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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Trustee Reflection 18-02-13

 A common thread in education lingo these day. “In Learning it is not what question you answered today but what question did you ask.” 

The most important thing we as Trustees do, our Strategic Plan. AMDSB’s:

We will
Create Positive, Inclusive Learning Environments
Maximize Outcomes for Students
Engaging our students, staff, families, communities and our world 
Inspiring with evidence-informed teaching and learning
Innovating through the creative potential of emerging technologies
Guided by Principles of
Equity, Character & Stewardship

The strategic plan sets the direction. On the surface and on the ground what does that look like for/to us as trustees? 

Do we as trustees reflect upon the plan to see where every decision we make fits into it? “We are doing for the students” is not enough. The alignment of the BIPSAW to the Plan allows us to see the many areas that an administrative decision can impact. Do we reflect back, Review, follow up to see how those decisions are materializing? Are they having the goals/results we anticipated? Then there is the SIPSAW. The grassroots on the ground version of the plan.  And then we can’t forget the Ministry’s plans (documents) Growing Success and Achieving Excellence. Within all these plans are various priorities, themes, visions, initiatives, strategies, goals, indicators, etc, etc.

Here is an excerpt from the book Fighting for Change in Your School by Harvey Alvy. (P. 2)

Tyack and Cuban (1995) define reforms as ‘planned efforts to change schools in order to correct perceived social and educational problems’ (p.4) At the same time, they insist that change ‘is not synonymous with progress. Sometimes preserving good practices in face of challenges is a major achievement, and sometimes teachers have been wise to resist reforms that violated their professional judgement.’ (p.5) Sirotnik (1999) maintains that most reforms are ‘about whatever is politically fashionable, pendulum-like in popularity , and usually underfunded, lacking professional development, and short lived’ (p.607-608) , noting that too many reformers focus on ‘mandates and accountability schemes’ while overlooking context, commitment, and the resources necessary to implement change. Sirotnik contrasts reform with renewal, stressing that reforms have a beginning and an end (e.g. teaching leads to students’ scores) whereas ‘renewal is not about a point in time; it is about all, points in time-it is about continuous, critical inquiry into current practices and principled innovation that might improve education ‘ (p.608)”

I ask these questions. Can any of these plans exist without the others? What would alignment, integration and implementation look like if one or if two or if even three plans were removed? Which plan has the most impact on student learning? What is the relevancy of these plans? Where does accountability lie and by whom to whom?

Engage Inspire Innovate .... Always Learning. Are they more than just words? 

I have asked my questions now I need to answer them.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Leadership Cometh

Do you choose to be a leader or does leadership choose you or does it happen by default? To begin with we all might have different opinions on what is a leader or what is leadership.

Can you be a leader without leadership or have leadership without being a leader? I have stated this before that politics, no matter what level, is one of the few areas that one can rise to the top without qualifications and knowledge unlike in the business and professional worlds. (Sometimes I wonder about that too)

Here are some common saying about leaders:

'Leaders surround themselves with good people.' Does that make you a good leader or a person with good choice of who are leaders? Where does the leadership come from?

'Leaders inspire others.'  'Leaders let others grow.' These two traits go hand in hand. They give you the freedom and opportunity and desire to advance and thrive.

'Leaders have vision.' This vision is concise and clear to the others around them. The vision is the goal.

'Leaders are good communicators.' Clear, concise, understandable. They are also good listeners. They don't just hear to respond, they listen.

9 Reasons That Make Good Employees Quit

We all strive to be good leaders and show good leadership in what we do. Unfortunately some people are better than others but that shouldn't stop us from trying. Unfortunately this quote comes back to haunt me when I reflect on my leadership. "People rise to their level of incompetence." I hope I recognize that before this happens to me even when we strive to do better.

I believe this graphics summarizes things quite well. (not an endorsement)

                      Can Leadership Cometh within all of us?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Action Required?

"Our brightest blazes are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks." (Samuel Johnson)

Pro-active, re-active, knee-jerk reaction, responsive, due diligence, avoidance, forward looking, steadfast, visionary, moored, progressive, regressive, scattered, grounded, reform, transform, leader, followers, initiates, rebukes.   These are all terms you hear being thrown around by teachers, administrators, staff, trustees, Ministry and yes, parents and community when talking about Education.

Which of those action words are you? Am I? Should we be? At what time? During what circumstance? A question should not end with the answer. The answer should not be the end to the response. A response should not end the action. The action should end with a question.

Yes it is better to be pro-active as opposed to being re-active. But can you always foresee a circumstance? A knee-jerk reaction maybe required to defuse a situation? But what rationale/reasoning behind the decision will determine if the responsive action was the correct one. We should always be doing our due diligence to discover and avoid any pit holes that may arise before us. Are our thoughts and thinking forwarding looking or are we steadfast in our actions and thinking to change? Are we visionary and willing to explore and challenge what is before us or moored in the tried and true (known)? Is what we do progressive or knowingly (or unknowingly) regressive? Do our plans and thinking keep us grounded in our actions or are they scattered with no plan to follow?  Are we reforming or transforming our practises and mind set? Do we know when to be leaders and when to be followers? Is rebuking initiatives accomplishing your goals or just hindering those of others? 

Every thought, plan, action, happening, circumstance &/or reasoning does have an action and reaction (cliche). Does the term 'practical wisdom' by Barry Schwartz from the video Using Our Practical Wisdom come into play here? Does more knowledge whether practical (life) or academia give you more wisdom? Whose wisdom is proper? How does wisdom play into action? 

