Nurturing leadership has long been an important part of the overall LCEEQ professional development plan. In 2009, the Quebec Institute for Lead Learners (Quill) was initiated welcoming a small group of dedicated learners, intent on honing their leadership knowledge and skills, to a five-day intensive training programme. In 2011, the delivery model changed to include three days in April, followed by an opportunity to return to the workplace to try out the newly acquired strategies, and then to return for an additional three days in August to complete the programme. Known since that time as Leadership for School Improvement, more than two hundred individuals have completed the six-day project. In 2013, a “Graduate Group” was introduced as former participants wanted to continue their learning. Each year an effort is made to introduce new topics and welcome speakers new to the project. Graduates are welcome to return in April or August to take advantage of this new content, as long as there is space available. This additional service has been well received and so with return visits more than four hundred thirty-five participants have benefited from these sessions.
The programme invites Principals, Vice-Principals and those aspiring to educational leadership. Although there is a sense in the community that this is for newly appointed administrators, there is great benefit for more seasoned individuals who see themselves as life-long learners, and a variety of educators who are school leaders in their own right who may have no career plan to enter school administration. The content each year has focused on current research and practices of successful leadership. Michael Pellegrin, a Graduate who attended the most recent April session stated, “I just want to say that I find the retreat to be an essential part of my professional work. I weave together the fabric of my mission, my professional learning and my role as a Consultant in manageable, inspired ways, thanks to LCEEQ”.
Each session includes an opportunity for participants to reflect on their learning and to evaluate the sessions offered by the various presenters. The feedback over the years has been very positive and is always helpful in structuring subsequent sessions. This year the LCEEQ Professional Development Subcommittee (PDSC) has taken on the challenge of trying to measure the long-term impact of these sessions over time. The Committee has adopted two steps in this data gathering process. More than one hundred attendees from 2016-2018 were polled in an online questionnaire and asked to reflect on their current practice as school leaders. The second strategy is that the Graduates who attended the recent April session were invited to engage in a one-to-one interview with a member of the PDSC Committee. Seventy-five percent of the attendees accepted the invitation and provided some very worthwhile feedback. Other Graduates, chosen at random from among the growing Graduate pool, will be asked to participate in a similar exercise by telephone or in an online interview. A report of the findings of all the data collected will be presented to the LCEEQ table and the Ministry of Education.
The Session that took place in April 2019 welcomed thirty-two new participants and featured three full-day topics. Ainsley Rose, retired Director of Pedagogical Services for the Western Quebec School Board and now an international presenter on a variety of educational topics is with the participants for the six-day package as a professional resource and mentor. The Courage to Lead was an interactive and personalized opening session which gave participants an opportunity to think deeply about purpose, people, and processes of leadership as he set the stage for the other inspiring and practical sessions which followed.
On the second day, Garth Larson, part-time Director of Educator Effectiveness for the Winneconne Community School District in Northeast Wisconsin, and President of FIRST Educational Resources based out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin presented Leadership Through Vulnerability: The Power of Asking Questions to Navigate the Unknown. Participants learned to embrace the vulnerability of not knowing and the power of asking questions as vital leadership qualities.
The final day saw Gabriel Rshaid, a passionate educational futurist who is intent on sharing his belief that it is the best time in history to be an educator. He animated the session, The Leader’s Journey: from Success to Significance. Through a series of activities, reflections and testimonials, the session invited participants to embark on a metaphorical journey to explore how the challenge of leadership can, indeed, constitute a unique opportunity to help us in finding our sense of purpose, and for leadership not to be something that happens to us or we endure, but rather an expression of self.
The cohort this April included a team of ten educators from the Kativik School Board which provides educational services to Nunavik, the northernmost region of Quebec, bordered by Hudson Bay to the west, Hudson Strait to the north, Ungava Bay and Labrador to the east. This provided an opportunity for a rich exchange of cultures and values and a better understanding of the many challenges of leadership in different settings.
There has been one consistent piece of feedback that has emanated from every single group since the outset of the project. The value of the networking and the relationships that have been created is immeasurable. The current year was no exception and the group is looking forward to coming together once again in August.