Category Archives: Daniel Kerr

Reaching Out

So just about a week ago I woke up to the news of the mass shooting in my home province of Nova Scotia, Canada. With each new tragic update and gutting confirmation that what had happened was actually real, my heart shrunk and my mind went numb. That first day was dark indeed, and my joyful spirit felt dislocated as I thought of all those so deeply affected and forever changed…I felt hopeless and a little stuck in place honestly, until I received a short text message from a faculty member and friend of mine, who reached out and simply thought about me, and in that moment, the darkness of the day got a just little bit lighter. It’s funny the power that a simple act of kindness can have, and how the small gesture of reaching out to someone can have such a huge impact. I needed that text message at that moment, and it kickstarted my journey from despair back to hope. 


I don’t know what the world is trying to tell us these days, and it’s hard to make sense of it all honestly. With the tension and isolation of the global lockdown growing, and a tragedy in the unlikeliest of places in the unlikeliest of times…it’s certainly been quite a week. I do know one thing however as I struggle to make sense of it all, we need each other during these days, and we need to reach out. 


I’ve been trying hard this week to reach out to as many people as I can…people in my life who need to know that someone is thinking about them, and there for them if they need support, and I’ve done this for two reasons. I want to be a light in someone’s life who may need a kind voice right about now, and I need to find some support and light for me as well. Reaching out to others not only helps them, it helps you too, and a kind voice or an unexpected connection has tremendous healing power. 


It’s been a difficult week trying to process it all, and like everyone who has been affected by this, I’ve gone through a range of emotions including sadness, anger, confusion, and ultimately…hope. My hope is that my hometown community, as well as our global community will find strength through these difficult times, and emerge stronger together. Just like that simple text message helped to snap my dislocated spirit back into place last week, reaching out to others will make a huge difference, and we’re all capable of being that sunshine for others. Reach out this week to the people that you love, and people who you haven’t spoken to in a while, and let them know that you are thinking about them. Send an email, make a phone call, set up a Zoom call, whatever…just make that connection. I guarantee it will change your day for the better, and it will certainly impact theirs as well.


Teachers, check in with each other this week and share some joy. Reach out to your students and their families too and check in on them, as we’re all struggling in one way or another in this new reality. To my Nova Scotia community, know that the world is wrapping its arms around you virtually and squeezing tight. Rally around each other and find strength in community, and support each other. We will eventually emerge through these difficult times, and when we do, we will be stronger together. Reach out everyone…it’s what we all need. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…

We rise by lifting others – Robert Ingersoll


Inspiring Videos –

 Prom 2020 – SGN

Times Like These

For Nova Scotia

California Restaurant

Thank a Hero

Angel

A Virtual Hug

So just like thousands of schools around the world these days, we have been thrust into the reality of distance learning. We managed to successfully navigate through the first four days with our community just last week, and for the most part it went really well. We had plenty of success stories and celebrations, and of course a few glitches to work through, but all in all we transitioned nicely. We were super fortunate that we had some wonderful on-line platforms already in place, and as was the case with so many schools around the globe, we had our educator friends and colleagues in Asia to thank for blazing the trail and showing us the way. 

That said, I’m fully aware that it’s only been four days, and as we stare down the possibility of a long term campus closure we need to turn our attention to sustainability and community balance…it’s going to be tricky I know, but like the many schools who are already weeks ahead of us, we will eventually find our way. 

What I really want to talk about this week however, is how inspired I am to be a part of this amazing International School community, and how proud I am to be an educator as we lean on each other through this difficult and interesting time. We often talk to our students about the power and importance of sharing and collaborating and risk taking, and how true growth and success comes out of facing adversity and being resilient.  What I’ve seen over the past several weeks has cemented my belief that the world’s truest superheroes are educators, and I want to thank you all for your passion, creativity, generous spirit and your unwavering sense of joy and hope. 

I feel like the world is waking up to the incredible complexities of teaching, and how much hard work and effort it takes everyday to engage children in their learning…and that’s just on a regular day! In exceptional circumstances like these, where educators need to show such unbelievable adaptability, imagination, and flexibility, it drives home the point even more…educators are truly modern day heroes.  

