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David DeRosa

March 15, 2019 Message to Members

Spring Break

What is your ideal Spring Break? A ski trip or sun vacation with the family? Local staycation adventures, spending time with your kids, dogs, cats, friends? Whatever your version of ‘perfect’ might be, I hope that you will be able to live it over the coming break. It’s a milestone in the latter half of the school year and time to take some deep breaths and recharge. The coming months will be rewarding but busy, and you’ll be ready. I look forward to being back with you in April, and hearing about your best Spring Break moments.

Take Care,

BCPVPA President on CBC Radio

Cellphones in Schools: March 12 – On The Coast – at 1:08:40

BCPVPA Elections

Nominations for President-Elect and 5 Directors Open April 1.

BCPVPA members will elect a President-Elect and five Directors in June 2019 elections, with the successful candidates taking their roles July 1. The newly-elected members will join existing members of the Board who are completing their terms in June 2020.

Nomination forms will be available here on April 1, and nominations close April 30.

Candidates for the position of President-Elect will speak at Chapter Council on Friday May 3, and candidates for the position of Director will speak at Chapter Council on Saturday May 4. Candidate statements will be issued to BCPVPA members on or before May 9, and will also be available from this site.

Election for President-Elect: voting will be open Tuesday June 4 – Thursday June 6. To be successful, a candidate for President-Elect must receive 50% of the votes cast plus one, and additional rounds of balloting will be held as required the week of June 10. A candidate who is not successful as President-Elect may choose to stand for election as a Director.

The President-Elect begins a one-year term on July 1, followed by a two-year term as President and a one-year term as Past President (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2023).

Election for 5 Directors: voting will be open Tuesday June 18 – Thursday June 20. The open Director positions will be filled by the corresponding number of candidates who receive the highest number of votes on a single ballot.

Directors begin their two-year terms on July 1.

Check this page for additional information as it becomes available. If you have any questions about the election process, please contact sandra@bcpvpa.bc.ca. If you have any questions about the roles and responsibilities of the President-Elect or Directors, please contact kreimer@bcpvpa.bc.ca

David DeRosa

March 8, 2019 Message to Members

Mental Models

A few weeks back I shared with you a brief outline of my introduction to Compassionate Systems Leadership and Thinking. I was incredibly fortunate to be part of the BC team that participated in a 3 day workshop facilitated by Peter Senge and Mette Miriam Boell. The workshop provided a Systems Thinking foundation to build on and introduced participants to a practical set of tools that learners of all ages, cultures and backgrounds can easily put into practice.

The Iceberg Model was introduced at the recent School and Community Mental Health Conference and participants were led through an exercise by facilitator Tracy Smyth in how to use it and apply it to our own professional or personal contexts.

I have posted a more in-depth resource to BetterEducate – An Introduction to Systems Thinking , which outlines 2 models, the Iceberg and Ladder of Inference, in the context of Systems Thinking.

In very brief and simple terms, the Iceberg Model addresses the reality that we all develop mental models over time. Our experiences and interactions build our mental models and they help us to more efficiently make decisions. This ‘efficiency’ can be a positive or a negative outcome of mental model development. Waking up to another cold can be used to demonstrate how the Iceberg Model reveals a more complex set of systems connections [adapted from Northwest Earth Institute].


  1. The Event Level

The event level is the level at which we typically perceive the world—for instance, waking up one morning to find we have caught a cold. While problems observed at the event level can often be addressed with a simple readjustment, the iceberg model pushes us not to assume that every issue can be solved by simply treating the symptom or adjusting at the event level. Solution – buy cold medicine.

  1. The Pattern Level

If we look just below the event level, we often notice patterns. Similar events have been taking place over time — we may have been catching more colds when we haven’t been resting enough. Observing patterns allows us to forecast and forestall events.

  1. The Structure Level

Below the pattern level lies the structure level. When we ask, “What is causing the pattern we are observing?” the answer is usually some kind of structure. Increased stress at work due to the new promotion policy, the habit of eating poorly when under stress, or the inconvenient location of healthy food sources could all be structures at play in our catching a cold.

  1. The Mental Model Level

Mental models are the attitudes, beliefs, morals, expectations, and values that allow structures to continue functioning as they are. These are the beliefs that we often learn subconsciously from our society or family and are likely unaware of. Mental models that could be involved in us catching a cold could include: a belief that career is deeply important to our identity, that healthy food is too expensive, or that rest is for the unmotivated.

I hope you find a few minutes to apply the Iceberg Model to your own contexts and are able to reflect on the mental models that you are bringing to your analysis and decision-making processes.

Take Care,


David DeRosa

February 22, 2019 Message to Members

Issues Forum

Today I feel fortunate to set my sights on learning and connection. While it’s true that we learn and connect each day, a few hours of focused learning alongside your colleagues is truly something special.

For many years, the BCPVPA’s Issues Forum has been an annual opportunity for the Association to gather and present just some of the topics at the forefront of our members’ awareness. It won’t come as a surprise that our keynote speaker Alan Mallory will address mental wellness as one of the greatest challenges that we face: his presentation “Controlling Our External and Internal Focus & Improving Mental Health” will close out a day when our attendees have discussed and learned about youth substance abuse; suicidal behaviours in schools; challenges and opportunities in Indigenous education; focus schools; school growth plans; the graduation program; and the legal side of leadership.

The days of one-sided information delivery are thankfully behind us, and the interactive sessions at Issues Forum will invite dialogue, questions and connection. While we expand our knowledge and awareness, we’ll get to catch up with old friends and meet new colleagues. The shared learning is a catalyst for connection.

We hope to cascade the Issues Forum topics to a platform that will be accessible to all interested members by hosting webinars on these issues and other emerging areas of interest in the Spring or Fall of this year. If there is a potential webinar topic that would enhance your practice, please reach out and let me know.

