So, as I reflect on the Year-That-Was what do I take from it? Let’s not rehash what I’ve already said in my 17 posts from this year, but instead let’s use my favourite theme of STAR WARS to capture some of the more important learnings when looking in the rearview mirror:
Let’s get started …
THERE WAS A LOT OF NOISE THIS YEAR
“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.”Qui Gon Jinn (The Phantom Menace)
There were lots of people talking this year. Lots of opinions.
Clear communication from us was key.
One thing I learned was to ensure that when WE spoke our messaging was consistent, based on facts and leaning heavily on the wisdom and leadership from others when needed — people like Dr. Bonnie Henry. The importance of calm, consistent messaging has helped us move through this pandemic storm in as predictable and rationale a way as possible.
PATIENCE WAS CRITICAL
“Patience you must have.”Yoda (The Empire Strikes Back)
Getting things done typically took longer this year. I know that I’m impatient for necessary change some times. The pandemic reminded me that we may need to slow things down as we work towards improvement.
Timing, timing, timing — the three most important aspects of implementing successful change.
FOCUSING ON WHAT WAS IMPORTANT
“Your focus determines your reality.”Qui Gon Jinn (The Phantom Menace)
You indicate the importance of a topic by focusing on it.
It was important for us to stay focused on learning and teaching this year — to not get distracted by the regular influx of ‘flotsom and jetsom’ that was swirling in the media — and in particular social media. It would have been easy to get sideswiped by a tweet, email or post that wanted us to veer away from our important paths this year — things like instructional strategies, supporting students and staff, and health & wellness.
Keeping true to our values and priorities has helped guide us through a difficult storm this year.
CHALLENGES TO OUR PERSPECTIVES
“Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view.”Obi Wan Kenobi (Return of the Jedi)
This year challenged me on my perspectives.
It was an almost daily pressure from some place — either within our district or from our community — on the directions we were taking. It reminded me to keep an open mind about the context of others and the need to ensure that we remained reflective of our own mindset so that we didn’t fall into a trap of familiarity.
We needed to avoid a Fixed Mindset — where we experience an unwillingness to step out of our comfort zone. Having a fixed mindset is like living in a bubble. Anything you want to do or change is framed by what you’re used to – in other words, what is in your familiar sightlines and what you already know. Being unwilling to adapt makes one lazy and unresponsive to the current needs surrounding you.
Personal reflection and openness to new ideas can be particularly difficult when we’re looking for predictability and consistency in this pandemic world of uncertainty. So for me, I took this challenge as a personal goal and one that I hope has paid off as the year progressed. I may not have made the trip to ‘openness of thought’ every single time, but I certainly put it as a daily reminder to myself.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY
But, probably the most salient reminder for me this year was the importance of family. Yes, my work family was important, but my own personal family was critical during these times of uncertainty. I continue to reflect back on a few critical moments from this past year:
- We dealt with the passing of my dad this winter and the subsequent need to support my mom and other family members including our children in their grief;
- The stress and strain on family was palpable this year. Things that normally wouldn’t cause distress did so. We worked to help them with the constancies of uncertainty, health restrictions and intense emotions;
- We opened our arms and our home to support our niece and her partner with a place to live for a few months due to pandemic unemployment in their career fields. We loved having them with us and providing a home that they needed.
All of this reminded me of how lucky I am to be surrounded by people whom I love and who love me back.
How interesting that a global pandemic can remind us of what matters most — the importance of our humanity and the deep personal connections that give us reason and hope.