Is Action Required? Action will happen. The Who, When, Where, Why, What and How will depend on you. Where are your actions taking you?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Contemplating the Future

This blog post was not inspired by this tweet but was the kick in the rear to write a post. I often struggle with what to write about. Is it relevant? Do I actually know enough about the topic? Am I saying anything new? Why am I writing this?

I am always reflecting/questioning my job as a Trustee, "Am I doing a good job?" and the role of a Trustee, "What is a Trustee's role?". It has been 2344 days since I was elected a Trustee. It is over a year away but October 2018 is an election year. What will I use as my criteria in determine to run again? My Job or My Role?

I looked back through some of my old posts for reference and referral. These ones seemed most applicable. Why? (Nov 2010) The Trustee Dilemma (Sept 2012) The Good The Bad The Ugly (May 2016) Others have a glimpse &/or a spark of my thoughts and motivation.

Have I learned a lot as a Trustee? Yes. My trouble is relaying that knowledge on to others

Have I accomplished my initial goals? No. That will always be on going. Improvement? Yes

Have I been an effective Trustee? Within the system? My peers can answer that question. To my Constituents? Election time will determine that. There will always be the conflict between doing right for the Board and right for your constituents. School Trustees Job Represent Constituents & Ask Hard Questions

Yes there is unfinished business.  Am I making a difference?

Depending on what happens with Bill 68, will determine how soon or late I will need to decide if there will be a box beside my name waiting for the X in 2018.

I will leave you with this article. Trustees: Perhaps No Political Office Is More Important

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Twitter these last days seems to had more talk about the abolishment of student's marks, award & ceremonies and even grades. Is today's society/mindset ready for this? You read posts by @Nunavut_teacher, @gcouros, @joe-bower and it all seems so simple.This movement even gets airplay, @MrWejr What drives students and even parents to learn and excel? Is their motivation extrinsic or intrinsic? How do they know what they know or where they are at? Is education & learning a competition with winners and losers? Here in Ontario how could a teacher, school or board move away from grading, when they all use the same Provincial Report Card? I believe this train of thought or movement has merit but I am not a convert yet.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What is Education?

After reading this article Can There Be A More Apt Example Of Trying To Do The Wrong Thing Right Than In Schools? one can be drawn into many areas of reflection.

What is the Philosophy of Education? Philosophy of Education

What is the purpose of school? What Is The Purpose of Education? It is continually changing through the years.

What is school? Instilling, acquiring, mastering &/or executing knowledge. What Is Education? Insights From The World's Greatest Minds

Is school the acquisition of skills? What skills? Eight Critical Skills of Modern Education What about 'Life Skills'? Life Skills Education I meant cooking, financial, etc. Or are those home taught skills?

These are some of the many questions circulating in the Education world. There are many more questions from curriculum & content to authentic/relative learning to assessment to technology use.

Can school be all of these? Do you choose different parts from different areas as your base? Are these questions and their answers, why education is accused of slow change? Little changes over time resulting in fundamental changes are used in the face of  'that was the way school was when I went' (status quo).


Schools are criticized for not teaching cursive writing. Maybe they should teach cursive and not printing. What other alphabet(Latin) has two written/printed forms? Which form is more prevalent?

Can you see part of the dilemma? What is Education? Or is this a look at Education from an acedemic view as opposed to a practical/in practice view?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Good The Bad The Ugly

My May Trustee Reflection. This maybe some what tongue & cheek and if taken out of context, thoughts behind the post will be lost. Web links were added to the enrich the Blog post. This is the most inspiring yet depressing yet hilarious yet horrifying yet heartwarming grad speech

"The Good The Bad The Ugly

 A simplistic, maybe naive look at what does the good the bad the ugly look like in an education setting/scenario.

Every meeting we have good news. Our students do great things, our staff do great things, our schools do great things. It is not fluff. We our proud of the achievements and accomplishments within our system. Can we always pin point the policy, procedure, pedagogy, practice or philosophy that nurtured that good news? Often not. Everything within the education system is so intertwined. Our students and our front line on the ground staff are our best good news. 10 Ways to Determine the Strengths of Our Students

The bad unfortunately sometimes happens. But is the bad bad? Engage Inspire Innovate .... Always Learning. We tell our students to learn from their mistakes, that mistakes are a learning experience not a failure. What about so called mistakes from staff, To Engage To Inspire To Innovate? Are they given the freedom and support to try the uncharted? Being at the forefront and jumping on the bandwagon before it is trending may leave one vulnerable to criticism and maybe the realization things are not working. Do they alter course and admit miscalculation or stay course in hopes the mistake goes unnoticed by others? What direction to take? All too often the status quo prevails which leads to the accusation that education reform/transformation is too slow or even not working. Is the resistance to making change from the fear of the unknown or the fear of what one must give up to achieve change? The conversations around these mistakes are maybe just as valuable as the good news. Advancement. The bad may ultimately be the best practice. Always Learning. When School Leaders Empower Teachers Better Ideas Emerge

The ugly, you never want to deal with. It is out there though. Whether it is an ARC decision, curriculum & programming offerings, staffing & staff issues or finance & budgeting, there will always be those that disagree with the decision. The decisions can be divisive and controversy. This is when we as trustees feel like we are under attack. How we approach the ugly, how we deal with the ugly and how we resolve the ugly can be a challenge and a building opportunity. The ugly allows for the bad and the good. Improving Schools: A Response to Kumbaya

In this scenario it almost appears the good is provided by our students, the bad by our staff and the ugly by us. I believe that is the way it should be. 4 Questions to Improve Your School

You can tell you are doing things right when the ugly and the bad empower the good."