Summer of Learning 2020 (5) @bcpvpa Essentials for New School Learners Day Four (Organizational Leadership)

Summer of Learning 2020 (5) @bcpvpa Essentials for New School Learners Day Four (Organizational Leadership)

Our last day together, and much like shortcourse, a few days ago, this was looking a long way off, and suddenly we are here. Still would prefer the longer face to face days and and face to face evening events…but that will happen eventually!

In the meantime, todays focus was on agile leadership – particularly noteworthy as we are still in the Covid times and even our Minister of Education had an article in CBC that said both: expect schools to prepare for a full restart, but also secure your child care spaces… https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/school-restart-bc-plans-1.5642717

We need to differentiate our work as leaders – and I freely observed that it is much easier to be responsive (and a servant leader) as a full time principal as opposed to having a 40% teaching component as well.

We need to separate needs and wants and respond to requests appropriately and mindfully. My analogy is like a duck in the water, we have to have an appearance of calm and relaxed knowing that under the water the feet are moving very quickly (the brain is always engaged).

We need to consider how and where we want to be. I’ve been told at my school “the principal needs to be in the office” but I point out that our secretary can text me and bring me back when/if needed there – but I also prefer a text asking me to come to a class as I much prefer lurking around the school.

We have to have questions: such as the 3 assemblies the school act requires us to have – can we have assemblies during covid? does a YouTube assembly count? what about Remembrance Day assembly – yes it is in November, but I’m aware that that would be the right time for the authentic second wave to hit… current flare ups are still part of the first wave…!

We have to be aware that we won’t get everything write. Mistakes will be made; better decisions may have been possible; we are human. We can always get and do better.

I know my Rocketbook has helped with my weekly organization (day plans don’t tend to work out too well in ‘the principals office’, but weekly tasks are very doable) – and was thrilled when another VP at my “table” also extolled the virtues of them!

You can never be organized enough, but it is important to have a plan and be aware of what’s coming up – Thanks to BCPVPA with the Leadership Planning Guide that has a powerful “monthly calendar” section of what needs to get done in most districts/month as well as other reminders of key tasks (such as how many assemblies we ‘have to have’). An old example is here: BCPVPA Leadership Planning Guide

Whew. Now with shortcourse Essentials done, I can start planning to finish some fiction books, possibly get my kids to set up the hammocks and prepare for a bit of rest before organizing what the heck September may end up looking like! – with a few more Summer Of Learning shares still to come – “The Habit of School” is one that I am currently venting about….!

A big thank you to the “new” (new-ish) VPs who joined my virtual table at this years summer program – and an ongoing thanks to the @bcpvpa who do so much for the education system in our province and @ubceduc who helps support this summer program and prepare so many new teachers (like me!) start their education career!

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Summer of Learning 2020 (4) @bcpvpa Essentials for New School Learners Day Three (Relational Leadership)

Today I am challenging myself with doing drawings instead of words…

From my upcoming t-shirt line….https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2019/12/13/day-71-of-189-t-shirts-yep-t-shirts/

Not a disaster movie, just an awareness that there may be more to know about a school culture than what you first “see”…
Can’t wait to feel what inequity feels like! Gotta open our empathy for inclusion! Gotta talk the “hard” conversations! (They get easier when you start having more of them…!)

The 3 most important things in education…

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Summer of Learning 2020 (3) @bcpvpa Essentials for New School Learners – Day Two (Instructional Leadership) – my focus: “that one kid”

Summer of Learning 2020 (3) @bcpvpa Essentials of Learning – Day Two (Instructional Leadership)

Today I am building my blog and reflection of the days thinking led so beautifully by Terry Beaudry and Tammy Renyard. And one of the questions that popped up during a chat yesterday (and does every year at various times) what do you do with “that one kid” who is ruining the learning of the other 20+…

What are your core values?

What is your learning/leading/educationg intention? – What are your anchors?

What is your mindset.

Do we work on understanding “why” that child is “ruining everybody else’s experience”?

Why is the experience of some more important than the individual?

