My Motto Moving Forward

Coming back from our École Sage Creek School Staff Retreat yesterday, I had a lot running through my mind. Just like our two feeder schools are currently packed, so was our two day agenda. We had a lot to uncover (thank you Brian Aspinall for putting a whole new meaning to this word). Everything from updates, questions that lead to more questions, decisions, data and do’s and don’ts were discussed. Although we couldn’t finalize everything, there were meaningful connections made within the entire staff and we could truly feel our school’s vision come to life.

At one point in day two, magic happened. Everyone was sitting in a circle as we shared our expertise and passions with our crew. It was so incredible and empowering to be in a room, surrounded by passionate people who have such a broad range of talents, experience and expertise to share. I immediately imagined ourselves in the school and thought to myself – wow, not only are our students in great hands, but so are we as a team when it comes to onsite professional development. Each of our strengths are valued and all of our passions are welcome. This immediately made me think of a passage  from George CourosThe Innovator’s Mindset as to what we want for our students.

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Thank you Tara Martin, for starting BookSnaps. Here’s to my first one!

When we have voice and choice as to what and how we learn, we are resilient, risk-takers and invested. Everything becomes authentic and has a purpose. What more could we want for our students? Just like Brian Aspinall said at the Connect 2017 conference, “All children can achieve if given a fair chance in learning.” I agree wholeheartedly with this statement.

Although there are still many unknowns and that we still have many more discussions to have and decisions to make until we open this fall, one thing I am convinced of is that we all agree that we are here to do what is best for our students. In regards to my motto, what is best for our students is what is right. Will it be perfect, no, that’s an unattainable ideal. Will it be messy, absolutely. Will it be easy, not a chance.

The students who will be walking in their building next year are the reason why we’re here. As George Couros told us at our April 7th PD, “Don’t forget who you serve”. Their thoughts, interests and passions matter. They will leave at the end of grade 8 knowing that they have learned and put into practice all the skills they will ever need to be successful – whatever their definition of that word may be. They will feel confident, creative and connected. They will leave knowing they’ve left a mark on the school and have made an impact on their school community. They will leave with a sense of pride and most importantly, purpose. They matter. People matter. As Marc Poirier and Harry Bell mentioned, “It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.” So worth it! Change definitely is an opportunity to do something amazing!

As I close this post, I noticed I was mentioning some of my mentors who have influenced me and who have shaped me into who I am today as an educator and learner. People from all walks of life, who have different approaches and different passions. Each one of them has contributed to my growth and has pushed me to take risks. As we move forward as a team, I look forward to having at least 36 more mentors (and 600 or so students) to look up to and who will continuously push me to become a better version of myself. At École Sage Creek School, I believe our students will feel much of the same. Being inspired by many, while being allowed to stay true to themselves. ♥

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A Vision Worth Living

At a recent meeting, I was asked to consolidate my thoughts in a one page document on what my vision would be for my ideal school. This original piece is written in French and the English version follows.  Please note, writing in English is not my strong suit.

Ma vision pour l’école idéale

L’école idéale, selon moi, est fondée sur l’intégrité et basée sur le principe qu’il faut avant tout, construire et nourrir des relations riches et positives avec la communauté scolaire entière. Le climat et la culture d’école s’enracinent chez les apprenants, de sorte que les élèves, leurs familles et le personnel ont un sentiment d’appartenance élevé envers leur école et ressentent envers elle, une fierté sans pareille.