Anyway, I just want to reach through this computer and give you all a virtual hug, and thank you for all that you are doing for our children, our families and our world. Keep sharing, keep collaborating and keep leading the way as we all struggle through this global situation together. There are of course many silver linings to this experience, and if we continue to lead with our hearts we will come out the other end all the better for it as an educational world. Have a wonderful on-line week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…

No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.

  • H.E. Luccock

Inspiring Videos – 

On-Line Courses for Kids

Inspiring Millions

Brothers in Humanity

TED Talk – Adversity

Distance Learning (Funny…Be Thoughtful)

Splashes of Yellow

So sometimes the road leading out of winter and into spring can be long, and in countries like France, it means clouds and rain and a constant chill in the air. You can find yourself longing for a burst of sunshine and if you’re not careful it can start to negatively affect your energy and mindset. Last week I even found myself having to dig a little deeper to keep my energy up and my smile bright, which is very unusual for me, until out of nowhere something super small happened that gave me the boost that I needed. 

I was coming home from walking the dog early one morning, just as the light was beginning to spread across the day, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a beautiful splash of yellow. The first gorgeous tulip of the season had magically appeared in my yard and I instantly felt this boost of joy and inspiration. It was exactly what I needed at the time and honestly, it reminded me of schools in a funny way, and the day to day lives that seem to string together in a blur during these long stretches at work. It re-connected me to the importance of little celebrations…the intentional and purposeful celebration of little wins along the way with our kids and with each other…those little splashes of yellow that come out of nowhere and scream out to be recognized. 

Oftentimes in schools, and in life, we can go way, way too long without stopping to recognize and celebrate the incredible work that we all do, and the amazing daily accomplishments that happen in the learning lives of our students. I spent that tulip flower day last week reflecting on the journey that we’ve been on as a collective team, and really, it’s staggering to think of how far we’ve come over the past two and a half years. We are in the midst of so many wonderful changes as a division and as a school and we can’t forget to regularly celebrate. I think in many ways we do a nice job as educators with our weekly celebration google doc, and our fun March Gladness initiative, and with our celebratory faculty meetings that we have from time to time, but I’m wondering if I (we) can do a little bit more celebrating with our kids. 

This literal “march” into Spring is hard for many of us as adults and I know it can be hard for our students as well. My challenge to all of us this week is to intentionally celebrate our kids for their effort, their success, their positive attitude and for their youthful joy…they are all throwing out little splashes of yellow all over the place, each and every day, and a compliment and a simple public recognition will be that burst of sunshine that they need…it will make us feel warm and sunny too! Okay, I’ll commit to continue to find ways to celebrate our many successes as a team, and I’m going to celebrate as many kids as I can this week…join me for the fun and let’s all be their makeshift sunshine, and the little splashes of yellow for all of them until the actual sun decides to make an appearance. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…

Celebration comes when the common features of life are redeemed

  • Richard J. Foster

Inspiring Videos- 

Home for Senior Dogs

Friendship Saves

How NOT to Raise Your Children

TED Talk – Fear Setting

TED Talk – Giving as a Source of Pleasure

Related Articles – 

Celebrating Our Students

Celebrating Accomplishments 

Small Wins at Work

Achieve Big Goals

What to Read in 2020

So it’s that time again and I’m super excited…new books for a new year! I just finished my final couple of books from 2019 over the February break, and I’ve spent the last week or so compiling my list for 2020…I’ve looked at book reviews and online articles, I’ve combed through book stores, and I’ve asked around for recommendations from friends and colleagues from all around the world, and I now have a preliminary list of 15 books that I’m eager to read…see below.

As usual, I’m encouraging you all to take a few minutes this week to look through these titles, and to order one (or five) that resonate with you…or, do your own research and share those titles with me so I can add them to this list. The suggestions below revolve around the themes of education, leadership, creativity, innovation and culture building, with an overarching focus on becoming a better person and educator for our world. Anyway, happy reading in 2020…a good book can be transformative in so many ways, so please make the time, I promise you it will be time well spent. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week…

