“This is truly your opportunity to put whatever you want on the table.”
The invitation came up “In conversation with the Director of Education” – three sessions with secondary staff facilitated by Director of Education David Hansen at a “Sharing the Good News” Professional Activity Day at Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School on May 10.
The sessions are part of a large-scale consultation undertaken by the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board in the development of its new Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP) for 2019-2022. The consultations invite input into the three core areas of ‘Believing, Achieving, Serving.’ Over the next several weeks, the board will be consulting widely with its various stakeholder groups through face-to-face/townhall meetings and through an online platform called Thoughtexchange, which launched on May 6, to learn what it’s doing well, and where it can improve.
Describing the P.D. session as an opportunity for secondary staff to put everything on the table – the good and the bad – Hansen added that their input will help inform board priorities over the next four years.
The sessions began with a tabletop activity before moving into Thoughtexchange where individuals were invited to share one or two thoughts on one basic question: What do you value most about the programs and services provided by the board, and what do you think we can do better to prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities of the future?
“That’s the large question we’re asking. It’s the same question the students will get, the parents will get, community members will get, and staff will get,” said Hansen, noting that the format is different from other surveys which ask multiple questions.
Where Thoughtexchange also differs is that it allows participants to read and rate the thoughts of others. That rating system is important as it helps the board identify “top thoughts,” and common themes.
“Where the power of the tool lies is that the ‘room’ begins to look at not just the input from the individuals at this session, but the broader input that’s been shared, and you rate how you feel about things that other people have said,” explained Hansen.
“The group think will start to level up the things that are resonating with the group as a whole and the things that don’t resonate will start to drop off.”
“That’s how the Thoughtexchange works, how it identifies themes that might inform the board about what it’s doing.”
He added that while staff may feel influenced by outside pressures, his advice to them was “just let the noise happen out there” and “love what you do.”
“The times we live in are the times we live in.” He reminded staff of the great things happening every day in our schools, citing as one example the recent Yes, I Can awards ceremony that recognized the achievements of students with special education needs.
“That’s what we signed up for.”
to provide your input into the HWCDSB’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan.