I have now been retired for over 2 years and I have had a lot of time to reflect…to step back from the trenches of professional development, Ministry meetings, budget deliberations, contract negotiations, school visits, Board meetings, Exec Council meetings and visits with our school support teams….just to name a few!
While I was deep into the work, there was little time to stand back and reflect on our impact…were we really making a difference in the learning experiences and results for our students? It is too hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes. It takes some distance and some time away to have the perspective needed for that kind of self-assessment.
When I recall watching teachers and principals entering our PD sessions, I think I recognize the looks on some of their faces – wishing they could be anywhere but there – thinking about their classroom and students back at their schools – Will they learn effectively today with a supply teacher in my place? Will that student lose control with a different routine today? Will that student be sent to my office again today? Will this be worth my while here? Or will I leave again feeling like I am just not doing enough?
I tell myself now, being away from all of that for some time, that I often lost sight of the fact that our schools are filled with dedicated, well-intentioned, caring teachers and administrators who really and truly do the very best they can every day for the kids. Having the pressure from above – that is, the Ministry goals – to implement new strategies and curriculum – to collect data for measurement of achievement – to ensure that all changes are happening in all classrooms….that was daunting and left me focusing more on “why won’t you change what you are doing”? rather than “I know you really care”.
In the end, isn’t that more important? Yes, there were students who fell through the cracks and didn’t achieve what we hoped for them…but with all that PD we crammed into our school year, did we really eliminate that? I wonder as I look from afar. My grandson is one example of how we have not. I wish I could go back and look at those faces and say, “thank you” for all you do and all you will do. You are the best.