Tomorrow, Albertans go to the polls. This provincial election has been one of the most intriguing in many years as there appears to be no clear cut majority. However, that decision will be left up to all of the people who cast their votes for the candidate and party of their choice. My blog today is not meant to be leading but rather, I want to express a message to the government regarding education regardless of the winning party. Education is on the cusp of greatness and therefore as a passionate educator, I desire that our government and for that matter any government provides an ear to the right people to continue this massive transformation. So here goes…
Board of Trustees– Trustees are the elected officials in our system and responsible to the community. They provide an excellent context and focus on what is best for students. They are typically under-appreciated and that is disheartening. They certainly don’t provide their leadership because of the pittance of pay they receive. They do this often 24/7 job because they care about providing high quality education to students and want the best for the community they serve. Trustees understand they are required to make tough decisions to be good financial stewards but don’t throw them under the bus. Listen to their ideas, dreams and hopes… they will assist greatly in the transformation of education.
Senior Administration– These education (CASS) or business (ASBOA) officials are a great source of information. They have typically come to these positions with a wide range of experiences. Superintendents have been classroom teachers and school principals and so their expertise is vast. They are also leaders and leadership is required to make a difference for all children in education today. Senior administrators view the system from the balcony and the dance floor simultaneously and live in both the political and non-political world. Their insights are crucial in leading a transformative culture.
Teachers– Improvement of any system must include collaboration with those who work “in the trenches.” Teachers provide the expertise of the here and now. They understand pedagogy, curriculum and assessment. They are charged with the implementation of transforming education at the classroom level and therefore must be part of the conversation. They are able to create opportunities for growth and remove many barriers to guide success. When research suggests that the number one contributor to student success is the quality of the teacher, they cannot be ignored in the conversation.
Parents– We’ve typically liked parents who support us in education and criticized those that don’t. Parents are partners in the education of their children and in reality are their first teachers. There is a need to listen to parents who are satisfied without becoming ecstatic as well as parents who are dissatisfied without being critical. The engagement of parents has never been more important, as they can and will lead the paradigm shifts in thinking required by our communities. Engage them and the system will receive the necessary boost!
Students– “Children should be seen not heard” was probably not acceptable in the past but certainly is not acceptable now! In fact, student voice is essentiall if we truly want to move education forward. Education is not something that we do to our students but what we do with our students. And the only way to truly education with, is to listen to. Students need to be recognized as an important part of the solution. We cannot continue to ignore their dreams, their input and their ideas. There is no one group that has the market on ideas. Student voice is required and we must be open to hear and ultimately confront their sometimes brutal facts!
Tomorrow a government will be elected and soon after a Minister of Education will be named. While there are many others who will provide you expert advice on education, please don’t forget to listen to and engage with the above groups! They will lead Alberta through transformation!