Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Learning By Accident

                                       "It sounds great. But it's just not what I'm looking for..."
This was the response of a gentleman who'd asked me to give him the "Coles Notes version" of my session as he was trying to decide whether or not he wanted to attend. Please know, I don't in any way take that personally. I appreciate his honesty. And I understand that attending a conference is quite literally an investment- of time and money. Time away from our family, time away from our school communities. An investment in our students. So I understand that people feel the need to be purposeful in choosing which events and sessions they'd like to attend. And my story is not for everyone. I'm ok with that. 

But I've also come to understand over the past several years that much of my best learning happens by accident... It's the impromptu conversations while waiting in line for a coffee. The sessions that I wander into after not being able to find the ones that I originally planned to attend. The chance meetings while waiting for an elevator. I've come to understand that if I allow myself to be open to opportunity, it will find me. Pretty darn cool. 

So having recognized that much of my best learning happens by "accident", I'm purposefully less purposeful in seeking out that "perfect" learning opportunity. I've come to realize that in fact, every experience is an opportunity to learn. And that sometimes, even when I think I might know what I want, instead I tend to find exactly what I need...

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Quiet Ones

Some students, you just can't help but notice. They're the students whose names you learn first in September. Sometimes it's because they're the first to volunteer to answer a question, or to pick up a notice from the office. And sometimes, it's because they're the one that you've had to ask to stop poking the student sitting next to them, and to please sit down, six times within the first half an hour of class. You know, those ones. For a myriad of reasons, there are students that we just seem to notice.

And then there are the others. The ones who on a busy day, when you haven't gotten to your attendance first thing, you can't quite recall whether or not they were in class. The ones who when the first parent teacher interview comes along in October, you need to look back through your notes to be sure that you're prepared with something to say to the parents. You know, those ones. The quiet ones. For a myriad of reasons, there are students that we just don't seem to notice.

It's hard to write that. It's not something that any educator wants to admit. We do our best to reach out to every student, to learn a little of their story, to support their diverse needs. But with numerous demands on our time, there always seem to be those few students that at the end of a semester, or year, you think to yourself, "I wonder if there was more I could have done?"

The challenge is, that for the most part, the quiet ones tend to do okay. They comply with instructions, follow the daily routines, and make their way through the day without complaint. And yet, they also tend to make their way through their days with very little interaction with their peers. Or with the adults in the building. They are on the periphery our school communities. And that's not ok.

The question that keeps me up at night is, what am I missing if I let the quiet ones slip unnoticed through our hallways day after day? What am I not noticing?

The thing is, I was one of the quiet ones. Those who know me now probably chuckle a little at that... It's not often now that I get described as quiet. But it wasn't until long after school that I began to very consciously push myself outside of that comfortable, quiet place, to find my voice, to feel worthy of being noticed.

And so, as a vice principal of a high school of over 1200 students, and with the help of the members of my school community, I continue to challenge myself to really see those students, the ones who are sometimes doing their very best to remain invisible. Because for that very reason, we need to notice them. Because I don't ever want to ask myself that question again, "I wonder if there was more that I could have done?"