Where are they sitting? (some teachers have students sitting “in rank”) Is their name on the board? (can it come off?) What hidden (or not so hidden) privileges and punishments are systemic in our system…. school… classroom… hallway…

Are “we” seeking ways to support our/all learners? Or are we waiting to be told what we should do?

Can kids change? aka growth mindset vs fixed mindset (and stick to the original Dweck story not the varied “adaptions” that many have used off that initial writing)

My inside voice: I am not worried about the 20+ who are adjusting well to the habit of classroom learning, I am indeed concerned most about “the one” who is not! They obviously are the one that most needs to be here, in school, in their classroom with a teacher! I mean, I care about all learning, this is just a hyperbole – but I can’t exclude “one” when they are the ones who most need to be on site and in the classroom (but not in during recess breaks….😇)

What are the essentials of learning? Today we heard about a school that was instilling the secondary “must knows” into pressure built diamonds to be done in two years…. but Learning needs to be more than that, doesn’t it? Or is it “all I need to know I learned in kindergarten?”

What is essential to learn? What is worth diving deep to learn? Can ALL children learn?

Michael Fullan is warning us about the great disconnect in schooling with 2/3 not connecting with school… https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/day-174-of-189-change-time-my-review-of-devil-is-in-the-details-by-michaelfullan1-and-first-seen-in-bcpvpa-principled-magazine/ and when I asked if we need Mohammed to go to the mountain, or if the mountain needs to come to Mohammed….

I loved the response that “Mohammed needs to at least know there is a mountain”

And I end my day channeling my inner Shelly Moore…. because any kid could be “that one”. One of “those kids” I was warned about became team captain on a BCHL team….because I didn’t care about his behaviours, I built a relationship that showed I cared about him (the blowback was at the end of that year I was leaving the school for a vice principal ship – as I was sharing the news with the class another kiddo asked if VPs make more money….I said yes….and she very theatrically cried/declared “so you’re leaving us…for the money?!?”

The kids are all right. Meet them where they are.

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Summer of Learning 2020 (2) @bcpvpa Essentials for New School Learners – Day One (Ethical Leadership)

Summer of Learning 2020 (2) @bcpvpa Essentials of Learning Day One

Not exactly a replacement to Shortcourse, but the “diamonds cut” of the weeklong learning event.

Simon Sinek made his usual appearance with many of his books being referenced (especially Leaders Eat Last) and of course his tedtalk “what’s your WHY?” https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en

I see the “why” as able to be a shifting purpose – currently I am focused on the #oneword Dignity and helping to focus on making all members of the learning community excited that they GET to come and work and learn at our school, not that they HAVE to. Mindsets matter.

We also got to talk about Decision Making (with a shoutout to the uncomfortably good How Good People Make Tough Choices book by Rushworth Kidder – I say uncomfortable because right vs right dilemnas arent always fun) and a great visual model from out guide on this topic Liz Bell:

Knowing that sometimes we will be asked to make a decision sooner than we can/will as we gather more information and listen to more voices and concerns. But always having a decision model that can bee visualized.

With the mindset that there are a lot of thoughts going on….

And meeting with a great “table” (sorry – the influence of the face to face ShortCourse will make its appearance from time to time) of educators from around the province. Only joke I get to observe about is that these “new VPs” are all female so I hope I don’t end up “mansplaining” things – just a tease as I regularly like using wait time and ask more questions to push thinking; sharing experiences where it may help but not “telling what to do”. So far they have been brilliantly reflective and very open to sharing – key skills for education leaders! Hmmm – recruiting opportunity!!

Goals ranging from how to build relationships and trust (how do PVPs get it when we in BC are often referred to being on ‘the dark side’) to how to balance the needs and wants of all stakeholders: staff, parents, students – not always as clear cut as we would like: what about the usual argument for the person who doesn’t want ‘that kid’ disrupting the learning of the other 20+ kids in the room (not just a teacher complaint….).

The reminder that as a PVP, we have different “rules”

And that sometimes there is a blur in principles and principals….

What I love most about the BCPVPA and its programs such as ShortCourse (or this year Essentials) is that it forces extra reflections – giving time to do some thinking and re-grounding as to what we do and why we do it at “the principals office”. Can’t wait to see where else my brain gets pushed to the rest of this week!

