The Wejr Board

…sharing stories that reflect on the present & future system of education


Goal One: To Read More Children’s Books

One way we promote a love of reading at Kent School.

In the past year, the staff of Kent School have had some inspiring conversations and professional learning opportunities (stemmed from professional autonomy and inquiry) around helping students to develop a love of reading based on Steven Layne’s book “Igniting a Passion For Reading”.  The book is jam-packed with strategies that are easy to implement as well as thoughts that cause deeper reflection on HOW and WHY we teach reading.

One of the pieces that he discusses is that if we want students to continue to enjoy reading, we have to read the books they enjoy.  Although I do not currently teach in a primary classroom, I feel as a principal, I need to be able to discuss and share some of the books that our students are reading.

This year, one of my goals is to read more children’s books.  We have many teachers who are passionate about reading in our school (and this has a huge impact on the joy of reading in our kids) so I am tapping into their strengths and have asked them to recommend books for me to read.  Our amazing teacher-librarian drops off a new book each week in my “Mr.Wejr’s Hot Pick” cubby (see photo above -many of our teachers have this just outside their classrooms to help promote books) and I read it and share it with students. I am excited to read my first books this year: When You Were Small by Sara O’Leary and The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (actually recommended by my sister).

Although this is a very simple goal, it is just one way that I can tap into the wonderful work that is being done at Kent School around encouraging a love of reading.  By doing this I can better meet kids where THEY are… and have fun reading the books they love to read.

Thank you to our staff for all the work they have done and continue to do to encourage pure joy in reading!


Rethinking the Traditional Conference Model

Diane Ravitch gives the opening keynote at NAESP 2012.

I recently spent 3 days in Seattle at the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) annual conference.  The 3 days were jam-packed with keynotes and plenary sessions by some well known thinkers and speakers like Diane Ravitch, Douglas Reeves, Rick and Rebecca Dufour, Rick Stiggins, Yong Zhao, Andy Hargeaves, Rafe Esquith, and Eric Jensen.  I came away from this event truly inspired…

My personal learning network at NAESP.

However, my inspiration was not solely from the speakers – much of my inspiration came from the brief but ongoing dialogue I had with 3 principals I met through Twitter: Scott Friedman (@irishscott), Christian Pleister (@cpleister), and Jeff Prickett (@jdprickett) – follow these awesome guys on Twitter – well worth connecting with them.  I attended the conference alone but because of social media, I was able to connect with these educational leaders, along with a few others, to discuss the words of the speakers and how we could use the ideas in our schools and education systems.

I have described before how my learning has been greatly impacted by social media… but I have to admit, although I was inspired at the conference, I was also very frustrated.  After 3+ years of learning alongside others through Twitter and blogs as well as participating in 2 Edcamps, I have learned the importance of taking the time to reflect and engage in powerful dialogue around ideas in education.  The schedule of this conference was similar to every other conference I have attended: keynotes and number of sessions compressed into a few days (although this conference had more “famous” speakers than any other I have attended).  The problem I have with this format of session 1, session 2, session 3, session 4 is that there is no time to reflect and discuss the HOW’s of education- HOW do we take the ideas of these thinkers and create change in our schools?

The Edcamp model allows a large chunk of time in between sessions for participants to dive deeper into the ideas.  In addition, the sessions themselves are not about being a spectator but more of being an active player in the discussions.  At NAESP, not only was there no time to connect with others face to face, but there was no wireless and thus, the multiple conversations that often occur in backchannels on Twitter was lost.  There was also no lunch provided… I am not disappointed in this because I had to reach into my pocket to buy lunch; I am disappointed because participants dispersed into their own schools and districts so very few opporunities were there to connect with new people (but as I said, I was privileged to be connected with others prior to the conference through SM).  At one point, as Andy Hargreaves was discussing innovation, I leaned over to Jeff and said, “how innovative is getting 1000’s of educational leaders in one place and have them… NOT talk for 3 days?”.