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body – Joseph Addison

Recommendations –

Malcolm Gladwell – Talking to Strangers

Buckingham-Goodall – Nine Lies About Work

Max Yoder- Do Better Work

Lydia Denworth – Friendship

Dan Heath – Upstream

Daniel Levitin – The Changing Mind

Paul Tough – The Years That Matter Most

Kim Marshall – The Best of the Marshall Memo

Jessica Carson – Wired this Way

Simon Sinek – The Infinite Game

Rob Walker – The Art of Noticing

Medcalf-Mattison – The Future of Leadership

Sugata Mitra – The School in the Cloud

Jim Davies – Imagination

Karen Catlin – Better Allies

Turning Conversation Into Action

So I just returned home from the AAIE 2020 conference and frankly, I’m inspired. Actually, more than inspiration I’m feeling empowered and profoundly called to action as a result of the conversations that we all engaged in throughout the three days in New York. The themes that we deeply dove into revolved around diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice, and the question that was posed was, how do we go after these issues purposely in schools…or do we at all? Great debates, provocative conversations and thoughtful questions related to how we tackle these themes in education, and the level of responsibility that we all have as leaders and educators to do so. My head is still spinning honestly, with the possibilities and opportunities that we have to change the narrative around what’s really important and imperative in today’s world…it’s time to turn these conversations into action and I’m excited to get going.


Not only did I enjoy the daily breakout sessions, I was also inspired by the keynote speakers and their messages related to shared humanity and joyful leadership, two things that I am personally passionate about. Dacher Keltner from the Greater Good Science Center, and Firoozeh Dumas, a New York Times best selling author called us all to action and implored us all to lead with our hearts, and to go after the conference themes with purpose and with a sense of urgency and responsibility…so good. I was fortunate enough to be a part of two panel discussions to do with inclusion, and how leaders can turn conversation into action, and I made a personal commitment to take a more proactive role in leading out some of these initiatives with our young people. I also challenged the other leaders at the conference to do the same, and to work with each other and hold each other accountable for bringing this change to life through our work with our students and communities. 


Thinking about accountability, I’ve been wondering about which systems and structures that schools and organizations can target to initiate these changes. Strategic planning, curriculum design, mission statement re-writes, hiring practices, and even professional development are good places to start, and I’m also wondering about the accreditation process. Thinking about the amazing and transformative work that CIS has done regarding child protection and safeguarding over the past several years, where it is now an expectation and requirement to have specific policies and procedures in place in order to be re-accredited, I’m thinking that we could leverage accrediting organizations to help hold international schools accountable around the themes of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. I’m not sure exactly what that would look like but once again, it’s time to turn these conversations into action. 


Anyway, I have to say that not only did I return home feeling inspired because of the conference conversations, but I also felt proud and validated that the work that we are doing at ASP is strongly connected to all of this. Actually, in many ways we are helping to lead the way and it feels great. We are doing meaningful and purposeful and transformative work through our strategic planning and this conference just pushed me to do even more to support our journey. I’ll leave you with a final quote that has stuck with me since I returned from Cornel West, who said that, “Justice is what love looks like in public”. Honestly, isn’t that what the world needs a bit more of these days…love. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.-Gail Sheehy


Inspiring Videos –

 College Tuition

Part 2 – Responsibility

All That We Share

Climate Change Rap

Social Justice in Schools


Related Articles –

What is Social Justice?

Curriculum Design

Diversity in Schools

What is Equity in Education?

Together We Learn Better

Every Day is a Lesson

So I turned 50 years old this past week and honestly, it feels pretty good. I was fabulously spoiled by my family and my friends, and by my students and colleagues, and it was such a great day that I think I’ll find a way to turn 50 again next year as well 🙂 The thing about milestone birthdays however, as much as they are great in so many ways, is that they do make you pause and reflect on your life up to that point. They make you take stock of your current reality, and think about the journey that has led you up to that day…the triumphs and joys and successes, the stumbles and mistakes that you’ve made along the way, and most importantly for me anyway, the lessons that you’ve learned that have shaped who you are. 

Looking back, it’s funny to see how many lessons I had to learn the hard way, and over and over again until they finally sunk in, and how fortunate I am to have arrived at this half century mark to the life that I currently lead. Like most of us, I’ve pulled off some Houdini-like escape acts that could and should have derailed my life, but somehow it has managed to work out. It’s been fun over the past week to think back and reflect, and to get a little nostalgic, but the biggest take away for me throughout that reflective exercise is the realization that regardless of how old you are, every new gift of a day that you are graciously given is indeed a lesson. Everyday is an opportunity to learn, and to do better, and to find a way to bring joy to someone else’s life. 

