How do we Inspire, Energize and Empower?

A few weeks ago, the Department of Early Education and Childhood Development hosted an Education Summit in Fredericton. Attendees included teachers, students, parents, principals, First Nations representatives, early childhood educators, and many other community stakeholders.

I was fortunate enough to attend this event, hear about potential innovative change from guest speakers, and most importantly, discuss the hopes, concerns, and ideas around the transformation of education in New Brunswick with those most closely involved.

Visitors from renowned organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Buffett Early Childhood Institute, National School of Public Administration, and the Global Future Education Foundation gathered to discuss a range of possibilities and challenges to consider.

From discussions about trends shaping education to the psychological impacts of early childhood education, re conceptualizing schools as multi-purpose community spaces, and recognizing the value of accomplishments versus credentials, my head was spinning with questions and ideas by the end of the three days!

Overall, my take-away is this: whatever vision we may dream up for our education system… it IS possible.

Innovative education models are being created, implemented, and succeeding across the globe; if we continue to work together to face the challenges ahead of us, New Brunswick is more than capable of creating a culture of support and success in our education system.

The summit stated three key elements of consideration:

  • Inspire: foster innovation

  • Energize: showcase local leadership

  • Empower: optimize learning environments

My reaction is yes! to all of the above… but how?

From listening to perspective-broadening presentations and delving into meaningful conversations with the wide range of stakeholders in attendance, I have three actionable considerations for creating effective, impactful, positive change:

  • Change the Story

  • Share, Share, Share

  • Embrace the Unknown

Change the story

Turn challenges into advantages

I am a born and raised New Brunswicker and throughout my entire life I have heard the statement: “we are a have-not province.”

This is such a common phrase and perspective, we often don’t realize how much we are devaluing our beautiful home, and ignoring the wealth of possibility that surrounds us.

Sure, we are a small province – physically and economically. Can we not be “small but mighty?” Through our small, supportive communities we have the opportunity to create connection, share culture, share projects, share ideas, share resources, and share a unified love for the province we call home! (See the following consideration for more on sharing!)

Let’s start telling the stories of the wonderful opportunities and growth New Brunswick has to offer! We have amazing innovation and inspired entrepreneurs igniting our local economies.

Sebastien Roy, a local entrepreneur, spoke at the summit of his growing distillery business. Not only is he expanding current production and hiring local talent with relevant experience, he is working on plans to source ALL ingredients from this province. That means MORE jobs, supported by a LOCAL business. That is the kind of future of New Brunswick students can get excited about. This isn’t a ideal, it is happening, and it’s worth talking about!

Together, we are not a “have-not” province. We are a “why-not” province. Why not try something new? We have the benefit of being small. Small is manageable, and agile. We are in a perfect place to create innovative change within our school system, so why not try?

Let’s be that force that incites inspired change of motion! Let’s take all the energy we have in this moment backing this movement and take whatever steps with can with as much unity and direction as possible to create an education system that supports the future success of New Brunswick’s youth… in New Brunswick.

Share, Share, Share

Ideas, resources, successes...

Through my role with iHub, I have the privilege of visiting innovative classrooms where education is reimagined and explored. I have only grazed the surface of experiential, personalized, entrepreneurial, problem and project-based learning activities occurring throughout the province.

An opportunity gap in our current model of education is the lack of communication about innovation already underway.

While many seem uncertain of what a change in education would look like or how it could be implemented, there are models of most if not all of the discussed changes already occurring. We need to start SHARING!

iHub endeavors to share the innovative projects we fund through articles and networking with educators. This year, iHub is offering a Best-Practice grant to fund educators visits to exemplary education sites within the province.

The more we can share our knowledge, experience, and gains, the more possibilities we illuminate! It is imperative that teachers have the freedom and opportunity to connect with one another to strengthen the innovative education movement.

Embrace the unknown!

We all seem to understand that students need to be prepared for an uncertain future. We don’t know what that looks like, but we are seeking to instill in youth the skills to face challenges, uncertainties, and risk of failure with both determination and flexibility: to embrace the unknown.

The old adage: “Do as I say and not as I do” has demonstrated time and again to be ineffective. What students need are educators, leaders, mentors who effectively model the competencies they are expected to learn and embody.

Poster on Mr. Hache's door at Blackville School
Poster on Mr. Hache's door at Blackville School

It is our responsibility to take the lead. As I have mentioned in the previous post Let's Innovate Education, we need to provide our wonderful educators the space to take a chance and potentially fail. Teachers need to be free to take risks so they can learn from their mistakes and develop better skills, and so they can demonstrate to students what true success looks like. Success is not regurgitating information that can be found online in a few seconds. Success is facing an uncertain path, gathering ideas, insight, and inner strength, and taking a step forward.

Let’s all try to take just one more step. Just one. Then another. We might fall down, we might forget why we started, we might lose sight of our goal, we might get lost. That is why we pause. To remind ourselves of the story of our strengths, to seek help and help others, building greater strength as a community, so we can then take another step and be a beacon for others.

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