Gold, Green, Blue or Orange

A few days ago, @MmeBergevin posted a visual of the True Colours quadrants and the accompanying personality traits associated with each colour.  Seeing that graphic took me back to the spring of my last year as a classroom teacher.  In those days, there was a selection of off-site professional learning opportunities available to educators, as opposed to our current model of site based school improvement focused learning days.  I knew at that time that I would be transitioning into a vice principal role in the upcoming fall and I was intrigued by this session.

I can clearly recall the two presenters ~ one whom I immediately connected with and the other, whose style seemed unorganized and frustrating to me as a participant.  As we went through various activities and learned about the four quadrants and how knowledge of our colour could influence our interactions with others, I learned that day that I was drawn to presenters who shared a similar personality colour.  As soon as I had determined my dominant colour of Gold, I knew that when it was time for the presenters to reveal their colours I could easily identify the one who was Gold and the one who was Orange.

Oh, what a simplistic, single-minded view I had of myself and those around me….  Such an embarrassment when I think about it.  I was dismissive and jealous at the same time of others because I had not learned to appreciate the value within each quadrant.

Fast forward to today and add 15 years of learning about differentiation, multiple intelligences and emotional/social intelligence and now I find myself looking at the same quadrant with an entirely new lens.

I wonder how 15 years ago I landed solely within the Gold quadrant and could not imagine myself identifying with many of the traits within the other quadrants.  As I look at those same definitions today, it is amazing how many of the traits within all four quadrants I know see evidence of on a regular basis.  Is this simply as a result of life experiences and being in the role of a school leader (which creates the conditions for interacting with so many individuals) or have I done something intentional to move from monochromatic to polychromatic?
I can’t help but wonder if I were to have the opportunity to return to the scene of the original professional learning session if I would now see the strengths of the presenter who identified herself as Orange.   I hope so…

Take a look at the graphic.   Do you have a dominant quadrant?


Come write with me…

Genuine or Fake?

The past two evenings we have had the absolute pleasure of meeting educators who are currently in the process of transferring schools and are considering Sir Arthur Currie as their next step along their teaching/learning journey.   I am continually amazed and impressed with their preparation and their passion as they take all of 20 minutes to try to condense as much as possible into the body of their responses. I never underestimate the courage that it takes to put yourself out there.

When creating our interview experience, we want to ensure that candidates feel a sense of ownership for both the beginning and the end of the interview.  Once we complete the questions, there is always an opportunity for candidates to share something that we did not capture within the body of the questions or specific questions that they may have for us ~ about the assignment or the school.

One of the most frequently asked questions seems to always centers around the SAC school culture.   When we first opened, we committed to making our practice public and to that end, there is not a day that goes by that something is not posted on social media.  There is a sense of pride in the day-to-day learning activities and there is a sense of collaboration that is easy to highlight.

However… inquisitive, prospective candidates all want to know the same thing, “Is what we see on social media and hear ‘throughout the valley’, genuine?”

The easy answer could always be, “Of course”. However, we find that those asking the question are looking for something more substantial ~ a concrete example of what makes our SAC crew so incredible.

In addition, as always seems to happen, those examples are never hard to find as they occur regularly.  The example that we shared last night was one that had just happened that day.

One of our Intermediate teachers posted a message on our Outlook Group site ~ “We are in the process of figuring out numbers for Graduation, please let me know if you are planning on attending”.  One would expect to see a thread of, “I’ll be there” or “Sorry I can’t make it”

However, our thread read like this…

“I’ll be joining! Let me know what you’d like help with”
“I’ll be there! Please let me know if there’s anything I can help with”
“Count me in! Willing to help out wherever needed”
“I’ll be there! Let me know if you need help with anything as well J”
“I’ll be there and would love to help out again this year”
“I can help too”
“I will be there and am happy to help any way needed”

That is only one-half of the responses that were shared within that thread.  It is important to keep in mind that as a brand new school ~ none of those educators, who so willingly stepped up to lend a hand, have taught any of our Graduates.

This is just one example of what happens each day at SAC.  There are no pockets of excellence. Instead, there is an entire community of excellence where everyone demonstrates kindness, exceptional practice and a desire to learn as much as possible from each other.

To those candidates who have interviewed with us ~ Thanks for asking the question.

When determining if you want to join a school community, what is the one question that you ask?


Come write with me….

Who’s Asking the Questions?

Staffing season always brings wonderful surprises. The meeting of new educators and the opportunity to reconnect with others whom I have worked with in other settings is exciting. I continue to be impressed with the preparation that candidates do prior to our time together. Whether it is the creation and sharing of digital resources or the collection of information about our school that has been captured by scrolling through our school Twitter feed or connecting with current staff members.  The extra work never goes unnoticed and is always appreciated.

