I have been involved in the improvement of Culture, Community and Connectedness of my school in one of our three school working groups as we look at our changing educational practice as we move into a new school that will start construction this summer. As part of an administration team that believes that real change can only occur with the support, collaboration and leadership from our teachers, the working groups are designed to be teacher-led, teacher-driven, yet administration-supported. Each working group has a teacher leader responsible for leading the groups through the assessment, evaluation and prioritising the areas of growth through an appreciative inquiry lens: what are we doing well (celebration and support); what can we do better (improvement); and what can we do differently and sustainably.
I believe that moving towards adopting the tennets of the ASCD’s Whole Child, where each child in each class feels healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged, can meet all our requirements for school improvement. The Whole Child approach (as seen in this Byrne Creek Secondary School video from an earlier post) can help develop a culture of collaboration, community support and improved student learning.
My struggle, though, is to provide the information and support for the working group without making it seem like this is the only path for student improvement that I would support: not letting it look like a directive or top-down approach within the structure of the shared leadership model. Let me be clear: I support the Whole Child approach, but not as a top-down, directed action. It needs to be embraced by all the stakeholders and only works when there isn’t one leader, but a school of leaders and champions.
I have shared the Whole Child in conversations with teachers, but have not directly introduced it within the working group. I don’t have the answer as to how and if we will support this approach, but I have many teachers supporting the process of looking at the tennets and seeing where we already do some of this and which areas we could improve or start.
On April 30th, the BCASCD will be hosting a dinner meeting with educators from around the province and a group from Byrne Creek. My hope is that will help introduce teachers to what can be accomplished by looking closely at the five tennets and they will want to continue in the conversation. If are interested in hearing about the Whole Child initiative, disussions with amazing educators from around the Lower Mainland and a great dinner by our school Culinary Arts programme, register here.
I look forward to continuing the conversation with you!