Some of the strangest articles catch my eye as I scroll through social media. I have become much better at skipping the nonsense, like the bashing of politicians, the critiquing of social groups, or the ongoing debate over the colour of the dress (which is white and gold by the way). Last week, an article about an Arizona man caused me to stop and read. Cory Nielsen, also known by his YouTube moniker, The Penny Building Fool, was featured in a post that chronicled the story of his one-million penny pyramid. It is pretty cool to see what a $10,000 pyramid looks like, and the time-lapse photography is almost hypnotic in its presentation. Another interesting post showed a gentleman creating a diorama of a gold mine, complete with little hand-carved workers, lights, and faux foliage. Creations like these take a lot of time, planning, patience, revision, and effort. They are not merely thrown together at the last minute, at least not the ones that create a buzz online.
These incredible feats remind me of the work you have created this year. You have spent time planning, teaching, assessing, reflecting, refining, and repeating. You have taken every student from where they were on day one in September to where they are today. What a journey! Step back for a moment and look at what you have done. Look at where your students are on their path of learning, and look at the footprints beside theirs, can you see yours?
Like a great work of art, or a fantastic song, or a beautiful poem, or a delicately turned piece of wood, the learning you created for your students is just as awe-inspiring.
But there is a difference.
Eventually, the painting is completed and hung on the wall. At some
point, the book is published and placed on the shelf. Ultimately the song is
recorded and pressed into vinyl (or put on an 8-Track, right Corinne?). Your
work is not like that. We do not simply work all year and, as June turns to
July, walk away. This is a work of art that is ever evolving. This is a craft
that takes an entire career to create. This has never been so evident to me as
it has this year as I was able to watch, from the sidelines, two teachers at
opposite ends of the teaching timeline. Briane has just walked through the
front door of our profession and has started her journey down the long hallway
that is a teaching career. She has begun to fill her shelves of learning and is
starting to hang images on the wall in her hall. It is exciting to think what
lies ahead of her, the limitless possibilities and the unknown students yet to
experience her caring ways.
At the other end of the timeline is our dear friend and colleague
Dwayne. At one point, he, just like Briane, walked through the front door of
this profession, and I bet he can still remember that first day. His hallway
shelves are stuffed with lessons learned. His walls are covered with pictures
of students from years gone by. Various frames house the images of memories he
must have from his years in the classroom, on the court, on the water, and on
the trail. Over time the dust accumulates on these images, but with a light
touch, they are brought back to life as if they had just happened yesterday. In
one week, he will walk out the door of this profession but will take with him
all the good that comes with a career’s worth of experience.
Each of us walks our own path and thankfully, we are not alone. We can
stop and look behind us at the experiences we’ve had. We can recall lessons
learned and use this information as we head forward into the unknown. Past
experience does not allow us to know the future, but it does help remind us
that if we prepare, if we are flexible, and if we are reflective, everything
will be just fine.
Being the last blog post (maybe) for the 2018-19 school year, I’d like
to invite you to consider the following questions:
1. This year you worked with many learners, both
young and not so young. Think carefully about each one. How did you impact
their learning journey this year? What would they tell their loved ones about
their experience with you as their learning leader?
2. In a year full of working
with our young learners, what are some of the highlights that you would
celebrate? Would it be seeing a student make progress with their reading or
writing? Would it be watching a student learn how to self-regulate their behaviour
more effectively? Would it be seeing one of your students present at Learning
3. We took time to think deeply
about our assessment practices, and at times, our thinking was challenged. What
changed for you this year? How will how your assessment look, sound, and feel
different next year?
4. As a staff, we dipped our
toes into the Zones of Regulation to help support the work our EAs are doing,
and as we prepare to close the door on this year, how has this program helped
you help your learners? What are you still curious about?
5. This year we have supported
each other on our own journeys, and you have been important to many people.
Looking back at the year, who has been there for you? How have you thanked
them? Who have you been there for?
On a personal note, I want to thank each and every one of you for your support this year. When I was a much younger person, I was not always happy, and much of how I defined myself was formed from my school experience. I never felt as smart as the other students, nor did I feel like I really ‘fit in’ with my classmates. School was a difficult time for me, and what has been shocking for me is that so many of my classmates had similar feelings. For the past 20 years in education, my motivation, or as Simon Sinek calls it, my why, has been to create an environment where students do not fall victim to this same mindset. I know I have not accomplished my goal yet, but thanks to you and everything you do with our kids, I feel we are inching closer every day to actualizing this dream.
When I was invited to consider accepting the role as principal of your
school, initially I was scared. Excited, yes, but scared. Every day is a chance
for me to learn how to become a leader, and every day, all of you take the time
to help me become better at what I do. I’ve just stepped through the front door
of my principalship and have so much more to do, but I am so grateful that you
are here to help guide me.
Please enjoy the last few days with your students, you are so important
to them, please let them know how much they mean to you. Laugh lots, give out
so many high-fives your palms glow red, play with your kids outside, cheer them
on as they tackle their finals, talk to that elusive student that you’ve been
meaning to connect with all year. Take time for yourself, and most of all, soak
up the love from this year’s version of #WaldheimSchool, it is different from
years past, and as always happens, it will be different next year.
As always, create another great week for those around you!
Here is what lies on the horizon for one final week
final exams continue for 10 – 12 students
no grade 7 Hepburn students for HE/IA
K – 9 progress reports should be to Corinne if possible
final exams continue
K – 9 progress reports sent home
Final day for all kids
Classroom clean up time (please take as much home as possible to ease the load on Jamie, Brandi, and Kelly)
10 – 12 progress reports available for students
Final day for staff, please note there will be no access to the school until August 19th. If it is an emergency, please contact Jamie before coming in, there may be wet wax on the floor.