Who Matters?

493cc0ebd13265ab1c39dacbe5bb631f“Shhhh” please don’t tell the pastor, but there are times when I take advantage of my one hour on a Sunday morning (while sitting in church waiting for the service to start) to generate my weekly list of things to do, resources to collect, colleagues to connect with and even my grocery list.  Yet, once the worship team takes the stage and the first note pierces the air, I shift my focus to the task at hand and listen intently ~ frequently finding significant connections between the message and my day to day interactions with family, friends and co-workers.  This Sunday was no different. On a pad of paper with the IMBES letterhead (another blog topic for another day) I started my list:


Shoppers Drug Mart
ESL Staff Meeting
FreshGrade ~ CBesse
List to LT Team
Review meeting notes from sessions with LIT, FSL and ESL teams
IBM Consultation
Survey Results OPC
iCon ~ Admin session
Western Conference ~ panel members
OPC Symposium ~ Panel members
Blog from IMBES ~ Knocking on Heaven’s Door ~ the power of music in presentations/Researcher/Educator Partnerships

And as per my usual mode of operation, my pen was placed aside as the music filled the auditorium and the service started.  The focus of this series is MYCHURCH and last week there were several parallels to the message which once could easily connect to a school community.  As a school principal, I was thrilled when students, site-based educators and parents referred to our building as “Our School” or “My (speaking from their perspective) School” vs “Your school”.  The selection of the possessive pronoun sends a loud message as to one’s investment in the school.  If you are personally invested, your choices, your dedication and commitment to that school are more visible and meaningful.  If you abdicate connection, then you are less likely to invest and/or take responsibility for challenges and more likely to blame others.

This week, Pastor Rob continued in the MYCHURCH series and shared a light-hearted, yet somewhat macabre story of Cannibals working within a company and he drew connections between Kevin Costner’s character in The Guardian and “his number” as he intertwined passages from the Bible to support the message of “Who Matters”.

As he started to bring the message to a close, he emotionally shared that within the life of this church, he doesn’t matter, the incredible worship team doesn’t matter and gesturing towards us in the audience, he shared that we really don’t matter either.  His closing remark, which had me frantically searching for my “now misplaced” pen and writing in bold letters at the top of my “to do list” was
“Those who matter the most are the ones who are not here yet!”

And there it was…..whether you call it a mission, a vision, a commitment, a strategic priority, goal-setting ~ the title doesn’t matter ~ identifying the audience and doing something concrete about it does!  Our audience in Learning Support Services for our Learning Coordinators, Instructional Coaches, Math Facilitators, those educators who need to matter the most to us are “those who are not here yet”.  Our educators who may not have a solid understanding of a comprehensive literacy or numeracy program. Our educators, who for a variety of reasons are reluctant to welcome other educators into their learning environment and those educators who rarely, if ever take part in voluntary professional learning.  It is those educators who need to matter the most to us.  How can we bring them into our world of professional learning and growth as an educator?  How can we encourage them to see the value in engaging in professional dialogues with others? In our roles, it is very easy to feed and please our educators who are willingly coming the buffet of professional learning that we are offering.  In some cases, our school based staff, who are attending, are poised to bring the additional ingredient of “day to day life experience with students” to the buffet.  Our challenge is to engage our educators who aren’t coming to the table of professional learning, yet!  They are the ones that matter the most. They are the ones who will help us reach our tipping point in terms of real system change.

My challenge to you today (because chances are if you are reading this, then you are somehow connected to developing your own professional learning through Twitter, Facebook or Blogging ~ and as much as I love and appreciate you ~ in the spirit of this blog ~ You don’t matter…smile) is to engage in a conversation with a colleague who may not yet be invested in their own professional learning.  Listen to their story.  Let them know that you care and are here to help.  Recommend a quick article for them to read.  Provide them with a rich task that they might try with their class. Invite them to a conference (LitCon16, iCon, STEAM).  But most importantly….Let them know that THEY MATTER!

