What WILL I do differently?


When school ended this year, my family and I headed to the lake in our travel trailer to unwind and spend some family time. The kids each brought a friend and the first 4 days of summer vacation were spent enjoying the sun and relaxing. I had tried to make sure that everything for the first 2 weeks of summer was planned, as I knew that our 14 year old daughter and I were going to be busy. She had a RYLA camp to attend and then was heading off to Kelowna for a curling camp and I would be heading off to UBC to attend the BCPVPA Short Course. With things planned and all of our ducks in a row, I left to go to Vancouver.

Every day was filled with learning, rich conversations, networking and more than a few laughs. Each keynote speaker had something new to offer and helped me to gain insight into the new role that I had chosen to tackle. As I continue with my reflections on the week I think back to the Friday sessions, with the theme “Inspiration to Lead”. One of the presenters was Maeve Buckley, a recently retired school principal. Without a doubt, Maeve is an engaging presenter, but it is not only her ability to command a room but her ability to challenge you to look inward and really think about who you are as an educator, a leader, a person. Maeve quickly had us up and participating in a Kagen co-op Corners activity which was interactive, insightful and entertaining. This activity involved having the participants think about how we personally respond to change. We were then presented with the pictures of four different types of boats, a kayak, a sailboat, a cruise ship and a speed boat. Maeve asked us to choose which boat symbolized our response to change and then instructed us to go to one of the four corners of the room which were assigned to a type of boat.

After everyone had gone to their corners it was obvious that the number of people in each corner was fairly well distributed, with the kayaks edging out slightly. I have to admit that this was not an easy task for me. I tend to try to go with my gut on things like this and my gut told me sailboat, though I was drawn to kayak as well, in the end I went with sailboat. We were then asked to explain to people in our corner, why we had chosen that boat. Maeve had different people from each group present out on the reasons for choosing the different boats and then she gave us a list of characteristics for each boat type. Since mine was sailboat, I will share with you the sailboat characteristics.

  • graceful, moves with ease through water, a certain romance
  • can handle rough water
  • harnessing natural power, responding to opportunity
  • if there is not wind, stays put
  • timing and destinations adjusted according to winds and tides
  • sense of autonomy, travel long distances in comfort with small groups of like minded souls
  • creative, innovative

This was intriguing because it got me to think, not only about my own response to change, but the other sailboats, kayaks, speedboats and cruise ships in my life, both personally and professionally. It made me have a better understanding of how others respond to change and what I need to consider when trying to facilitate change. This activity also gave me some insight on how can I help to support the people in my life who are dealing with change. I believe The Four Corners Activity would be worthwhile with students as well as staff in schools and in a variety of settings.

We all returned to our seats and Maeve finished her presentation with “The Top 10 Things I know for Sure in Leadership and in Life”.

  1. It’s All About Relationships (Trust is the cornerstone)
  2. Your Staff is Your Classroom ( be inclusive and provide differentiated instruction)
  3. The Number 1 Stressor is Change
  4. Strengthen Your Conflict Muscle
  5. Every Complaint Has a Thread of Truth
  6. When Tension Arises, Lean In
  7. It’s Better to Ask Curious Questions
  8. The Key to Success…is Personal
  9. Stay Connected
  10. Celebrate Everything

She paused to give us insight into each of her choices, by telling stories of her experiences. in a delightfully engaging way. She then left us with a challenge, to answer the question, “What is One Thing You Know for Sure?”

The One thing I know For Sure Is:

1. Don’t ever lose sight of what is most Important, FAMILY.

I realize that I often get caught up in my work which takes me away from family time. This past year my family has been very patient, knowing that I was starting a new position, in a new environment and that I had many new challenges which required my attention. But as I look back on the year, there are things that I will do differently in the future. There were definitely things that I did miss out on because I was too busy. Now that I have been in my position for a year, I will learn to recognize when I am working too much. My children will be heading off to post secondary in a few short years and I don’t want that time to come and find myself wishing I had spent more time with them. I know that I am a work in progress and that is why I have chosen to type the word will in bold. I chose the word will for myself, as a reminder, that it is not enough to say” I hope to”, “I will try to”,  “I plan to”, but rather that “I will“.

So I leave you with two questions:

What type of boat represents your response to change? and What is one thing you know for sure?


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