you need to be in touch.

I will also be thinking about the ‘tough’ questions posed above by the participants.  I appreciate your contributions as it stretches my thinking and reminds me that we all have different viewpoints about the challenges connected with facilitating professional learning with others.

Thanks to all who attended my session.  Feedback is welcome via comment below or on twitter:  @lisaneale or via e-mail:  lneale@hwdsb.on.ca.
Others who are reading this post:  Thank you.  What am I missing?  Anything goes! Please share and comment.

I appreciate your time!

#OTRK12 Session & Sharing Outline

OTRK12.ca | On The Rise K-12: Enhancing Digital Learning begins tomorrow!

I am honoured to be facilitating a learning session entitled ” Professional Learning: Onground + Online = Super Visibility ”  and it’s for school and system leaders.

Here’s my session description:  
How do you find the sweet spot?  How do you blend professional learning – onground and online – to create a powerful collaborative learning culture among educators?  What works?  Why does it work? How do you know when it is working?  How do you start and continue building momentum? Let’s reflect on how what we do as leaders matters most of all.  It’s more than just modelling–being a connected learner who practices each and every day–is what we mean by Super Visibility.

Come discuss, share your ideas and bring tough questions on how technology enabled learning,  with a ‘no opt out – engage everybody’ focus, is possible.  In fact, it’s what we need most of all in thecontext of learning and teaching today.

Opt In Tweet

As Brandon Grasley mentions in his blogpost, Session Preparation for #ORTK12, the session is only an hour long.  Yes.  That’s right. So…

Here’s what I’m proposing as a guiding outline for us:
1.  Hellos
2.  Share some professional learning models – onground and online  – it’s always a blend
3.  From the stance as leader, list the questions you have about tech-enabled professional learning
4.  Begin to list together how to create a “no opt out – engage everybody focus” <— sharing stories
5.  Discuss why your practice matters most of all as a connected learner
6.  Wonder individually & as a group what’s the next best move in y(our) learning & make a plan
7.  Breathe (as Brandon suggests) and sustain our learning beyond this valuable f2f time

This is an ambitious and packed outline.  We’ll decide together how to keep it real. Looking forward to our time together.  See you soon!

No Agenda & Free Open Learning!

No agenda.  Free.  Open.  Interactive.  Meaningful, relevant and powerful conversations that honour the expertise of each individual in the room.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Edcamp Hamilton 2014 participants
Edcamp Hamilton 2014 participants

EdCamp Hamilton Flyer







Do you like to learn from others?
Do you like to share your passions, interests and expertise?
Do you like to ask questions, wonder out loud and drive your own learning?
Do you believe that peer learning is powerful?
Answering yes, to one or all of these questions means you are meant to be an Edcamp participant!

What is an Edcamp?
-participant driven learning that is social, collaborative, interactive and built around conversations
-many different voices,  sharing many different viewpoints where topics and discussions are generated collaboratively the day of the event
-everyone shares in the building of the schedule & everyone is a presenter
-informal UNconference where people share their stories and learn from and with each other
-face-to-face learning and conversations that sustains beyond the day in online ways  eg. twitter and blogposts

edcamp Hamilton Image


On Saturday April 18th, 2015,  Edcamp Hamilton will take place at  Ancaster Senior Public School.  


Come join our conversation!
Take charge and shape your learning.  Share your expertise and interact with others who will be doing the same.  This is and will be powerful learning! Can’t wait to see you there.  

Check us out on twitter:  Edcamp Hamilton
Hashtag:  #edcampham

#Edcampham particpants in deep discussion in the Courtyard @AncasterSrPS
#Edcampham particpants in deep discussion in the Courtyard @AncasterSrPS
@fryed and @Gill_Ville at #edcampham 2014
@fryed and @Gill_Ville at #edcampham 2014


Margaret Mead



Face-to-Face Huddle, On Safari, Open Discussion @AncasterSrPS

Last week for two days, ASPS students and staff hosted E-Learning Contacts from Northern Ontario. Often referred to as eLCs, these are educators whose focus is to support Ontario students with digital learning opportunities.  As well, learning alongside with us were Education Officers from the Ministry of Education.