Now, I am not being critical of NAESP as the speakers they brought in were educators that I had looked forward to hearing and as I said, I came away inspired… but I think it is time to truly challenge the traditional conference model of professional learning.  The Edcamp model is one idea but I strongly believe that conference organizers just need to steal the collaborative idea of edcamps and build it into the conference.  Instead of going keynote, session 1, session, 2… why not have rooms dedicated to those who want to collaborate and dive deeper into the learning and ideas presented by the keynote(s)?  These areas could be completely free for participants to choose or could be focused on a specific topic or area of interest facilitated by an individual(s) determined prior to the conference.

It is no secret that funding for professional development is down and therefore, attendance in conferences is down.  I love the Edcamp model but I also think there is still a role for keynote speakers and session presenters.  In addition to rethinking the entire methods of professional learning (professional development days, etc), it is time to rethink how we do our professional learning so it is more cost effective and more collaborative.  It is time to rethink the traditional conference model.

What are your thoughts on conferences and professional learning?  Have you attended conferences that had a traditional conference model WITH time for collaboration?

A special thank to all those I met at NAESP – the inspiration for this post is the slight disappointment we did not get to learn more from you.


You’re Invited! Edcamp Fraser Valley – Dec 3

Last April I attended the best professional learning day of my career: Edcamp Vancouver (for more on my experience as an “edcamper”, please click here).  Following this experience, I knew we had to bring an “unconference” like this to the Fraser Valley so along with some other admin, teachers, and parents, we have organized Edcamp Fraser Valley for Saturday, December 3 at Garibaldi Secondary School in Maple Ridge.

So what is Edcamp and why is it such an amazing learning experience? Grant Frend, one of the Edcamp FV organizers, describes it as:

One forum that enables educators [including students, parents, community] to engage in meaningful and relevant professional development is the Edcamp model.  What is Edcamp? Edcamp is organic, democratic, participant driven professional development for educators. There are no keynote presentations, there is no formal pre-set agenda, and participants set the course of the day.

My thoughts on Edcamp:

  • flattened hierarchies – voices from ALL people passionate about education can be heard rather than one expert and many listeners
  • participant driven – have a topic you want to learn more about – put up an idea and then join up with other interested people
  • all about conversation – the “empty vase” model of professional development does not exist at Edcamp -YOU drive the learning!
  • relationships – you get to meet new people that share areas of interest AND/OR you get to meet those people whom you have already connected with online
  • flexible schedule – the schedule is decided on the day and participants are encouraged to vote with their feet – they can decided to move to a different session at any time
  • networking sessions – there is much more time in between sessions to continue the dialogue or meet up with other participants to reflect on the sessions. Click here for the schedule for the day.
  • price is right – it is FREE! (unless you want lunch which is $5)

Here are some slides from David Wees (the educator who brought Edcamp to BC last year) that describe the Edcamp Vancouver model:

If you are a ANYBODY (students, parents, community members, trustees, educators, etc) interested in education in the Fraser Valley or beyond, come join us in Maple Ridge on December 3rd!

With the release of the BC Education Plan, this is a great opportunity to share and discuss the future of education in the province.  For more information and to register, please go to the Edcamp Fraser Valley website.  Join people already registered from the Frasey Valley, Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Okanagan and Washing State!

Also, like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.  For an information sheet to distribute, click here. For more info, please contact me.


For a more in-depth talk on Edcamp, please watch the embedded video from Kristen Swanson:


Becoming a Connected Leader: A Journey

Image from

I recently had the honour of presenting to a neighbouring school district about my journey in developing on online personal learning network (PLN) and becoming a connected leader.  The slides from the presentation are below but here is a brief (ok, this is LONG for a blog post) summary of my journey into tapping into the most effective, ongoing professional learning in which I have ever been involved.

