Happy Thanksgiving

As we approach the Thanksgiving weekend, I would like to take a moment to reflect on gratitude.

I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way this year.  Although we have experienced some challenges and obstacles as we begin this school year, I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue to work with the staff in our system who I know work so hard for our students.

I am also grateful for the supportive team of Senior Administrators and Board of Trustees who have been of great assistance as we forge ahead at the start of this new school year.

I am grateful for the professional relationships I have where we are able to work through those important discussions about what we need to move our education initiatives forward. I also appreciate when we take the time to share stories about our families and our lives outside of work so that we can laugh with each other and support each other through the challenges that happen in our personal lives.

I am grateful that I have the opportunity to spend time outside running to de-stress and fully appreciate the change of seasons as I tuck away my summer running gear and pull out my long running pants. Soon enough, I’ll be putting on my thermal gear as the early morning and evening temperatures continue to drop.

But above all, I am especially grateful for family and friends who support me through the transitions in my life and who take the time to listen, to encourage, to remind me to take time for myself and who let me be me.

My hope is that all of you also have those special connections in your professional and personal lives that help build you up and support you through transitions and challenges.

I hope that you are able to spend this Thanksgiving long weekend being grateful for all that you have and for everyone in your life who is special to you.  I know that is how I will be spending my Thanksgiving weekend.

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Mindset

The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives. Carol S. Dweck

As I reflect on the fact that we have quickly moved into the second month of the school year, I realize the importance of having a growth mindset.  It would be so easy to feel discouraged and defensive as I realize that situations have caused me to put aside some of the things I wanted to accomplish in the first month.  If I was caught in the paradigm of a fixed mindset I might be quick to lay blame on myself and others for not being where I think I should be.  Instead I focus on moving forward.  It would be so easy to get downtrodden and defeatist but that’s not what we do – we experience the learning and we let it direct us forward.

It’s always about moving forward – the next step. I recall this vividly from my work with secondary school students who struggled in school. Over time I realized that there are many different pathways and many different ways to approach the various pathways. For some students it seems that the pathway is clear: they appear to know where they are going and what they need to do and the next steps seem linear and highlighted for them. For others, the path is not so clear or straight and for these students the next step becomes the focus: they need to keep moving forward even though there are real or perceived barriers in the way.  A growth mindset helps us support others in finding those next steps while it also helps us take those next steps ourselves.

Currently, there are challenges in public education which create situations that are not our normal way of operating; however, we need to continue to move forward and recognize that together we will get through these challenges.  We need to continue to keep lines of communication open and share our thoughts, our concerns and also our best thinking on possible solutions to our issues.

In our growth mindset paradigm we are working through the challenges, we are learning from our setbacks and we are looking ahead.  Through all of this we will not lose sight of the great work we do to support students, families and each other.

Perspective and Opinions

“New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.”

 This quote from John Locke resonates with me as it reminds me of the many different opinions, voices and perspectives in education, and for some, these opinions are often met with opposition because they break away from the norm or impact the comfort of whomever is affected.

In education, there are so many wonderful things that happen each and every day. But with  all the great comes difficult conversations and challenges that give us pause to reflect and review systems, practices and policies in pursuit of equity, fairness, and what’s right for students.

It’s important to debate those challenges and find resolution to the problems that restrict us from moving forward. Often, the delivery of education is influenced by external drivers such as financial, social, economic or political factors that we must respond to in a timely manner.

The one constant in education is change. And we must show resiliency in an ever-changing environment.

Issues in education – especially the ones that appear to alter routines – bring out the most passion in people.  I welcome these debates and hope that others enter into the collective conversations with an open mind and come with their perspective.

It’s the perspectives and opinions that influence and shape future action.

Whether it’s the implications related to the elementary teachers’ job action as it relates to the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show, the growth in the interest of French Immersion or the difficult discussion of accommodation in Haldimand East where elementary school closures are a possibility, we need to listen to everyone’s voice and maintain the relationships as we get through these challenging discussions.

Different opinions are okay, and yes, there may be times where there appears to be conflict, but let’s have the discussion; let’s debate the topics that mean so much to the parents, community and staff, and together resolve the challenging issues that come our way.

It’s only through consultation, debate and dialogue that we can come together and find the best resolution for our students and families.