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David DeRosa


February 14, 2020 Message to Members

The Learning Brain Series

We received some great feedback from our members about Jack MacNeill’s column in the February 7 eNews, where the humanworks President shared some strategies for transitioning each day from work to home. If you missed it, you can read it here. The approaches are pretty simple, but – like deep breathing – we sometimes all need to be reminded to do the simple things.
In today’s eNews, we’re continuing down that path with a new information series entitled The Learning Brain. Like Jack’s column, the intent of this series is not to load you up with extra reading, but to offer some definitions, tips and tools that we hope you will find useful in your practice. This week’s installment is an introduction to the series, and we invite your comments in the weeks ahead. A special thank you to the author of this series, Rochelle Morandini, who is currently working with the BCPVPA to assist our members with the resources they need to promote their health and well-being.

And so, with Valentine’s Day upon us and thoughts of loved ones, family and friends in our hearts, you still have time to send your cards, chocolates and flowers. Or, better yet, why not keep healthy living in mind and instead extend an invitation to take a weekend walk, breathe some fresh air, spend quality time together away from the usual distractions or take on some snowshoeing or cross-country skiing! There are so many options in beautiful British Columbia, and what a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves of the connection between healthy hearts and healthy minds.

I recently read an online article – Brain health rests on heart health: Guidelines for lifestyle changes – and it was an enlightening reminder that self-care today plays a significant role in sustaining a healthy future. It’s not complicated:

“Regular physical activity — any activity, for at least 150 minutes per week, is number one on the list of evidence-based actions you can take.
Exercise clearly lowers the risk of dementia, even Alzheimer’s. Studies show that people who exercise more are less likely to develop dementia of any kind…”

On this BC Family Day weekend, I encourage you to prioritize some heart-and-mind time for you and your family.

Take Care,
David

David DeRosa


February 7, 2020 Message to Members

Groundhog Day

We just passed Groundhog Day, that odd North American celebration where a large friendly rodent holds court on the coming of Spring. Apparently, the tradition originated in German-speaking areas, and the original soothsayer was a badger. This year, Shubenacadie Sam of Nova Scotia retreated for six more weeks of winter snoozing, while Wiarton Willie of Ontario gave claws-up for an early Spring. In either case, I have to say that even with an extra day in February this year, Spring seems to be approaching with a determined pace. Not that I want to channel Bill Murray, but sometimes I’d like a do-over!

With the Professional Learning Development (PLD) meetings this weekend, I want to again extend my appreciation to colleagues who are also feeling the days rush by, but still take the time to reflect on their learning leadership, and to actively enhance their capacity to serve their colleagues more deeply and efficiently. Since the last PLD meeting in October, more than 250 School Plans have been created in BetterEducate, using the new module with the invaluable support of Chapter PLD reps and the BetterEducate Support Team (BEST). Many of the School Plans use the Spirals of Inquiry template, and we are so grateful for the support and guidance of our partners and mentors, Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser.

In the same timeframe, more than 900 new Growth Plans have been created in the BetterEducate platform, and thousands of artifacts and evidence have been embedded into our members’ rich and engaging Growth Plans across BC. The most powerful aspect of these two approaches to professional growth planning is the connection that is made between colleagues, both familiar and new. The expertise and wisdom drawn from the collective experiences of our members and partners is unparalleled, a treasure trove that is now both accessible and relatable.

The best part of using the online tool is that when I wake up tomorrow, see Bill Murray in the mirror and feel like I’m stuck on repeat, I can take a quick look at my Growth Plan and ground myself to the path behind and my journey ahead. Creating your own Growth Plan is definitely time well spent.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa


January 31, 2020 Message to Members

Negotiation Representation

The BC Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association has one critical mandate: to support our members. We do this in the context of leadership development, advocacy and representation. As a learning organization, the BCPVPA is focused on supporting our members – and the sector – with exceptional leadership development opportunities. In a week, our Professional Learning Development Committee and Chapter PLD Representatives will gather for biannual meetings and workshops. I’m looking forward to connecting and engaging in generative learning, and conversations with colleagues from across BC. The focus on instructional leadership is near and dear to my heart!

I also appreciate and recognize the critical role that our members play in their classrooms, schools and communities. It is my pleasure and honour to regularly share your contextual experiences when and where I can. This week is one of those times.

As many of you know, the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) Annual General Meeting is underway, with a representative from each of our 60 School Boards in attendance. Earlier this week I sent each School Board Chair a letter, with the request that they share it with their BCPSEA representative. The letter reminds the representatives of BCPSEA’s January 2019 resolution and commitment to engage in non-binding discussions with the BCPVPA through 2019, with the objective of establishing a structure and process that could identify key terms and conditions of employment. The letter also outlines our Association’s concern that, despite our outreach, those non-binding discussions have not taken place. You can read the letter here.

