Hidden Treasures

Pre-COVID, actually, pre-children, something my wife loved to do was pop into antique shops to browse around and check out the wares. Pre-COVID is obvious and if you have young kids, you understand why a lot of antique shop browsing isn’t ideal with toddlers or ‘clumsy’ pre-teens. Regardless, we have not done that in ages. Secretly, I kind of miss taking the time to aimlessly stroll through the narrow aisles looking at other people’s discarded items. Like my 7-year-old loves to quip, “you know dad, one man’s junk is another man’s tweasure”

I thought about this after a reflective conversation with my superintendent today. A few days ago I had talked to him about taking part in an online leadership symposium, not asking permission, but just getting his take on the sessions and the value that might lie within. It was like asking his opinion on an antique store I’d never visited. He checked out the sessions and felt it aligned nicely with my own professional goals and growth plan. I paid the $75 and a couple days later I was logging in to hear the keynote speaker.

Barute Kafele, or @PrincipalKafele as he’s known on social media, spoke with his usual fire, challenging us to think about our role as leaders in our building. His question, is your school a better place BECAUSE YOU lead it? is one he’s asked for years, but it is a question without an expiry date. One can never truly say they’ve arrived if one is committed to learning. This is what Kafele reinforced. He reminded us that every day is a new gift. A new chance to have an impact on the lives of those around us. It was a wonderful way to start the symposium.

I want to pause for a moment and reflect back to the idea of an antique shop. It seemed to me that the shopkeeper would try to position their most prized items, those that would fetch the greatest return, in the display window. This intentional placement would entice us to enter the building and begin our ‘treasure hunt’.

This is how the symposium felt to me today. Principal Kafele’s message was inspirational and thought provoking. He hooked me and I was well invested beyond the $75 fee, I was intellectually and emotionally invested. He has that gift! His message was delivered in the first hour and the rest of the afternoon was spent in shorter breakout sessions. If Kafele was the high priced item in the window, the breakout sessions were the items on the shelves in the rest of the building.

The sessions were not without their learning. They were thought provoking and caused me to reflect on my work as a school leader. What I found, however, is that much of what the facilitators spoke about reminded me of the work we’ve been knee deep in for years in @PrairieSpirit School Division. Ideas like rigour, student and community engagement, mindset, collaboration, and feedback were presented. As I listened and read the comments in the chat field I could not help but be filled with pride for the work we’ve been invested in.

For more information on My Prairie Spirit Classroom, visit spiritsd.ca

I went into the symposium thinking I’d learn something new, but what I did find was something just a valuable. The treasures were the reminders that we are doing great work and that I, as a leader, am on the right track. I have the right mindset and that sometimes my self-doubt needs to be set aside for more self-belief. I still circle back to the question, is my school a better place BECAUSE I lead it? and feel more confident today in saying, “yes” than I did yesterday.

And I’d call that the hidden treasure of the day!

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About the Author: Bruce Mellesmoen