Moments that will last a life time!

So, I had such an amazing week networking, sharing and collaborating in multiple events (NTIP Ed Tech support day, Demo Classroom, Microsoft E2 in Toronto), but Friday topped things off with a cherry on top!

Three of my students went to Brantford Nipissing Campus to present an Elevator Pitch for their Innovation they called the ‘Relens’. I am trying to keep this one short so visit this Sway to see our day and an incredible video!! Please, please check this out!

I have been fortunate to have such an amazing administrator that lets me explore and transform the classroom into the 21 century! Janice you rock! But most of all my kids (yes they are mine, outside of the parents I spend and have become so proud of all their accomplishments) or as many call them students! My kids are remarkable, they come to school with a drive and eagerness to learn and try anything and everything out! I know personally at times I am not around as much as I would like to be within the classroom however, I know that within that room those kids are immersed and engaged and diving into some deep conversations and learning!

I have flipped my own pedagogy in teaching this year; using 21 century competencies (If you are unaware please see but a new innovative mindset inspired by George Couros’s Innovator’s Mindset. With past kindergarten experience in inquiry learning I have utilized Microsoft O365 tools for students to access curriculum (while many are on IEPS, and struggling students), engage and dive into some very deep questions and real world problems! We have supported each other, collaborated globally using Skype and Twitter and have strong relationships that reach outside our Grand Erie Board let along classroom!

This Friday Isla, Eddie and Ryerson represented our classroom and knocked it out of the park! We are innovative and engaged. We have become transformed by a new wave of learning! Failure is awesome in our room, failure is steps to success, its points that show we are trying to grasp an understanding! Together these innovative kids will become Canadian Folklore as read within the Sway aforementioned by Tom Jenkins.

My moment as the teacher was difficult as I recorded the video! I struggled to keep the phone steady to share their moment with you all as I was trying to whip away the tears of pride! It was not that actual point while they were talking it was the consideration and thought of what the future can and will hold for all Archer’s 3’s as they decided to call themselves! They will become Canadian Folklore similar to Sidney Crosby and or Paul Henderson as mentioned by Tom Jenkins.

I was also fortunate to snap a photo of two Mommy’s too! I wanted to share a couple comments I received from parents. I hear often and with broad shoulder I can and will take anything as I know in my heart I am doing right by these kids, that I am out of building too much and they need a real teacher. Firstly let me say this, supply teachers ARE teachers too, they inspire and engage just as we do, in fact we were all there at one point in time as well. When I look at myself in the mirror at night I have NO DOUBTS that these kids are obtaining life lessons and learning that WILL TRANSFORM them!

So, here are two quotes… that make what I do beyond more then enough!

“Love this sway!! Brought tears to my eyes” and; “My son is still talking about it! Proud parent moment for sure! Thanks so much for giving my son this opportunity!”

“It was an awesome day! What a great sway to keep as a reminder. My daughter has been so lucky to have you as a teacher this year. What a great learning year she has had and not just in the classroom! You should be proud. Great job!”

I do not do this to boast by any means, so please do not see nor take it this way! So people have a very difficult time seeing and understanding the depth of my 21st century program within my classroom. At the end of the day I sleep incredibly well, in fact like a baby because I put my heart and soul into my classroom!

This is one of many, many incredible moments I had this year! If you haven’t read or or (write to give) or my personal favourite that still brings tears to my eyes when I think of it….

So, in retrospect I feel extremely proud and very amazed not at my accomplishments but my kids my students and my parents this year! If anyone has any doubts anymore….please enlighten me because yes I will never doubt that curriculum IS indeed important! But, teachable moments and life lessons will go along for a lifetime!

I thoroughly look forward to 10-15 years from now when one of these amazing kids come and recite a moment during the 2016-2017 school year! There are many moments…..will you get these moments people? I hope you all will!!