The BCPVPA’s goal over six years of advocacy has been to achieve a provincial negotiation representation model that will support our members in the negotiation process, eliminate the significant inequities and inconsistencies in Principal’s and Vice-Principals’ contracts throughout the province and ultimately create new efficiencies for both the employer and our members. In essence, your employment contract is a tangible representation of financial security for you and your family. It is a framework that supports your professional capacity, and it is the ultimate safety net for your physical and social-emotional health.

I can circle back to our meetings last week with another important BCPVPA group, the Contract Advisory Committee. Their ongoing support of our members who have contract inquiries or issues with their employment relationships really illuminates the challenges that our members experience in trying to maintain their financial security while at the same time managing increased workplace intensification, supporting students and staff, and being lead learners in their schools.

As Principals and Vice-Principals, we all began our careers first and foremost as educators. That passion for learning and supporting innovation is what energizes us each day. As leaders, we look after schedules, scraped knees, assessment and curriculum implementation and even the odd sidewalk covered with snow, but we lead people, and those people need and deserve your full attention and support every day.

We continue to hear from our members directly, and we’re listening. The BCPVPA will continue our focus on the critical steps in the journey towards negotiation representation so that you can maintain your focus on the important work of leading BC schools and supporting student success. You are all doing such great work.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa


January 24, 2020 Message to Members

A New Year

As we wrap up week three of 2020, I hope that you were able to unplug – literally, and figuratively – during the break.

Ironically, my departure from the Lower Mainland to head home for the holiday was delayed by road closures due to extreme snowfall, but eventually we made our way to the Kootenays. Despite the record snow falls leading up to the break, my ‘home hill’ Red Mountain was hit by the warming trend in late December and skiing was limited. But, rather than wallowing in self-pity that I wasn’t skiing fresh Kootenay powder snow, I enjoyed something new … nesting! Having three 20+ kids around made for some amazing conversation. I found myself listening much more and saying much less. Darn kids know a lot!

So, here we are: January 24, 2020. Most of our elementary colleagues are supporting their school communities, as students and families transition back to routines, our secondary colleagues are already preparing for 2020 course selections and in semester schools they are busy planning for a ‘year-end’ and the start of semester two. Our colleagues in district positions are gearing up for budget and enrolment predictions, and those of us with online and alternate responsibilities are awaiting the details of the funding review. In other words, January for Principals and Vice-Principals is incredibly busy!

Luck was with me last week as I was able to dodge some extreme weather and flew in and out of the Okanagan. I was visiting our colleagues in SD 58 Nicola Similkameen, and I enjoyed sitting in on their district team meeting in Princeton. It was great to hear a bit about the strategic planning process, along with the initiatives and successes SD 58 has experienced, and in turn I was able to share some provincial perspectives and respond to contextual questions.

This week was busy with Ministry meetings, specifically the Framework for Enhancing Student Learning Advisory Committee, Sector Advisory and the Leadership Working Group. I appreciate the opportunity I have to share the perspectives of Principals and Vice-Principals during these conversations, and I am reminded of the importance of connection. My Chapter visits and the engaging conversations that we have are critical to my capacity to represent our members’ experiences and perspectives. Much of the feedback is reinforcing, as our roles are relatively similar and familiar, but local context really matters. Chapter visits create and sustain our connectedness both as individuals and as a leadership community.

Today I am enjoying connecting with our Contract Advisory Committee in Richmond. The wisdom and experience in the room is so appreciated as we discuss items that carry some significant gravity. In essence, your contract is a tangible representation of financial security for you and your family, a framework to support your professional capacity and the safety net for your physical and social-emotional health. I am grateful to our colleagues who take the time to support us with this critically important work, and I look forward to the strategic conversations.

Tomorrow, I head out of town to continue my learning with the BC Compassionate Systems Leadership team. I am excited to reconnect with our international cohort, Mette Boell and Peter Senge, over the course of next week.

As the weekend approaches, please take a minute to consider your own ‘battery levels’ and respond to your needs. As Marc Brackett says, “give yourself permission to feel.”

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa


December 13, 2019 Message to Members

Happy Holidays

Today’s post is brief, as I know that you are all preparing for your break. While it’s a short message, I hope you’ll keep it in your thoughts. Carve out some time for yourselves during the holiday season, and find your personal joy in reading a new book, walking some quiet paths, launching a baking marathon or catching up on your favourite Netflix series. Best wishes to you all for the winter break and I look forward to seeing you in 2020.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa


December 6, 2019 Message to Members

Themes of Connection

Sharing a few of my activities, experiences and perspectives with you through eNews each week has become an enjoyable part of my reflective routine. Given the diversity of each day’s content – and accounting for my own memory! – I’ve come to rely on a practice that has developed as a part of my compassionate systems leadership work: journaling. As I reflect on recent pages, the conferences held by both the BC School Superintendents Association and the BC School Trustees Association really stand out. As a ‘learner in the audience’, I appreciated the opportunity to hear from a number of global thought leaders and appreciated the inspirational and practical aspects of their presentations.