As is the case with most interviews, once the formal interview questions have been asked, we always provide the candidates with an opportunity to ask questions about the school and/or the assignment ~ and tonight was no exception.

As we fielded those candidate generated questions about our school goal, our tapestry of diverse learners, our inventory of technology and our school team, I couldn’t help but wonder what an interview format would look like if the candidates were provided with the responsibility of asking rich questions vs our traditional format of having them answer a prescribed set of school generated questions.  Would we gain a better sense of the candidate’s fit for our SAC team?  Would we gain a better sense of their classroom practice? Would we gain a better sense of how they would embrace collaboration opportunities?

I believe that you can learn a great deal about a person by the questions that they ask. Do they have an inherent sense of curiosity?  Are they truly excited about learning something about a new topic?  Are they asking questions that lead to a conversation or ones that can easily be answered with a simple Yes or No?

Just as we expect our educator’s practice to evolve and be responsive to changing needs, we need to ensure that our practice, as school leaders, also changes and evolves to keep us current and pushing not only our thinking, but the thinking of those around us.  Maybe that next level of thinking in terms of interviews is not grounded in creating the next best question ~ it’s more about creating the space where candidates can ask better questions.

If you were applying for a position at a school and you could ask only one question, what would it be?


Come write with me….

Welcoming Spring 2019

And just like that…. the sights, the sounds and the smells of Spring 2019 were upon us on Sunday.  After a white winter and a wet April, the smell of fresh cut grass and newly dressed cocoa bean layered flower beds wafted through the air.

Coats, boots and earmuffs had given way to capris, sandals and ball caps. Car windows were down and sun-roofs were open.  People were less rushed and more apt to smile. Roadways were shared more noticeably with cyclists and drivers seemed more patient, with less honks and less rushing through amber lights.

The sudden feeling of overwhelming warmth upon entering a car that had been waiting in the sunshine was a welcomed change from the chilling cold of the last six months.

Front lawns were coming to life with lush green grass, speckled with dots of dandelion yellow.

Gardens seemed to come alive with various shades of greenery poking through the soil and growing towards the sky. Perennial flowers, which had been hibernating beneath their winter blankets, are getting ready to explode with a rainbow of colours.

The sounds of running water from nearby creeks almost drowned out  the croaking of frogs in the pond, serenading the start of the most anticipated, colourful, rejuvenating season. River banks, which are not known for their visual appeal, were ablaze with yellow flowers. We know all too well that this blanket of colour is fleeting.

The trees, which have braved the ice and snow over the winter are now ready to release their buds ~ the first step towards a summer of colour and shade.




May we all embrace this season and enjoy the days with sunshine ~ all the while remembering that rain is needed in order for an abundance of blooming blossoms.

What excites you about the arrival of spring 2019?

Come write with me….

Adjust the Tuning

Carly Simon is one of my all-time favourite songwriter/performers. No one pens a song about empowering women or the natural ebbs and flow of relationships like her.  Long before Taylor Swift became known for penning songs about former boyfriends, Carly wrote the most recognizable song of all time about a former lover ~ You’re so Vain.  To this day, people continue to wonder whom it was about, all the while being able to relate to many of their own past experiences and conjure up pictures of past relationships.

Another one of her songs that has provided me with inspiration at various points in my life over the past several years is, The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of. The first four lines are a powerful invitation and one that resonates with me on so many levels.


Take a look around now
Change the direction
Adjust the tuning
Try a new translation

As we enter the final two months of this school year, it would be so easy to fall into the trap of “Checklist” leadership. Let’s just get it done ~ create a “to do” list and check away!  But I can’t help but wonder what it will look like if I adjust our tuning, as Carly invites us to do and think in terms of not a “to do” list, but to a “to experience list”.

My list, like so many of my readers’ lists seems endless right now and yes by June 27th we have a number of tasks that must be completed.  However, as I work my through each day, my goal is to intentionally remember that many of my “to do” tasks are an opportunity for an experience. Here are a couple of opportunities that lay ahead for me this week:


To Do To Experience
Complete Round one Interviews Experience the excitement of having dedicated time to listen and learn from educators who are excited about joining our SAC Crew.

Experience our learning as we create new questions and provocations and see if they provide us with the information that we’ll need to make some very challenging decisions.

Kindergarten Open House Experience the thrill of watching families as they take their first step on their child’s educational journey.  I wonder about the conversations that are happening as families prepare to come and meet us.

Experience the conversations that the K team will have following the Open House and use our observations to make the best possible decisions around class placements for the upcoming school year.

Experience the laughter and giggles that will undoubtedly erupt as we, once again, don our aprons and perform The Very Hungry Caterpillar for another audience.

What are some things on your “to do” list that if you try a new translation or change the direction can be more of an experience than a task that just needs to be done?

Come write with me….

