I often read or hear that our educational system is “broken”. Business writers, educational bloggers, government functionaries, students and even teachers and principals seem to hold this view. It’s a view that’s seductive when I encounter something in my job that doesn’t work right, or when I hear a story about a student whose school experience is sad, difficult or even terrible. There’s an unrealistic comfort in imagining that if we could just blow everything up, we could fix every problem.
But I really don’t want to go there. I spent the last two weeks working with incredible educators who showed me that our system isn’t remotely broken. How can it be, when we have such impassioned, motivated, engaged and intelligent people working not just in our district, but all over Ontario, Canada and North America?
I see people in our system who believe deeply in the power of public education. They want to learn, even when it’s challenging and difficult. They want to understand the latest educational thinking and work to integrate those ideas into their practice. It is a privilege to work and learn alongside them.
Our district is the midst of changing how we support schools through School Self Assessment and staff collaborative inquiry. We are investigating how staff can think deeply about their learning needs vis a vis student needs as shown through data. Our K-12 interdisciplinary team of consultants, instructional coaches, special assignment and student success teachers and system principals has an important role to play in this learning approach.
Sister Mary Lauretta, who was a Science teacher in Wisconsin, famously said, “To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work. ” The people I work with embody this concept. Their passion will ignite the passion of others and make a real difference for students.