Microsoft #E2 Educational Exchange in Toronto

Wow, so I am not entirely sure where to begin, but what an incredibly inspiring experience a few of us Grand Erie employees; Cynthia Gozzard, Norma Bingham and I got to experience this past Thursday!

I was once told that Twitter (one the my favourite tools, and now a hobby) would bridge a gap from hand shakes to hugs! I did not really think of it that much, nor really believe this however upon walking into the #E2 I was greeting with so many hugs, high fives and whatnot as 86 Countries from around the world gathered into a space to collaborate and share! So, many people I follow and engage with through Twitter ran up and greeted @ArcherJoe. It was so awesome seeing so many others experiencing the same thing from around the globe! Talk about such a powerful networking tool that brings people so close yet from so far away!

With the day pass Cynthia, Norma and I were able to listen to many fantastic keynotes from around the globe, we became more and more inspired and engaged within Microsoft O365 tools, apps and programs! We all met some of our Twitter Hero’s and Heroine’s such as the Onenote Master Mike Tholfson, Coding Genius and an inspiration for all ladies in code; Lisa Folyd, Minecraft Master Steve Isaacs, Fair Chance Learning Team of Martha Jez (whom rocked the stage as always doing a fantastic keynote – her energy is always so remarkable!!), Dustin Jez juggling his wife and kids (whom normally juggle him, so it was some what funny, however being a father I totally felt his pain), I seen Brian Aspinall but never got the face to face (Canconnect and Ignite Sessions though!! – Along with our Makey Makey Workshop at Hagersville please sign up!!), we received a ScreenBeam and had a remarkable demo as well! We also ran into Anthony Salcito; Microsofts Vice President of Worldwide Education which was a HUGH moment as well!

I have to say one of the most powerful messages came from finally meeting Lia DeCicco. She said I just had to meet you, I feel so connected. That word ‘Connected’ percolated for the last couple days! In the 21st century we can be so connected yet so far away! Now, Lia has been so involved and supportive in many way so for me it was a HUGH moment as well! Twitter HAS and CAN reach across the globe and into space; with the International Space Station as well! It is so powerful to communicate, network and collaborate with others!

I cannot say enough about twitter! Infact; Brian Aspinall asked if I would consider speaking during the Ignite Session during the Canconnect Conference in Niagara Falls: and I was incredibly surprised, honored to be asked and immediately thought either Snip or Twitter….so please sign up and come and see my Ignite Session on ‘The Power of Twitter in Education’. Take a look at the line-up within that Ignite Kaylyn Dorland everyone knows @MsD_QOH aka Queen of Hamilton, Brian Aspinall (always awesome), Steven Folyd and so many other great speakers! I know them all well….through twitter yet never had a face to face! Twitter is remarkable!!

I have to share one really intriguing project. I walked up to a display from Britain that was called Flipping the Bottle! OMG I was so annoyed right away, such a horrific hobby kids are now using!! It drives me sooooooo nuts, but this incredible teacher decided to use this nasty annoying thing kids were driving educator nuts with as a learning experience! She asked the kids to look at and investigate the variables around the water, the bottle and location of flips to see if their is a Science behind the ‘sport’. By using excel students trialed and investigated while viewing a live graph displayed of 300+ students trials, and yes there is a potential science behind this less then desirable sport!! The power of O365 Microsoft Tools in the classroom well represented behind this display!!

What did I come away with!?! So many fantastic business cards with QR Scans of so many brilliant lessons, activities and projects to share with Grand Erie District School Board! Insight into creating and maintaining valuable tweetmeets, connections across the globe with specialist using all the O365 tools that are more then willing to tweet, skype and share with everyone using Microsoft Products across all sorts of devices!! so many things to list, amongst a strong desire to share, network and collaborate throughout our Grand Board to get all teachers, students and staff interconnected globally around the globe to dive into global issues, problems and become innovative and inspiring and from yesterdays Innovation Fair (please check this out; our kids at Hagersville were incredible…i still get tears thinking of this!!)

