The Leadership Train Ride

One of my favourite metaphors for the past many years as an administrator is about a train. As a kid, I just LOVED trains. I don’t know why, but trains always seemed to be about journey, moving forward and setting new goals. I would begin the first staff meeting of the school year with this statement: We are on a train ride. If for some reason you feel you don’t want to be on this particular train, please let me know. I would be happy to help you get off at the next stop. But, if you really do want to be on this train, then hang on. It’s going to be a great ride, and I am so happy to be here with you!!

Today, I have stepped onto a new train, going on a completely new track. Some people are calling it the ‘retirement train’. I am calling it the ‘leadership train’. Today was my last day with students before the summer holidays and my retirement from more than 38 years as an educator and administrator.

I call it the Leadership Train Ride because deep inside, I have always believed the way to get the best out of anyone, especially students, is to teach them how to become leaders. When students have leadership skills engrained, their behaviours change, their learning changes, their lives change. I don’t care what method you use to teach leadership skills. I don’t care if you have a special program or not. I do know teaching the students about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and using The Leader In Me (Covey) works! I have seen it. I have watched children become passionate learners, excited creators and willing ambassadors for social justice, mercy and peace. Whatever works for you, use it!

I encourage all educators, whether a newbie just starting out, or someone with years and years of experience to jump on the Leadership Train Ride. Your craft as an educator will grow. Your students will see measurable and encouraging differences in their lives almost immediately. What’s more, you will be leaving a legacy.

So the next time you see a train rolling by, or you are forced to wait at a train crossing, think about the students in our schools and their journey of learning. That train might be crossing your path for a reason. Our world desperately needs leaders who seek justice, mercy and peace. May our work as educators continue to invite students to leadership. I know this will always be my desire for all students, especially and including my grandchildren.

I look forward to meeting you on a train.

(P.S. Although this sounds like my last posting, it isn’t. Stay tuned for more as I share where my new train ride is taking me, what I am learning and what I feel called to do on this new ride!)

iPads Versus Chromebook: Its about your view of Education and learners!

What kind of learner are we creating in our schools today? Is it a learner who can memorize facts and do well on tests? If so, your choice of technology device would definitely be a Chromebook.

If the learner is someone who is creative, wanting to become a creator rather than a consumer, then Apple iPad is the way to go.

It really comes down to the philosophy of education you have as a parent or educator. Creative learning, or in the words of Alberta Education, development of competencies, invites us to reexamine just how effective technology is and if it meets the needs of the learner today.

“Apple has always targeted the type of customer that is looking to invest in creative technologies for learning while Chromebook have prioritized providing an affordable solution to bring digital productivity into classrooms and support online testing,” said Futuresource’s Ben Davis. “Our market data suggests that the U.S. market to date has prioritized digital productivity and testing rather than creativity. ” (

My passion has always been creativity. Each learner learns in a unique way. Gone are the days of ‘same soup’ for every child. We are now completely immersed in the inclusive community learner world and must seek tools and supports to provide the most effective differentiation possible. Yes, there are clear linear learners. We must also support those who learn through a creative response.

I struggle with educators/schools who see technology as merely a fancy word processor in the hands of students. Yes, word processing does help us to put in writing what we are thinking as students and learners. What happens when you have pictures in your mind needing to be meshed together in an iMovie with a storyline you have created which not only uses words but sound and feeling only a movie clip can do? You have still created the words, collected the data and ‘pictured’ in your mind how it should look. Once you have created this singular product, you are now able to demonstrate to others the learning taking place. Plus, it will be memorable due to the engagement and passion you experience during the creating stage.

The old adage – it’s not ‘what’ you taught students but ‘how you made them feel’ is what students remember. Lets help students to feel like creators. I believe the iPad is a leader over all other devices in this regard.