As we move into 2014, it is a great time to reflect on the past year, as well as look forward to the year to come. Many of us have come up with a New Year’s resolution or two, and I am no different. As I reconnect with staff after the Christmas break, I am again reminded of the exciting and challenging times we are facing in Education today. This makes me think of the important work that we need to continue to do in creating inclusive environments for students in Parkland School Division. It also brings to mind my own role as a Learning Coach within the Division, reflecting on how the past year and a half has gone and what personal goals I need to set for myself for the remainder of this school year. Keeping all of this in mind, I have started 2014 by looking again at the PSD Commitment to Inclusion Statements and started my own personal reflection process.
PSD’s Commitment to Inclusion:
- the idea of fixing students to the idea of improving environments
- dependence on staff (teachers and EA’s) to a focus on independence
- “Special Ed” to ALL students being special
- a deficit model of thinking to a strength based model of thinking
- having high expectations for some to having high expectations for ALL
A big part of my reflection process has started by not just looking at the commitment statements, but honestly reflecting on each one of them by asking myself two things:
- In my role as a learning coach, how have I used the Commitment Statements to guide my behaviors and decisions in supporting a cultural shift in the schools that I work with?
- What barriers might I personally have that could be slowing down my ability to support change?
Reflecting on the relationships that I have built with staff and the projects, supports and collaboration opportunities I have initiated in my role as a learning coach, has been a validating experience. Often we don’t realize how much we have done unless we take a moment to reflect on it. What is great about reflecting is that it also provides the opportunity to build onto what has already been put in place and set goals for the months to come, as well as ask deeper questions. As I have reflected on how things have been going, more and more questions and ideas have come about and this has also inspired me to start discussions with staff, which has made this whole process a richer experience…. as we all know….collaboration is always key to growth!
Looking at the my second question has been a little more challenging as I really have needed to critically examine my barriers; and, I have to admit that I have actually come face to face with one or two that I myself have created because of my own discomfort/comfort level, perceptions and beliefs. Owning this, at first was difficult for me, as like others, pride myself on doing my best work. The interesting and motivating thing is that once I took the opportunity to look critically at these barriers, the process of setting new goals for myself and coming up with strategies to remove these barriers has been a powerful experience. Like with my reflection on how I have supported change, my reflection on barriers also has brought about other, deeper questions. I don’t necessarily have all of the answers to these questions yet, but working through this process will I believe, be big part of my growth.
As the first weeks back to school move along and I continue to work through my reflection process, I feel I have a deeper sense of where I have been and where I need to go next in my role as a learning coach. Using the PSD Commitment to Inclusion Statements have been a key part of this process and asking key questions has taken my self-reflection to a deeper level. I am excited to start the New Year with some well thought out “resolutions”, both personal and professional. Wising everyone all the very best in 2014!