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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,

David

David DeRosa

February 1, 2019 Message to Members

Healthy Thoughts

It’s February 1 and we’ve had a very vital and busy start to 2019, although many of us are looking back and wondering how January slipped away so quickly. I have just re-emerged from the thick of an east coast snowstorm: I was fortunate to attend the workshop Introduction to Compassionate Systems Framework in Schools at MIT, and my few days in Boston were profoundly illuminating. The workshop attendance was diverse, not limited to educators and including attendees from more than a dozen countries. This experiential workshop explored the concept of the interconnectedness of global systemic challenges, and the call to refocus on “international mindedness” and to cultivate a “compassionate systems” framework. There’s a lot to unpack, and I was fortunate to attend with a small cohort of local sector colleagues: we will continue to work together in a mutual-support team to bring the vision and learning to our BC teams and schools.

Spending time in deep discussions about behavioral awareness and a compassionate system fuels my belief that we are witnessing systemic mindfulness when it comes to wellness in the education sector. The Ministry of Education will hold their 2nd annual School Community Mental Health Conference – Leading Mentally Healthy Schools in BC on February 4 and 5, an event that brings together Ministry and education sector partners with health authorities and district representation. The purpose of the conference is to build the capacity of school-community teams to support student mental wellness through a systems leadership approach that focuses on mental health promotion. The Fall 2018 BC School Superintendents Association (BCSSA) Conference took as its focus Transforming Education: Well-being in Schools, and the BCPVPA’s own capacity as an association has continued to grow with the development of the Work Intensification and Well-being Advisory Committee (WIWAC), and our Early Intervention Program (EIP) through humanworks.

Our February 22 BCPVPA Issues Forum will feature a keynote with international speaker and author Alan Mallory themed around “Controlling Our External and Internal Focus & Improving Mental Healthand will also offer breakout sessions that include Schools and the Changing Landscape of Youth Substance Abuse: Cannabis Legalization and Vaping and Suicidal Behaviours and Self-Harm at School. The available resources and sense of awareness are both on the rise.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll share more about the workshop in Boston, and learning from the Ministry’s upcoming conference. In the meantime, I hope the start of the month is a good reset for you, and that you will enjoy the weekend ahead whether it’s in snow, rain, or the advent of cherry blossoms.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa

January 25, 2019 Message to Members

Some Very Good News

In an email to all members on Wednesday, I shared news of a supportive first step in our provincial negotiation representation initiative that occurred at BCPSEA’s Annual General Meeting this week.  Our understanding is that the resolution that had been proposed in advance of the meeting was passed by a significant majority. While we were aware of the initial wording of the resolution, we understand that the original motion was revised on the floor and wording of the amendment is not yet available to us. We believe it is likely that BCPSEA Board of Directors will still need to provide some additional information to the BCPSEA Representatives from all 60 school districts before next steps can be considered. Once we have a full and complete understanding of the motion and its impact, we will share it with our members.

 When we were first advised that this resolution would be introduced at the January 23-24 AGM, it came as both surprising and welcome news for us. Surprising because, although we have been discussing negotiation representation for several years, our efforts have been primarily internal to the organization until we embedded the goal as part of our strategic plan and received the mandate from our members in June 2018 to purposefully pursue a provincial negotiation framework. In that relatively short time, we have had the tremendous support of our members whose active voices and candor have helped to surface the many challenges that BC school leaders are facing. 

And welcome, because news of this discussion at a provincial level is indicative of the significant and meaningful relationship that we have with our partners. To be heard, understood and acknowledged is gratifying, and we give thanks to the BCPSEA Board, our school trustees and our government who were willing to engage in this conversation at a provincial level. We all share a vision of public schools that are positive, efficient and collaborative workplaces with a primary focus on student achievement.

I have been so inspired by the volume of positive responses that immediately popped up in my inbox and which have continued to arrive this week, signalling the excitement that has been bubbling throughout the province. And I want to add a very special thank you to our Chapter Presidents for their hard work and dedication on behalf of the membership: your engagement has been critical to carrying this process forward.

Take Care,

David

BCPVPA Leadership Planning Guide

The revised 2018-2019 guide is available for online reference here.

