Greg Moore – #HWDSBaccelerate

Greg Moore has a long and proud history with HWDSB. I first met him when we were elementary teachers together – and there was a lot of laughing! Greg is a friendly and funny guy. He is always exploring how to use tech to improve his workflow and is eager to keep learning and growing as a leader. Greg exemplifies how tinkering with tech and trying things out can make things happen.greg

What is your role in HWDSB?

I am very proud to be the Principal at Bellmoore Elementary School in Binbrook.  [Greg is moving to Ray Lewis Elementary School in September 2016]

What led you into education?

It has been a long journey!  My mother was a teacher and really wanted me to go into teaching, but I was undecided.  During my time at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University, majoring in Physical Education, I lived across the street from a public school.  On my walks home from school, I would often see PE classes going on and practices taking place for a variety of sports.  One day, I decided to stop by and offer my services.  I started to coach the boys Touch Football Team which stoked an interest in working with kids.  I began to increase my time volunteering at school and expanded my role from coaching teams to working in classrooms.  When the opportunity for an Educational Assistant position opened up at the school, the Principal approached me and asked me if I would apply.  I explained that I was still going to school full time, but he said he would work  around my schedule as the student I would be working with was quite challenging, but I had already developed a relationship with him as a coach. I accepted the role and for the last 6 months of university I worked as an EA and and educator was born!

What are you go-to pieces of tech?

I would have to say my iPhone.  But it all started out with my Palm Pilot, which led to my Palm Treo.  I thought that my Treo was irreplaceable but the iPhone has taken the personal organizer to the next level!  From calendaring, to messaging, to email and Google Drive, and not forgetting social media apps, the iPhone is such a powerful tool and always at my fingertips.  I honestly don’t know how I managed without it.  My iPhone allows me to work smarter, in a work harder environment.  The demands of the job, leading a busy elementary school, means there are more and more items on your plate.  The technology has allowed me to take on more, while maintaining efficiency.

Twitter or something else?

Twitter.  I have to confess that Twitter started for me as a short cut.  Several years back, I was getting into blogging, and to be honest, had a hard time keeping up with my blog.  Finding the time to reflect and write about my learning and what was happening at my school was tedious.  And then I found Twitter, a micro-blogging site!  140 characters, now that is something I could handle!!  I started by documenting the building of the new Bellmoore School and eventually has become a huge community engagement tool for me.  Twitter allows me to share all the amazing moments and student achievements in a quick and easy way.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I have been able to capture amazing memories, along with a short narrative, to document my journey as a leader and the amazing experiences we provide our students on a daily basis.  On top of that, I use it to remind parents of events and deadlines, and share any new learnings.  Twitter is one of my most used apps.

How has technology shifted the way you learn?

I was an early adopter of technology.  I recall doing system and staff inservices early in my career to share my passion for new technologies.  My excitement and passion for embracing these new tools has stayed with me throughout my career.  Just as I loved being a classroom teacher and sharing knowledge with students, in my role as principal,l I continue to look for opportunities to share my knowledge and learn from others.  So technology has really opened up a lot of doors for me.  The like-minded colleagues I have met have taught me so much, and inspired me to learn more.  Technology has also allowed me to create a Professional Learning Network with people from all over the world.  Twitter is also a powerful learning tool for me.  People I follow, tweets that are retweeted, open doors for new learning.  Something as simple as following TedTalks and clicking on a link to an inspirational or motivational talk is one example of how technology has shifted the way that I learn.

What’s your best piece of advice for those wondering how to use tech to accelerate their learning?
As the Nike tagline says, Just Do It!  With all the new tools, devices and apps, it can be daunting for those looking to expand your horizons and begin to learn in new ways.  Start by talking with colleagues.  Find some colleagues who are in similar stations and start to branch out to people with different interests or who are “leaders” in an area.  Find one place to start and commit.  Set some personal goals (e.g., writing a blog once a month, open a Twitter account and follow one new person a week) and see how it goes.  Once you find the right tool, run with it!  The learning that you engage in with just that one small step will lead you to other opportunities.  The learning that you engage in can be exponential once you embrace some new technologies.  

Behind this series: Inspired by the innovative and trailblazing Royan Lee and the #workflow series on his Spicy Learning BlogI’m asking connected educators around our district how they use technology to accelerate their learning.  In HWDSB, we’ve been talking about how to transform relationships, environments and learning opportunities. The driver is pedagogy, but the accelerator is technology. I’m hopeful that educators’ insights and experiences will kickstart a conversation and even spark some action.