Margaret Wheatley challenges us to ‘use our leadership role to advance our values and faith in people; to choose to use our power and influence to be warriors for the human spirit.’ She framed her perspectives through a lens of ‘sane’ leadership, outlining the importance of maintaining a focus on the human and ethical responsibilities that leaders share. She challenged the audience by asking the question, “what good is connection if it is used to connect with negativity?”

Santa Ono spoke of humanizing our work and our roles as we develop a common vision for student success. Supporting students as they transition to their ‘lives after high school’ with an emphasis on health and wellness – both mental and physical – is critical.

Shane Safir shared her emotionally-rich narratives to highlight the power of ‘Street Data’, capturing the stories of students, families, and colleagues as vital sources of data. Data can take many forms, and the power of the narrative data is most impactful when we take the time to develop our leadership listening skills.

Severn Cullis-Suzuki used her personal family journey and science background to emphasize the importance of engaging in the climate conversation. What resonated with me was her message of supporting student engagement by developing resiliency through self-awareness and an understanding of the ecosystems of relationships. We are all interconnected, in nature and with each other.

These powerfully impactful perspectives share the common theme of connection. As your days get busier with the winter break on the horizon, I encourage you to be purposefully aware of your personal needs. At this time of the year, sustaining energy levels to support your school communities can be a challenge, but connecting with friends, family and colleagues is always a good strategy.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa


November 29, 2019 Message to Members

More About Lobby Day at the BC Legislature

After posting last week’s column about the BCPVPA’s November 18 visit to the BC Legislature, I’ve received so much interest from members – many thoughtful questions, positive feedback and requests to find out more – so I’d like to take the opportunity to continue that story in this week’s column. Although the opportunity was brand new to us, and exciting to navigate, it’s very familiar to many BC organizations.

As I mentioned last week, the opportunity is informally called ‘Lobby Day’, and it’s a chance for BC groups and associations to introduce both their work and their priorities to the MLAs and Ministers who attend their sessions. It’s a really interesting facet of the daily business at the BC Legislature, and quite truly democracy in action: there are groups booked virtually every day that the Legislature is in session, some coordinating luncheons and after-work gatherings, and others organizing smaller meetings and presentations with MLAs and their staff.

Organizations that take advantage of this opportunity to meet with the provincial government represent a very broad spectrum of business, non-profit and labour enterprises. Recent visitors represented construction and resource interests, like the Canadian Home Builders Association, the Electrical Contractors Association and the Truck Loggers Association; health and research interests, like the Family Hearing Resource Society, the Denturists Association and LifeSciences BC; non-profit initiatives like Big Brothers & Big Sisters and Science World; and labour interests like the BC Nurses Union and the CLAC. Recent visitors also included professional associations like the Law Society of BC, and groups with an education focus like the Alliance of Students and post-secondary educators UFV and SFU.

The common objective of these groups is to have their voices heard by the provincial government, whether they are bringing forward a specific issue or focused on building a strong network that will benefit their organization over time. Through our luncheon and seven small-group meetings on November 18, we were able to speak directly with more than 40 MLAs, a half dozen of whom were Ministers. Some representatives who intended to meet with us were delayed by government business, and these MLAs received a package of our information.

It was such an honour and a privilege for me and BCPVPA senior staff to present the scope of your work and challenges to your local MLAs. Our ferry journey home on Monday night was a great time for reflection on the day, and on our next steps. I want to thank you for your continued passion about the work that you do, and for reaching out and expressing your interest in the work that we do on your behalf.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa


November 22, 2019 Message to Members

Our Story

It’s fitting that we’re releasing our 2018-2019 BCPVPA Annual Report today. We’ve titled this yearly overview Our Year, and see it as more than a collection of the important facts and figures: it’s truly our story of representing our members, and supporting you in the work you do every day in your schools.

Earlier this week, we had an amazing opportunity to tell your story to a group of people who work hard to represent the people of BC at BCPVPA’s first-ever ‘Lobby Day’ at the BC Legislature. In smaller meetings and at a larger luncheon event, we engaged in the very enjoyable process of telling your local MLA about the depth of the role and what your work entails. While we did entertain a few quips about ‘being called before the Principal’, we were able to put the focus on your exceptional passion for your work, your schools and student success.

For many of the MLAs we met with on Monday, this was a first glimpse of the scope and complexities of the work of Principals and Vice-Principals. And while we told many positive stories about your journeys and achievements, we also introduced the challenges that you experience in the role, the health and work intensification issues in the sector and your concerns related to inequities in your contracts.