David DeRosa

January 18, 2019 Message to Members

Looking Back, Looking Forward

What were you doing thirty years ago? Many of you were still in school yourselves, navigating primary or secondary school, teacher education or another early path. Or, maybe you were already working in the classroom, building the skills, knowledge and connections that shaped the leader you are today.

More than 30 years ago, the B.C. Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association transitioned from a Provincial Specialist Association (PSA) of the BC Teachers’ Federation to a non-profit professional association. During that time, more than 40 dedicated educators have served as President, and countless exceptional Directors have helped guide our organization.

We rounded out our 30th year last week with a small gathering of long-time friends and current partners, and it was a perfect moment to both glance back at where we’ve been and to look ahead at this year and beyond. The goals and objectives of our Strategic Plan are being realized as we continue to focus on attaining fairness in contract provisions and total compensation through negotiation representation; on supporting the leadership capacity and efficacy of our members through professional development opportunities; and on strengthening engagement with our members, the sector, government and the public. Our 2017-2018 Annual Report provides an overview of the advocacy and development activities that touched hundreds of our members each month.

With nearly six months as President in my rear-view mirror, I can’t believe how quickly time is passing and how much I still hope to achieve! As part of my focus on supporting the well-being of our members, we will have a full implementation of the BCPVPA Early Intervention Program through humanworks by this Fall, and I continue to purposefully collaborate with others in our sector to establish and support health and wellness initiatives. I am hoping to see many of our members at the Ministry of Education’s 2nd annual School Community Mental Health Conference – Leading Mentally Healthy Schools in BC – February 4th and 5th in Vancouver.

I have also been excited to see the growth of our members’ interaction on both the BetterEducate platform and through social media as you’ve shared opinions, resources and support, and showcased the unique activities in your schools and the bonds you’re forging with your teams and students.

Much of my work as President involves building relationships on behalf of the association and ensuring that the BCPVPA is a respected and valued voice in public education. Part of that continuing journey is relating the stories of our members and unveiling the work that we do in schools and communities to support student achievement. What’s your favourite story? I’d love to share it.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa

January 11, 2019 Message to Members

Harmony

In December, I talked about the importance of marking and celebrating your accomplishments when you reflect on 2018. In this first message of 2019, I’d like to continue that thread with a focus on what you learned last year and how you will intentionally carry that learning forward.

Some pieces of learning are bold and declarative but others are less conspicuous, that little kernel of knowledge or subtle occurrence that seems unremarkable at the time but that you later realize has triggered a profound shift in your thinking. 

As I find myself part of a new work environment and with the exposure to other groups and organizations in our sector, I’ve been mindful of what makes associations like ours tick. Organizations pursue their goals using established practices and procedures that guide staff and maintain direction: think ‘strategic plans’ and ‘mission statements’, those visioning tools that are critical to keeping the ship on course. These mechanisms provide the framework for an organization to both measure its progress and be successful.

A key observation for me has been the critical role that relationships play within that framework. When organizations are successful in building sincere mutual trust and respectful relationships, they flourish. If the culture of the organization is genuine, that success doesn’t crumble with the natural passage of leaders and teams as they pursue new challenges or retire. An organization whose leaders, staff and support teams can understand the vision, and truly share and appreciate both the work and each other, has honed a culture built on shared purpose and authentic relationships. Organizations – and the leaders who are responsible for them – find the greatest success when they can achieve this harmony.

This piece of learning has simmered for me over the holidays as I thought about the internal and external relationships that we hold, the ones that have achieved that perfect balance and the ones that are still on a path of discovery.  I hope that this reflection will help me to attain harmony in working with the many teams in my life, and that you can find your own harmony for 2019 by setting a few key intentions based on last year’s learning. I’d love to hear your thoughts: share your greatest 2018 takeaway with us on Twitter @bcpvpa.

Take Care,

David

2nd Annual Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education

Nominations are now open – visit bit.ly/2M1EjNH to find out more

David DeRosa

December 14, 2018 Message to Members

BC Funding Model Review

As many of you know, the BC Ministry of Education has been consulting with K-12 stakeholders to review the province’s public education funding model. The current funding model has been in place for more than 15 years, and can no longer reflect the social, cultural and demographic trends in our province. Advances in technology have had a profound effect on instruction and student learning. The job market has shifted, as have the skills that students need to prepare them for their post-graduation life. Our public education system has recognized that specific learning needs can best be supported, and success enhanced, within a revised curriculum.