My Wondering:  
How to organize our time together so that our visitors would really understand our learning community and our collaborative culture?

The rule of three came to mind so this is how it went:

#1  Face-to-Face Huddle
It is important to set aside time to meet, greet, understand the focus for time together, set the stage and field initial questions.  On both mornings, we gathered together informally, eLCs, Education Officers, ASPS staff and student ambassadors in our Learning Commons.

huddle 1huddle #3huddle #2





Key points that I shared: 

  • blended learning is the sweet spot – a mixture of online and onground
  • learning conditions matter
  • creating a collaborative learning culture focussed on continuous growth for all – no opting out!
  • learning alongside with everyone is key

Here is a slideshare that brings forward my thoughts shared during our informal huddles.  Pay particular attention to slide 12 please as it summarizes my thinking about how to build a collaborative technology enabled learning culture with staff.

resistance tweet

Jason sharing our story  and moving grade 7 & 8 Science to the HWDSB Hub.
Jason sharing our story and moving grade 7 & 8 Science to the HWDSB Hub.

Also, Jason Kortmann, our grade 7 & 8 Science and Visual Arts teacher, shared our journey with venturing down the road of school-wide implementation of the HWDSB Hub for our 305  grade 7 and 8 science program.

Key points that he shared:

  • Going virtually paperless
  • Foster Inquiry Based Learning
  • Engagement for students
  • More reflections are here from Jason


 #2 On Safari
Two student ambassadors accompanied our visitors each day during the school safari and this involved spending time observing in classrooms and also, most importantly posing questions to students and staff. Thanks to all staff and students @AncasterSrPS who welcomed visitors and so openly shared their learning spaces, practices and thoughts. 

ASPS Two Day Safari Schedule 2015 

#3  Open Discussion 
We closed each day with a student-led open discussion.  This involved bringing together thirty or so grade 7 and 8 students and opening up the floor for them to share their thoughts about technology-enabled learning.  It was a free flowing discussion and the grown-ups had an opportunity to probe for deeper understanding during the discussion.

Questions to ponder were on the table for students to think about during our open discussion.
Questions to ponder were on the table for students to think about during our open discussion.

Student Prompts

Below are a few quotes that I pulled from the gDoc sharing student thinking:

When we learn with technology, it is like what we do everyday anyway (relevance, familiarity).

This generation is about technology.  School and life are seamless.

On ground and On line – how do we learn best?  Now we have choice.

I want a blend – some on paper and some online.

Group work is good in tech, but there has to be a face-to-face conversation at some point

It was confusing to submit to the dropbox at the start.  When you had to submit you had to change format, etc.  Now it is getting better.

You can communicate with teachers right when you are thinking about things rather than having to wait until the next day.

Humberto probes for deeper understanding of comments with ASPS students.
Humberto probes for deeper understanding of comments with ASPS students.


Student led open discussion sharing ideas, thoughts and opinions about our learning conditions at ASPS.
Student led open discussion sharing ideas, thoughts and opinions about our learning conditions at ASPS.


Wondering out loud together ways we could improve and next steps.
Wondering out loud together ways we could improve and next steps.

Next year in high school – what do you want – more tech or more paper?

Tech – keep me organized.

Maybe it depends on the subject?

I want a blend – some on paper and some online.

Blend, but more tech in some subjects

So, you guessed it, I am one very #proudprincipal.  Sharing our journey about technology enabled learning was very eye-opening!  Discussing with visitors how we cultivate technology enabled learning and teaching and more importantly build a collaborative learning culture for all really made me reflect on what matters most. Trust. Trust that we are all in this together – there is no opting out.  Why?  Because we are doing the right thing and learning in ways that are engaging, accessible and real-world.  We are motivated by our successes, challenges and even our failures.

Our vision for learning is put into practice each and every day in all learning spaces.  Everyone here at ASPS – all students and all staff  are invested in learning ways to connect, create, collaborate and communicate that leverage the affordances of technology along with face-to-face learning.