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Summer of Learning 2020 (1) where do you want to work? building off Douglas Adams: How can I start; Why educate; Where shall I educate

Summer of Learning 2020 (1) where do you want to work? building off Douglas Adams: How can I start; Why educate; Where shall I educate

Next week I am taking part in BCPVPAs alternative to ShortCourse since Covid19 has meant we can’t meet at our usual UBC location and are instead doing an “essentials” asynchronous program. I have also chatted with some prospective teacher candidates (entering their final year and preparing to figure out where they want to work) and had some thoughts about where to go when you’re done your program – whether BEd MEd or beyond.

I liken it to the AFL framework – are you wanting to work “in” a district, “for” a district or “with” a district. The wording is important. Much like where you want to work is important, but why you want to work there is undervalued:

There are districts I targeted to work with when I first graduated (internet was still in its infancy for mass usage so the Vancouver Sun on Thursdays remained the best way to figure out who was hiring where). At the time I did not want to work on the island or on the coast – yes, the irony is fully on me since I have not been happier since I have started principaling on the pacific; but I used to have a real fear of earthquakes and tsunamis. I’ve grown and learned and improved.

I even got my first job in my home town when I called a principal to be a reference for me for another job and he refused, saying he wanted me to apply for a local gig. I knew the people so it was a no brainer. But then the fact that my family had stayed in one place for so long wore on me and after an in-district transfer (to another community) I decided to see more of the world.

And it made me start some thinking… where do I want to work and live. And why.

I tend to pick smaller communities (the outlier being Prince George which actually feels more like a small town than it probably should at its population size) as I know when I visit other places (as I did when West Vancouver invited me to a Tedx) I feel more like an interloper and not sure how I would “do” in the bigger cities. But that is largely a comfort thing – and sometimes we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone right? Isn’t that what we tell our learners? Is that what we model for them??

Anyways, my last application was about “who” I was going to work with/for – and could not be happier with that connection – a friend (who knew this district and myself quite well) phoned me the day that my current position was posted insisting that this was ‘the perfect fit’ as the superintendents inclusion mindset is probably even more focused than mine has been. Got my son back on a graduation track and despite my fear of the tsunami risk, the Salish Sea has been an amazing backdrop to see my physical and mental health make great improvements.

So much like Douglas Adams metaphor on civilization development being much like a meal (others make similar socioeconomic references to food: the range from quantity of food when there is food vulnerability to quality of food when there is not) – or as Adams put it: the three phases of surivial, inquiry and sophsitication: How can we eat? Why do we eat? Where shall we have lunch?

Teacher survival at the start is essentially do you want to work full time? or not…. Does it matter where? I knew of a few in my graduation class that knew not only what school they had their eye on, but the grade level and the patience to know it may take a decade to get there. Having already done some TOC work when University wasn’t in session – while I appreciated getting to experience work in all grades k to 12, I also knew I’d do better with a full time gig than day to day work. I started my career in the “How can we eat” survival mode. And I think it is good to start there – I was willing to work where the work would be – luckily ended up in my “home district” but the How was the bigger question. I wanted to work in a district….

Why would you educate there? is the next wonder – and not in a negative slant. Do you know why you are teaching where you are – both in term of district – community – school – classroom/other? Are you there by chance or by choice? Both are fine – but it’s the awareness of the “why” that helps us excel. I freely admit I love the work of Andy Hargreaves who promotes “change” (whether grade, building or community) on a 3/5/7 year timeframe – 3 year in significant change, 7 when things have been calm and relaxed. I happily admit that one school I joined, I was cautioned not to by the staff I had been working with – it is an outhouse school…. when I left that school years later, people wondered why I would leave such a lighthouse school that people were trying to become part of the team that said “good isn’t good enough for us at x”. My why had changed and I needed change (and as much as I hate to take credit, I know that I was part of the shift within the school culture and learned that change does not happen overnight, it always takes time….) so when you are choosing where to go, are you there to be part of something that is prebuilt or looking to add your ingredients to the mix? I was experiencing what it was like to work for a district (formatively).

