This weekend is the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada. It’s a time to sit back and be thankful for all that we have living in one of the greatest countries in the world. Given this, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on what has been going on since school began and to do some reflection.
The first month and a half of school has just blown past. I started a new position at a new school in August and it’s been a bit of an adjustment. Besides being in a new school, I have to commute for about 40 minutes each way. The drive, which is mostly highway driving, gives me plenty of time to think and ponder the many things that go on each day. I’ve moved from a smaller K – 12 school to a larger highschool in a different community from which I live. To add to the mix, my one daughter is accompanying me as we have transferred her to on of the elementary schools near the highschool. She has made the transition extremely well and has adjusted to life in a new school. In fact, given how her life has been the past few years, it is so awesome to hear her talk about what she does with her friends and all the activities that she is doing. Each day we get to spend time talking about the day and what has gone on in the time we drive to school and home. As a parent, it’s so great to have time to spend one-on-one with any child and this time together has allowed me to share stories and laughs with my 4th daughter. It’s built in parent-child time that many people don’t have and for that I am very thankful especially since she hasn’t had such a great time at school these past few years.
Being at a new school has strengthened my belief that it doesn’t matter where the school is or the size of the school when it comes to creating a positive school climate. What matters is the attitude and caring of the adults in the building. People seem to expect that, in a larger school, there isn’t the time for all students. From my experience, that’s not true. Instead, it’s the attitude that the adults/teachers in the building bring with them each day. If people arrive with a negative attitude, it doesn’t matter the number of children in the building, the attitude is still there, being shared with everyone. In fact, the smaller the populace, the more likely that the negative attitude will spread. And children, being the sponges that they are, will absorb that attitude and actualize it. Students reflect what they see in the adults around them. So, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to move into a position where, for the most part, there is a positive attitude about the school and the students which is reflected in the care and concern the staff has for the students. Some days are trying, as are some people, but a positive outlook goes a long way at overcoming the stresses and frustrations that everyone has no matter where they are or what they do. I’m thankful for all the great staff with whom I work.
In my new position, I’m no longer the principal. Although it has been a bit of an adjustment, I’m enjoying my more supportive role, helping teachers and students, working with the other administrators to create a positive climate for the school. Not everything is roses but it’s a nice change. I’ve learned that no person is an island but being a principal is very close. As vice principal, I have a changed role that allows me to do a number of different things because I don’t have the administrative responsibilities that a principal has and I’m developing a different skill set within more supportive role. I’m thankful for the role I have within the school.
As many of you know, I’m a firm believer in the use of technology to support the learning of students. My new role allows me to do that in a much greater way than when I was a principal in a smaller school. I’m helping staff to see that there are technologies that will help them to enhance their teaching and give students different opportunities to demonstrate what they know. In the short time I’ve been in the school, I’ve been able to get small things going that, I hope, will be the building blocks for bigger things. So I’m thankful for the opportunity to share with the teachers on a new staff, some of the things I consider to be important in schools in the 21st century.
Really, as people who live in North America, we have so many things for which we can be thankful. As a husband and father, I have countless things for which I am thankful, from a loving supportive wife to 8 awesome children who have taught me more about life and living than I can mention here. I have met some extremely wonderful people in the 7 communities in which I have lived and taught and the internet has allowed me to meet so many more people whom I consider to be “friends”. As educators, we have the chance to reach out to touch, and be touched, by so many. We do have much for which to be thankful.