Dear Students…

Dear Students…

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Dear Students,

School starts tomorrow. This brings about a mix of emotion as some of you are excited to return and see your teachers and classmates, while others may feel anxious about a new year.  You are probably wondering who your teacher will be, who will be in your class, and whether or not you will have a great year.

While you are getting ready for your first day, we, as a staff, are getting ready to greet you.  Your teachers have been in decorating classrooms, secretaries have been organizing everything you need for a smooth start up and we have been planning ways to help you have a great year.  We can’t wait to meet our new students and welcome back our returning students.

Our school is a fantastic place to be with opportunities for all.  As your principal, I have ten hopes for you as you begin your new year:

#10 Friendship

  • I hope you smile when you see your friends again, but more importantly, I hope you keep your eyes open for new students, or students looking to find a friend.  I hope you invite others to join you at recess and lunch to help everyone feel included. When you meet your new class, I hope you see new friendships waiting to happen.

#9 Curiosity

  • I hope you feel safe to ask great questions.  Unlike when your parents and I went to school, the curriculum has changed to include much more inquiry learning.  This means that if you are passionate about a certain topic, there are ways we can connect it with you’re learning.  Please feel free to ask great questions so you can learn about topics that mean a lot to you.

#8 Creativity

  • Children are inherently creative.  I hope you share your creative ideas with us. We can often be quite flexible allowing you to demonstrate your learning in various ways.  If you would like to build a model, write a song, perform a play or invent a new club, please speak up and share your ideas.

#7 Inclusion

  • Every single student at our school has strengths.  When someone has different abilities than you, I hope you see them for what they can do, rather than for what they can’t do.  Some kids are naturally good at math, while others are naturally good at making friends.  Some can climb higher and some can read faster.  Every one of us has our gifts to offer.  When you look at one another, I hope you see strengths.

#6 Reading

  • I hope you learn to love reading.  We no longer send books home based on reading levels. We want you to read what you love.  If a book looks exciting, pick it up. If you are passionate about robots, we will find you robot books.  If you love animals, we have books for you too.  If you take 15 minutes each night to read a book you love, soon you will learn to love reading.  This skill will expand your horizon and open up many doors in your future.  Read, read, read.

#5 Problem Solve

  • Please know that each one of us makes mistakes.  You will make mistakes at school, and sometimes, recess and lunch will not go smoothly.  On bad days, we are here to help.  We are not here to get mad at you. We are here to help you problem solve, reflect on what happened and repair any relationships that are broken.  When something goes wrong, we hope to help you learn from it so you can return strengthened.

#4 Kindness

  • When my own children get home from school, I like to ask them “Who did you help today?”  Keep your eyes open for ways you can help.  Perhaps you will volunteer in the library, or perhaps you will be a lunch monitor.  Perhaps you will help keep our playground clean.  There are always ways to give back to our community.

#3 Risk Taking

  • Learning means stepping outside our comfort zones.  Sometimes this is scary, as it’s much easier to focus on things we are already good at, however practice does make us better at new things. If something is hard for you, take a chance, and trust that you will get better at it with time.

#2 Balance

  • I hope you take time each day to do what you love.  School and learning are important, but so is play.  Take time to participate in activities you love, and take some time to relax.  Get outside, spend time with friends and family, and before you fall asleep, think of three things you are grateful for. This will help you sleep well, ready for a new day.

#1 Love

  • This may seem like a funny word for this list, but it’s what I really hope for you.  I hope you love coming to school, I hope you love learning, and I hope you love the friends and adults you get to be with every day.   I hope our staff love coming to work and love helping you.  When our hearts are full, we are ready to learn.

I can’t wait to see you all tomorrow.  This is going to be a fantastic year together.

Your principal,

 

Ms. Blakeway

 

Rear View Reflections: Looking Back at 2018

Rear View Reflections: Looking Back at 2018

It’s New Year’s Day and social media streams are full of proclamations about the coming year and resolutions moving forward.  It’s an annual day of goal setting – making New Years resolutions for a healthier and happier self.

While I am a big fan of setting goals, I also enjoy the art of reflection – and learning from days passed before setting a plan for moving forward.  Sometimes we can learn much about ourselves by looking in the rear view mirror.  Looking back, 2018 has been a year full of learning.  Here are a few reflections I am taking Continue reading

Dear New Teacher… You Can Do This!

Dear New Teacher… You Can Do This!

Teaching is a tough job.  Every good educator has days where they feel defeated – yet there are also many moments that make teaching an incredibly rewarding career.

Each year, when we get to host student teachers, I invite the staff to write words of wisdom. It’s interesting to see how advice changes over time.  This year, the themes include connections, joy and self care.

Here is some great advice from the staff at Laity View Elementary, encouraging student teachers and new teachers as they embark on an exciting career path: Continue reading

This is Inclusion: Laity View Love

This is Inclusion: Laity View Love

One of my best friends has Autism.  When we met in 1988, he was in a segregated classroom with small chunks of time spent in mainstream classes.  Over the past 30 years, as our friendship has grown, I have witnessed a variety of reactions from the community choosing to include or exclude Steven.

Let me start by sharing how we met.  In 1988, I was in grade 8 at Dr. Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam.  Like many high schools, my friends and I had claimed ‘our table’ in the cafeteria, and day in and day out we sat in the same space.  The first table passed the lunch line was reserved for kids with special needs.  As I made my way from the cafeteria line to ‘my table’, Steven shouted out “Hey – what’s your name? Come sit with me!”   In that moment, I made one of the best decisions I have ever made and Continue reading

And In That Moment…

And In That Moment…

Life can be defined by moments. Sometimes we plan for moments that matter.  Maybe it’s the year long planning for a perfect wedding, or the nine month wait to celebrate a new life.  There are certain moments we anticipate and weigh with significance: first steps, the first day of school, first job, first kiss, graduation, marriage, family or career events.  These are the moments that we expect to shape our lives. And of course, they do. But not all of life’s biggest moments are scripted.  Sometimes, the emotion of an unexpected moment takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.  Sometimes, life happens beyond our control, and our lives Continue reading

My Dad Says It’s Weird My Principal is a Woman…

My Dad Says It’s Weird My Principal is a Woman…

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“Mrs. Blakeway… my dad says it’s weird that you are a woman and that you are the principal”. My heart sunk for this little grade one girl – not because her father’s comment had impact on me, but because he thought it was ok to say this to his daughter.

Growing up, I never felt disadvantaged for being female.  I can’t say that I thought the boys had it any easier, and I didn’t notice any stereotypical expectations.  My mother was a strong independent single mom so we didn’t really grow up observing ‘pink jobs’ or ‘blue jobs’. My mom did it all.  Besides the occasional frustration that it wasn’t safe to run through trails alone, I never noticed a gender imbalance amongst my peers.  After university, I worked in Human Resources, and then as a teacher and a school counsellor. Again, these positions were often filled by women and I was oblivious to any gender discrepancies.

Continue reading

Shadowing Shannon: My Day as a Grade 12 Student

Shadowing Shannon: My Day as a Grade 12 Student

I have to admit, I loved high school the first time round, so perhaps it’s not surprising that I had a fantastic time yesterday when I returned to grade 12!  A few months ago, one of our VP’s, Karl Lindgren-Streicher suggested we participate in the Shadow A Student Challenge.  A few tweets later, he had convinced a number of secondary admin around our district to register with http://shadowastudent.org/ and commit to one day each of evaluating school through the lens of a student. The idea was simple: we would each follow a student for a day, get some insight about our schools from a student perspective and then meet as a team to reflect and learn.  Although I was eager to participate, I had no idea just how fun my day would be! Continue reading