From Anticipation to Affirmation

“Oh my goodness, look at all these messages!” Brenda could hardly contain her excitement as she showed me her phone. The screen was populated with well-wishes from staff members, and she commented that it was what she needed. We knew that being invited to share our story was a real honor and a duty that we felt we needed to execute in a way that captured the work being done in our building. We were nervous but knew if we shared your story, we would be just fine. All of those messages to Brenda reminded us of how we got to Vancouver.

As I sat at the side of the room, listening to Brenda speak, advancing the PowerPoint as we had rehearsed, I was transported back home. My head was in BC, but my heart was in Waldheim. She spoke about the many different ways we have implemented some of the big ideas we have been wrestling with this year. Brenda’s words caused the audience to write feverishly, nod in agreement, and smile wide as our message was clearly striking a chord. Educators from across Canada heard Brenda share our story. They heard your story.

The word that was in my head on the flight out was anticipation. As I sit waiting in the Vancouver airport, a venti Starbucks at the ready, the word that has replaced anticipation is affirmation. We are doing great work! Teaching is incredibly challenging, and this year you all have committed to turning the dial up on your learning. You have all dug in deeply to our assessment work, and what we saw and heard in BC affirmed that we are on the right path. Getting to hear from such heavy hitters as Damien Cooper, Ken O’Connor, Lorna Earl, Katie White, and Lori Jeschke was a real treat, but it was the way their message had Brenda and I looking at each other, smiling and knowing what the other was thinking that was so affirming.

Does this mean we are at the finish line? Hardly. The more we discussed the work that has been done, the more excited we became for the prospects that await us through the end of this year and into next year. It is true that we were the messengers this time, but Brenda and I both agreed that #WaldheimSchool could, nay, should be sending teams of teachers to present at conferences like this. We were encouraged to share our voices with others, and I’d like to invite each of you to think about what it is you have to say. Your voice matters. Your work matters. Your learning matters. You matter.

We were invited to think about who we want to be as difference makers in the lives of the students we work with. I was moved to think about what it means to be an adult in our building. This is something we want to dig deeper into as next year unfolds, but for now, we’d like to invite you to think about these questions:

  • What qualities best define an adult at Waldheim School?
  • Who do you want to be as an adult at Waldheim School?
  • Why is assessment the most important aspect of great teaching?
  • Why does it matter if you show up every day?
  • If a student was asked, “name two adults in your school who believe you will be a success”, would all of our learners have a response? If not, are you okay with that?

Your work and your love of your students is what inspired Brenda and I, and we were proud to wave the Waldheim School flag. After all, when you look at all the fantastic things you do, it’s pretty easy to be so proud. Thank you for the gifts you have given us, and thank you for letting us tell your story. #Affirmation!

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