Where shall we educate is the final wonder? work for a particular leader ✔️ work in a community where the school is (or not – choice matters) ✔️ right size school ✔️ full time or teaching component that’s a fit ✔️. When you can be selective (experience helps) then the choices are not about survival nor inquiry. Those have been sated Now is the time to make choices that are meaningful. I will likewise argue this is when you are no longer education where you have to, but where you get to: I know many that “have to stay” where they are because its where they grew up….or their spouse did…. or moving is hard.. or or or. I am not opposed to staying connected with prior districts (in fact I still try to recruit good fits for those communities and areas when I run into educators wondering about changes…. or starts….)

All phases of educational work are fair. And sometimes a “I have to work here….” turns into “I can’t believe I get to work here….” and sometimes a change is a good thing… because change is what gets us to “where shall we lunch….err… educate”. Cuz where you are where you want to be because you “get” to work where you are… it makes everything better! Just be mindful of what you are looking for when you are looking for work in education! Good luck newbies!!

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Day 189 (of 189) what a long strange trip its been!

Day 189 (of 189) what a long strange trip its been!

3 starts this year. September (traditional), April (remote learning) June (voluntary return to part-time on-site learning).

No year is ever perfect. There are always troubles along the way. But we can’t only look at the doom and gloom within these “opportunities”

The mass school closures allowed thinkers like Yong Zhao and Michael Fullan further push educators to think different –

The “lack of traditional grad” was a blessing for our family – our son would not have attended a traditional grad, but because it is “one at a time”, he did walk the stage. Not bad for a boy who in middle school was told “we tried everything” and was uninvited from the regular program and instead put into an alt model of which no students ever exited back to “school” – for the usual reasons: the connections the amazing teacher made caused it to be too great a challenge to overcome to go back to the regular herd of middle/secondary life. The only way we had been able to negotiate some “practice time” was for him to be part time in the alt program and part time at school – to mixed results. At one point, he was in a project-based program and did some very neat work; the next year he was in a mix of “electives” and ended up drifting out of most (though his art teacher was surprised we were having a meeting to discuss his progress as she didn’t even realize he had an IEP…) A move to a different district had him spend a year “reconnecting with school” – that was the hope of us parents – just for him to make a connection with the school structure. Thanks to the patience and thinking of those who worked with him, we even managed a program that got him back on track (albeit not in a traditional high-stress [for him] classroom environment) and got him to walk across the silent stage when, based on his year of birth, he should have.

Smaller class sizes made things a bit easier ….. for some students – whether it was because of more opportunities for 1:1 interactions or fewer distractions, there were some learners who did very well in the covid-times. Likewise some students learning at home found that environment to be a good place to focus. Many did not – the tweets about “difficulties” ranged from hilarious to alarming; but most students did manage to stay connected.

Retirements are a curious thing. I have one staff member who had already planned this to be her last year and while the last year was unlike what she wanted/anticipated, she is still continuing the retirement plan. And I love that she is – but admittedly I am very biased: my dad did not make it to retirement so I always encourage retirement on the “best before date” (as determined by our retirement info letters each year) – my usual analogy connects with skiing – when you’ve had a good day on the mountain, there is always a temptation to do “one more run” – that is always when the bad injuries seem to happen. You are always better to leave the hill thinking you coulda done one more run (or one more year in the classroom/school/district) than pushing it and having something go wrong. My bonus wonder is if there are others who are “close” that may not like what Covid has created (or the thinkings that Fullan and Zhou amongst others [ahem] are encouraging) that are pushing teaching to be more engaging via use of deep learning and competencies (communication = don’t over emphasize the 5 paragraph essay and instead focus on styles people actually read – or non-written ways); the emphasis on what I more often than not encourage: quality over quantity (of learning).

The year has taken more turns than first expected, but we did a lot of learning of what might be able to be possible in learning. We will have to see if the “habit of school” proves too hard to break, but at least we do have an opportunity to make a change! It’s been a rollercoaster of 189 days of learning! Can’t wait to see what I’m up to in the summer!

