These past few days, my association, the Coquitlam Principal and Vice-Principal Association (CPVPA), held their annual conference up at Whistler, British Columbia. The event was one that brought a wide range of administrators from the district and district leadership together in an effort to both inform and improve our practice. One of the best results was the opportunity to talk about our experiences with the delayed start up, the ‘temperature’ of our staff, students and parent community, and how we can support each other, while in geographically separated locations.
Our guest speaker, Colleen Drobot, spoke from the heart around understanding why anxiety, depression and certain behaviours from our staff and students occurs and how to help support them to become mature, solid citizens that can self-regulate. As a member of the Neufeld Institute, many of the concepts and ideas are readily available on the web.
We looked at the three developmental processes for getting students ready to learn: Emergence, Integration and Adaptation. An overwhelming concept of “finding their tears” and moving students to moving past their “futility”, to move past the frustration towards either change or adaptation, while avoiding attacking. Many of the examples showed the results of when students lost their ‘alpha’ in their lives.
For my personal experience, the conversations about connecting with students (or collecting, as Colleen explained it) were the most rewarding. Too often, I have seen students who do not have the ‘adult champion’ in their lives that give them permission to try, fail and try again. These students act out in other ways that prevent them from being able to learn: their minds are closed to learning and are focused on their basic survival needs.
On the second day, we grouped together as administrators and shared our experiences. There are several ideas that I wish to implement into my practice. In particular, I would love to have the opportunity to spend a day in our middle schools and elementary schools: seeing where the students are coming from as they enter our secondary school. This would not only give me more perspective on our students, but also create that bridging between the middle and secondary transitions, so that our students would have connections with our school before they arrived (above and beyond the ‘grade 8 walkabout in January, 9 months before they arrive in our school).
There are many other ideas that I will need to process from the weekend, and will try to post more thoughts later.