Tag Archives: courage

We are Half-Way: How’s Your #OneWordOnt?

In January, we asked educators, “What’s your ONE WORD for 2015?”.  In Ontario, we used #onewordont as a hashtag to collect the ideas, and Julie Balen created a word cloud to share.

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So how’s it going?  Six months in, is this word still a focus for your work?

Today I am thinking a lot about my word for 2015 – COURAGE.

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What does courage look like in practice?

Over the past six months, here are some places I have observed where courage is needed:

The courage to stop and not walk by.  If you are a leader and you just walk by, you say by your actions that “this is fine”.

The courage to take a chance on people.  I think of hockey players – talented players who flounder on one team, then thrive and lead on another.  Take a chance on people who may thrive in your organization while wilting in others.  Not all teams are right for all players.

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The courage to pick up the phone and call, rather than defaulting to an impersonal email message.

The courage to hire the right person, rather than the person who will make the fewest disruptions.

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The courage to let people rise up out of the little categories we put them in – to have a growth mindset about our coworkers and not just our students.

The courage to pick yourself up and dust yourself off again, and again, and again, because kids really do come first.

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The courage to give others a chance to be great.

It’s the courage to support failure as a part of learning not just in your words, but in your practice, especially when it comes to those you work with.

The courage to ask for feedback when you fail.

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In high scoring PISA nations, the courage and tenacity to stand up for what is best for children is valued and encouraged.

Earlier this year, Ron Canuel reminded us that being a connected leader is not enough.  You must also have the courage to use what you learn and move forward with change.

What have you learned by focusing on your #oneword this year?




What Am I Doing Here?

It’s the first morning of #OTRK12. 

There are over 80 workshops for educators to attend over the next 2 days, and some of those presenters are waking up this morning and asking themselves, “What am I doing here?”.

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Presenting can be scary.  It can be intimidating.  We, as educators, can be evaluative. We all want to do well.  It’s our culture.


What are you doing here?

You are modelling best practice.  You are sharing your learning.

You are enabling others to learn.

You are connecting learners.  You are enriching lives. You are demonstrating courage.

You are walking the talk. You are Leading Learning.


What are the rest of us doing here?

We are here creating a culture of learning – a place where it is safe to share, where sharing is valued, and where the people with the courage to share are encouraged and applauded for putting themselves in that vulnerable position for our benefit.

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We are nurturing all learners.

Congratulations, and thank you, to every single educator who has stepped forward today and tomorrow to share learning with the rest of us.

Image credits:

Fear –the Italian voice via Compfight cc

Courage – DimitraTzanos via Compfight cc


Lanterne Rouge

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Canadian Champion Road Cyclist Svein Tuft winning silver at the World Championships in 2008 (after flatting on the course)



Photo Credit: One-Fat-Man via Compfight cc

A friend once said to me, “I never expect much of anything. That way, I am never disappointed.”

It’s an odd way to live.  I would sooner set my sights very high, and learn to get over any hint of disappointment.

Reflecting on that makes me think about the reaction of most Canadians to sports.  As the mom of an elite athlete for more than a decade, I know how poorly Canadians support their athletes.  Many of my friends will pay hundreds of dollars to see a professional hockey game. This is more than most national level athletes are paid to live on for a full month. Yet, when the Olympics arrive, we expect medals!

When my son (Kyle Fry) was Mountain Bike racing, we travelled and raced with courageous, committed and talented athletes. Some sacrificed the cost of a hair cut to pay for a race entry.  They lived day to day, travelling across the nation five to a car, sleeping on friendly couches and getting a free meal when they could.


Photo Credit: OttoKristensen via Compfight cc

When Kyle switched to road racing, Svein Tuft became a model of what young riders could aspire too.  Tough, gritty, vehemently anti-doping, and fast! We watched Svein win numerous national titles, inspire Canadians with his 7th place finish in the ITT at the 2008 Olympics and his 2nd place finish at Worlds in 2008 – a remarkable finish considering Canada’s past history in the sport.

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Team Ontario prepares for the Team Time Trial at the Junior World Cup.

That brings us to this year’s Tour de France.  We were so pleased to hear that Svein would finally have an opportunity to ride in the 2013 Tour.  We celebrated when he helped his team win the TTT, and when Svein spoke in public about his thrill in working to help his team place so well, we knew it was truly from the heart.

Svein had an amazing 6th place finish in the ITT.  He fought his way through crashes, over mountains, and he never gave up.  He finished the Tour de France dead last – but he finished.

In cycling, finishing dead last is respectful, because you did not give up.  Cyclists call this the “lanterne rouge”.

Those who gave up did not finish, not even in last place.

Lanterne Rouge
from Wikipedia

How will the media spin this? How many jokes will Canadians make about finishing last? I hope that instead, Canadians take the time to learn about who Svein Tuft is, what he has accomplished, what he stands for, and what an powerful role model he is for our young cyclists.

I ask how many Canadians have ever finished the Tour, drug-free?

Svein Tuft is a strong, courageous man who makes me feel proud to be a Canadian.

Athletes like Svein Tuft that have earned our respect and our support.  We can learn a great deal from his character and his courage.

Update: Svein Tuft’s post-Tour interview with Canadian Cyclist: http://www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=26172