Take Care,


BCPVPA Partnership Awards

Chapters can nominate:


March Webinar Mini-Series

Register for our March 7 & 14 Webinars

David DeRosa

March 1, 2019 Message to Members

Pink Shirt Day

This week in our schools, the hallways were awash with a sea of pink in every shade imaginable, colouring shirts, jackets, scarves and sweaters, and even painting cheeks and foreheads with hearts and positive messages. It’s a perfect example of everyone pulling in the same direction but doing it in hundreds of diverse ways.

From a simple act – a high school protest in small-town Nova Scotia, calling out the bullying endured by a grade 9 boy – Pink Shirt Day has made its mark in more than 180 countries.

There is a lot that we can take away from the initial stand made by two teenage boys and their group of friends. First, there is kindness and a recognition that sometimes everyone needs a hand. There is courage, to move beyond being a bystander, to speak up and to act. And there is compassion, and the ability to understand and respond to the isolation and lack of control that people can feel, then engaging to take action.

As Principals and Vice-Principals, those are strengths that we draw upon every day in our work. It’s important that we have the pulse of the social and emotional climate in our schools, and that we are able to balance the fundamentals of our practice with a sense of compassionate leadership and recognition of the many levels of support that we need to provide for students, teachers and staff. It can be as simple as being able to greet students by name, or to be onsite at the big game. It’s often the small acts that let the school community know that you are there, that you are present and that you care. We often refer to these little acts as positive school culture builders.

I hope that Pink Shirt Day brought your school together, and maybe inspired some new projects or innovations. Please let me know! I’d love to share what you’re doing in your schools.

Take Care,


David DeRosa

February 15, 2019 Message to Members


It’s right there on my wrist, telling me that it’s time to stand up, or time to take a breath.

I started using an app on my watch recently, and it’s truly the angel on my shoulder that reminds me to do those small things that are so vital to overall health. It’s made me consider transitions, and how often we’re focused more on ‘getting here’ than on ‘being here’.

A teacher I know uses a projector in the classroom to share that messaging with her students: it’s a visual marker that they all recognize, and it reminds them to pause between activities so that they can mindfully close one door before moving to the next.

I adopted a similar strategy recently on a visit to one of our Chapters. It was clear how challenging it was for some of our members to juggle their many commitments and make it to the meeting: some had only moments to spare on arrival, and you could see the anxiety and pressure they were feeling. I wasn’t sure how people would react, but instead of launching into the presentation as the clock hit the top of the hour, I asked everyone to stop for a moment, to close their devices and just to take a few breaths. Full disclosure: I confirmed that I would not lead them in the breathing: there are limits to my expertise! Everyone put down their phones and their pens, closed their laptops and visibly lightened in their seats. We transitioned.

Whether it’s the option of a sit/stand desk, a commitment with a colleague to run after school or embracing a little app on your wrist, there are cues that we can build into our lives that help us to take care of ourselves. On Monday, we have the gift of Family Day: I hope that day can be a time of transition for you, leaving the work aside for a moment and being with the people who are important in your life. On Monday, see if you can move past ‘getting there’ and into ‘being there’.

Take Care,


David DeRosa

February 8, 2019 Message to Members

SEL and Leadership

This is the second year that the BC Ministry of Education has produced the School Community Mental Health Conference (February 4 & 5 in Vancouver), and it was a timely opportunity for more than 500 participants from BC’s public, independent and First Nations schools to come together with law enforcement and health authorities for conversations and presentations about wellness in schools. The conference addressed mental health and addiction issues and strategies for children and youth, but also extended to wellness for educators and families and the importance of a community approach.

The positive energy in the room over those two days signals the momentum that we are experiencing. The Ministry and the BC government have recognized that we all – as a community – need to talk.

A consistent theme of the conference was the influence that leaders and their relationships have in the early and developing stages of support for at-risk children, youth and adults in our system. In last week’s column, I talked about my experience at the Compassionate Systems Framework in Schools workshop, and how MIT’s Peter Senges’ model is backed by years of scientific research on the impact of positive relationships in workplaces, including the daily interactions that we have with colleagues and our students.

Speaker Mark Greenberg highlighted the holistic need for social emotional learning (SEL) and the importance of connecting families and communities with schools and students. He emphasized the importance of educators investing time and resources in developing their own understanding of and skill with social emotional learning concepts. And he shared these words, that have resonated:

 “… I really don’t think of the role of a principal as being an instructional leader. I think it’s really misconstrued. I think the role of a principal is to be the SEL leader, the person who creates a healthy caring school where everyone feels connected and belongs.”

Mark Greenberg recognized that contemporary principals and vice principals can be overwhelmed by the day-to-day activities in their schools, and that they regularly express their desire to be instructional leaders. But his research and experience suggest that we could reconsider and look at our roles as the social emotional leaders for our schools.

It can seem like a shift of our lens, but I believe that it’s really part of who we are as leaders. As I reflect on my own years as an educator, I smile to recall my early days in the classroom or – more to the point – outside of the classroom. As a biology and science teacher, I spent time with students in the forest, by a stream, on the shore of the pond or just hunting for moss around a playground. I can now see the connectivity as we weave Indigenous ways of learning and thinking with social emotional learning and the objective of mental wellness for our students and colleagues. While I wasn’t familiar with the SEL constructs at the time, my goal in 

sharing outdoor learning activities with my students was grounded in creating an enhanced learning environment, and fostering positive attitudes towards education, discovery, our community and each other.

If you think about your role in your school, both the connections that you have built over time and those that are created every day, do you recognize your influence on the social and emotional climate of your school community? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts and your stories.

Take Care,


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