Bill Torrens – #HWDSBaccelerate

Bill Torrens embraces learning. When faced with a new digital tool his thoughtful and creative approach finds a way to incorporate it into his practice. Bill is always looking for ways to extend and even push educators’ and colleagues’ thinking, and technology helps him do that. When you talk to Bill, you leave with new ideas. I was delighted to read his answers and surprised to see the word “potato” show up. Have I piqued your interest? Read on!

What is your role in HWDSB?Bill Torrens

I’m a System Principal in the Leadership and Learning Department with responsibilities regarding ESL/ELD Programming, Equity, Positive School Climate, Leadership Programming, NTIP, TPA and Student Engagement. Sue (Dunlop) once called me the “the Principal of Lots of Stuff” to a group of teachers but we’re all principals of that in some ways.

What led you into education?

There was no one thing that led me to education. Teaching was in my family: my mother taught in our system at Memorial City, Tweedsmuir, Parkview and Ainsley Wood, so that was a strong influence. However, my thinking as a young person was that teaching was an avenue to explore the world and to learn about myself, so I taught in England and Turkey. I ended up back in Hamilton, but I still believe that an important part of education is about exploring the world and finding your place in it. As an ESL teacher, I was helping students try to make sense of their new life in Canada. I have always had a desire to serve and to contribute, and my way to contribute to a more just society is by being an educator and helping to build a strong public education system.

What are your go-to pieces of tech?

I love the iPad for its versatility. It’s the swiss army knife of technology and it has awesome aesthetics. It’s my professional and personal tool of choice for everything but word processing (the laptop is tough to beat when you need to type up a memo or long email). I take notes and annotate documents in Notability with a stylus; document and share learning via Twitter; watch the Jays on the MLB Network; and read books for pleasure… all on the iPad.

Twitter or something else?

I love Twitter and have to thank Sue for pushing me to adopt it as a learning tool. Twitter is a like gigantic 18th century, Enlightenment, coffee house or salon where ideas are shared and debated freely. An hour on Twitter is like going to a multi-day conference. I use Pocket to capture and curate interesting tweets and readings for later use. I also use it to capture and share my learning later. I haven’t blogged much but I may try a “Twitter essay”, a new text form popularized by Jeet Heer (@heetjeet). Basically, it’s a numbered series of tweets that lays out a brief essay on a topic. Heer’s a left-ish Canadian journalist who edits the New Republic magazine. He’s trying to be a public intellectual who tweets his ideas. He also engages in extended debates on political and cultural topics via Twitter. @bill_torrens

How has technology shifted the way you learn?

I finished university just as the face of learning was changing due to technology. I remember in 1994 when my friend somehow rigged his computer to the TelNet at Western and reserved books from home. I was stunned.

20 years ago it was you, a text, and a highlighter in a cubicle at a library; or, you sat in a lecture hall/seminar and listened to the “sage on the stage” and furiously wrote notes.  Now, my iPad provides access to more knowledge/information than the entire holdings at D.B. Weldon Library at Western. So, my learning is now more multi-media and more democratic than 20 years ago.

Why read (Michael) Fullan deeply when he’s on YouTube and, I think,  being far more clear orally than on paper? Why listen to an “expert” at a conference when the teacher or principal in Iowa with a blog may have more insight into what I’m working on than the Harvard Professor? Why not join a #edchat and engage in a conversation with other educators. Like Paolo Freire believed, knowledge resides in “the people”, and frankly, tech lets us, “the people” share knowledge amongst ourselves freely.

What’s your best piece of advice for those wondering how to use tech to accelerate their learning?

Don’t teach like you were taught and don’t learn how you learned. My Granny was born on a potato farm in 1898 and the classrooms I learned in in the 1970’s were only slightly different than that one room school house. Ask yourself:  are you teaching and learning for yesterday or tomorrow?  So, my advice is to democratise your practice: be curious; be fearless, take risks, co-learn; learn with and from your students. If you teach FDK, sit in on a middle school classroom that is BYOD and watch how kids use tech to learn, or put an iPad on a table in the classroom and watch how the kids use it for inquiry.  If your classroom is not BYOD, see what happens when you let the kids use the tools of their choice. Our students are showing us the way forward and what we learn from them, we can leverage for our own learning and growth.

Behind this series: Inspired by the innovative and trailblazing Royan Lee and the #workflow series on his Spicy Learning BlogI’m asking connected educators around our district how they use technology to accelerate their learning.  In HWDSB, we’ve been talking about how to transform relationships, environments and learning opportunities. The driver is pedagogy, but the accelerator is technology. I’m hopeful that educators’ insights and experiences will kickstart a conversation and even spark some action.