We were able to tell your story to more than 40 MLAs on Monday, representing nearly half of BC’s electoral districts: it’s a great place to start the conversation with your local provincial government representatives about how to support BC’s Principals and Vice-Principals in their roles in order to ensure continued high performance in our public education system. I hope that there will be many more chapters to this story.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa


November 15, 2019 Message to Members

Advocacy, Representation and Leadership Development

This short and busy week has a very circular feeling for me, with curving patterns that are nested neatly right where they should be. I feel that I’m seeing a perfect exemplification of our Association’s mission statement through three events that mark this week.

 Serving members by supporting effective leadership in education through representation, advocacy and leadership development.

We’ll be immersed in representation at the Board of Director’ Meeting, Presidents’ Meeting and Chapter Council Meeting/ AGM this week. These events are opportunities for members to be represented by their peers, and for the regional voice to be carried to a provincial level. At these events, we witness the efficacy of meeting face-to-face, the continuation of conversations and the power of table talk where we hear about the individual experiences that inform our work.

Serving members by supporting effective leadership in education through representation, advocacy and leadership development.

We’ll embrace advocacy when we travel to the BC Legislature on Monday November 18 and hold our first BCPVPA Lobby Day with several groups of BC MLAs. We have an exceptional opportunity to introduce the work and challenges of our members to this provincial government cohort that has influence on the work that our members do in the public education system, and we’re looking forward to answering questions and having many meaningful conversations.

Serving members by supporting effective leadership in education through representation, advocacy and leadership development.

We’re showcasing leadership development as part of this week’s launch of our new BCPVPA magazine, Principl(ed). You’ll soon be receiving this publication that strives to tell the stories of our members. We see it as just the beginning of a journey that will reveal the work of our members, both within our membership and far beyond. Principl(ed) magazine is the first phase in a new awareness campaign that will start to roll out soon. Don’t be surprised if you see a colleague’s face smiling at you from your Twitter feed or from your local community newspaper.

There’s a lot to look forward to: I can’t wait to tell you more.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa


November 8, 2019 Message to Members

Back on the Road

On this, the Friday before November 11, I want to acknowledge the role that Principals and Vice-Principals play in planning and hosting Remembrance Day Ceremonies in their schools and communities. It’s a time of providing both youth and elders the opportunity to share in reflection, and honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy a life of peace. Thank you for your efforts, your attention to the small details and your accommodation of the diverse needs of many.

My Fall 2019 On the Road theme continued this week, with a return to Vancouver Island and visits to Chapters in SD71 Comox Valley, SD72 Campbell River and SD69 Qualicum. My heartfelt thanks to Presidents Charles Schilling, Laird Ruehlen and Lori Marshal for coordinating my visits and arranging for meetings and presentations. I often refer to the unique contexts I experience as I travel around our wonderful province, but I also appreciate the common themes and characteristics that school leaders share with me in our conversations. This week’s Island visits really highlighted this experience.

As leaders, we are quick to share the positive student progress in our schools, initiatives that increase student engagement, new strategies and resources that support our staff in their work and so much more. I’m filled with positive energy when I see and hear about your collective positive impacts on student success and your school communities as a whole.  But there’s more. Our complex work and the time that is required to ‘get it right’ continues to be the consistent and common theme across our provincial landscape.  When I ask the simple question, “How are you showing up in this moment?”, the majority of us are initially challenged to respond honestly. We struggle to give ourselves permission to ask the question, “how am I?” because, too often, we already know the answer.

My work with compassionate systems has shown me that there are small actions we can take to support ourselves and each other. These small first steps are important, as the larger systemic changes will take time. Small actions are important for sustaining and recharging. As leaders, we know that modelling is an important strategy in our work. Do as I say, not as I do just doesn’t cut it anymore. Our days are busy and the ‘to do’ list really can grow over the course of the day, but there are many times in a day where transitions occur. The beginnings and endings of meetings are an example: take 3-5 minutes at the start of a meeting to be present and engage in a ‘check-in’ process, to focus your thoughts and to literally catch your breath. It’s a small step, a little pause that creates time for self-awareness and gives others involved in the conversation time to do the same. This small action typically produces a simple outcome: a much more effective and focused use of time.

I have to admit that the first few times I led a brief check-in, I felt a bit of ‘imposter syndrome’. I now realize I was actually feeling very vulnerable in sharing a new practice. As leaders, we often ask others to do this exact thing. By modelling this practice, we can accomplish three important system outcomes: self-awareness by being present; providing others with time and space to gather themselves; and acceptance of showing vulnerability, not as a weakness but as a part of compassionate leadership. I encourage you to give ‘checking in’ a try.

Take Care,

David

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