In 2009, my wife and I met with a good friend, Kye Grace – who is a bit of an online marketing guru, about how we could use social media to help market her dance studio.  About halfway through lunch, while listening to him describe how using a Facebook Page and Twitter could help our business, he said “you know, I am sure there are a few educators on Twitter you could network with and learn from… and I think the parents of your school might like a Facebook Page to read about all the good things happening at your school”.

Following this meeting, I played on Twitter for about a month and followed business folks, sports reporters, and a few authors with a personal account I created; we also created a Facebook Page for the dance studio. I then took the plunge – I spoke to the staff and then created a Facebook Page called “Parent Info For Kent Elementary” and opened a Twitter account (@mrwejr) that I would use to also send messages to parents.  Little did I know that this new Twitter account would lead me on a journey to meet passionate and inspiring educators from around the world.

The first real connection I made was with a teacher from Alberta, Joe Bower.  I came across Joe’s article “For the Love of Learning” and he basically described the journey I had gone through with my master’s program; I, too, began to question the use of grades, rewards, and punishment in schools.  Joe and I began to write through email and he recommended I read books by Alfie Kohn, Carol Dweck, Daniel Pink, and Seth Godin.  Looking back – these authors and the resulting conversations with people around these books have helped to develop my evolving philosophy of education.

After about a year of tweeting and reading other educators’ blogs, I dove in and created the “Wejr Board” blog (some mocked my last name Wee-jer and called me Wejr Board in high school).  The blog was to be a place for me to get my thoughts out there and create dialogue around education with parents, teachers and other educators.  A few months after I began writing, our school made a decision to end our current awards ceremony;  I followed this meeting up with a blog post titled “Death of an Awards Ceremony“.  Up until this point, getting 100 views on each post was about the norm… when checking the analytics of the site on this post, I had over 1000 views in a single day – what I realized was that Alfie Kohn had actually tweeted out my post. Not only was this exciting but it also led me to connect with many other educators with similar thoughts; more importantly, it helped me to gain confidence in being challenged as an educator as many people did not agree with our school’s decision.  Getting challenged online has significantly helped me in face-to-face dialogue; I have realized that getting challenged helps me grow as an educator and it is important to respond professionally rather than react defensively.

During the rest of 2010, I truly began to realize how social media could power up my PLN.  I joined the “Connected Principals” blog site (created by George Couros and Patrick Larkin) that helped me network with many other administrators from other parts of the world.  I read and was inspired by  George’s post on “Identity Day” so I stole this idea (a huge benefit of a PLN… stealing ideas) of having students complete a project on themselves and presented this to my staff; because this aligned well with our school goals, we hosted our own Identity Day in April, 2011 (and will have another one Feb, 2012).  The fact that I had connected with George led our school to host this inspiring event that left me watching every student in our school proudly present on a strength or interest they had.  Not only had connecting with other educators benefited my learning but now it was clear that these connections were benefiting the students in our school.  Our students have also grown through connecting with other classes through teacher-assisted email, posting blogs and using Skype.

A huge Aha! moment came for me when I attended Edcamp Vancouver later that month.  My previous professional development experience was that I would attend a workshop, sit in the back and take notes, come back to the school and try to implement some of the ideas in a school or classroom (and usually after a few weeks, the excitement would fizzle out).  This experiences demonstrated the benefit of an online PLN.  I found out about the (un)conference through some key members of my PLN (David Wees in particular).  I then started to get excited by chatting with other educators who were planning on attending.  When I arrived at the school, it was like meeting old friends for the first time.  I felt I knew so much about these people – their philosophies, their classrooms and schools, even their families – yet I had never met them!  The day was spent with endless passionate dialogue around how we could create positive change in change educations; these conversations carried on in blogs and Twitter and continue to this day (we are planning Edcamp Fraser Valley for December 3, 2011). The excitement remained as I attended the Edtech BC conference that was keynoted by another friend (George Couros) whom I had spoken with online through a variety of means but never met.  You can imagine how hanging out with the keynote speakers George and Alec Couros for 2 days picking their brains about education and life made my conference experience.  My whole professional learning experience, both online and face-to-face, has significantly improved since this journey began.