Lisa Neale – #HWDSBaccelerate

Lisa Neale is a seasoned educator with some serious street cred when it comes to using technology. An early adopter and unafraid to explore and then dive right in, Lisa has created the conditions in her school for staff and students to use technology for learning and is always there to support and guide. But don’t let that impressive reputation scare you off – Lisa has some amazing insights to share.

Be There

What is your role in HWDSB?
 Principal at Ancaster Senior Public School https://about.me/lisaneale
  2 What led you into education?
 Great question! If you ask my mom, I have been playing school ever since I was a little girl gathering up friends in the neighbourhood to learn together in our basement or the backyard. Also, during my studies at McMaster University, I volunteered at my former HWDSB elementary school, R. A. Riddell for four years. At RAR, I met a very important person whose name is Tina Falbo. She was and remains a mentor in my life. My time learning alongside with Tina instilled even more in me the core belief: learning makes a difference in all our lives. Education improves life chances and is the key influencer that brings us together. A fun fact, my first year teaching was at RAR back in 1992. The love of learning has been central to who I am and what I am about ever since I can remember. Being an educator is an integral part of my being. It is a blessing and a privilege to be an educator.
What are your go-to pieces of tech? 
 iPhone for sure. It is on the go mobile tech. I always have it with me to capture life. This leads me to my love of iPhoneography. During times where lots of words are in play, it’s my laptop. Lately, I am spending time exploring sketchnoting with a Pen53 on my iPad. I use my iPad daily for reading online accessing Tweetdeck, Flipboard, Feedly and Flipp. Really the tool changes depending upon the task at hand. Where am I? Who am I with? What am I trying to do? I’m very lucky to have device choice. Technology enhances learn flow, work flow and life flow. Always a blend of professional and personal for me.
Twitter or something else?
 Twitter is a definite yes. It’s a social networking tool that connects me to others for so many reasons. Might be a chat, might be a DM or might be a regular stream I follow to pose questions or learn based on a theme or need. There are so many great twitter chats / streams for educators. My favourites: #ontedleaders, #ossemooc, #satchat I very much appreciate how I can learn from afar by following a hashtag and then contribute on my own terms. My PLN is invaluable and I am grateful of how I can opt in and opt out based on my needs as a learner. Instagram is big for me – professionally and personally. Why? Think of the idiom, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Images tell stories. By adding in text with the image, each post is a short form novel and the series of posts in turn create a meaningful story that is told over time. Want to see the @AncasterSrPS school story? Here you go: https://www.instagram.com/ancasterseniorps/
Can’t say I blog much. Although I do have a blog. It has been long standing goal for me to blog more. I read a ton of blogs and am inspired by those who express themselves and share their thinking and experiences this way. I am a blog reader and a will be one day blog writer!
Instagram Power Up for Learning
Has technology shifted the way you learn?
 Yes. Big time. In fact, technology daily impacts how I learn on my own, with and from others. Technology has changed how we live day to day. When I am learning, I am always integrating technology to enhance how the learning happens. Technology opens learning up to be more collaborative, more participatory, more accessible and introduces the notion of 24/7, DIY and JIT learning. The power of accessing technology for collaboration with others, the openness of learning anytime, anywhere and with anyone is beyond empowering, it is essential in today’s world.
What’s your best piece of advice for those wondering how to use tech to accelerate their learning?
Here are some ways and you choose!
1. Play. Carve out time to learn informally based on an interest.
2. Spend time with others who are using technology in ways that intrigue you and are making a difference in how they learn.
3. Explore the power of social networking tools to learn from others. Twitter is a powerful platform. You can learn informally in a self-directed way where there is choice! Want to get started? https://twitterforabsolutebeginners.wordpress.com/
4. Start with one tool / app. My go to is GAFE (Google Apps for Education). Why? No cost! Communication and collaboration online and offline in the cloud. Choice in kind of tool. You can work from any device.
Behind this series: Inspired by the innovative and trailblazing Royan Lee and the #workflow series on his Spicy Learning BlogI’m asking connected educators around our district how they use technology to accelerate their learning.  In HWDSB, we’ve been talking about how to transform relationships, environments and learning opportunities. The driver is pedagogy, but the accelerator is technology. I’m hopeful that educators’ insights and experiences will kickstart a conversation and even spark some action.