October is a month of tremendous travel for me and I am very excited for, and appreciative of, those opportunities. What I learned this week is that I get really energized by the ideas and efforts of educators.
I visited with the staff and students of the DSBN Academy and once again left in awe of the dedication and commitment the adults display for the students and each other. Every conversation I held with an educator had a level of intensity and passion to find the right approach for each student that I can’t help but believe they will have success with every student. The staff is so thoughtful and collaborative that they push each other to be all that they can be and it is done with a level of deep sincerity and appreciation for the contribution each person can make. Listening to them share their “appreciations” at the end of the week, I couldn’t help but notice how respectfully attentive every person was and how meaningful their words were. And here’s the clincher for me – it’s having a big impact on the behavior and achievement of the students. When the adults model the desired behaviors (both social and academic) for the students, the desired outcomes become easier to achieve. Rather than the “do as I say, not as I do” approach, I have long held the belief that if we don’t model what we teach, we are teaching what we model. One part of the Academy’s creed reads “we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers” and this is more than a trite recitation for the school community. It is a firmly held and strongly demonstrated pillar.
As part of my second day in the DSBN, I was able to work with the educators at both E.W. Farr and Glendale schools. We spent the morning talking about creating a positive school culture and how to link academic success with behavioral success. The insights shared by individual teachers as well as some of their challenges reminded me that we have a common bond in our roles.
I also had the opportunity to spend a day with the educators in the Palliser School Division. As is often the case, the time flew by (at least it did for me!) and I left before I could take in all of the great conversations that were evident as we worked through how to ensure the remaining nine months of this school year are as effective and productive for their students as the start-up has been. In planning for what the end result in June was going to look like, they began the process of aligning their next steps to achieve that goal. I did get a chance to talk with members of the host school, County Central High School, about the work they have done in creating their overarching expectations for all members (adults and students) of their school community. A small group had attended a session I had given in Ottawa and they took the information back to their colleagues who then added their own context to produce an approach that is an excellent translation of the 7 Keys I wrote about in “Pyramid of Behavior Interventions”. It’s so good I may need to consider taking the group with me to subsequent presentations! Principal Ken Garinger took the unnecessary step of thanking me publically for the shift in focus at the school, when the reality is the teachers and school leaders determined what they needed to do to support all students in achieving success, and then charted the course to get there. He is very open to sharing the steps they took and would welcome any contacts from colleagues wanting to know more.
On a personal note, I also learned that back-to-back turkey dinners are not a bad thing. I enjoyed the two days of rest but clearly ate and drank too much so it’s back to the road with a few more kilometers to log. See you next week.