Not only has the development of my PLN helped me as an educator, but it has also helped me on creating more avenues to communicate with parents.  People like Bill Ferriter, Sheila Stewart, and Heidi Hass Gable (along with a number of parents within our community) have helped to meet parents where they are.  At our school we now use Facebook, Twitter, Remind101, Flickr, YouTube, WordPress and many other tools to help us connect with the families in our school community.  The key for me is to use tools to develop communication WITH parents rather than only TO parents.  Instead of only handing out our newsletters in paper form (TO), we now have them in blog form so parents can offer feedback and questions (WITH) .

My PLN used to consist of our school staff, district admin team and the odd list serve; it was effective but primarily LOCAL.  Now, not only do I have my local PLN, but through the use of Facebook, blogs and Twitter (also Google+ and LinkedIn), my PLN also consists of thousands of educators and is now GLOBAL.  I have tapped in to my PLN to help plan staff meetings around motivation, literacy, and assessment and have also used it to continually collaborate with other passionate educators to help me grow not only as a leader but also as a LEARNER.  Twitter has become my own personalized human search engine as I am able to plug in to people with experience who can answer my questions.  Twitter actually SAVES me time.

This learning journey is just beginning for me.  I encourage you to tap into the resources at your fingertips.  Use social media to become a connected learner.  Thank you to ALL those who have helped me on my learning journey.

When beginning your journey, be patient. Observe. Build relationships. Seek out intellectual collisions. You will have that Aha! moment and when you do, you will never look back.  For some of my thoughts on using social media, please see the slides embedded below.





Challenge Me

Help me grow. Image from CC

In his book Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni tells us that if you have a team that sits around and always agrees, you are not a real team.  Teams must challenge each other to be better.  There is no innovation if everyone agrees; agreement equals status quo.

I have recently read a few posts by educators whom I consider leaders in the the world of professional learning communities – Bill Ferriter and Cale Birk.  In Ferriter’s post, he quotes Dyer, Gregerson and Christensen (from the book Innovator’s DNA) when he writes

Recognizing that the best ideas are the by-product of intellectual collisions, true innovators constantly seek out sources of personal and professional challenge.

For my first few years as an administrator, I had battles with colleagues around assessment and student motivation.  I would come away from meetings angry and frustrated.  If someone debated me, I would take it personally.  I would defensively REACT rather than professionally RESPOND.   I strongly believed in my philosophies and would become offended if someone challenged me.  I felt there were some colleagues that i just did not get along with.

In 2009, I opened up a Twitter account and began blogging.  It took a lot of time and building of confidence to put my ideas out there but eventually, I did.  I starting writing about rewards, discipline, awards, assessment, and homework (among many other topics).  People immediately began to challenge me and I was not sure how to react.  I realized that I better have research and experience to back up my thoughts.  As I grew in the blogging world, I began to mature as an educator.  I started to love being challenged on topics and engaging in professional debate with people online.  However, in the face to face world, I still took things too personally.

This past year, I realized that I should be THANKFUL to those that have challenged me both online and in person.  It is THESE people that have helped me to grow and see education through a different lens.  Those who have asked powerful questions around student motivation and assessment have actually helped me to either become more confident in my philosophies or reflect and alter my views.

It is only through this challenges and intellectual collisions that I have grown.  To those who have challenged me within our school staff, our district or online: thank you.

It is acceptable to disagree with a person at the table but it is UNacceptable to ignore them when they have a different view.  It is important to have people in your professional learning community/network who continually challenge you and the team to be better. When someone disagrees, do not take this challenge personally and then react.  Instead – listen… reflect… respond.

I am addicted to learning and it is through respectful, challenging educational dialogue that I see the most growth.

