Saturday, 31 August 2013

The First Two Weeks #SAVMP

The first two weeks have come and gone and I have to say, it has been a whirlwind!  I have reviewed many documents intended to help me with my new work.  I have set up meetings with schools and principals.  I have attended two sessions of professional development.  I have attended the school opening for leaders with our new superintendent.  I have delivered an inservice the Educational Assistants working in the schools I am responsible for.  AND I have held my first team meeting with my team of consultants.  What a ride!

We were asked for our weekly post to answer these questions: How do you work to build trust starting in a new place? When you lose trust, what do you do to try to regain what you do?  And finally, in a world with social media so evident, how do you use that technology to create a transparent culture within your community?

I know as a new supervisor I need to establish that trust.  I start by being myself.  I have always felt it important to hold myself to the highest standard of integrity.  People who know me know that I am honest and I expect those around me to be honest with me.  I made it clear to my teams that if they were unhappy with something I was doing, they should come to me as soon as possible before they became angry, or bitter because of a situation.  I am always honest in a new situation about my understanding of the position.  I do not know everything and I will rely on the expertise of those who have been in the space well before me.  I value open communication with those I work with.

From this point on, I will do my best to honor the position I have been given.  The bottom line for me is and always has been how we can make our students experience success.  What we will do and how we complete our tasks has to open doors for our students to experience success.  When I think of the second question, I weigh all that I say and do carefully so I don't get into a position of loss of trust.  I think that rebuilding trust would be a long and arduous task so I work hard not to get in that place.

As for the final question, I have shared my blog with all of my team members and offered them a challenge to go out and find success stories of inclusion that could be shared by each and every one of them as a guest blogger.  This was met with some interest and I look forward to sharing their success stories with you as the year progresses.  As well, I encouraged each of them to learn about Twitter and follow many of the amazing people I have discovered as part of my PLN.  This was met with some interest as well.  I hope to share a lesson on "how to build your PLN" in the near future at a team meeting.

In the past two weeks, I have learned that the folks I am working with are passionate about the success of all children.  One big change for our unit was the inclusion of our FNMI (First Nations, Meti, Inuit) and diversity folks.  This is exciting because I look to the future when we will think of all students as equitably included and take the focus off of "special needs" as inclusion but the whole point that we are a diverse people with diverse strengths and we need to celebrate these strengths rather than focusing on the deficits as defined by a group.

As Scott Barry Kaufman writes in his description of IQ testing that we are not "using information about the child's strengths to help with remediation, or even to help the children feel good about themselves! In either approach, the child feels like a total loser.  There had to be a bigger picture here.  I mean, can't a learning disability sometimes be an advantage?  (p. 61, Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, 2013).  We need to begin to see the strengths of a child.  He goes on to describe dyslexia as a strength in visual giftedness.  What a different spin.  You will have to read the book to begin to see the world of intelligence through a completely different lens.

Perhaps, if we could look at the strengths of everyone we meet, we could easily build that trust required for a strong relationship that allows risks to be taken.  We would not look at failures as mistakes or loss of trust, but instead realize that through failure we can strengthen ourselves further.

I am excited about the coming week when the students return and our actual work begins.  Yes, we are assessing students but more importantly our work is morphing into the strength of assessment for programming purposes; assessment for finding where our students' strengths lie so they can be successful.

I finish with a slide from our inservice Friday:


  1. Hi Brenda,

    I love the quote on your last slide! Who did that come from? Hard to see the name. I'm in the middle of a course called, "Understanding Learning Differences" and it's exactly what you talk about in your post - seeing the strength in people, not their weaknesses. A scientist by the name Gordon Sherman talks about the concept of cerebrodiversity....since every brain is different, how do we know what "normal" is? Just because one brain learns differently from another, why is that a disability and not just a difference?
    Anyway, another great post! Thank you.


  2. It came from a presentation on the 30th in our district. At the bottom it says Dr. Jean Clinton. We heard four speakers that day and I think it was Dr Robin Gibb out of Lethbridge or Judy Cameron out of Pittsburgh. Both ladies had amazing things to say about brain development. I love the idea of diversity even with our brains. We had a conversation yesterday at a school about just this: A student with an Aspberger's diagnosis loves birds and everything about them. The discussion was around how to get him to expand. I said, maybe he doesn't want to expand because he loves that topic and many people on the spectrum like their ability to see details in what we would see as mundane. Hopefully, we opened some more thoughts for discussion.