The Head's Tales: The Power of Being Inspired

This summer I spent a great deal of time enjoying the fabulous weather and being “in the moment” appreciating what was in front of me.  I also allowed my mind to wander thinking about possibilities and being rejuvenated by the infusion of new ideas to help our learning community be the best it can be.  This led me to think about how to help people embrace “what is possible” recognizing that as one grows, one changes.  SMS is going through such a transformation as we begin harnessing the “power of a team and a dream” to meet the educational needs of our learning community now and in the future.  Although the players may change, our Strategic Plan coupled with our core values will remain our roadmap allowing us to use our traditions (to honour our past), as well as current successes (to recognize what we have accomplished to date), and embrace opportunities (to prepare for what is possible!  Growth also requires us to temporarily release the familiar and seemingly secure and to accept challenges as a means of demonstrating our creativity. 

I have learned through experience that people will work hard if they believe they have the power to change what happens in their lives. When someone has experienced success in the past they are more likely to expect positive results in the future.  This is the link between attitude (belief) and outcome (results).  The question we need to ask is what motivates or encourages people to invest the time in tackling challenging tasks?  This made me think about an article I read several years ago entitled “Lessons from Skateboarders” where the author explores why it is that when skateboarders are learning new tricks, they experience a failure-to-success ratio of at least 100 to 1 and yet they continue to struggle and persevere without any expectation of extrinsic rewards – no grades, no accolades, no pay for their efforts!  The author then goes on to outline the conditions that need to be in place in classrooms if we hope to inspire the same level of motivation to master new skills.  These conditions are noted below:

1. The need to feel competent
2. The need to feel useful
3. The need to feel potent
4. The need to feel optimistic
5. The need to belong

In summary, students must be willing to try and risk failure, be provided with supportive feedback, and given the opportunity to apply the skills repeatedly if they hope to achieve mastery.  They also need someone in their “court” who believes in their capacity and celebrates their efforts along the learning journey – recognizing that growth is just as important as the ending point. 


“The most effective and enjoyable way for most of us to be open to change is to help create it.”
Author Unknown


Written by Cathy Thornicroft, Head of School

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