I have been wrestling with my ‘one word’ for 2017 and given it is now mid-January, I figured it was time to be decisive. Last year my one word was ‘challenge’. As I reflect, we did indeed tackle challenges with an open-mind and we managed to push forward with innovative ideas that enriched the learning at West Bay. Unfortunately I don’t think I fulfilled my personal challenge to improve my flexibility! That fitness component remains my goal for 2017.
My ‘one word’ for 2017 is voice. The resignation of Olympic champion Hayley Wickenheiser solidified my decision as to which word that would define my hopes and goals for the upcoming year. This exceptional athlete and role model opened the door for women and young girls to participate in ice hockey, a sport previously dominated by men. Hayley’s voice was her determination to play hockey regardless of obstacles. Her voice inspired generations of young girls to strive to play the game at the highest level.
In the current political arena, fraught with uncertainty, adults are reflecting on the effectiveness of exercising their voice to express their individual and collective concerns. However, many are uncertain as to how to meaningfully express their voice or underestimate the power of their voice.
All members of our school community deserve to be heard. In the first week of January I met with teachers to discuss their professional growth plans. During these conversations, each teacher had a voice. These sessions are meaningful as I get a clear sense of teachers’ hopes and needs which enables me to support their learning and achievement of their goals.
Parents are key members of the school community as well. I met with our PAC Chair to share upcoming initiatives and to hear her perspective on how to move learning forward. Korean and Chinese parents met with me to plan Lunar New Year celebrations at the end of the month. The focus is always on enhancing learning and in this case, giving these parents a voice ensures our students develop an understanding and an appreciation of cultural traditions and norms.
What about the students? Their voice matters. We must create spaces for students to be active participants in their learning and be involved in decision-making. In the fall intermediate students were involved in parent-teacher conferences and had input into setting goals based on their interests and learning needs. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their work and tweak their goals based on their reflections. We are excited that FreshGrade is a digital tool for students to exercise their voice in their personalized learning journey.
One of our intangible objectives is for students to appreciate and to become accustomed to having and exercising their voice. As adults that will benefit them individually and, in turn, all of us collectively. This should move us to ensure that whether through sport, music, language, drama or art, every child and every person has a voice in 2017.