Dans mon école idéale, la collaboration est mise au profit de tous les apprenants, tant chez les élèves que les adultes. L’action, la réflexion et la communication ouverte sont également privilégiées. Le personnel est ouvert d’esprit, transparent et valorise le développement professionnel. Les membres du personnel partagent leurs connaissances et leurs compétences avec leurs collègues ainsi que la communauté scolaire, de sorte que les élèves tirent profit des meilleures pratiques pédagogiques possibles telles que l’apprentissage par projets, la conception universelle, les Makerspaces, les flipped-classrooms et les student-led classrooms, pour n’en nommer que quelques-unes. Subséquemment, les élèves acquièrent les compétences du 21e siècle en vivant des expériences riches et réfléchies et en recevant de la rétroaction sur mesure. Puisque les relations sont inspirées de confiance, les élèves se permettent de prendre des risques sans se soucier de vivre des échecs, car toute la communauté perçoit ces derniers comme des occasions d’apprendre, d’ajuster et de grandir. Dans cet environnement sécurisant, le personnel aussi se sent à l’aise de prendre des risques, d’essayer de nouveaux outils technologiques et mettent en pratique de nouvelles approches, car le bien-être des élèves est ce qui est au cœur de l’apprentissage. Le personnel est engagé à mieux faire parce qu’il sait mieux faire. Dans mon école idéale, tous les joueurs contribuent chacun à leur façon, afin de former une équipe gagnante, car celle-ci est consciente du fait qu’on est plus fort ensemble qu’individuellement. Dans cet esprit d’équipe, on célèbre les succès et on partage nos défis dans le but de trouver des solutions ensemble.

L’école idéale, selon moi, se distingue des autres écoles en voulant éveiller et cultiver la curiosité des apprenants et d’exploiter le potentiel qui est caché au creux d’eux. Pour se faire, les enseignants sont à l’écoute de leurs élèves et intègrent leurs intérêts et leurs passions au sein de projets valorisants pour que les élèves soient des actionnaires motivés. Dans mon école idéale, les élèves et le personnel vivent des expériences émouvantes. Le transfert n’est pas seulement souhaité lors des expériences vécues à l’extérieur de la salle de classe, mais également effectué dans le cadre de la salle de classe, par l’entremise de projets authentiques qui ont un impact significatif et qui se vivent à l’échelle locale et globale dans le moment présent. Dans mon école idéale, le pouvoir est partagé, mais un leadership  engagé et convaincu sait mobiliser son personnel. La qualité règne et les personnes ne se sous-estiment pas. On se fixe des objectifs, on les atteints et on vise toujours plus haut afin de se dépasser.

Dans mon école idéale, chaque personne qui y est a une voix qui porte, mais ensemble, on chante la plus belle des harmonies. Quand la musique et la mélodie se font entendre, les autres ne peuvent s’empêcher de se mettre, eux aussi, à chanter.

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A Vision Worth Living

The ideal school, in my opinion, is based on integrity and on the principle that we must first build and nourish positive relationships with the entire school community to create a school climate and culture that is rooted so deep within the learners that students, their families and staff develop a strong sense of belonging and feel an unparalleled sense of pride towards their school.

In my ideal school, collaboration is put to the benefit of all learners, both students and adults alike. Action, reflection and open communication are a way of being. The staff is open-minded, transparent and values growth and professional development. They share their knowledge openly with their colleagues and the entire school community so that students benefit from the best pedagogy possible such as project-based learning, universal design, Makerspaces, flipped-classrooms, student-led classrooms, or a combination of these, to name a few. Subsequently, students acquire 21st century skills by experiencing deeper learning and by self-reflecting daily. They become problem solvers, critical thinkers and life-long learners. Since relationships are built on trust, students allow themselves to take risks without worrying about failure because the whole community sees failure as an opportunity to learn, adjust and grow. In this safe environment, the staff also feels comfortable taking risks, trying new tools and putting new approaches into practice, because the students’ well-being is at the heart of it all. In my ideal school, the staff is committed to do better because they know better. All players contribute in their own way to form a winning team. They are aware that they are better together than apart. In the spirit of teamwork, success is celebrated and challenges are shared to find solutions together.

The ideal school, in my opinion, leads by example, fosters growth and challenges conventional thinking. Students’ potential is reached by giving them their voice and allowing them to incorporate their passions and interests into what they are learning. Students are empowered, valued and motivated. Schools are networked and students make a difference at both local and global levels. In my ideal school, power is shared and the leadership knows how to mobilize its staff. Quality reigns and individuals do not underestimate their competencies. They set goals, reach them and aim higher to better themselves.

In my ideal school, every person has a voice that carries, but together, they sing in perfect harmony.  When the music and the melody are heard, others cannot help but sing themselves.