Posted by: bwoof | April 30, 2017


Yes, it’s true. I have not been at PLog in recent months. Let this not be a lament to action but a recognition that life is busy and I am just getting better and setting things aside, relaxing a bit more, and looking for balance. To that end, and upon recognition that I’m now 365 days in the principal’s role, here are my gratitudes and attitudes, aka “Grateful for” and “Curious about.”

I keep kept a PLog, personal learning log (not a Blog!), and realize that my intention to reflect online has taken quite a hit since becoming Principal at Sherwood exactly one year ago. And that’s OK. There’s no need to be perfect every day, so if it’s not online, reflection can still (and must) happen. But it’s always a good time to step back and ponder, so since it’s 365 days since I unexpectedly landed at 25 High Street, it seemed appropriate to look back a bit. And what a year it’s been. The highlight has been learning, learning, learning. Non-stop!

In keeping with my long-standing PLog framework of reflection that works for me, two themes emerge:


  • The surprise! I’ll never forget when I learned there were about 48 hours to transition from OP to Sherwood. It meant I had to cancel a World Championship St. Louis trip with the OP Robotics team, for whom I still cheer. It meant I had to choose flexibility, adaptability, and choke down a gulp of excitement and fear.  It meant staying home that weekend to be quiet, get anchored, and think about the humbling responsibility we as educators have. We hold the lives of kids in our hands. It’s a calling.
  • The welcome support of so many people including teachers, EAs, office staff, caretaking, Student Services people, and my admin colleagues including the greeting committee of John Forbeck, Estella Jones, Shelly Ferney, and Jamie Nunn. And now I get to add Brian Goodram to that outstanding team.
  • The incredible learning from former colleagues at OP including Marco Barzetti and Dawn Merlino – we three couldn’t have been more different, but the constant bantering back and forth of ideas and styles was extraordinary and helpful in ways beyond words.
  • The opportunity to contribute to a culture of learning at Sherwood that is in continuous improvement. I see many pieces of evidence that confirm we as a school community want to be effective, current, and impactful. We care. Deeply.
  • The honesty of staff and student voice about the things that are working and those that are not. I may not always like what I hear, but believe it all comes from a good place.
  • HWDSB and the privilege I have of a) having a job, and b) being paid for doing the things I’m passionate about, and c) be in an organization that although not perfect, is committed to learning and improvement.
  • My family and the joy of seeing three kids grow up well and become people I’m so proud of. This includes their life events of post-secondary education, vocations, avocations, and admirations. A recent wedding video tells part of that story and includes Wes who is beyond all else a man of integrity, commitment, and compassion. I am realizing that I lead a privileged life in many ways.


  • How best can I/we honour the 50 year legacy of a community school and also lead into the future now that many things are different than they were when the school first opened including curriculum, technology, leadership styles, and socio-eco demographics? What traditions do we keep? What new paths do we create together? How do I/we approach change?
  • How do teenagers think and feel in the year 2017? After Netflix-binging on the “13 Reasons Why” series I am deeply aware that life is complicated and what I see through my adult eyes may not be what teens are seeing. How will I/we honour teens and help them achieve in a world that is changing at a pace and rate much faster than I remember as a teen?
  • What does it look like and sound like to really, like I mean really really, act upon our two Sherwood foci, Learning for All and Well-Being for All? As someone so honestly (ouch!) said recently on one of those stickies we’ve collected as part of staff voice, “it’s got be more than just another pretty poster.”
  • How do I/we develop a culture of trust and safety for all, staff included, that creates the optimum conditions for learning and belonging. I wonder how to encourage staff to grow and learn while also recognizing and building upon their current strengths. What does it mean for all staff to feel a sense of belonging at Sherwood?
  • What will happen to the Sherwood building? What will it look like five years from now? Or maybe even in three years? How might we live together in community in a less than optimum space with more than our fair share of uncertainty?
  • How does visible thinking impact learning? I’ll keep this curiosity front and center on my Annual Growth Plan (it’s on my bulletin board for anyone to see, especially me!).  I wonder….will my attempts to use more graphics, sketches, and white-board thinking help me and others?
  • What will life be like when my grad program is over in July!!! Can’t wait, but also don’t want the challenging learning to end.
  • Will the peregrine falcons I watch every year (yes, there’s a reason for this small curiosity) have chicks this year? Will hope flourish?

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