First steps on our learning journey; the minstrel and the river outside


We’ve made some bold first steps in the learning journey at our building in the last week, both for the adults and for the children. Kids are resilient, they roll with whatever comes their way. New principal, new teachers, new rules and routines. They go from 2 months of unstructured fun to 5+ hours of classrooms, structure and change. We’re blessed for their ability to adapt and move forward.

Same too with our staff. There’s so much change, so much new information and initiatives being pressed upon us. As a principal, I see the adult learning as a major part of my role, creating a culture of professional engagement with colleagues, issues, pedagogy and personal learning goals. But not as an add on. It needs to be part of their day, embedded within their job.

Beginning tomorrow, my TA and I are taking 2 classes of students for a 30 minute DPA walk in the morning, which will allow a pair of teachers (self selected team) to have a collaborative conversation about a learning goal of their choice. I’ve offered a protocol for the conversation, some goal setting tools, and a self directed PD log in which to record their learning, make a commitment to themselves for the “in between times”, and sketch out their next steps for learning. This strategy is in line with our district direction for adult learning, which is more collegial conversation, and less stand-and-deliver workshop.

I’ll certainly be in the loop with this learning, I don’t have any illusions that it will be free and easy. There can be pitfalls, which are well advertised in the literature. Getting two people together in a room to talk doesn’t guarantee anything, it’s just the first step. There needs to be certain elements in place, and an ongoing commitment to one another, before it becomes purposeful. There are many names for it and many shapes, but what we know for sure is that it won’t run on its own just because it’s a good idea.

Luckily for me, I’ve only got 4 classroom teachers on my staff, and they’ve willingly partnered up and made pairs of their own choosing. For my TA and I, our direct time commitment is to take 2 groups of kids, one Wednesday morning, and the other Thursday morning, for a walk. Before they all come in and take coats and boots off, we just drop our packs and head off for 30 minutes of fresh air and exercise. And Paul’s great, he spends recess wandering the fields with his guitar, singing and playing while children follow behind him singing or dancing along. In my mind, that’s how we’ll begin tomorrow, with the minstrel at the front and the rest of us trailing behind. And all the while, enjoying the beauty of the valley and the river outside our classroom door.

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About Ron Sherman

I am the principal of Salmo Elementary/Secondary School, a small rural K-12 school in the Kootenay Lake School District. Happy to be part of the Grand Conversation, moving learning forward and joining with great people every day. Runner, triathlete, skier, blogger, loving husband and father of 2 great boys
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One Response to First steps on our learning journey; the minstrel and the river outside

  1. Mike Sherman says:

    Hey Ron, you sound really enthused by your new role as principal, and we wish you the very, very best. Great to see you enabling your staff with opportunities to share and learn from each other in a more informal yet obviously very meaningful ways. Let us know how it all goes as you move forward on your amazing new journey!

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