These daily lessons are often times not ones that you’re learning for the very first time, especially if you’ve lived for more than a few decades, but the ones that just cement some universal truths that help you become a better person for yourself and for others. This past week, for example, I was reminded of a couple of life lessons that have reconnected me back to what’s truly important in life…in my view anyway. I re-learned from a child last week that something as simple as a kind word and a small celebration can change their lives forever. I re-learned from from a colleague that a smile can change someone’s day for the better, and is often just what someone is needing at a particular moment. I learned again from my beautiful wife that you absolutely get back the energy that you give out to the world. I re-learned from my daughter that beauty is everywhere in the world, all around us all the time in the simple little things that we often take for granted. I learned from my brother that age is really just a number, and it’s what’s inside your mind and your heart that really, truly matters, and finally I learned again from a good friend of mine, who had a parent and hero pass away earlier in the week, that none of us are ever promised tomorrow, so live your life today. 

An important lesson for all of us, regardless of how old you are, is the ability to recognize that life is made up of a string of single, individual days…little gifts of time that are presented to you to learn from, and grow from, and to embrace. It’s never too early to pass this sentiment on to our students, and even though they will need to go through their own journey, and make their mistakes over and over again until they finally sink in, we can still use our wisdom to give them some help along the way. At the very least, we can try our best to get them to see that every day is indeed a lesson, and an opportunity to become a better student, person, friend, and a better human being for our world if they only just embrace the here and now. 

Anyway, turning 50 has been wonderful, and thank you to everyone for making it so special. I’m excited to continue learning and growing and doing better, and here’s to the next 50…bring it on! Have a fantastic week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.  

Quote of the Week…

The fastest way of learning is little by little and day by day – Lewis Carroll

Inspiring Videos – 

Michigan Marching Band

Son’s Graduation

Rethinking Challenging Kids

Who’s Coming for Dinner?

Soul Pancake

Related Articles – 

Daily Lessons

Self Reflection

Powerful Life Lessons

Free Time TED Talk

Something in the Air

So here we are at the very beginning of a brand new year, and even more exciting than that for me, the start of a brand new decade. I’m a little bit more inspired than usual honestly because there seems to be something in the air, a significant shift or tipping point that has finally begun to take hold in the world of education. It’s not necessarily new this paradigm shift, but certainly more widespread and ubiquitous these days I feel, and it’s resonating profoundly everywhere I look…in schools and conversations, and in research articles and conference themes across the globe. 

I’m talking about a shift in what gets top billing and top priority when we look to prepare our children for the future of our world…a shift to an approach to teaching and learning that is delivered through a different lens, or under a different umbrella, which better emphasizes the skills that our children really need to go out into the world having mastered. The essential teachings that our world desperately craves right now. Themes like kindness, empathy, diversity, inclusion, environmental stewardship, creativity, and resilience…and a formative education and taught curriculum that is truly a little closer to the heart.

This year, when I ask my own kids each morning what their school schedule looks like for the day, the conversation goes something like this. Hey Gabby and Max (my 6th and 9th graders), what classes do you have today?. I hear back things like Math and Science and Social Studies and English and French, with some cool electives thrown in there as well, which are typically the classes that they tend to get really excited about. We’re so used to this structure of school, and this traditional approach to how we prepare our kids for the world when they graduate. You know how I’d really love that morning conversation to go? Something like this…Hey, what do you guys have in school today? Gabby will say, Oh, my first block is empathy, and then I have creativity, inclusion and diversity. What about you Max? Well Dad, I have environmental stewardship, kindness, and this afternoon I have a double block of resilience, which is a really tough class but it’s helping me become a better learner. Great, I’d say, see you at school and I can’t wait to hear all about it at dinner tonight. 

It’s not that we have to give up teaching the important math and science concepts, or go away from languages and literacy, it’s just reframing and delivering the classes through a new lens. Teaching science and math with a focus on the environment and service learning for example, and teaching literacy skills through a lens of kindness and empathy, and even social studies through a lens of diversity. Of course we will need to change what we call the classes because language truly has power, and it would signify a purposeful shift in curriculum thinking, writing and delivery. Anyway, without going on too long I think you get what I’m saying, and honestly, these essential shifts are already happening in leading international and independent schools around the world, like ours, through strategic planning and curriculum review and implementation, and through non traditional course offerings and student opportunities that are more aligned to these essential needs, themes and skills. 