Pernille Ripp challenged me to write about how blogging has changed my world.  Blogging had led me down a path to meet so many educators who continue to engage with me in dialogue around student learning.  The lessons I have learned from these intellectual collisions have transferred from the computer screen to face to face meetings.  Now, instead of taking things personally, I have begun to take things professionally and use the disagreements as a way to grow as an educator and as a person.

Help me continue to grow. Challenge me.



#BCed Chat Monday, July 25 at 7pm

Monday, July 25 at 7pm

Monday, July 25 at 7pm

“Social Media Super Man” @davidwees and I invite you to attend our second ever Twitter chat about issues in BC Education. We will be having these chats weekly/biweekly throughout the year and will be using the hashtag #BCed.

For Monday, July 25th at 7:00pm, you can tune in to voice your thoughts as well as hear from others interested in BC education on the topic: “What should personalized learning look like in our schools?”. This is a continuation of the dialogue started in our first BCed chat with Education Minister George Abbott.

David and I invite any person with an interest in education in British Columbia to come join us.  Also, if you have a colleague not on Twitter, this is a perfect opportunity to get them to join and see the power of connecting.

(Adapted from David Wees’ blog)


Grading and Assessment with @tomschimmer

In June, I offered our intermediate teachers the opportunity to attend, with me, a one day session with Tom Schimmer on the topic  of “10 Things That Matter From Assessment to Grading” (based on his newly released book of the same name).  I have been connected with Tom for about 8 months and we have had some powerful conversations around the topics of assessment, motivation and leadership through Twitter, in person, and on the good ole telephone.  If you ever get a chance to see/hear Tom speak: do it (you can view some of his other presentation slides here).  Be sure to check out Tom’s blog and follow him on Twitter.

The way I often take notes during sessions is to Tweet out comments and info that cause me to pause and reflect.  Although this probably does not “flow” too well, here are my notes from the day (all those without reference are quotes from Tom – I may have missed some references.). Thank you, Tom, for the learning and permission to post this on my blog.

  • “We no longer need to accept the assessment legacy of our past. We know better” – Stiggins
  • “When we think about change, we must think about possibility… we cannot think about what won’t work”
  • “In our current system, how many students are penalized because they do not learn fast enough?”
  • “There is an obvious tension between depth of learning and coverage of curriculum in our schools today”


  • “It is our foible as humans to stoutly defend an established position despite overwhelming evidence against it” – Dr. Hawkins
  • “Who is putting the NO in innovation?”
  • “I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a transformer” – Covey
  • “How many people have the same phone since 2000? How many people use the same lesson plan since 2000?”
  • “Do any other professions state: it worked back then, why would I need to change?”
  • “Just because you say you don’t believe in something does not abolish its existence nor its effectiveness” (ie. I don’t believe in AFL)
  • “How often do we, as educators, make people professionally uncomfortable – by challenging each other”
  • “Think BIG, start small.”

On Assessment:

