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10/20/2018 - Week 6 

According to Psychology Today Canada, “Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.”

I have always been a person who valued resilience. As a parent and as a teacher, I strive to share my view that resilience is a critical life skill. I feel it is my job - my mission - to encourage children to take mitigated risks - to be generally safe, but to step outside of their comfort zones and risk a lack of success. Failure is a wonderful teacher, and it turns out that you cannot actually achieve the quality of resilience without it.

Nelson Mandela
“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

Elizabeth Edwards
“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

“A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot 
water.”

I attended a leadership conference last year in Toronto. One of the keynote speakers was Dr. Alex Russell, who spoke on “Leadership in the Age of Bubble-wrapped Kids and Helicopter Parents.” For me, this talk was the one I anticipated most eagerly. My daily life as a Vice Principal at the time was filled with incidents in which children were not allowed to experience the natural consequences of their actions. Since they were not permitted to fall, they could not learn how to rise up again. It was all messing with my quest to teach the children resilience. I later found segments of Dr. Russell’s talk on Youtube, as a Ted talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qryu48euY44

Ask any good parents what they want for their children, and, chances are, they will say, “I want my kids to be happy.” Let me ask you - does this mean that they need to be happy every single moment of the day? If that’s the case, then from where do the skills needed for conflict resolution, stress management and resilience come? Where do our children learn about hard work, perseverance and that feeling of accomplishment that only comes with overcoming tough challenges? I find myself relating to the words of Kathy Shalhoub: https://www.mother.ly/…/my-child-i-want-so-much-more-than-h…

I have had many conversations with parents this week - every single one of them important to me. Positive or negative, I want them. I want those connections and that insight and that raw communication. At times, I must have looked somewhat shell-shocked - it was a gruelling, draining week. In the heat of the moment, it would probably not have been well received if I had suggested that parents, as Dr. Alex Russell describes, “stay seated on the park bench”.

As I have reflected upon those conversations, though, I am reminded of a lesson I learned a few weeks ago. It was a busy day at the office. For once, I had not been outside at recess - the yard was well supervised, but it is different when you have someone consistently there at every break, aware of certain social situations, and watching for early triggers and escalations. There was a lineup to see me after a multitude of behaviours on the yard. I finally said to one group of boys, “I don’t have time to see you just yet, so I’m going to offer you a deal - go into the conference room here. If, between you, in five minutes, you can work this out so that this never happens again, I will not get involved. Parents will not be called. You will not be serving a consequence.” I checked on the group through the glass window a few minutes later - they were talking together, each stating his case. At five minutes, I stepped into the room and asked for a recap. The group had talked about cruel words and hurt feelings and violent reactions, then apologized and worked out what they would do differently next time. They walked away. Interestingly enough, negative behaviour from that group has not returned. I wish the same could be said of the others with which I dealt. For those kids to learn those skills, I needed to stay seated on the park bench.

The week was not all tough - far from it. There were some absolutely wonderful moments.

We kicked off Monday (har, har, har) with Flag Football. One of the high points of recess is watching the Intermediates practice running, passing and throwing, and it was wonderful that they were able to participate in a tournament. Many thanks to Mr. McKelvey for his hard work, as well.

Our Parent Council meeting, held Monday evening, was very productive. The meeting minutes will soon be posted on the website, under the headings “Our School” and then “Catholic School Council”. One major decision that was reached was that our two fundraisers (we are allowed two major fundraisers) will be the Opt Out and the sale of chocolates. More information of how the money raised will be spent will be shared soon.

Our Celebration Assembly was held on Tuesday. Congratulations go to all those who were recognized for consistently demonstrating the virtue of respect. Bus safety assemblies were held on Wednesday. Kindergarten students carved pumpkins in the library, the first draft of the School Improvement Plan was created, and Crazy Hat/Crazy Hair Day took place on Friday.

We are looking for a number of children’s magazines, preferably from within the past year. These would be for our Library, and meant to be shared by all of our students. We are also hoping to find a selection of gently used costumes, to be used for filming in our Green Screen Room, off of the library. Don’t forget to take some exciting photos of the children reading in unusual places. These should be submitted to Ms. Lemanczyk for her Extreme Reading Challenge.

I met with a group of sixteen young people and Mrs. Montgomery (ha, ha) on Friday. This was the Social Justice Team, and they unanimously voted to participate in a pilot project put forward by the federal government, in conjunction with the We group. Observers will come and interact with our students as they promote a campaign called “We Film For Change”. The purpose of this observation will be to discover what motivates young people to participate in volunteering and social justice initiatives, and also what barriers they face. What a wonderful way to end the week. If those students are our future, then I am content.

It has been a fabulous weekend, weather-wise. I hope that you, like I, have been using these lovely days to regroup, refresh, and rise again. See you Monday!

P.S. I included a photo of our newest St. Mary's community member - proud big brother Everest introduced Kodi (after the bear) to Mrs. Chase-Duncan's class after Mass last week.

Posted by seccleshall On 24 October, 2018 at 1:25 PM  

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