As students returned to class today, I had an amazing time visiting some schools today and seeing how different schools work. Visiting (in order) Entwistle, Seba Beach, Tomahawk, and then Wabamun, it was amazing to walk around the buildings and see how the staff and students connected so quickly. Students were already busy working together discussing their ideas, decorating the school, and just reconnecting with students. I loved being able to see the principals in each school connect in their own unique way, and it made me extremely proud to be a part of the Parkland Team.
As someone who was recently new to a school as principal, I really looked around the walls of each school and asked myself, “what messages are being sent to students”, in each and every display. I read this touching post last night about a principal in our division, who had taken the time to clean up something that may have gone unnoticed in a building. This is something that is quite common in all of our lives. Recently moving into a new house, one person suggested to me that I need to immediately write down everything I want to change before I get used to it. As we walk into our schools and look at the walls, we need to think that every year we have new kids in those buildings, and although we may be used to it, everything we do sends some type of message to the students. Culture and relationships are vital to the success of a building.
As I usually have more questions than answers, I saw this amazing plaque outside of Tomahawk School:
Although it is not clear in the pictures, it stated that the school was built in 1908 and it was amazing to know that it just celebrated it 100th anniversary. What an amazing item to see that literally took my breath away as I stared it. As I walked away from this, I thought about the balance of moving forward and honouring tradition.
Honouring the past is so important to know where we came from, but it is so important that we also know where our students are heading and what can we do to help them be successful on this path. I remember going back to my old high school five years after I graduated and being mortified that our basketball pictures were taken down. Now I think that it is hilarious to think about that because eventually new teams come up, and we need to make space for the kids there now. The importance of those days don’t leave my memories, but really, the remnants of those artifacts should be long gone from the school.
Take tradition in pedagogy. There are many things that we do because we have done them before, or they were done to us. We need to always look at our practices and think about who is it really honouring? Many will argue (as an example) about how they loved cursive as a child, but the nostalgia of it does not mean it is sound pedagogical practice. There has to be more to it than “that is what I did when I was a kid.”
With all of that being said, I was so glad to be a part of an amazing day with some incredible schools. Thanks for sharing your days with me!