RVS Guest Author: Greg Bass, Superintendent of Schools – A six-year old steps up to bat in T-ball and invariably her coach tells her ‘keep your eye on the ball’. Metaphorically speaking, adults use this fundamental coaching statement to convey a message of ‘focus’. Compounded by folksy literature such as, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, what we appear to be saying to one another is ‘to stay focused on what really matters’.
On Thursday, Alberta’s provincial budget will be tabled. The rhetoric leading up to this budget has been unrelenting – by now we should all know the budget must address a $4B deficit and will demand a period of fiscal restraint in order to balance revenues and expenditures. It is easy for the average Albertan to be consumed by an expenditure vs. revenue debate, a resource dependent vs. diversified economy debate, or a public vs. private sector debate. Within this very polarizing set of discussions there also is the distractor of labor negotiations among five prominent provincial union groups. It has become very easy to become distracted – to take our eye off of the ball.
As we begin planning for the implementation of our dynamic strategic plan, The Power to Enrich- Year 3, we collectively must maintain our focus on the transformation of our system in the best interest of the 20,000 students we serve. Our work is in shifting teaching from knowledge dissemination to facilitation of knowledge construction, in preparing students for their future, and in building public trust. We have been empowered and been given the privilege to foster the next generation of leaders in a world that will face the most exciting opportunities in history, coupled with the most significant global challenges. In short, we must stay focused on what really matters.
So just like the girl swinging a bat at a ball, our focus must be laser-sharp. Just as this young athlete must block out all distractors (e.g. coaches, parents, teammates, friends, the sun, the field) and for that special moment only see the bat hit the ball, we must focus on the exchange between teacher and student within our classrooms and block out the white noise. Negotiations will continue, we will persevere the budget, and as in the past, we will emerge stronger together. And ultimately, no matter the distractors, no matter the organizations that want to see us slow down or fail, we will continue to be leaders of the transformation agenda because we have been entrusted with the duty to prepare youth for their future not our past, in a manner that does not resemble the past – if we do this right. And maybe, just maybe, our focus will enable us to hit a homerun!