June 5, 2020 Message to Members

Looking Beyond

As we wind towards the end of this first week of re-integrating in-class instruction, I have no doubt that you have all been thinking even farther down the road: to the end of June, to the summer ahead, and to the shape of your working life once we reach August. But before we accelerate our thoughts, let’s take a step to the side, and acknowledge your collective achievements this week in meeting the complex needs of your school communities. You have supported your teaching and support staff with scheduling, the implementation of safety guidelines, and the formulation and application of new roles and responsibilities. You have supported parents and families with detailed communications and friendly videos, describing safety procedures and helpful resources. You were there every day with the warmest of smiles as your students returned. It’s been quite a week, and you guided this process with skill and care.

So, looking ahead. We can’t help it: we’re humans, and it’s what we do; we’re school leaders, and it’s definitely what we do. This week, I’d like to introduce some additional voices that may help you in framing your thoughts and conversations about what comes next. Gail Markin is a Social Emotional Learning District Teacher in the Langley School District, and I met Gail through my Compassionate Systems Leadership work. I have quickly grown to appreciate her understanding of school systems, the stresses and pressures that emerge at different support levels, and her genuine enthusiasm for making a difference for others. Gail has shared some thoughts about our passage through the pandemic so far, and what we may find beyond, in her article Well-being in the Time of COVID-19 & Beyond. Rosa Fazio is the Principal of Sir Sandford Fleming School in SD39, a recipient of the 2019 Canada’s Outstanding Principals award, a colleague and a friend. Rosa models an exceptional work ethic, while balancing time with her family and her own reflective practices. In her article What Parts of the ‘New Normal’ Do We Want to Keep? Rosa examines the transformational systemic changes during COVID-19, and what to keep in mind as we consider designing a future while ensuring that instructional leadership is at the forefront. I am grateful for Gail’s and Rosa’s voices as part of this week’s column, as they each share my passion for education, the desire to see equity and inclusion in our systems and the compassionate understanding of the exceptional work of educational leaders.

I’ll close out this week’s column by wishing you a restful first weekend of June knowing that you have accomplished so much. If you are looking for some relaxing listening, don’t forget to pick up our new podcast, with thanks to our member from SD73 (Kamloops) Chris Horton. Or if you want to dive into a good read, curl up with the Summer issue of Principl(ed) Magazine. And, as always, whatever you choose to do, and wherever you find yourself, I hope that you can take some time to breathe.

Take Care,
David