Take a look at the upcoming AAIE conference for example, and see the themes that are being championed…panel discussions and conversations around cultures of dignity and inclusion and what’s really paramount for the future of education. Things like positive social change and health and well being and diversity and resiliency. These ideas and this narrative is being championed everywhere you look and to me it feels good. It feels like it’s finally time, which is why this year, and this decade feels different. There is something in the air and it smells sweet and it feels like real, transformative change is happening…it feels like the future of education is upon us. I’d like to end with some song lyrics taken from one of my favorite songs, “Closer to the Heart” by a Canadain band called, RUSH. These lyrics seem appropriate to this change in the air that I’m feeling, and even more poignant considering the Band’s drummer and lyricist, one of the greatest of all-time, Neil Peart passed away just the other day. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. Happy 2020 everyone…it’s going to be a great year!

Closer to the Heart – Rush

And the men who hold high places

Must be the ones who start

To mold a new reality

Closer to the heart

The blacksmith and the artist

Reflect it in their art

They forge their creativity

Closer to the heart

Yes, closer to the heart

Philosophers and ploughmen

Each must know his part

To sow a new mentality

Closer to the heart

Yes, closer to the heart

You can be the captain

And I will draw the chart

Sailing into destiny

Closer to the heart


Inspiring Videos – 

On the Road – A Year in Review

A Surprise Thank You

Related Articles – 

Social-Emotional Learning

8 Critical Skills

Essential for Students

Getting Smart

Important Skills

10 Feet Tall and Bulletproof

So this week I had several students sent to my office to be celebrated. It is literally my favorite part of the day when a student arrives at my door, with a teacher by their side, holding a book or a piece of writing or simply just standing there empty handed excited to share something special with me..I absolutely love it! There was one student in particular though, this past Wednesday, who had me choking back the tears. He walked in a little nervous and very excited, holding a large print chapter book, and he was super eager to read it to me…and he did so beautifully.

You see, this 4th grade boy came to ASP at the beginning of the year not knowing a single word of English, and there he was only three months later ready to read out loud to his principal…in English! I sat there and listened, and watched him grow in confidence with each spoken word, and the look of pride on his face made my heart want to burst. After the celebration, as he was walking back to class, it hit me that this particular moment, that was orchestrated by two incredible teachers (thank you Sherri and Gabby), will stay with that boy for the rest of his life. That feeling of success, and that sense of pride that he felt in that moment changed him, and absolutely strengthened his relationship with school and learning. I managed to catch up to him later on in the day, after I had composed myself, and I asked him how he felt. He told me that he felt like a reading superhero, and as he walked away smiling I swear he felt 10 feet tall and bulletproof. 

I was reminded once again through that magical experience that it doesn’t take much to change a kid’s relationship with learning. Little successes, some small wins, and a few well thought out celebrations can make all the difference. An encouraging word here, a high-five there, a note or a phone call home at some point throughout the week, and of course a trip to the principal’s office will go a long, long way in strengthening a child’s relationship with school and learning…for us, it doesn’t take much time to do but the effect on the student will last a lifetime! We are all so busy at school doing what we do, and if we aren’t careful then days can go by without us purposely finding ways to set up, or call out moments of success with each one of our kids. A child’s relationship with learning is at the heart of it all, and the foundation of a student’s educational experience. There is nothing more important for us as educators than to go after that relationship specifically, and to help build that foundation. 

I’m challenging you all this week, with less than two weeks to go before the holiday, to celebrate as many kids as you can, and to go out of your way to strengthen all of your students’ relationships with learning…purposely make them feel like learning superheroes, and watch their eyes light up, their chests swell, and the smiles start to spread across their faces. Make them feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof, if even just for a moment. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week…

Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety

-Rose Kennedy

Beautiful Holiday Videos –

Hafod Hardware

Secret Santa

Dragon Fire

Make Someone’s Holiday

The Time Shop

Adoption Support

Related Articles – 

Celebrating Student Success

Learning How to Care

Pushing Forward – Bret Olson

Teaching Through Relationships

10 Ways to Inspire a Love of Learning

Do I Have a Choice?