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Day 188 (of 189) aka Day 16 (of 16) closure

Day 188 (of 189) aka Day 16 (of 16) closure

Covid19s impact on schools has been most noticed as we are thinking and rethinking how we create a sense of “closure”. It’s not an easy thing when most students are away from the building and we have limitations on the sizes of groups that we can have on site (or event that can be together at any one point).

Last night we saw our son walk across the graduation stage – the secondary school did a beautiful job of making it meaningful and pretty and everything you would want grad to be – except for the crowds of strangers and some kids getting thunderous applause and others getting a smattering…. the only complaint I had was that I heard a family came as a herd: 40 of them when we were told “immediate family only” – and I didn’t want extended family here for a “celebration” because we need to continue to limit our travel and reduce our contact with other households – even if we usually attend the same family barbecues and reunion events. I know his grandparents would’ve loved to be there, but the 53 second video was easy to text (and longer than his sisters 37 second video crossing the stage a few years ago). This felt very much focused on the learner. That was very nice.

Within our own school, we had to figure out ways to provide some closure: some classes invited the “remote learners” to a bike party; to the beach; wherever we can spread out and be social-distance aware! With all plan going through our local public health officer to make sure that we were doing things “as best we can”.

We also did our kindy grad as a “drive-thru” – a fun car parade (and some push carts we had for those whose parents couldn’t attend) that made a lot of noise (which is why I sent that letter to the neighbours a few days ago…. though I should’ve also alerted our operations department since they are based in a building next door…. 😇)

Our Grade 7 Leaving Ceremony was likewise separated out – outside – and limited numbers of guests (I would’ve turned away the group of 40…😜)

I worry for the few kids who were unable (or unwillingly unable….) to attend one of the closure events. We ended learning going into Spring Break with a big positive – our annual talent show – but that was a long time ago and some of our community have not been in regular contact for 3.5 months so far… and another 2 until we reconnect! And “closure” activities are important – it’s why we didn’t just skip grad – though we may have done something different instead of going to the stressfully loud crowded grads of previous years…. as much as the boy would’ve liked never returning to the school, we know a closing event would have great long term benefits for him. Which is why I likewise am worried about the learners who are “just” doing a very extended summer break – the return after 5 months of no school is gonna force “us” as educators to even more than usual: meet the learners where they are, not where they should’ve or could’ve been; and be mindful of the lack of closure for some and how “routines” may take some extra time to get back into….!

Sigh…. covid makes time strange (as I’ve mentioned be4… https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2020/04/21/day-141-of-189-not-living-in-today/

It’s making me reflective as I have been counting down the days and hours until the summer reset button comes along. Tomorrow. Day 189. Not that I haven’t also been helping to make the days count – yesterday we “flagged down” the ice cream truck that has been going around the community, and it blew some peoples minds that a) the ice cream truck pulled right up to the main entrance doors and b) they could choose (almost) anything. Thanks PAC! It’s been a strange long learning journey and a pandemic is certainly one that has been making all of us think a little bit more about that most valuable of learning resources: time. I hope everyone gets at least a bit of closure of this 2019/20 school year…. looking forward to getting back to making all the days count rather than counting them down!

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Day 187 (of 189) aka day 15 (of 16) Wonder Wednesday: this thing called graduation

Day 187 (of 189) aka day 15 (of 16) Wonder Wednesday: this thing called graduation

I know I have said this too frequently: but I am so happy that tonight my son was able to walk across the stage as a graduate (and even get a scholarship) because his personal learning journey was anything but traditional or easy. In the past I have said my oldest child will make every teacher feel amazing and that deep authentic learning can happen; my middle child will make those same educators question everything they do and have done; my youngest will benefit from their reflections. I Michale Fullans Devil Is In The Details, he talks about 2/3 of students being unconnected with school – and my family fits the statistic: oldest girl won the best student prize (governor generals award – don’t think that school doesn’t promote contests around learning and whose best), the middle boy (who the older girl has referred to as the ‘scary smart’ one) has extreme anxiety about school – and is now on the spectrum; the third doesn’t see a relevance to what is being taught in school.

