What have I learned during my time at Keeler School?

This is my last blog entry as principal of Keeler School. In the fall I will be moving to become principal of Belvedere Parkway School, which is also in Calgary. This is a very bittersweet move for me, as I have loved the work at Keeler, but am also excited to be able to to build on great learning at another school as well.
What have I learned through my years as being principal at Keeler school? I have come up with five major things:
Students are amazing and resilient…
Many of our students at Keeler face problems and challenges that most of us just cannot understand. Many face issues of poverty, neglect, lack of support, or even greater social issues. The thing I have learned is that each and everyone of these students is extremely resilient. When provided with supports, a positive environment, a safe place to be to learn, and the knowledge that people are there for you, they are able to demonstrate huge growth and development. I have learned that Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is inherently needed for every child, and in order to get to academic learning we have to make sure kids feel safe and supported.
Teachers care deeply about their students…
If you looked at provincial achievement tests (PATs) and the analysis that the Fraser Institute publishes, you might think our teachers are either unskilled or do not work hard. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We have seen huge growth in Keeler’s PAT results in the past three years due to improvements in engagement and learning, and kids are excited to come to school to learn. Our teachers go above and beyond in every way and care about each student. They work too many volunteer hours to count and have provided nearly 40 extra curricular opportunities for our students this year. They have been wonderful to work with and had has been my deep honor to be a part of this staff.
Teachers work extremely hard for work they believe in..
I believe that the creation and establishment of a vision and a culture of learning has been our biggest work. We have seen the growth that has happened as we move from a worksheet-based pedagogy to learning that is engaging and exciting for students. Our teachers have become designers of learning opportunities rather than conveyers of information. Google provides access to information. Our teachers have become much more than that…
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is key, and a feeling of safety is paramount…
This cannot be said enough. Kids must feel safe and feel that their needs are being met. Many kids who have come to the office often need food, someone to listen to them, or even a short time on our exercise bike. For most kids, a small consequence might work to correct the behavior. For many students, the behavior is a route result of much greater issues that we need to help them to be able to figure out. Being mean and choosing to get into a fight is one thing, but getting into a fight after your parents got into a physical altercation the night before is a whole other story…
Treat parents with respect, and they will treat you with respect back…
Someone told me when I first went to Keeler to expect to be yelled that and sworn out on a regular basis by the parents. I can honestly tell you I have had many parents unhappy with decisions that I have made, but I have not had parents treat me disrespectfully. Our parents are wonderful people, and need us to meet them halfway and hear what they are saying. This is not always easy, and may take a lot of time, but is worth it in the end…
As always, I wish the best for all involved at Keeler School!
Work hard and learn tons!

One Response to What have I learned during my time at Keeler School?

  1. Lisa Bryden says:

    You will be missed!

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