It’s not one or the other.  It’s always a blend for all – students and staff.  It is this wonderful mixture and choice of online and onground learning that creates optimal learning conditions for everyone. That’s the sweet spot I’m talking about.

A special thanks to all who visited @AncasterSrPS and shared their thoughts, posed their questions and so graciously offered us feedback about their observations.
Donna Fry @fryed
Stacey Wallin @WallwinS
Gino Russo @GinoRusso79
Humberto Pacheco @h_pacheco22
Peter Anello @pjanello
Anna-Marie Boulding @NOLAmathgeek
Andrew Swartz @swartz19
Anne Shillolo @anneshillolo
John Gibson @jgibson314
Marcie Brennan
Rick Beaulieu

My One Word For 2015

Give.  It’s that simple.

Give One word 2015

Giving in the sense of sharing what cannot be seen but only can be felt.

Give kindness.  Give time.  Give consideration.  Give love.  Give praise. Give patience.  Give humour.  Give positivity. Give focus.  Give empathy.  Give inspiration.

Give to others. What do other need from me?
Give to myself.   What do I need from myself?

And lastly, whatever is the give is, be sure it is given openly and generously.
So there, you have it, my word for 2015.  Give.  It’s that simple.

Meme goes on…la, de, da, de, de

And the meme goes on. Sue Dunlop, a colleague and friend invited me to join in.  This is a neat way to get to know each other by sharing some facts about yourself and reaching out to others to do the same.  And as Dean Shareski comments, “it’s just an excuse to write, which is never a bad thing.”

This has been the nudge I need. Thanks Sue and many others!  Royan Lee shares that “being a bit allergic to [their] blog dashboards” can happen for some of us.  I’m going to really make it a priority to bring my blog back.  Bringing it back in a way that is meaningful for me and with any luck meaningful for others.  Donna Fry’s post captures nicely what should matter when we write.  It is so important to find the joy in writing down our thoughts and sharing them out there openly. Continue reading Meme goes on…la, de, da, de, de

Staff Learning & Capturing Voice

Learning alongside is powerful and builds collective efficacy that nutures relationships, trust and risk-taking. On April 9th, 2013, the @AncasterSrPS Grade 8 teaching staff and I spent time learning together with @bloggucation and @mrjarbenne. The day’s theme focussed on sharing their wonderings and questions about our Grade 8 students transitioning to high school. The “how” was what was different because the day was designed to allow self-directed learning and choice.  We were learning through collaboration with tech tools that foster openness, transparency and choice in how to contribute.  The powerful learning was embedded in the staff choice and experiencing different ways of how one can express their thinking and ask questions.

Staff were learning as individuals because one size does not fit all. The key: leveraging the affordances of technology is the best way to go whenever possible because it allows one to express their thoughts in connected ways via text, image, video, audio creating optimal learning conditions focussed on choice.

Continue reading Staff Learning & Capturing Voice

Snow Day is a Learning Day

I’m a wee bit late.  Sorry about that.  Better late than never, right?  Very excited to be joining in the #ETMOOC.

Here’s how it happened.  Keep your eyes open and imagine snow, sleet and ice.  Yes, that’s right today was a snow day in my part of the world. Schools closed. It happens in Ontario, Canada.

Snow Day

But that doesn’t mean learning and connecting stops for me.  I’m a connected learner. I couldn’t wait to fire up and mine twitter.  It’s been awhile that I’ve dedicated a whole day to just learning what I want to learn. Just exploring what I want to explore for a whole day. What a treat. Let me say, when you do spend a day like this learning, exploring and going wherever you happen to go, magic happens!

Today was a wonderful day of DIY learning.  Today was a day of blissful connected messy learning.  I was all by myself yet very much not alone.  Does that make sense? Sure it does.

So, that’s how I found #ETMOOC.  I’m thankful and looking forward to learning together with everyone.

Snow days are still learning days. Every day is a learning day.