Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Everyone Matters and What Matters - Let's Have a Great 2014-15!

I hope everyone had a great summer and is ready for a new school year! Today, all teaching staff in the St. James -Assiniboia School Division listened  to Kevin Lamoureux speak about culture and its impact on teaching. He said “Culture is our reference point for normal" and "Your culture is everything that seems normal to you". He explained that we need to "Look past students' struggles and see their opportunities and who they are."

He focused much of his presentation on this image (an image that has been in my office for the past two years).

It is important that everyone gets an equal chance for success, this means that everyone has different needs to get there. Our goal as a staff is to get to know each child and their unique abilities. Everyone has their own talents and things they need to get better at. Our job is to give each child the opportunities and support to do so. Everyone matters at GWMS, no matter where they come from.

Throughout the year everyone at George Waters will face challenges. I strongly feel, no matter what the circumstance, how someone responds to what comes before matters more than what the situation is. You can't control many things in the world, but you can always control your response. If someone treats you in a way you don't like, you control how you respond. Our goal is to respond in kind ways. Responding positively to a negative situation will help turn the situation around.

Throughout the year we will focus on kindness. We are taking part in The Great Kindness Challenge near the end of January 2015. I am very much looking forward to this challenge but hope it extends to every day this year. Noticing kindness is also important to me. It happens everyday at George Waters. So often we focus on the negative (watch the news). We need to spend more time noticing the good stuff we do. We give everyone a chance to recognize acts of kindness by visiting this site. If you notice a kind act, let me know!

Usually at school the thing that matters most is marks and how you do on tests. This to me, a small part  (very small) of being successful in school and life. What's important? What will I notice? I will notice people who take risks, who aren't afraid to make a mistake, who do their best to be kind to the people and world around them. I don't know anyone who told me the reason they are successful in life is because they got 93% in grade 6 Social Studies. They are successful because of what they learned during the process of getting a good mark or test score. The process is so much more important that the final result. Everyone has the ability to work hard, ask questions, try again, laugh, and have fun learning. You, and only you, are in charge of your attitude.

Depending on what grade you are in at George Waters you have either 1, 2, or 3 expectations to live up to.

One expectation at grade 6 - the expectation is to simply 'Get Involved'. Get involved in your classrooms, in lessons, at lunch in clubs, on teams. Find something you like to do and do it. It's also important to try things that are new to you and give it a good chance.

Two expectations at grade 7 - the expectations are to 'Stand Up for Others' and to 'Get Involved'. Most of our grade 7s have been at GW for a year. Your job is to help our new students 'learn the ropes'. If you see someone that needs help either help them or find them help. And, like the grade 6s - Get Involved!

Three expectations at grade 8 - these expectations are to 'Be a Philanthropist', 'Stand Up for Others' and to 'Get Involved'. To be a philanthropist at George Waters all you have to do is try to make someone else's day better.  

You will notice the focus in the above three expectations is not on marks or awards. Those will come if you do the above things everyday. 

Our school is named after George Waters. He is a veteran of World War 2 and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was also a trustee for the St. James-Assiniboia School Division for 18 years. He is a perfect example of someone who 'Gets Involved', 'Stands Up for Others' and 'Is a Philanthropist'. He is a man who does all the things to make the lives of others brighter and better. He gives and gave what each person he met what they needed to be successful.

Mr. Waters, who is now over 90 years old, recently sent me this message for everyone at GWMS to help kick off our year. Check it out!

I hope everyone has a great start to the year. We have so many exciting things planned throughout the year. 'Get Involved' and have fun! 

Mr. Mead

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