The other night we had our first FNMI Parent Advisory Committee meeting of the year. We typically have three meetings a year and for the most part, have them in our large PD centre in our division office. Although our attendance at this meeting has grown over the past number of years we still have not been able to get the response that we have wanted. Our FNMI team reflected on our meetings and came up with a brilliant format. Our first meeting was held at the Friendship Centre and included agencies from the area and a student panel. The result… over 90 people in attendance.
The evening was a great success but what I was most impressed with was our students. Ten students from elementary, junior high and senior high told their stories. I caused me to reflect on three points that I would like to share.
- Support- Each of the students talked about the support they had received both at home and at school that enabled them to be successful. From a school’s point of view, every student in every school has to have a person that they can turn to for that support. I would venture to say that the vast majority of students who are not succeeding have also not connected with an adult in the school. Our support of every child that walks in our doors is critical.
- High Expectations- Each of these students had high expectations of themselves. Even our young elementary students had a plan to finish school and go on to something beyond. They had a fierce belief that they would be successful. In education we have too often looked at students who are facing many difficulties with sympathy and therefore provide excuses for their lack of success. Instead, we need to show empathy but then look for opportunities for them to be successful. This isn’t about lowering standards but instead having high expectations- the belief that they can and will succeed.
- Student Voice- This last one is a note to all of us in education. How often do we truly listen to our students? How often do we seek their input? If we truly want them to be part of our education system then we need to ensure that they are full partners. And that means providing opportunities for student voice.
We are still a long way from closing the achievement gap, but if we continue to provide support, set high expectations and give an opportunity for student voice, we will make positive strides and ALL students will benefit!