Well, I haven’t been a prolific writer in the past years, but I have maintained the site as there are some posts that continue to receive hits daily for various reasons. However, in those years I have been working diligently as an Assistant Principal at a rural Alberta school and in the spring I was named as Principal of a grade 6-12 school for the 2019-20 school year. There are so many different aspects of my journey that I could discuss, but I was inspired to sit down and write because I am now preparing, for the first time, to lead a school when I head back to work in the coming week. It’s time to revive this blog and get some great discussion about education happening again. Keep in mind that I am open for discussion anytime on Twitter (@mrdkeenan).
This summer has been one of contemplating my leadership style, trying to read as much as possible to support me and developing a great understanding of my team and school culture. I feel fortunate to have been posted to a school that is central to their community, with a strong student leadership contingent and a great team as a staff. As I enter the school year, I don’t feel as though the school is in chaos in any way, and look forward to meeting students, parents and community members in the opening days.
And I suppose that is the point of this post. All general logistics aside, my focus will be on developing relationships with staff, parents and getting to know the students as quickly as possible so they begin to understand who I am and what I’m about. As I have stated above, the school is in a good place, so I know the previous Principal did a great job of this during his tenure at the school. So what are the exact steps I will be taking?
I have been reading a number of titles focused on school culture, relationship building and development; they have given me many ideas about the possibilities a new leadership position may bring (I will be posting on my summer reading list and learnings soon)
I will be sending out an email before the staff come back, inviting them to a personal conversation in which we will get to know each other better and they can let me know how they see themselves in relation to the school and culture.
When we start up for the fall, I will be visible and present as much as possible for students and parents to get to know me. This will include a welcome message and video on the school website and social media accounts.
Mainly, I plan on honouring what is in place in the school as much as possible. There is no need for me to come in with a ‘heavy hand’ and shift things that are working. I will be spending the first weeks learning about our school and the needs we have. I will be an active support to start, learning all the while.
Any thoughts on this? What would you be focused on if you were looking at your first days as a school Principal? Please comment below or reach out on Twitter.
This year I have the opportunity to present a session on Innovative Leadership at both Palliser District Teacher’s Convention and South West Alberta Teacher’s Convention. You can download a PDF of the presentation below:
This presentation was originally presented at the Canadian Student Leadership Conference 2017 in Waterloo, Ontario. It was amazing to see the response of the students to concepts such as servant leadership and growth mindsets. We have so much to gain with our students and in our society if we focus on fostering growth mindset and looking for opportunities to serve in our world.
This year I have the opportunity to present a session on Project Based Learning at both Palliser District Teacher’s Convention and South West Alberta Teacher’s Convention. You can download a PDF of the presentation below:
This presentation is near and dear to me as it speaks to my beginnings in PBL; I started out designing a collaborative novel writing project that I have used with multiple grade levels. These projects may not always be the answer in the classroom, but certainly create exceptional learning experiences that students remember. As you read through the presentation, please feel free to reach out in the comments, or message me on Twitter: @mrdkeenan
When I started my first blog (mrkeenan.com) about five years ago now, I started it with the intention of documenting the changes I was making to my classroom and practice. It was a fun site, supported by my burgeoning interest in Twitter as a professional learning tool. I posted app reviews and developed friendships with some wonderful developers who were looking to support teachers like me in the classroom by providing great software for the then new ‘iOS’ platform on iPods and then iPads.
Then things got busy.
I transitioned into completing a Masters program, started ghost writing, had another addition to the family, and while the blog continued to roll, it wasn’t the same thing to me anymore. I wasn’t enjoying writing and posting on it as much. My blog received some great praise about how professional it was, and I now had some university professors using my content in their courses, but every post was a challenge and huge time commitment to get posted. It’s great to put out fantastic resources and useful information, but I missed the connection I had with my readership and those who are trying to do great things for their students. So, I started posting less and focusing on redesigning my personal life and fostering what had gotten me so passionate about education to start with. That’s where I am now. In a new school with new challenges, implementing and supporting technology from a humanist perspective.
So, here’s the reboot.
I’ve decided to move the blog, simplify it, and post on what I am passionate about, not always on professional learning, not always on apps, not always even on education. I hope you enjoy the change; and if you’ve been with me from the beginning, I hope you read this post with a smile on your face as we get started having fun again!
I presented this in November at the Early Childhood Education Council Conference in beautiful Kananaskis Alberta. This was the first specifically early-years conference I have had the pleasure of presenting to, and I quite enjoyed the perspectives, expertise and conversations that I had while in attendance. However, my purpose with this post is to share the resources of the talks I gave at the conference, and hopefully some insights as to the value of these talks in my perspective. Please feel free to distribute these presentations as you see fit, and comment below if you would like to continue the conversation!
Technology available to schools, and applications for that technology to student learning are constantly changing. What is far more essential to schools than the hardware in the building are the ways available technologies are being used to to true learning for students. With the importance of technology to school and district goals and outcomes, it is essential to ensure that the use of technology is not ‘entertainment time’ but rather opportunities to expand skills and develop new learning using technology effectively. This ability of students to connect and engage with learning outcomes as opposed to rehearsal exercises and flashy games needs to be the crux of the conversation in educational technology. When we get to discussions about real and effective learning instead of simply ‘engagement,’ technology will begin to make more sense as effective tools to be highly valued in schools.
We live in a transitional age. It is easy to see that new approaches are necessary to deal with the advent of new technologies, philosophies and policies. For me, this change means that educators need to have a voice, to make their beliefs plainly known so the key facets of teaching and learning are included in the shifting structures of society and education.
How does an educator ensure that they are clear on their beliefs? They read and analyze the current educational discussion; that includes being involved in school, district, online conversations, and educational theory.