All Voices Matter

Over the past three or four years, I’ve wondered if my voice in education really matters. As a principal, my voice has impact within the building where I am and it has impact, to some extent, in the school community where I am.

But, really, does it matter?

Since I began my career as a classroom teacher, I’ve searched for ways to have an impact on the learning that was happening in my room and in the school where I was and, in some way, in the division where I was working. I became involved in as many different efforts and associations that were focused on students and learning. I became at the provincial level in order to discuss learning, students and teaching.

My decision to do a MEd was directly a result of wanting to be able to know more about leadership in education which led me to look at the role of Professional Development in the lives’ of teachers. I looked for ways that teachers’ voices could be heard during a time when PD was just beginning to shift – how could we involve teachers more and have them drive the PD? What was needed to make this shift?

But, really, does it matter?

As an administrator, I’ve tried to remain involved in the advances in education, whether it be the introduction and impact of technology or what we have learned through research or the changes we have seen in pedagogy and curricula. I’ve participated at Conferences, trying to spread the message of learning and collaboration, planning and progress.

But, really, does it matter?

As I sit poised on yet a new direction, looking at a field of opportunity, I can’t help but reflect. This is where it is important to set ego aside. Instead, it is here, in the silence of wondering, that all teachers eventually face “But, really, does it matter?” The answer is individual. For me, it is tied closely to what I will do with in future. Which path will I start to build next? Which untravelled direction will I explore?

But, really, does it matter?

I’ve learned that each and every single voice in the buildings where I have been an educator are crucial and need to be heard – especially the ones we don’t like to hear. Each discussion, even the uncomfortable ones, have a grain of sand that we can turn into a pearl. As a leader, I must admit, I didn’t always convey that I listened – it is a fault that I continue to work upon – but I did. And, in the night, when no one else was around, I would ponder those words – they would keep me awake as I listened to them over and over again – trying to ascertain what/where/how change could be made so that the voice knew it had been heard.

But, really, does it matter?

In the cacophony of voices that make up the social media sites like twitter, a single voice, especially those who are dissenting or new or soft or …. can get lost under the enormous “boom” of those who have the audiences attention. Again and again it is asked “How do we get more involved?” “Why can’t they see how important it is for them to be here?” I’ve heard those same questions asked by teachers.
But not about technology and social media. instead, they are deeply concerned about parents who wouldn’t show up for Student Led Conferences or who wouldn’t come to meetings; about students who are struggling or have problems outside school or who don’t have enough to eat! It kept me awake at night wondering what we could do differently. Understanding that we might not have all the answers but maybe, with open dialogue and discussion, we could meet them where they were and move forward. Sometimes, I needed to recognize the leaders within the building and provide them with the opportunity and support to lead us.

Because, yes, every voice does matter – it’s the ones that we must search to hear that are the most important! Instead of pondering what they need to do differently, ask how we can do things differently and provide an opportunity for them to find their voice. And then listen.

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I am a husband, father, son.... I am currently working on my PhD in Education - Curriculum and Instruction. My focus is teacher professional development and social media integration. I have a beautiful, supportive wife who has been my partner for 28 years. We have 8 wonderful children who are amazing individuals. Together, we are exploring the world around us, sharing our stories, and enjoying the journey!