Before I get too far into this blog post, I need to give credit to Chris Smeaton who shared his concept of ‘Failing Forward’ a few years ago when he was Superintendent of an Alberta school division. He has since retired, but is still influential in the educational field. Chris is a quality person who believes in the possible — a leader who builds a culture of risk taking and emotional support — someone who embraces the idea of failure being a springboard to better things.
Our conversation was about 3 years ago at a conference table. I loved the visual imagery of his ‘failing forward’ message.
Even if you’re experiencing a temporary pause in your momentum, you can still move forward if you’re supported and encouraged, but not if you’re condemned for your mistake during your exploration of something new.
I first heard about the concept of Servant Leadership several years ago and appreciated its main ideas:
A servant leader is someone who “shares power, puts the needs of the employees first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. Instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people.”
It’s really about framing one’s MINDSET about how you relate to others in the workplace — about how one goes about their day — in other words, how a leader thinks, speaks and acts to support the people in the organization.
When I contextualize it for myself, I picture it being about my words and my actions that build the confidence, abilities and leadership in others. It’s also an area where I continually think of ways to become better.
Being part of a smaller school district, it is imperative that I lead in areas that build capacity — both in individuals and in our district. It is capacity that helps to build the redundancies in skills and knowledge which enable our district to withstand things like sudden illnesses or departures.
I love it when we have these types of conversations — the debates about what ‘works’ and what ‘doesn’t work’. It’s these types of dialogue that help us move forward in our thinking and plans to make education even better. This one discussion about remote learning is particularly interesting during the COVID-19 pandemic — and gaining in some frequency — as we have found some system success along with some real challenges.
Is remote learning the future for public education?
Has the pandemic showed us a better way to teach and learn?
Have we seen the utopian light?
As with most topics in education, one often hears opposing arguments — and there’s certainly no exception with remote learning. There are some pretty strong opinions being generated:
“Remote learning is fantastic. My child is able to focus on their own schedule and terms without the distractions at school.”
“Remote learning is terrible. There is no meaningful social interaction with their peers or teachers. Motivation is difficult and they can’t stay focused on their computers”.
Each opinion is sometimes accompanied by articles or media posts supporting the perspective