On Tuesday March 20th the Canadian Rockies Public Schools Trustees approved a new three-year calendar. This concludes 9 months of thinking, conversations, creating criteria, examining options, informed by students, parents, school councils, teachers, support staff, community partners, school-based and central office administrators and the 7 trustees.
The key to this I believe has been focusing on a key question – “What calendar best supports learning?” This means student learning, professional development and professional learning communities for teachers and support staff and a whole community approach to learning. As we each inserted our ideas and opinions based on what we believed and how a calendar might affect our personal, work and family lives this question helped me (us) stay focused on what was of prime importance – learning!
The approach to exploring ideas, creating criteria, generating options and making a final decision where another step in the CRPS process of generative governance. We took a formal step towards generative governance in January of 2011 with the formation of the Community Education Network. We decided that one way to learn about governance was to tackle a real life issue – school calendars – and test the ideas and process by using a generative approach.
It is interesting to me that dozens of students, parents, school council members, teachers, and support staff were involved and keen to have a say through the nine months and then at the decision-making point of a vote at a public board meeting – there were 3 people there who supported the idea. Six years ago when we did all (or most of ) the thinking in-house with admin and trustees building the calendars by themselves that at the public meeting there were 60-70 people there and they were unhappy at the result because they had no part in either the thinking or making of the calendars.
Margaret Wheatley in her book Finding our Way says – “People only support what they create.” I would also add that when you ask people to hold the dilemma’s attached to good decision-making with you, it changes the way we see both the issue and the solution and it changes the way we work together.
Thanks to the people of the Bow Valley who have played an important part in creating a calendar that supports learning.