One of my favourite memories from many years ago is being an assistant coach for my sister, Sandy’s, softball team. We were part of a team made up of girls 14 and 15 years old, and the head coach had assembled a group of individuals, some of who were natural athletes, while some were just starting to develop their skills. What was unusual about this group was their commitment to the process. The coach was a stickler for several things, like how the girls all had to have their hair up and back, how our warm ups always looked the same, and how the people on the bench were just as critical to our success as those in the field. It was a team, and we were excellent. What was so cool about this experience was that my parents would come to all of the games and watch their kids with pride. I remember dad and Sandy replaying parts of the game, and discussing great plays and missed opportunities. It is a memory I will always cherish because of the joy it brought to our parents.
Those of you that are parents will understand this feeling, and I thought about this on Monday morning as Jesse was sharing a story of watching his son score a highlight reel goal in his hockey game. It was as if Jesse was reliving that moment right in front of Corinne and I, goosebumps and all! His jubilation wasn’t focused on the goal, but it was about the celebration of his son’s growth as a hockey player. It was beautiful.
On Monday morning we welcomed Charmain Laroque (@charmaindawn ) to sit with our family at #WaldheimSchool as we discussed reconciliation. As we came together in our learning, I quickly began to fill with pride. I saw people invest in their learning and invest in their colleagues. People were serious about the work we were doing, and I could feel the growth happening in the gym in real time. As we shared in our discussion circle the impact of the activity I was overcome by the outpouring of emotion. It was authentic, meaningful, heartfelt and beautiful.
We listened to Shantel and Mitchell share what they have learned this year as a result of taking a risk, opening their classroom, and inviting in guests to help bring indigenous ways of knowing into their class. As they answered Jesse’s well-crafted questions, I was filled with pride as they spoke about the impact the guests had on their students. They talked about what they learned, about what they saw and heard from their students, and how they were proud of their students. Mitchell and Shantel were allowed to be vulnerable and share some of the fears and uncertainties that came with inviting outsiders into their learning. This willingness to be so open and honest reminded me of the safety of the group at Waldheim School, it was reassuring, encouraging, palpable and beautiful.
We were invited by Jesse and Katharine to think deeply about where we are in our own learning journey as it relates to reconciliation. We were asked to be vulnerable and were asked to support a colleague. I was so proud of Joanne and her willingness to be open about the question she is wrestling with, how do we heal the wound. The depth of the questions that were crafted by the group filled me with pride. They were sincere, thought-provoking, well crafted, and beautiful.
We have only started our reconciliation work, and before Monday, I must admit I was scared and unsure about how this work will look for us. After Monday morning those feelings have been replaced with feelings of hope and belief. Our work together reminded me of the strength we have in our group. I believe we have significantly strengthened our collective efficacy this year by tackling some big questions as they relate to assessment. The dream was to help bring a diverse group of people together to support a diverse group of students to succeed beyond their own expectations. The evidence of the belief in one another was on full display Monday morning in that learning circle. John Hattie defines collective teacher efficacy as the collective belief of teachers in their ability to positively affect students. This belief was never as apparent as it was that morning. We have come together and are making a huge difference in our students’ lives, I truly believe that. I am able to watch this happen and just like a proud dad cheering on their kids, I am full of pride.
The feeling is overwhelming, humbling, encouraging, and beautiful.