Lesson Learned: Always Celebrate the Small Stuff (always)

Well, last night’s department head meeting was one of the best DH gathering in a long time! At last month’s meeting, our principal had asked each department leader to make a five to six minute presentation to their colleagues about AFL (assessment for learning) practices and other department-wide initiatives and practices that are contributing to meeting our current school goal. Being a department of one (and non-enrolling) I was asked present my view of how the use of technology has contributed to achieving our stated outcomes. Slowly, with much revision the document became replete with examples of our teachers leveraging technology (despite our very underfunded, under supported, misguided school district) to enhance and engage our twenty-first century learners.

And who doesn’t volunteer to go first? The rejuvenated and energized mathematics teacher utilizing her newly learned Smartboard techniques and savvy. Jeez, the bar had been set. Record level, I might add. The English department leader then used a brief Prezi presentation for her group-share. The science department head (one of our trailblazers) was back at the Smartboard engaging her colleagues as she presented the uses of technology (and it’s unfortunate current limitations). Lastly, our socials head presented her use of our Aboriginal Education program to enhance and engage the students, and recognized the vital role that my ‘other’ department needs to play in the classroom. An avid user of technology, I was excited to hear that her department wanted MORE opportunity and equipment in order to take full advantage of digital tools of the ‘new media’.

So, I was left to the end. Indeed, my presentation would be redundant. No doubt, a ‘duh’ moment. Definitely, nothing watershed in nature. I really didn’t need to present, did I? My colleagues had, unbeknown to me, done the hard part. And the kicker? We actually ran out of time! I was asked to present at the next leadership meeting, I did not mind. And I really didn’t. I don’t think that I’ll really need to take them up on their offer, will I?

This morning in the staff room, the Smartboard wiz, and my favourite mathematics teacher, revealed that she had observed the same occurrence, “Jeff, you must be proud. You didn’t even need to present. In some way your influence has trickled in and among what goes on here [at the school]. Are you aware of that? That is something to be proud of.” Yeah, Deb, you’re right, proud I am…

Admittedly, I find myself frustrated by the apparent lack of progress, commitment, vision, and willingness to embrace change in this school and on a district-wide level. And then when small steps are made (even if it appears two steps forward, one step back), I need to acknowledge that, in fact, teachers and educators that really want progress do affect change at the school level. I need to be to celebrate the small stuff. Starting right now.

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