Stitch Something Special

Last Sunday, at church, Sheryl Scott delivered the message. In past posts I have shared Sheryl’s exceptional vocal abilities and her talent for creating  scripts for weekly dramas that touch one’s heart, soul and head. When describing Sheryl’s voice to others, I often say that when I hear her singing it sounds like Christmas and when I hear her deliver a message there is no doubt that she is speaking directly to me. She has a down to earth, humourous and emotional way of sharing a story.
The message was the first in a series about Joy ~ and more specifically, the Joy of Adversity. One of the quotes which provided a pivotal point for the service, was taken from Shauna Niequist’s Cold Tangerines ~ Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life. It focused on the importance of not waiting for that magical BIG moment as  the magic is actually found in each and every moment. And while we are waiting for the perfect moment we have lost out on the magic that surrounds us each and every day.
In trying to find the exact quote, I landed on a page with several different quotes from the book (by the way I placed another Amazon order tonight… LOL) 
This one resonated more deeply as it connected directly to one of those magical moments.

To all the secret writers, late-night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists of every stripe, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes. Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel. Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed or when your homework is done, or instead of one more video game or magazine, create something, anything.
Pick up a needle and thread, and stitch together something particular and honest and beautiful, because we need it.

Today, not unlike most days at Sir Arthur Currie, a couple of educators collaborated on a moving, beautiful and one might even say spiritual project. They came and shared the process, the end product and their pride in their students accomplishments.
In a few weeks we are welcoming Margriet Ruurs, one of my favourite authors of books such as “Stepping Stones” and a Forest of Reading selection entitled, “The Elephant Keeper”. In preparation for her visit, our LLC educator, Danielle Cadieux and one of our talented grade three teachers, Alicia Usher created an opportunity for our students to re-create the unique artistic platform of using small polished stones as their medium to create a picture.
The end result, which included some moving text was astounding. We often talk a lot about leveling the playing field in terms of multiple, attainable  entry points for students.. This memorable learning activity did just that… no longer was fine motor control and the ability to effectively hold a paintbrush or a  sketching pastel a prerequisite to creating something beautiful and heartwarming.
The students’ imagination, connection to the text, and precision with pebble placement were the only factors  required to create a stunning end product.
I can’t wait to see Margriet’s reaction to these works of art.

As the busyness of the week becomes a distant memory and we look towards a welcomed weekend, I challenge you to take up your needle and thread. What will you stitch together that will give you joy? (some writing, some spring garden preparation, the completion of a craft, some painting) I wonder if you will share it with your students and colleagues on Monday?

For me, I’m experiencing joy in my daily writing! As I stitch together reflections, events, hopes and disappointments, I’m working towards creating a quilt of May memories ~ ones that remind me to find the magic in the many moments of each day.

Come write with me….


What are You Holding?

Today I had the pleasure of attending the Celebrating Linguistic Diversity Conference in Toronto, along with a number of our exceptional TVDSB ESL/ELD educators.  Although my “official” reason for attending the conference was an a representative from Teacher Mentors Abroad, the traffic patterns in the Publisher’s Display afforded me the opportunity to scoot out and capture a few minutes of the presentations given by our own TVDSB team members.  I could not help but be filled with pride as the participants were truly engaged and inspired by the stories, strategies and strength based lens that our team brought to each session.

One of the sessions, which was offered by Emma Wilson, a school social worker, I have had the pleasure of experiencing before and even providing a personal context when she presented it at our System Leaders’ Day a few months ago.  Emma starts her session with posing this open-ended and thought provoking question ~ What are YOU holding?  And then she transitions into “Who is Holding You?

As a school leader, the list of what we are holding can seem endless at times and depending on the day and the circumstances, priorities shift ~ as they should as we are constantly being responsive to the needs of our school community.  If asked to alphabetize my list of what I am currently holding, here is where I would start:



Absenteeism rates
Bike Rodeo
Code of Conduct
Digital Portfolios
Furniture for new classes
Interviews for new positions
Juggling (without dropping)
Kindergarten Open House
License renewal
Minutes for TVACE meeting
Naturalized Playground
Quality time in classrooms
Resources for new classes
School Travel Plan
Teacher Performance Appraisals
Unfilled positions
Wall Art
X walks
Yellow harness
My list is not unique or special ~ it is neither more important nor less important than what others would create.  It is a combination of things that our important to me and things that are important to others.

However, as I reflect on this list, one thing is obvious and that is that I’ll never be able to effectively tackle the list alone. A healthy school community needs all hands on deck.  Leadership isn’t about holding it all.  It’s about bringing hands together!

So what you are holding?


Come write with me…..

My Mentor, My Friend

15 years ago, almost to the date, I received the call that changed my professional life in a way that I could have never imagined.  I had finally agreed to take on the role of Acting Vice Principal and my first assignment was at W. Sherwood with Diane DuMaresq as my administrative partner.

