Sunday, August 24, 2014

Strengthening my Resolve

I was in Costco buying some garbage bags this morning.  I went and lined up.  It was quite busy, surprising for a Sunday morning.  The man in front of me was talking to his young son about the Lego they were buying.  He turned to me and said, "It's Dave, isn't it?"  I said yes, thinking to myself, "I have no idea who this is..."  He said, "You might not remember, but I think you coached me in basketball at John Barsby a while back."  I had taught 3 years at Barsby, coaching senior boys basketball and some volleyball between 1999-2002, but he didn't look familiar.  He looked older, maybe in his mid-30s.  He said, "My name is Gord M.  You coached junior boys basketball."  I was shocked.  I had coached 1990.  The first team I had ever coached.  I was only 20.  "I can't believe you remember that Gord.  That was 24 years ago!"  His reply was, "Well, you made an impression."  Boom.  There it was...the reason I'm a teacher and coach...the reason why this fight for public education is so important to me...(and the reason why I believe extracurriculars are invaluable in our schools).  I must have looked shocked, and all I could say was "Thank you."  We chatted, and I let him know that I was still teaching and coaching.  Then I realized, that experience must have made an impression on me too.  It was then I switched into education.  It was then I knew I wanted to be a high school teacher and coach.  I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed.

This job, this career, this calling, is not a job like any other.  It isn't about producing goods or services, or labourers for LNG projects that may or may not come to fruition.  I have a better understanding now than I did this morning about the true impact teachers have on the lives of their students.  I have a stronger resolve than I did this morning about the importance of what we as teachers are standing up for right now.  It's not about curriculum, or tests, or wages, or taxes.  It's about Gord...a student at an inner city school that remembered his basketball coach from Grade 10, 24 years later, and his son, who is just about to enter Kindergarten.  It's about my own kids in Grade 4 & 7. It's about all our kids, and I'm more willing than ever to hold the line to protect their opportunity to have those experiences and memories.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Change begins and continues...

Well...a lot has happened since my first post.

I spent the first 3 weeks of the second semester in the office as an "acting" vice-principal, after our principal suffered an injury.  I have to say that that extended time gives an eye-opening view into what actually happens down there.  I've covered a day or two here or there before, but never for this length of time.  I think it would be extremely beneficial for all teachers to spend a couple days in the office in that role - it certainly would give a new view into how busy it is, how many hats have to be worn, and all the important behind-the-scenes work that gets done; work that I don't believe all teachers have a good appreciation for.

We are also embracing 21st Century learning, more formally now, by bringing project-based learning to our grade 8s starting in September, 2014.  I'm excited for the opportunity to learn, design, and implement this system to enhance what we already do at Dover so well.  We have a strong team organized, and my hope is that it goes extremely well as my daughter in grade 5 would be able to be a student in this program in its 2nd year.  This is only one change we have at Dover.  Two other teachers are starting a humanities program they are calling the "Odyssey" program, and two more teachers are collaborating on a Phys Ed/Planning/Health program.  While not involved in the PBL model, collaboration and 21st Century learning are definitely taking hold at Dover in many areas, which is great to see.

Finally, just last night, a district consultant presented his recommendations for our district's 10-year facilities plan.  This plan included the closing of 2 high schools and several elementary schools.  While this is not always the best news for families, students, and teachers, empty seats and declining enrollment have forced the issue in this case.

As is usually the case, change is not easy, and never makes everyone happy.  However, I'm confident that students will be the biggest beneficiaries from the changes not only at Dover Bay, but district-wide.  I know my own children will have a more successful school experience with these changes in place.

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."  John Wooden

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Beginning, again.

Another week begins at school, and the beginning of #ETMOOC looms!  There are so many things going on, so much change.  Our district is completely revamping how it conducts its business, moving from a board governance model to a strategic governance model, changing the roles of senior management, and looking at a strategic plan.  Within that plan are expected changes to facilities and how they are used, along with the introduction of new models to support student learning.  These include Response to Intervention, and Project Based Learning.  All of these bring challenges and new opportunities to learn, especially as ours must be one of the oldest (teachers' average age) districts in the province.

I've been involved as an Athletic Director in the district for 8 years now, and I'm feeling like its time to make some changes.  I've found that this job has taken up much of my time, taking away from some of the time I perhaps should have spent growing and learning professionally.  This begins to change this week as #ETMOOC gets rolling.  I'm excited to learn about technology and its applications from the wide and diverse group of learners that have become part of the #ETMOOC community.  I've also enrolled in a course through Coursera, from the University of Toronto, called "Aboriginal Worldviews and Education."  Hopefully these opportunities will help me become more involved in the changes that are happening right now in my district.

My two daughters are 10 and 7, so I want to be at the forefront of these changes so I can help them as they navigate through their educational experiences as best as possible.  I will continue to coach, of course, as the value of extra-curriculars in secondary schools is too great to measure, and I believe it is so important to add to the culture of schools, but hopefully my shift in focus will allow me to keep up with the massive changes occurring in education not only here, but world wide as we fully embrace the 21st Century and move past the traditional ideals of views of what schools should be.