A cohort of twenty-eight practicing school administrators and individuals aspiring to the position participated in the six-day intensive workshop called Leadership for School Improvement.
The workshop is residential and took place at the Auberge de Vieux Foyer in Val David from April 16-18, 2015 (Part I) and August 10-12, 2015 (Part II) .
Ainsley Rose, retired Director of Education with the Western Quebec School Board and presently offering leadership training in Canada, the United States, and abroad, is the primary animator for this workshop series. He opened with, Managing Change to Create and Impact, a session designed to explore areas that shape recent thinking about educational leadership. The day-long session resulted in stimulating discussion and reflection, and the opportunity for the participants to get to know one another and to strengthen support networks.
Most administrators are challenged with organization and time management and so the participants were pleased to have the opportunity to work on the second day with Dr. Frank Buck from Alabama who presented, Get Organized! The 5 Keys to Organization and Time Management. In this session, they learned how to keep a clean desk and an empty email box. The session included ways to sort both paper related demands (a “Tickler File”) and digital resources, primarily Toodledo and Evernote. Although a lot of information to integrate in a short period of time, the participants were shown a number of ways to handle multiple responsibilities.
The third day featured Dr. Jackie Eldridge from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral work is centered on the ethics of care. The workshop entitled, Mindfulness for Living and Leading provided strategies for being fully present in a world that is becoming increasingly more stressful. Participants learned to cultivate mindfulness tools – meditative practices and the development of a mindful attitude towards self, family, colleagues, and professional duties and responsibilities.
Because these sessions are very popular individuals who have completed the six-day project in previous years are welcomed to participate in the session as graduates. In April we had eleven join us on the second day at which time they had a special session with Ainsley Rose looking at new developments in leadership since their own workshops and then they join the new cohort for the session on Mindfulness since this topic had not been offered in previous years.
What did some of the participants have to say about their experience?
"What an amazing three days! Well-paced and an exceptional variety of topics."
"Research-based presentations are always appreciated. A wealth of ideas, resources that address all dimensions of leadership from public speaking to character and change techniques. I appreciate the opening – unless the leader can change himself, the leader can change nothing and no one else."
"An amazing, fulfilling workshop."
"Wonderful PD that is desperately needed to ensure we recruit quality, effective leaders in education and also that we enable active administrators with skills and resources to not only cope but thrive."
"Great presenters. They were very informative and engaging. The sequence of starting with the impact of Instructional Leadership and ending with Mindfulness was just perfect in setting a new mind frame on Monday morning."
The second part of the workshop series took place in August, 2015. Participants learned with Jenni Donohoo who focused on Collaborative Teacher Inquiry: An Approach for School and System Improvement. Melissa Biggerstaff presented Positive School Culture: A Catalyst for Improvement. The final day featured Ainsley Rose who drew all of the topics together reminding one and all on the importance of relationship building and life-long learning.