So… since the Landy boys don’t tend to do too much to support “traditions” (I didn’t do the accursed provincial exams BC had that were supposed to endure “parity” and my son was not in subject specific classes) maybe we can look at some traditions.

Like me, my son got to do school differently (okay, had to – his parents and support team at the high school weren’t giving up on him and were not going to repeat what he heard earlier that “they tried everything)

Exams elimination is being heavily supported by covid19 cancellations and nobody is gonna miss those measures of very narrow pieces of learning. And for some other kids, instead of “alt” why not do a “grade 11” classroom where they can feel safe and comfortable and earn the credits they need for graduation and not be stressed about grades or electives. Why not award an authentic graduation certificate “simply” for ‘time served’ (and I chose those words mindfully: nothing is simple for some kids to be in school and while they may not always to share out their knowledge in traditional ways, they absorb info like sponges – so why not let them just absorb and learn – and do electives and “normal” classes based on interest and relevance. I chose ‘time served’ because of the alarming rate of the school-to-prison-pipeline that exists, no matter how much we wish it away, for certain postal codes)

Graduation is both hard and soft. I know many like to pretend there needs to be a “bar” that needs to be crossed/accomplished before a learner can cross the stage. Then they pass a student who probably did not have enough scores to qualify for course credit if there was a gradebook audit. I know of many, my kids know of many and I may have benefited from that in a French class in university – but you need to buy me a drink for THAT story😜) so why not have a different(iated) way to celebrate the habit of school after 13 years of regular attendance?

Just pushing that we don’t have to do a rethink of school just because of covid19 closing schooling around the world. We don’t have to change what we do because of what Michael Fullan and Yong Zhao have written (though they make compelling cases why we better!) We can also push the rethinking of school because we should and can.

Big thanks to the team at Brooks Secondary for helping create an inclusive graduation ceremony that my son could participate in, because the stadium of thousands that my oldest was in….wasn’t going to work for him. Some covid changes may be good traditions to start…!)

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Day 186 (of 189) aka day 14 (of 16) communication – the small bits

Day 186 (of 189) aka day 14 (of 16) communication – the small bits

I know I can never communicate enough to please all people – but sometimes there are things I can’t communicate (why somebody may be away…. confidential information ahead of announcements etc) but I do try to do the best as I try to also balance not over-communicating (I hate our traditional multi-page newsletter that goes out monthly, but secretary is maintaining the previous secretaries anthology – when I do newsletters they end up being one pagers and only have specific info).

Anyways – in the pursuit of “good communication”, I have appreciated some feedback from staff, parents, and even our neighborhood.

A few staff have recently complimented me on my calmness and how timely I have shared the information I have received about our district (and then school) plans for remote learning and week plans. I know I appreciate the feedback I have asked for (both myself and the plans we are working on) and I do like to remind people: no need to panic unless I am panicking.

I got a nice random-ish email from two parents saying “thanks for keeping us informed”. I wish I had better future-vision so I could be more accurate what September is gonna look like…. or what tomorrow will look like in the merry-go-round of changing stages and rules (Washington state is now asking people to wear masks in public – even though our COVID numbers are low… is that rule coming?? Dr Agus is saying “we” should’ve been using masks 2 months ago even in regions where Covid is low) but at least I am getting some feedback that they like me sharing my uncertainties as much as the certainties. Probably helps that I am also keeping it light hearted and adding a bit of humour….

And because this year things are ending differently, I sent a letter to our neighbours letting them know of some of our obnoxious events coming up (kindergarten drive-thru grad…. extra cars for a grade 7 leaving thingy….) and got a thank you stating “first time since I moved here in 1999 I got a heads up”. And I admit, sometimes I forget that we do have neighbours, and when we do some of our fun activities…. we can impact the houses across the street. The note took no time but obviously was appreciated.

I do believe we can communicate too much – with Covid I pledged to staff that (especially at the start) that I would limit emails from me to 3/day except in case of emergence or forwarding a note from the board office. I likewise promised parents that I would email regularly, but not every day unless I had to. The plus side has been that I have not had a “busy phone day” except when we are making calls.