I would love to hear how some of those interactions went.

Come write with me……


Let the Journey Begin

Well, here we go again….. Longingly cherishing the final few hours of the Labour Day weekend in our rear view mirror as we look ahead to the journey of another school year.  From the posts on various social media platforms, many educators participated in a number of family traditions, some visited favourite locations, some soaked up the final rays of sunshine at cottages and at beaches, some were making the trek to various universities both near and far as their own children were beginning a new leg of their educational journey, some shared their anxiety and excitement as their young children are beginning their elementary careers and others posted relaxing pictures of BBQs and campfires with family and friends.

It’s hard to believe that in 24 hours that view in the rear view mirror will become almost indiscernible, as visions of welcoming students, supporting new colleagues, distributing notebooks, sharpening pencils, charing Chromebooks, selecting the perfect first day outfit and packing a lunch will be front and center as we embark on this year’s journey ~ the 2016-2017 school year.

File_000 (9)Like others, I took the opportunity this weekend to visit a favourite spot as I, too, wanted to bottle a final few carefree (meeting-less, technology-free ) moments.

And although I hadn’t anticipated thinking about the upcoming school year, as I watched the changing movement of the water I couldn’t help but draw a few similarities.  As I looked to my right, the water was calm and the trees were peacefully reflected on the water. The sunshine seemed to dance and twinkle on a few ripples.

How easy it is for us to “reflect” when things are calm and going well. My initial view reminded me of the beginning of the school year ~ smooth sailing.

As my view started to shift to the left, a few rocks were noticeable just below the surface of the water, with a few larger ones breaking the surface and the movement of the water seemed to pick up some speed.  As our school year begins, very few of us have the luxury of calm waters for an extended period of time ~ the speed at which we need to deal with everything increases and those rocks (obstacles) break the surface and become more noticeable.

As my gaze followed the direction of the stream, the rocks got even larger ~ large enough that one could cross the river and follow a completely different journey.  Large enough that the movement of the water could be described as rushing.  No more could you see the reflection of the trees, and the sunshine, which, to the left, could have been described as twinkling was now exploding so much so that you could no longer see the blue of the water… just the white reflection of the sunshine.

At one point on the river, a large tree had fallen and thereby creating a significant obstacle for the running water ~ at certain spots, impenetrableFile_005 (1)

We  know this feeling all too well.   Lots of obstacles, lots of distractions, things moving so quickly that we don’t make the time to stop and reflect. As we look at the obstacles, we can’t help but wonder if an alternative journey is better than the one we are currently on.

But alas…. as I continued my panoramic view, 180 degrees (better get some math in here….smile) later, the water was calm again, the trees were peacefully reflected and the sunlight once again danced and twinkled on the few crests of ripples.

For those of us returning to similar assignments, we know all too well that the ebb and flow of “my” river is what we are about to embark upon.  Our rocks and overhanging trees may change (last year at this time, we could never have imagined the world of GENTLE), but we can undoubtedly expect them.  We can predict that at some point we’ll want to take another route on our journey ~ as it seems easier than the current rush of water and large boulders.  But we’ll stay the course and celebrate the obstacles (as that is where we do our greatest and most authentic learning) and we’ll cheer as we return to calmer waters ~ more reflective, stronger and ready for the next leg of our journey.

For those of you entering new assignments ~ embrace every part of the river’s flow.  Reflect as much as you can, even if the speed of the water and boulders seem to make it impossible and you have moments in which you want to change direction.  You’ll want to have those memories documented, as they will make the celebration at the end that much more meaningful.

All the best to each and every educator, as they shift from the rear view mirror to looking straight ahead ~ ready to forge the streams!

looking forward

As you look forward to this school year, what are you most excited about? How will you document the reflection of the trees, the rushing water and the boulders (those hidden below the surface, those cresting the surface and those impeding your journey)?

Come write with me…