Seeking Skill and Excellence Outside our Comfort Zone

For those of you who follow the school’s Youtube channel, you may have noticed this week that I have been officially indoctrinated as one of the pilots of our new video drone. I can’t tell you how excited I was (little did I know how challenging it would be to learn how to fly it)! As adults, we sometimes forget how daunting learning can be. Within our professions we are wired to “know everything” in our field of practice—there is a comfort in knowing a subject or topic really well, to have an “area of expertise” and to stay within it. When you dare to step outside of your comfort zone, and try something new, it can be intimidating.

So, there I was on Tuesday morning, queued up to try, watching the school’s beloved photographer, Simon Spivey, as he deftly flew the new video drone. He made it look effortless as he expertly maneuvered the craft around the trees and guided it safely back to the ground with a soft touch (with four propellers it is surprisingly agile and sensitive!). It was my turn next and while other adults surrounded me, it was as though I was completing a test—could Struan fly the drone and not fly it into a tree?

There I was learning something new…and I was being watched—it was a little scary!

In the end, I flew the drone the length of Lefevre Field and managed to land it without incident. I smiled and made it look like it was no big deal. Inside I was very thankful for not completely embarrassing myself in front of others. Yes, I was laughing, but really I was deeply relieved.

I tell this story as a reminder to all of us who teach. When we ask our students to step outside their comfort zone, take a chance and try something new, it is not always that simple. It takes courage and resiliency. Something many of our students (and staff!) practise every day and others need a little support with. My hope is that, like Simon was for me with the video drone, we all find the support we need to continue learning new things and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

From personal experiences like learning to fly a new drone, to community-wide learning experiences such as understanding our strengths and weaknesses as a school, there are many opportunities for us to grow. LCS will be celebrating such an opportunity  in the coming week when it welcomes the CAIS Accreditation Visiting Committee this Sunday, April 19. Every seven years, LCS participates in the CAIS accreditation review process. CAIS provides the evaluation and accreditation of a school’s overall program and educational environment. Schools are evaluated in terms of their own mission, vision and values and in terms of CAIS’ Standards for Accreditation of Schools.

The school community has been deeply committed, over the past 15 months, to preparing an internal report (evaluation) of our strengths and areas for growth. The process of reviewing LCS through the lens of the 12 CAIS standards was exhaustive. We created 12 teams (one for each standard) comprised of every member of our staff. We engaged board members, alumni, parents and students in feedback sessions.  One of the powerful learnings, for me, was seeing how well members of our staff collaborated in areas that were not necessarily their expertise. It demonstrated a deep love for the school, and desire to ensure LCS is on the right track three years in to our strategic plan Our Way | More Intentionally Lakefield. 

So, we are looking forward to welcoming the seven members of the visiting committee whose work validates the findings in the school’s own report and provides recommendations and suggestions for school improvement.  This is an important part of the school’s commitment to continuous school improvement and learning as an organization. The committee will be at the school until Wednesday, April 22 and we look forward to the learning opportunity it provides and the sense of accomplishment we are certain will accompany their visit.