  • “It’s not good enough to give students the ‘opportunity to learn’. We must ensure that they learn!”
  • “If students become frustrated and disengage from learning – what do their grades actually represent?”
  • “For sound, accurate assessment – we need to have a clear purpose, clear targets, sound design, effective communication, student involvement”
  • “Formative assessments are designed to keep the information within the classroom”
  • “If your formative assessments involve a spreadsheet… you are missing the mark” Dylan Wiliam
  • “Should be a balance between summative and formative – the pendulum should not swing from one to the other (although formative should happen much more often that summative)”
  • “Summative assessment does not mean a multiple choice test”
  • “We have turned school into a game – all students have to do is collect enough points to win”
  • “How much better would our kids do when the threat of failure has been taken off the table?
  • “Assessment For Learning = CLASSROOM assessment for STUDENT learning”
  • “Are we OVERteaching some parts of the curriculum while UNDERteaching other areas? How do you know without formative assessment?”
  • “We often use methods of assessments that are mismatched with learning targets (ie. multiple choice for a reasoning target) – make sure your assessment methods match the targets.”
  • “To be effective, feedback needs to cause thinking. Grades don’t do that…and comments like ‘good job’ don’t either” Dylan Wiliam
  • “In elementary schools we often confuse maturity with ability.”
  • “Feedback has the smallest effect size when it is related to praise, rewards, and punishments” – Hattie
  • “Don’t just say “good job”.  Finish the sentence! Good job… because you…”
  • Feedback – what matters? Quality of feedback, focus on learning, include strengths – Black and Wiliam
  • When using Descriptive Feedback, make it: Timely, Specific, Clear and Useable
  • “For rubrics – avoid using numbers. Kids will add up the numbers to give them a score.”
  • “Differentiation: Put students in situations where they don’t know the answer often” Dr. C Morreale
  • “What role does time play in distorting the achievement level in our kids?”
  • “Myth: Differentiation is about creating individual lesson plans”
  • “Differentiation is NOT I will teach my lesson and then alter the lesson for those who ‘don’t get it'”
  • “Figure out ways that you can infuse AFL into your practice”
  • “If we say we can or can’t change the way we assess – we are right.”
  • “If we want the system to change – WE need to BE THE CHANGE. Be the example that we want to see.”
  • “For change to occur, we need to be able to take heat from our colleagues”

Some Videos Tom shared:

A student describes the power of forms of assessment beyond tests:

An example of what a class can be if we begin move away from a focus on grades, worksheets and tests and make learning more real for our students.


Meeting Old Friends For The First Time

Do you remember having penpals? I have fond memories of connecting with other kids from Japan and Australia as an elementary student. I also remember being so jealous when one of my classmates was able to actually meet his penpal face to face at Expo 86 in Vancouver.

I recently attended two conferences (well, one was an unconference) in Vancouver – EdCamp Vancouver (#edcampvan) and the Digital Learning Spring Conference (#edtechbc). My conference experience PRE-social media usually went something like this: I would arrive at the conference last minute, attend the keynote, listen to the presenters, take notes, and go home. I rarely knew anybody and I was not the person to just walk up to someone and introduce myself. I was a receiver of information and took part in very little educational dialogue.



Flash forward to life after Twitter and blogging. For the past 2 years, I have connected with thousands of educators from around the globe; more recently I have connected with quite a few educators from BC. Prior to EdCamp, I posted a Tweet asking who was attending and I also posted some presentation ideas on the EdCamp site. Through this, I was able to have conversations even before the event started; I even arrived early to EdCamp because I was so excited to actually meet some of my Twitter friends face to face. When I walked into the library, I can think of no other way to describe it other than it felt like I was meeting my penpals for the first time. I felt I knew these people so well: I knew their values, their educational philosophies, and even a bit about their families. Instead of sitting in the corner waiting for the next presentation, I found myself seeking out educators and having powerful dialogue with people who I felt like I knew. I said to Heidi Hass Gable at one point “I have never met so many people for the first time… Whom I already knew”. There were plenty of smiles, handshakes, and even hugs as so many people were excited to connect with those who they had been “speaking” with for the past few months or years. (You can read more about my EdCamp experience here). I think this comfort level lead to the ongoing powerful challenging conversations that occurred throughout the day.

Two days later, I attended the #edtechBC conference which was keynoted by George and Alec Couros. George is someone who, prior to that day, had never met but have had endless chats through Twitter, blogging, email, and Gmail Video chats. I walked into the room just before he was about to present, he saw me, gave a wave and I think he wrote it best when he tweeted:

Tweet from @gcouros

I have always realized the power of social media as a professional development tool; I never could have imagined the resulting connections and face to face relationships. These relationships will never replace those within my school and district but social media has added so many passionate people to my professional learning network and, combined with conferences, truly has led to the feeling of meeting old friends for the first time.