My birthday is fast approaching in April on the 18th and I have to say my wish list grew this Thursday with so many cool tech toys, gizmos and gadgets, books and resources for work my wife is going to kill me!! hehe

A BIG BIG BIG thanks to Lia DeCicco for the invite from Microsoft Canada to the E2 event! I have to say I was at first disappointed (along with Cynthia) that we did not win the draw to come along, but upon finding out it was in Toronto and not a European Country we BOTH decided to set lofty goals to be on board a plane next year to represent Canada and Grand Erie District School Board Globally at such an amazing event!! However, when Lia emailed and asked if I would be interested in attending I did not hesitate nor think, I jumped….as you ALL should on the Microsoft Bandwagon!! Such an inspiring multicultural company and leading the way in innovation for our students within our board!!

So, in closing I would be re-missed if I did not suggest that you all visit; The Microsoft Educator Community, set up an account and become blown away with the PD, the networking, collaboration and means of extending your remarkable classrooms across the globe!!

I will conclude with this quote ‘Technology will NEVER replace great teachers, BUT technology in the hands of great teachers is TRANSFORMATIONAL’

I bid you all farewell, till the next E2, see you on the plane!!

Thoughts about ‘My Legacy’…

A friend of mine recently wrote a blog regarding mentorship. Who she looked up to and what she took away from them and how those learning’s / experiences changed and molded her into the educator she is today.

Over the past nine years of being a full time educator I have been very blessed to have multiple people I would call mentors! Maybe this could / would be a future blog during this upcoming March Break. What you will reflect upon after reading this blog is your legacy, as I have since partaking in my ‘first real mentorship-type job’ within the Board.

We had a short introduction / ice breaker session to get to know mentor / mentee a little more in depth; then we broke away into mentor and mentee sessions. Within the mentor session we got to review / reflect and think about our experience as a first year educator; our thoughts, feelings at the beginning of the original contract and throughout the year. Wow, it seems like so long ago but was ONLY 9 years!

During that first year I had one go-to guy that supported me in so many areas in life as an educator and outside of the educator roll as well. He was someone that ‘made’ my first year successful in an extremely difficult classroom! He was a mentor through and through and to this day I continue returning time and time again to him when I need that supportive nudge in the right direction or someone I can talk to about anything; even his dreadful Leafs!

I never really thought of it at the time but upon reflecting within that mentor breakout session I came to fully see how much impact and important he was (and still is) for me! Now, one thing that was shared within that breakout session was this thought; ‘What do you want your LEGACY to be’?

Wow; my original thought was LEGACY?!?! Holy smokes I just want to ensure I do have a successful honorable career…but after pondering and exploring this concept of legacy for a few more days I see it in a new light. I would like my personal legacy to be something more and something similar to what I got from my first mentor in school….a leader / role model / someone to confide and trust / someone to reach out to for support / someone whom can push one beyond their reach and explore endless possibilities and push one to become remarkable….what I WANT to be known for OR within this blog; my LEGACY is to be known as a Mentor similar to what Dennis was and still is for me!

After reading a blog entitled ‘Mentorship Part I’ by Norma; I strongly considered what my students would take away each year from being with me! My thoughts / hopes would be that I cared what was inside each individual; I build such strong rapports with my students and families that they become extended family for me. I invest so much time and effort into each of my students yearly that they ARE part of my family, and my family is everything to me! I would hope my legacy shows that you need to have fun and laugh throughout the day; that building and maintaining cohesive relationships is key to problem solving all the small things that occur in life. I want to be known for challenging and pushing each person to reach the best of their abilities and full potential and be a stable figure in which to turn to for answer to the tough questions!

Last year I watch a Hagersville Elementary School Legacy retire and walk away from a very successful career (Hats off to Len Georgi) and was thoroughly touched as I watched the tears stream from so may people; colleagues, former and past students, family and friends. I seen a remarkable man become an icon that day! I seen what I could only hope and wish would occur when I walk away from my career many, many moons from now…..respect and a mentor whom was firm but you always knew where you stood with him!

