Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Exceeding Our Capacity

          I love the complexity of the English language, that a single word can have numerous connotations and nuances. "Capacity" is one such word. The dictionary provides several definitions for capacity, including:
  1. The maximum amount that something can contain.
  2. The amount that something can produce. 
  3. The innate potential for growth, development, or accomplishment.  
          With an ever expanding student population, it can certainly be argued that Sullivan Heights Secondary has reached its capacity. As a 'bricks and mortar' institution, there is quite literally no more room. Ever classroom, every common area, every portable and prep area is filled to the brim. Filled to capacity. And beyond. So that's definition #1 taken care of. 
          But here's the remarkable part. As we have reached the limits of the physical capacity of our building, the capacity of our staff has expanded exponentially. In the past several years, Sullivan Heights has undergone significant growth and transition. In an earlier blog post "Transforming Challenge into Innovation", I reflected on the remarkable resiliency of our school community to adapt and thrive despite challenging circumstances.  http://teachergarr.blogspot.ca/2014/04/transforming-challenge-into-innovation.html
          This year, with a student population of over 1400, our teaching staff has grown significantly as well. Fortunately, with the continued support of our administration, our Learning Partners department, which facilitates peer-mentoring, collaboration and teacher inquiry has also expanded this year. I am pleased to say that our team now consists of eighteen members, from ten different departments. Some of our members are veteran educators, moving through their last few years before retirement, whereas others are new to the profession, embarking on their first year of teaching. Our team also reflects an impressive range of skills sets and interests. And it is within this context that the last two definitions of capacity are key. Because our additional students require additional support. And in order to meet the diverse and complex social, emotional and educational needs of our students, our teachers also need support. 
          And so, despite reaching, even exceeding, the physical capacity of our building, the capacity of our teaching staff to support one another is seemingly limitless. Even with an enormously challenging start to the school year, these eighteen individuals have volunteered to make themselves available to their colleagues as mentors, collaborators and facilitators of teacher inquiry. I feel remarkably privileged to work alongside educational professionals who are dedicated to supporting their fellow teachers as they rise to the challenge of meeting the diverse educational needs of our ever expanding student population. 
          Without a doubt, Sullivan Heights has reached, even exceeded, its physical capacity. We are a school community that is experiencing tremendous growth, with all of its associated challenges: burgeoning classrooms, crowded hallways and stretched resources. But with the continued, combined support of our teachers, administrators, support staff, students, parents and community partners, I would argue that in fact the "capacity" of our school may indeed be, limitless. 


          

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