The funding model review process emerged based on the 2018 realities of education in BC. The goal of the funding model review is to ensure that the allocation of funding is equitable across BC’s 60 Boards of Education, with a focus on strong outcomes and equitable access to opportunities for all students. We share the goal of providing the best supports and services for all students, and I have been involved in the consultation process on behalf of the BCPVPA, both on the Board level and during my time as President. During the initial stages of the review process, stakeholder perspectives were gathered from School Districts, sector partners including the BCPVPA, parents’ groups, teachers’ groups and non-profit groups with an interest in education. You can read those submissions here bit.ly/K-12FMRFeedback.

An independent review panel met with School Districts around the province, and while the feedback was broad and reflective of the different needs of the 60 Districts, 16 themes emerged including Special Education, Collective Agreements, Targeted Funding for Indigenous Students and Unique School District Features: read about the findings here bit.ly/K-12FMRPanel. Government has been in the process of reviewing the panel’s recommendations, and options for transitioning to a new funding model will be released shortly before or after the holiday break.

Changes that affect the operation of our schools can be high on the list of things that keep school leaders awake at night. We expect that there will be many questions from our members once the results of the funding review are released, and we will be here to help you to navigate the information and understand the context for your schools. I will be involved in a feedback process with government, and I am committed to taking your questions and concerns forward to ensure that we are continuing an effective dialogue.

As we move towards the end of the year, I wish you and your families all the very best. I want to personally thank you for being passionate advocates for public education, and for creating a positive and inclusive learning environment every day in your schools. I’m proud to be part of this community of leaders, and to represent your voice.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa

December 7, 2018 Message to Members

Reflection

As many of you know, I’m a forward-looking guy. I’m fascinated by new technology and the way that it can enhance our support of students while advancing our own learning. So, it may come as a surprise that I still write an annual Christmas letter to my friends and family. I treasure the process of casting back through the year that’s passed and documenting it, often with humour and no small measure of sentimentality.

This year, I’m thinking about what I’ve experienced since I became President. July’s trip to Toronto for the symposium on mental health reinforced member well-being as one of the pillars of my work, and October’s journey to Nova Scotia to witness the birth of a new association gave me a strong appreciation of how the BCPVPA has grown and developed. And mostly it’s been the pleasure of meeting with members in your communities and in your homes and finding out more about your challenges and successes. This year’s letter will draw in those experiences, along with the new reality of having a family that is settled in separate cities.

It’s a busy time in schools, as the learning of the Fall flows into report cards and final classes, and beyond into family gatherings and your own holiday traditions. For some it’s a whirlwind, for others a peaceful pause. But before you close the door on 2018, take that moment of reflection to look at what you accomplished: maybe it was an innovation in your school, or supporting a colleague through a crisis. Maybe it was coaching an anxious child to speak for the first time in front of her class or meeting a fundraising target that will cascade in learning benefits to your students. Or maybe it was a milestone event in your family life that will subtly alter your path. You don’t have to produce your own Christmas letter, it may be a cerebral post-it note for you alone. But remember the impact that you’ve made this year.

Take Care,

David

David DeRosa

November 30, 2018 Message to Members

Chapter Council

Earlier this week, you received our brief on the November 23-24 President’s Meeting, Chapter Council and AGM. The sessions were informative, and we introduced a lot of content that reps will bring back to your local meetings. I’m eager to hear from you if you have any questions!

One feature of the sessions that we can’t reproduce in a report was the experience of real-time feedback that we introduced. Some of you know that I’m a lover of tech, and we decided to elevate the traditional table-talk and flip-chart documentation to a new level. We used sli.do for quick in-room polls where we could all track the emerging responses, and a new back-channel of Better Educate – BackBEat Channel – where Directors could moderate table-talk discussions and instantly share commentary from the table groups.

What these platforms brought to our discussions was an immediacy and sharing that was effective: we were able to identify common questions quickly and provide answers. With the pace and complexity of the work we do every day in our schools, we may sometimes feel like we’re not coming together as easily as we should in our team meetings. Introducing this kind of interactivity can help teams to hone in on the pressure points and key issues in a nimble and direct way. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by technology but remember that you’re the one in control. Think about the technological supports that are available to you, and how you could use them to achieve specific goals that will enhance your connectivity with your students and your teams.

Take Care,

David

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