Dad Was a Good Fisherman

Even the weather can’t put a damper on the wonderful feelings that have been created over the past few days. There are so many incredible things for me to be thankful for, from our amazing staff, and the learning we did together Friday, to my wonderful family, to the ability to spend some time at Waskesiu on Sunday, to the fun we will be having during our games night. So many wonderful things in my life. I’m also excited about the week ahead, and the addition of another family member at #WaldheimSchool. Briane Saathoff starts tomorrow, and I’m thankful for that.

As I mentioned, our family made a quick trip up to Waskesiu and Elk Ridge on Sunday. We spent the cold afternoon at the Discovery Center, followed by a delicious latte, and then looking for wildlife. The afternoon wrapped up with a tremendous turkey supper at Elk Ridge. Whenever we venture up north, my thoughts always wander back to my father, and the times we spent together there as a family. My father made a modest living from the business he operated, but he always made sure we would be able to spend a week or two at Waskesiu. We’d stay in the same cabins every year, and while they were small and, well, ‘rustic’, we felt like we were the richest people on earth. One of my favorite memories is of the times my father and I would head out early in the morning to try our luck fishing. I have no clue how many fish we caught over the years, that wasn’t what was important to me. What was important, and what I remember so clearly, was the time I spent with my father. Now that he has passed, I know I can never have those moments again, however, what I can try to do is remember why it was so enjoyable, and try to be there for my kids the way my father was for me.

Something I will always have, however, is my dad’s tackle box. This box of fishing lures, extra line, a filleting knife, some pliers, and other items a fisherman may need still sits in my parent’s garden shed. I know some of the favorite hooks in there as well. If you’ve fished, you may recognize spoons like the Len Thompson five of diamonds or red and white, or the rapala floating lure. These were some of his favorites, and he always seemed to have success with them. This success, however, was not simply because of the lure on the end of his line. I used these as well, and he always seemed to catch more fish than I did. No, it was more than the tools he had access to, it was the way he used them, and it was his intuition and his patience. Dad did not simply cast his hook at random, he knew the signs to look for, and knew when, and more importantly, when not to fish. The more I think about, the more I realize, my dad was a pretty good fisherman.

It makes me think about assessment and about our conversations from Friday morning. We talked a lot about getting to know our kids, about meeting them where they are, about using assessment to inform, about working together, and about believing that as a group we have the ability to help students achieve success (I believe Jesse called that collective teacher efficacy). I think about the tackle box we have access to for our assessments and am reminded of all the shiny, colorful lures I was tricked into buying. Thinking of your experience in education, what shiny, new assessment tools have come along? Were they effective? Just as it wasn’t the hooks my dad used but how he used them, it isn’t the tools we use to assess, it’s how we use them. Just as my dad used his intuition to find out where the fish were, you use your intuition to find out where your students are in terms of their learning. Just as my dad was patient, and believed the fish were there, you are patient, and believe the knowledge is there. And just as my dad knew fishing with other great fishermen made him better, you know learning with each other makes you stronger teachers.

Here’s what lies ahead on this shortened, yet busy week:


  • Briane’s first day, WELCOME!
  • Bruce & Jesse at ALT ~ Katharine acting admin
  • K – 6 assembly (fire prevention week)
  • K – 4 staff meeting (Shantel facilitating)


  • Grade 6 soccer day: boys hosting 3 other teams, girls travel to Duck Lake


  • Student services meeting (Bruce, Joanne, Brenda, Jesse) at school


  • Fire drill and fire fighter challenge

As always, create a great week!

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About the Author: Bruce Mellesmoen