Legacy is such a strong word! But alongside my legacy I want one word; mentor!

During my 3rd year of teaching I was approached by my administrator and he suggested I take on Co-op students, which then lead to a conversation not long afterwards about obtaining a teaching student. I didn’t think I had much to give to anyone at that time, I think it was more another body to support me within my difficult classroom, but I like seeing the glass always half full instead of empty so I would hope that he actually did see that I could / would be valuable for someone to work under.

Long story short, fast forward six years ahead to now; I have seen eight high school co-op students (two of which proceeded into a career into teaching and currently on Occasional List / another one this past semester realize an unforeseen gift of teaching within her as well and is planning on perusing post secondary education and become a teacher as well). Three college Early Childhood Education students (giving back to my Fanshawe Diploma and my personal mentors during those college placement days) two of these fantastic people are now on our DECE Occasional List within the Board as well. Six Teaching Students (from year one to five) and another since January of 2017; two of which are working as Occassional Teachers within our Board and three in Hamilton-Wentworth. Three Indispire First Nations Teaching Students Online; one of which is now working full time in Alaska! My latest; notch to add to this ‘Mentoring Role’ is my NTIP mentee; whom I foresee being snagged in the near future on a full time gig!

I have also worked along side some amazing gals within our kindergarten classrooms; all of which I considered my team at the time and forever in the future as well! I would like to think I challenged them all to think outside the box and become stronger and better versions of themselves!

The reason I started was Dennis; the reason why I have continued is because I learn and stay fresh from them! They challenge me to think and reflect on my practice and challenge me to see the gifts within each of them and pull it out for them to see! They challenge me to get the most out of them in various means and ways! Each of these wonderful people are entirely different people from each other, they made me go beyond my own bounds and think way outside my box to flip things around and make them become better, stronger educators and people! I would hope that they would all say if one and only thing they walked away is was a strong desire and means to reflect upon themselves, their lessons, students and whom they were and currently are becoming!

I have thought very hard about MY legacy; and yes I do love having fun and yes I joke around all the time and laugh and thoroughly enjoy each student (young or older) that have ever walked through my classroom doors, but the one thing I continue coming back to is that I want to be known as a mentor / role model! I want to be known as that guy whom did the coolest things inside the classroom and out but shared those things so anyone could use and do them with their students as well!

So, Norma…the challenge was accepted and I hope that one day, people would say that yes he was a mentor to me!

And; yes to continue Norma’s challenge ‘Be a mentor’ for others, make a difference for someone else!

I am continuously blown away when I see former people whom I worked with soar and become something amazing like Krista (now taking on her first student herself – way to go Krista) and Nick (making a thoroughly strong name for himself on the OT List in GEDSB) and another future prodigy in Presley (taking her tech understanding outside the classroom and expanding student experiences with skype and differentiating for vast personalities currently within my classroom) and her fantastic partner in the Hagersville Stem Club; Joe!

Mentoring is amazing! You learn so much about yourself and others along the way! But; I will be honest my favourite part is releasing them into the wild and watching them all excel! That is why I continue doing what Dennis suggested I try!

So, in closing consider what others would think of you! What is your legacy you will leave behind you as Len did last year?!? What will people say when you walk away from a career in education?

I know I am far from being done and far from reaching my goal; continue to reflect, challenge and test yourself people! Be a mentor and help others reach their goals and dreams – its an unreal feeling watching hopes and dreams transpire!



A Lost Brother…

Yesterday, was a tough one…you see receiving news of a Brother within the Fire Hall is something entirely new to me. Something I never thought would ever occur, something I never really ever put any thought or insight into, but yesterday that all changed.