Here is a list of people whom I connected with face-to-face for the first time (and a few whom I had the pleasure of reconnecting – if I missed you, I apologize!!!):

  • @davidwees – The man behind EdCamp. A math teacher in Vancouver and one of the most reflective educators I know.
  • @johnnybevacqua – An inspiring, reflective, energetic administrator from Vancouver. Encouraged by his reflections on student motivation.
  • @aakune – A passionate administrator and great leader from Delta. Only chatted with him for a few minutes but looking forward to the next time! Love his thoughts on educational leadership.
  • @remi_collins – A principal from Coquitlam, Remi and I actually completed the BCELC seminar series a few years ago but it was great to reconnect. I love his thoughts on grading and assessment. He is currently trying to pilot a project in his district that would see intermediates moving away from grades
  • @gmbondi A true family man and a guy who has a way with words around his powerful views on education. Gino is a principal in Vancouver.
  • @bsoong A senior science teacher in Vancouver – wish I had Bernie as a mentor to me when I was teaching high school science.
  • @aaronmueller You cannot help but smile when you hang out with Aaron – just a positive, happy guy who also happens to be an online educator in Vancouver.
  • @grantfrend An administrator in Maple Ridge who does it all. I love his reflective views on motivation of students.
  • @5_alive I love what Jaki, a teacher from Vancouver Island, is doing in her classroom around assessment! Her movement away from grades has significantly increased learning in her class.
  • @darcymullin When Darcy, a principal in Summerland, speaks, it is like he saying the words that I wish I knew how to say. Love his views on motivating students and his thoughts on assessment.
  • @tomschimmer The Assessment For Learning guru. District Principal from Penticton. #nuffsaid
  • @hhg One of my mentors on parent engagement in schools. The DPAC president in Coquitlam, Heidi works tirelessly to be a voice for students and parents.
  • @bryanhughes Passionate teacher in Vancouver – great views on EdTech.
  • @alissalu Energized administrator from Vancouver Island. Eats a mean burger.
  • @scienceworldTR Katie is just beaming with positivity – and great resources from Science World.
  • @teachingtammy A reflective, positive teacher from Vancouver.  Love some of the stuff she is trying with her class this year.
  • @millerblair Blair seems to do it all – math, tech, business, coach… an inspiring educator in Vancouver.
  • @emcavin Love the conversations Ed, a teacher in Vancouver, has with his class around motivation and education reform.
  • @fionade A lady that has been part of some key changes at our school. She is another mentor to me around parent voice, engagement and education reform. Fiona is about as passionate as they come and a member of @4moms1dream.
  • @cyberjohn07 The MAN when it comes to websites and distance learning. Check out his site for cool education sites. Love his energy.
  • @malchkiey Malcolm says it like it is – gotta respect that. Never even caught on that he was at EdCamp until it ended!
  • @stephenhurley All the way from Ontario, Stephen writes a darn good blog with powerful thoughts on ed reform.
  • @clthompson A science teacher from the Okanagan – cannot help but smile when you are around Claire.
  • @gcouros A man that needs no introduction… George is an online mentor to me. Creator of Connected Principals, principal in Alberta and social media guru, Roberto Luongo impersonator.. I just wish he would stop making fun of my phone.
  • @courosa Alec has been leading the way using social media to connect in education. I have never seen a man eat a burger that quickly. Poor younger brother George never had a chance growing up.
  • @chrkennedy One word: ENERGY. Wow, no wonder he became Superintendent of West Van at such an early age. A truly inspiring leader in BC Education and a leadership mentor to me.
  • @erringreg Erinn just oozes passion in education, especially around what she is doing with her “connected classroom”. Great sense of humour too!
  • @jbellsd60 District Principal of Technology in Fort St John, Jarrod is doing some awesome stuff with social media and schools.
  • @mthman Came up from the Washington and immediately liked this dude. Math teacher with a great future in educational leadership.
  • @mrmosesdotorg This guy blew me away with his thoughts on education technology. All the way from Vegas, he spread his ideas throughout BC at the EdTech conference. He is more than about technology, he is all about kids.
  • @tysune Tyler is a UBC student – I love this guy’s critical nature of his thoughts. A great perspective on education.
  • @learnbyliving Julia is someone who you meet and you just cannot help but stay and chat. Love her thoughts on education reform and overall learning. Reflective is a word that I seem to be using a lot but I must use this to describe her.
  • @4moms1dream A fantastic collaborative effort to change education with parent power. 4 BC moms with a purpose.
  • @g_kima Goran calls himself “just a parent” (is anybody “just a parent”?) 😉 . Although not a teacher, he is a true educator for more than just his kids. I love his perspectives on assessment and motivation. Organizer of TEDxKids in Vancouver.
  • @amy_stephenson A new Tweeter and teacher – another person you cannot help but smile when you are around.
  • @khforkids Her Twitter name says it all – Kimberlee is a mom with a purpose to encourage more parent engagement in schools. Another member of @4moms1dream