So when I was a kid I didn’t have much choice in what I learned in school. I remember clearly as a whole class having to read the same books and to write about the same things, and having to do the same math worksheets, and having to research the same topics in Social Studies, and even having to do the exact same science experiments. I remember never being able to choose my own partner and I absolutely remember being forced to play the clarinet in 6th grade when all I wanted to do was to play the drums! I also remember not being very interested in any of it. 

As far as I can remember I had no personal connection or choice in anything that I was learning when I was a kid, and I always felt like I was being forced to learn things that I had no desire to learn. Thank goodness for recess and sports and after school activities where I could finally get a little control back in my life. There was however, this one amazing year when I was in 5th grade, and I had a teacher (Ms. Lumsden) who let us all choose our own just right books to read, and who allowed us to write about topics that were important and meaningful to us, and to research anything we wanted in our current events unit, and she even let us design our own science experiment to share with the class…and I could choose my own partner if I wanted! That was easily the best year of my school life, and the year where I actually remember the book that I read, and the experiment that I designed, and the essay that I wrote about baseball…funny enough, It’s also the teacher who I connected with the most, and the one who I felt truly knew me as a young person…man I loved Ms. Lumsden and I loved 5th grade!

Anyway, I’m writing about this because we have been working very hard as a school over the past couple of years to find ways to give our students more voice and choice in their learning, and lately I’ve been noticing it everywhere I look. I see it in our Math stations where kids get to choose which games they play, I see it in our literacy workshops with kids choosing their own just right books and writing about topics that deeply interest them, I see it in our Inspiration Projects where kids go after a passion that they are keen to research and present, and I see it in our science and maker-space programs where kids are given choice in the areas of environmental stewardship, school service, and creative design. In music, kids are able to choose the instruments that they want to play, and in PE students are often able to design their own activities. In Art kids are choosing what materials they use and how they want to represent their learning, and in French students are able to choose the roles that they play in their green screen skits, and they write their own scripts…student choice is literally everywhere! 

You know what, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen our students more engaged and joyful in their learning, and when looking at student data I am seeing an increase in student achievement as well…but the best part of it all is when I pop into classrooms and ask kids about what they truly love about their school experience, they consistently talk to me about the choice that they are given throughout the day. It’s been validating for us to have recently attended conferences and worked with consultants who are championing student voice and choice as a way to deeply engage kids in their learning, and I’m thrilled that our new strategic plan is connected strongly to this purpose…so good. 

Finally, I understand that we can’t give students choice in every activity and experience throughout the day, and I am acutely aware that there is a time and a place for direct teacher instruction and whole class activities. What I am celebrating is the attention that we are paying as a school to finding places across our programs to give students more voice and choice in their learning, and to inspire our students to take more ownership of their total educational experience. I’m asking you all this week to look for ways to give kids choice if you can, where and when it’s appropriate, and then watch as the joy and engagement explodes all around you. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…

The necessity of creation is the sovereign power of choice

– Sunday Adelaja

Inspiring Videos-

Call Someone

Fred Rogers Speech

Returning the Favor 

E.T. Returns

Happy Thanksgiving

Related Articles –

The Benefits of Choice

Student Voice and Choice

Why Choice Matters

The Power of Choice

Voice and Choice

Giving Thanks

So with American Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday, I want to post an updated and reworked list of some of the things that I am genuinely thankful for as an educator. I’m writing this from a hotel room, as the sun rises over sleepy Luxembourg, ready to head off for day 2 of an Inquiry-Based Learning conference, and I’m feeling very thankful indeed. So, here we go…in no particular order, I am truly, truly thankful for…

The Noise – Have you ever taken a few minutes in the day to stop and listen to the white noise of a school? If you haven’t then do it on Monday morning…it might just be the most beautiful sound you’ll ever hear. It’s a constant hum of laughing and learning, and failure and success, and teaching and determination and love. One of the best parts of my day is to walk down a hallway and to listen from outside the door to the sounds of kids engaged…or to stand off in the corner of the playground during recess time and listen to the shouts and squeals of happiness, as kids play and make new friends and learn how to fit in…it is definitely music to my ears, and without a doubt, the soundtrack to a beautiful day. 