Our fallen brother was a quiet, humble soul, whom never looked out for anything other then enjoying life and smiling and laughing along with family, friends and loved ones. He was very calming to be around, you knew when he arrived their would be laughs but without a word he would be able to control and maintain a situation with a nod, a smile or a chuckle.

I thoroughly enjoyed is humble jabs at teachers, as you know we work extremely hard; as he said “For a whole 6 hours a day, including two breaks and a prep”…said often but knowing him it was a subtle reminder and appreciation for having the patience and ability to be around little ones for that “Whole six hours”

I still remember and will always remember the first time I met our brother within Station #2; Port Dover. He came directly to me, shook my hand (with his enormous hand) and said “All you need to remember to be a successful Fire Fighter is this; Always think before you react and listen to your instincts, and…..keep those trucks shiny and clean!” Two things I held onto and reflected upon hearing of his passing, since I am a bit of a neat freak I loved hearing that trucks needed to be kept in order and mostly…Think and Trust your instincts; two important features to keep you safe and the others around you on any scene!

So, reflecting upon my lost brother; the Hall itself will be a somber place for a long period of time! He had a presence that was often felt but NEVER heard, he led with his many years of service by example; not boasting and or sharing stories of the past but always modeling and asking us ‘Newbies’ do you know we do this or that? Usually if we said no; he would direct us to go talk to a Captain (again laughing as if to say to those Captain’s its your job not mine….I modeled you explain). Words definitely were something he denied others from to ensure no misinterpretation would occur; he wanted to ensure we learned and understood and I thoroughly believe his impact was felt / his presence was felt with a gentle nod and grin, as if to say ‘Its all good boys we got this one’

Blogging has become a hobby of mine; I enjoy it as it gives me a means of reflection upon various things; however this is a first. Explaining the loss of a friend; a brother in the fire service is something that has really impacted me! I heard you become tight with your station, crew and they become close like family; and up to yesterday I did not realize not understand how tight we become!

I can honestly say that I would put my life in the hands of that crew, that station those brothers I have inherited upon being accepted into the fire service. I can honestly say that our loss friend will never be forgotten and I know in his own way he will always be with us; standing aside with a Colt in hand grinning and nodding at the various stories we tell. He will be there giving that gentle tap on the shoulder indicating ‘we got this one too boys’ upon entering a structure fire, walking into a dismal accident and or anything in the future that takes our breath away…that was the presence and impact he could / would infuse upon arriving on scene in his grey Ford Escape; strutting up as if there is nothing occurring ahead of him and the profound knowledge that everything would work out fine and dandy!

Last Thursday evening I recall a fellow fire fighter indicating that he just realized our fallen brothers initials were ‘BM’….ouch so many funny ways and means to go with that one; and I know I will take some slack for this but I really do not care, because he would absolutely chuckle and laugh his ass off not because BM could mean ‘bowel movement’ but because it took us so damn long to figure that out! That is just how he was; silent but enjoyed every minute of life and subtle yet we all knew when he was around!

So, Bill I would just like to say thanks! Thanks for leading by example, thanks for being that calming presence and person to watch when the going got tough! My idol has always been Steve Yzerman; The Captain (He lead by sheer example, very little words). Now Bill was not a Captain; however I seen him as one, just as I see a few others in that hall as silent leaders and role models for the newer folk!

The best advice I ever recieved upon entering into the Fire Service was; “Learn from those that lead by example and not those that cannot walk the talk”….well BM (Hehehehe yes I added it in here; Billy would be laughing now too, ease up people)…you walked the talk; you lead the best way possible and you will never be forgotten in my opinion; and pinnacle in which all others should strive for!

Watch over us in time of need, I look forward to feeling that presence in dire circumstance and that gentle tap knowing forewell that; ‘YOU got this one WITHOUT me boys’ but you are and will forever be there with us watching to ensure we get to smile, nod and chuckle about the story afterwards!

RIP my friend, thanks for showing me how close our brotherhood becomes!