Mindful communication. It’s about listening to what is being communicated as well as the silences (what is not being communicated) and finding the balance of how much is too much info – my guideline is when someone says “too much” and another says “more please” I’m probably in the right space…. until the next urgent message to communicate.

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Day 185 (of 189) aka day 13 (of 16) thanks to all the dads

Day 185 (of 189) aka day 13 (of 16) thanks to all the dads

Much like Mothers Day, I like to acknowledge Fathers Day as not just for the dads, but also all the other people doing the job of dads and fathers! From biological to non-biological connections; people of all genders help blend the wonder if it is “nature or nurture” when really, it’s both. And there are many who help do the “job” of dad without wearing that title: thank you.

It is a complicated job. And not everyone thinks they do it very well….even though they are trying their best. Media likes pointing out the “silly dads” motif – that dads are bungling parents and wouldn’t be able to do anything if it weren’t for the mom (trying to think of a sitcom that does not have this trope….) But being a dad is a serious business. It is hard to define exactly what a dad does, but the expectations have changed. Once upon a time it was the “responsibility” to provide for the family, but historically that mindset is only a western approach that spanned a few decades. More often it was a partnership in the family – and not just the nuclear family… there is a reason there is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child.

Yet, despite the hopes of a few, in many families, “dads” were not able to do their job. Typically because of things that were once done, that should neither be done again nor can be completely undone – in North America, two systemic pieces that jump out are Residential Schools and the after effects of the Civil Rights Movement. Residential Schools did a great job of keeping kids and parents separate so that children – and eventual parents – had no role model to replicate and why grandparents so often had to step in (though many of them also had to deal with their own residential school experiences which also limited parental contact). Civil Rights movements tried to undo the slavery experience but still hasn’t quite gotten out of that…. at some point we should probably talk about the school to prison pipeline…..

And through it all, Dads have had to make decisions. How to support their family – taking jobs far away because the pay made up for their absence; being present and maybe dealing with extra stress around making sure the family had “enough”. Sometimes even dealing with their own experiences with their own parents and fatherhood experiences. I know of some who have chosen to “break certain circles” by not having their own biological kids (and yet are inspirational dads). Knowing they can be a good father and that breaking a cycle can lead to a new direction, and hopefully raise even better fathers through their sons and showing their daughters what to expect from their husbands – kids do what they see… and be mindful that what we don’t say can be just as powerful as what we do say….

A key bit advice I have used and was reinforced as a take away from watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood this weekend – Mr Rogers advice to parents: remember your own childhood. What did you want your dad to do and be like. As a parent, it is a new chance to grow! is one of many great reminders in the imperfect attempt to be a good dad. We can always do better. We can talk about the tough subjects – racism, sexism and let our kids know how to be kind; how to care and build character. How to rebound from mistakes made.

Thank you to everyone who helps to do the job of being a “dad” to the sons and daughters within our learning community of all ages!

Some good dad jokes: (courtesy of sporcle! and I tend to like to do these on the morning announcements between mothers day and fathers day as parent jokes: apparently I could not do that this year….😜)

What’s the difference between a poorly dressed father on a tricycle and a well dressed father on a bicycle? Attire!

Why did the baby cookie cry? Because her father was a wafer so long!

What did the buffalo say to his little boy when he dropped him off at school? Bison!

What did the daddy tomato say to the baby tomato? Catch-up!

What did the mountain climber name his son? Cliff!

What does a baby computer call his father? Data!

Your dad is so old what when he was in school, history was called “current events”!

I would give my dad what he really wants for Father’s Day, but…. I can’t afford to move out!

Daughter: for $20 I’ll be good! Dad: when I was your age I was good for nothing!

What do you call your dad when he falls through the ice? Popsicle!

Why do dads give kids middle names? So they can tell when they’re really in trouble!

Frantic man into the phone: help my wife is having a baby!! 911: is this her first child? Frantic man: this is her husband!

What did the daddy spider say to his kids? You spend too much time on the web!

If mom is laughing at dads jokes…. they must have company!

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