I clearly recall that day in mid-April when I nervously drove from my current school to Fox for my first meeting with Diane. I worried about what to wear, what I would say and what would be expected of me.

I sat in the front office area and peered through the window where I could see Diane firmly converse with a student about an issue on the schoolyard.  Once the student was dismissed, I was invited in. I recall sitting and listening and rarely getting in a word. Diane and her matter of fact, rapid-fire description of the school, mesmerized me. When my allotted time was finished, I stood up to leave and experienced that awkward moment of how to execute a graceful exit.  Diane alleviated the confusion by wrapping her arms around me and giving me a warm hug.

That day was the first day of my apprenticeship ~ it was an education in leadership, learning and unconditional support.

No one intentionally crossed or questioned Diane.  She was small in stature but mighty in personality. I recall our very first day together as an admin team. It was our June PD day. The staff was gathered in the library and I was following Diane, waiting for a task.  She breezed into the room, dropped the pile of books on the table and said, “Well, staffing if f$%^&*(.   I must have looked shocked at the use of profanity, but the staff all laughed and I knew immediately that that was just another one of Diane’s trademarks.

The next 2 years were filled with lots of laughter, a great deal of learning and a few tears along the way. Diane epitomized the servant leader role. She would do anything to ensure that staff could focus on the job of teaching and learning.  I watched in amazement as she would sit beside a teacher and help him craft report card comments.   I watched and listened as she went toe to toe with a parent who had accused a teacher of not covering the curriculum.  She continued to support that teacher, as the complaint made its way to the Director.

Diane never shied away from conflict or controversy. Her staff knew when she was upset and the cause of her consternation (usually something at the system level).  However, through every situation, it was clear that she loved them and had their back.

I recall a time when a staff member felt she was ready to move forward and Superintendents provided the message that she needed more time in the classroom.  At both professional and personal cost, Diane risked her own reputation and experienced the wrath of others in order to demonstrate her support of that staff member.

As she entered the final year of her career, it was her desire that I transition from the role of VP to the role of principal at Fox. I remember thinking that I would never be able to fill her shoes and that our styles were so different.  However, in true Diane fashion, once she set her mind to something, there was no stopping her.  In order to ensure the success of her plan, we started the year with her taking on 0.5 of my LST assignment, so that I could take on 1.0 of the admin role.  Therefore, by the time December rolled around, it was seamless and the Superintendent had no choice but to support the plan.

That selflessness ran through Diane’s heart! 

Sadly, Diane passed away last week after a short battle with cancer.  She has left an impact on every educator whose back she had and whose practice was pushed because of her support.  She has left an impact on every student who she encouraged to be the best they could be. She has left an impact on families who wanted assurance that their child’s school was a safe place.

I wish I had written this public acknowledgement earlier, so that she might have read it and known, once again, how truly indebted I am for her mentorship, her leadership and most importantly her friendship.

Who has influenced your career? Have you taken the opportunity to let them know what they’ve meant to you…..before it’s too late.


Come write with me….

May 2019 ~ Day 1

Well my loyal readers, it has been a while since we have connected.  Lately, I have been more focused on my consumption of content than on my own creation of content. So on the eve of May 1, I have decided to challenge myself to get back to the routine of intentional observation, meaningful reflection and ultimately content creation with the goal of publishing a post a day for the month of May.

Each day and on most days, several times a day, something “blog worthy” occurs as I walk the halls of Sir Arthur Currie, enter learning environments and interact with staff, students and community members.  My days are filled with rich, engaging, funny and thought-provoking conversations. All of which, if unpacked and explored contribute to my learning and provide material for blog posts.  Each morning, as I click on the magnifying glass on my Twitter feed and scroll through my selected search options, I read a variety of articles or view relevant graphics that deeply resonate with my current practice. I find myself wanting to deep digger and connect more purposefully on many of the topics within my morning Twitter travels.

Then, as my day progresses, interesting phrases or image-creating trios of descriptive words will pop into my mind for a fleeting moment, only to be replaced by yet another task needing to be completed and in that moment, the genesis of a blog post is lost ~ never to come to full fruition.

Our Library Learning Commons Educator continues to place new and exciting youth fiction books on my desk with at note stating, “Your next read” and I dutifully take them home and read them. However, I am not fully digesting the power of the message within these books as I am not sharing my reflections in writing.

My #oneword for 2019 was PRESENT.  I am looking forward to the upcoming month where I will have to be intentionally present as I commit to content creation.

If April showers bring May flowers, may the shower of ideas that have been percolating throughout the past month nourish and enrich the soil of my mind, so that I can create a garden of blooming blog posts for the month of May.

I invite my readers to take this journey with me. Make a commitment to publish something this month. Together let’s be content creators, not just content consumers.

Come write with me…