Thank you to all those that helped (and continue) to make my learning experiences so powerful!


Reflections of an EdCamper


After a day in which I was truly inspired by the students at our school (post upcoming on our Identity Day), I had the privilege of attending an inspirational day of professional development in which there was no keynote, no registration fee, and no agenda. EdCamp Vancouver was brought to us by David Wees and his organizing team and I think it has truly changed the way I view professional development in education.

Although I see the benefit of an expert keynote speaker, and I think these need to continue, the EdCamp format is nothing short of brilliant. There are so many passionate, reflective, resourceful educators (and by educators I mean more than teachers) in our region that the need for that high-priced keynote is lessened. Also, the learning at EdCamp is completely personalized. Let me briefly explain the day:

I arrived with 2 colleagues, my vice principal and a parent member of our school planning council, and walked into a room not having met any of these people but because of Twitter, felt like I knew them so well.  A few presentation ideas were up on a board.  If you wanted to attend these, you placed your name on a sticky and placed it on the presentation; if you wanted to facilitate a discussion or present on another topic, you posted a new sheet with that topic on the board.  Each participant (there were over 100 of us) chose 4 topics and once the topics had enough participants, they were placed on the schedule.  There were 4 rooms that held 4 sessions so we had a total of 16 sessions.  The organizers moved the sessions around to best suit the participants.  Topics included Moving Away From Grades, Questioning Awards, Project Based Learning, Assessment For Learning, Parent Engagement, Ted Talks for Kids, Making e-Books, Social Media 101, and many others.

I had the opportunity to “present” on Awards in Schools and Assessment For Learning.  When I say “present” it was more like I did a mini presentation (15 minutes) and then we spent 45 minutes discussing the “how” of AFL.  I was not there as an expert but more as one to throw out ideas, challenge others, and be challenged.  After the presentation, I became a participant of the dialogue so my learning was enhanced.  (You can access my Prezi on AFL here).

A big difference between the Edcamp “unconference model” is the amount of time built into the day for connecting with others outside of the presentations (David Wees has a good visual on his post).  The day is all about dialogue rather than listening to lectures.

Some of the key ideas that I came away with:

  • many educators want to see changes with the way we educate/school kids
  • the shifts are happening in the way we engage and motivate kids in a way that moves from extrinsic to intrinsic and information delivering to exploration
  • there are many powerful ideas but the implementation of these ideas is often the challenge (ie. how do we do this within our current education structures)
  • we cannot and should not do this alone – we must work with all stake holders
  • professional development needs to be ongoing and is best accomplished through dialogue around powerful questions
  • We are not “just teachers” or “just parents”.  BC is loaded with passionate educators!

Two days later, I am still inspired by the day’s conversations; I now look forward to seeing where this model takes professional development in schools and districts.  My final question is this:  if this was such a powerful learning opportunity for educators, how can we do something like this with kids?

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