A Child’s Beauty – Children are the best teachers that any of us could possibly have, and the most beautiful inspirations that exist in our world. It is impossible for someone to spend a day with a child and not come away inspired and changed for the better. If you really listen to what children say, and if you take the time to watch them interact with the world, your heart will fill with joy and your smile will stretch across your face. The way they notice the little things in life that we often take for granted, the way that they are constantly curious, the utter joy that spills from their bodies when they learn something new and find a little success, and their imagination, creativity, and willingness to fail and to try, try, try again…wow…there is nothing in our world like the beauty of a child. 

Committed Educators – Teaching is the most noble, honorable and important profession/vocation that we have in society, and quality teachers are as close to true and living superheroes that we have in our world. Committed educators are change agents…they are sculptors…they are artists…they are mentors…they are role models, and they are often times under appreciated. No professional works harder than a committed educator in my opinion, with the sole focus and responsibility of moulding their students into positive change-makers for our world, and into empathetic, compassionate, critical thinking, and creative members of our communities. Quality teachers are truly amazing and deserve to be lauded for their tremendous efforts and contributions to the future of our planet. 

The Opportunity – The opportunity that we have as educators is incredible, and the responsibility is immense. The opportunity to re-imagine education and to break free from traditional schooling is in our collective hands, and there is no more exciting time to be an educator than right now. We have the ability to transform how we teach our kids, and how we design and redesign learning spaces, and how we write and deliver curriculum, and how we prepare our students for a rapidly changing world…awesome! We have the opportunity to be courageous and innovative and transformational…let’s seize it!

The Struggle – Watching kids learn, and grow, and fail, and develop is a beautiful struggle, and one that I will never get tired of being a part of. Growing up is hard, and trying to find your way in this world is difficult at the best of times. I love this struggle, and I love each child’s journey into becoming who they will eventually become. They all burn so bright, and their joy and pain is so open and honest and so on display. The struggle is incredible to watch, and it brings you back to that time in your life that shaped who you are. It’ll make you laugh and cry and get frustrated, and it will make you proud…but most importantly it will make you feel, and become a part of something truly special, which is each child’s journey into finding themselves, and their purpose…this struggle is at the core of what is beautiful about education. 

The Constant Learning – Each and every day I learn (and re-learn) something new. Being in classrooms and interacting with students and teachers is a constant learning process that makes me a better person. I learn from my mistakes, I learn from the mistakes of others, and I learn about people and how to best support and challenge them. I learn about current educational trends and research, I learn about what’s being successful in other quality schools, I learn from my outstanding leadership and admin teams, and like I said before, I learn from the best teachers that we have…our kids. They teach me everyday about the importance of being my best self for others, and to be humble and honest and a good listener. It’s staggering how much you can learn in the run of a school day if you just open yourself up to it.

The Unexpected – An educator’s day never goes as planned and I love it. The thing about school is that you never know from one second to the next what will come your way, and this uncertainty makes me love my job. There’s always an unexpected mini crisis or a student celebration or an issue with a parent or a teacher or a kid, and it keeps us on our toes in the best possible way. From one hour to the next you can be floored by a student accomplishment, you can be bewildered by a decision that a student or adult has made, you can have a belly laugh from something that a kid says to you, and you can be thrown into a situation that will break your heart…and it’s all good. An individual school day is just like a student…ever-changing, unpredictable, surprising, and always beautiful!

The Joy – If you’re like me then coming to school everyday brings you tremendous joy…how could it not? We get to hang out with kids all day long, we get to spend time with our colleagues who are also our friends, we get to learn and feel and become better human beings because of our daily interactions with our students and each other, and we get to shape the future of our little (and not so little) kids. What other profession can offer such a joyful and purposeful existence? Just when you start to feel stressed or frustrated or overworked, you turn the corner and run into a beautiful little kid, with a huge smile on their face, and so much joy in their hearts, and they run up to you and they give you a big hug and you just melt as their energy reminds you why you love school so much. I’m so grateful for what children bring to my life!

Well, I could go on and on but I’ll leave it at that for now. I hope that some of these resonate with you, and inspire you to think about what it is that you are thankful for as we stare down Thanksgiving this week. I am thankful for the opportunity to be working with such an outstanding faculty and I’m truly grateful for our ASP community. There are only four weeks left until the holiday break so keep your energy up and keep your heart open to why you love school so much. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our kids and good to each other. 

Quote of the week…

 Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses

-Alphonse Karr

Beautiful Videos – Watch them!