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Blog: Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Keep the Dream Alive in 2018

By Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

This time last year I posted the three most significant things which would impact education for 2017. Student voice, student reporting, and social media were pretty safe bets, so this year I thought to venture out a little more with a broader list of significant issues and ideas in education. The list below is amended from a similar list from Education Week, but I have amended it based on my own thoughts, and provided a more Canadian perspective. In no particular order:

  1. Unleash your inclusive capacity.
  2. Courage and ingenuity are key for our new Graduation Program.
  3. In the face of a shortage, why should teachers choose us?
  4. Stop expecting parents to engage without showing them how.
  5. Students don’t need grades.
  6. Can school districts reduce homelessness?
  7. Bridge the gap between mindset research and practice.
  8. Fight the opioid epidemic at its source.
  9. Schools have a role to play in the proliferation of artificial intelligence.
  10. The pointy end of personalization.

Without having read any of their commentary, I will delve into some of these issues in a more substantive way in the coming weeks, and invite others into the discourse. I will start with inclusive education:

Unleash Your Inclusive Capacity (Keep the Dream Alive)

It is perhaps fitting that I speak about building our inclusive capacity in the same week as Martin Luther King Day. Some fifty-five years after Dr. King’s powerful and life affirming speech, we still have a way to go to creating the kinds of inclusive communities and schools that value all students. While we can celebrate Canada as a world leader in diversity education, we should never get so full of ourselves that we don’t realize how much more work we have to do to get better.  One only needs to examine the nature of the Truth and Reconciliation, SOGI, or the #MeToo movement to recognize that large portions of our communities still feel marginalized.

Nelson Mandela’s once said that, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” One thing I appreciate about our schools, is that there is a culture of knowing better, and doing better. The truth is that our communities will become more respectful of human diversity as a function of our schools nurturing these dispositions in our students. One of mindsets that is fundamental to the DNA of schools is a belief that people – adults and children alike – can learn and improve.  We come to school each day because we believe that we will be better tomorrow than we were today.

Our teachers and principals play a pivotal role in this regard, and must build their own inclusive capacity to not just support all children, but to also educate others as to why diversity education is critical for a healthy and democratic society. In 2018 we will build our internal capacity to engage in meaningful discourse about making our schools more inclusive, just and equitable for all students. This will certainly not be easy. As matter of fact, I think we must have the courage to have uncomfortable conversations about how we do this, and engage with opposing views.

What is important is that we must not be silent; our students are counting on us. Only then will we take another step in realizing the dream. As Dr. King said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

By Kevin Godden
Kevin Godden
Kevin Godden

By Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Kevin has been the Superintendent of Schools for the Abbotsford School District since July 2011, overseeing some 19,000 students and 2,500 employees. Kevin is committed to student success in all forms and envisions a school district that can nimbly respond to the ever changing needs and interests of its students.