Dear CAfLN friends and colleagues,
I find myself with very mixed emotions today. It’s a gorgeous sunny day, some down time is just around the corner, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with nature at our summer retreat on Georgian Bay. But before heading up there, I must travel to Staffordshire in the UK for the funeral of my dear father who would have turned 96 in July.
I share this with you because Dad always reminded me of the importance of human relationships. While he happily embraced new technologies – he learned to use a PC in his mid-eighties and wrote his memoirs, he also valued face-to-face interaction above all other means of communication. As long as he was able, we chatted on the phone every week. But what he most looked forward to were my bi-annual visits to see him – visits where we hugged, went for drives in the verdant Staffordshire countryside, and inevitably wound up at a pub for fish and chips and a beer!
While as CAfLN members, we necessarily rely upon digital communication for much of our work together, I cherish our opportunity to get together, face-to-face, at the annual conference and symposium. That is when I truly see and feel the passion and energy that you bring to education. This past May, many of us gathered at Queen’s University in Kingston to share learning, meet new colleagues, wrestle with challenges, exchange ideas, and of course, enjoy good food and a drink. During the symposium on Saturday, I watched with fascination as our Ontario members listened almost in disbelief, as their colleagues from British Columbia described the flexibility the Ministry of Education accorded them with respect to reporting:
“We can request not to use a report card at all, and instead, use e-portfolios for communication with parents.”
“You can??? Seriously???”
During the AGM which took place during the symposium, your CAfLN Executive asked for members to step up to fill a number of existing board positions, as well as volunteering to serve as regional representatives to help coordinate the expansion of our network across Canada. Lorna, Ken, and I had shared our concerns over breakfast that morning in terms of, ‘What should we do if no one volunteers?” What a foolish question! Hands shot up as we listed the various positions. Perhaps a number of you were inspired by our secretary, Denine Laberge’s passionate account of how joining CAfLN, and subsequently taking on a leadership role within our organization, has enriched her life in so many ways. Thanks again, Denine! Sure, we often get passionate during our Google Hangouts, but occasionally, it is so wonderful to be in the same room, with a group of diverse educators from right across the country, who share a passion for children and learning.
And so, while I know that many of us will connect on a regular basis during the next academic year, using an ever-expanding variety of social media, I encourage you to begin making plans to join us next Spring (date to be confirmed in September) in Halifax, Nova Scotia for our 4th Annual Conference and Symposium.
In the meantime, I wish you all a relaxing, healthy, and happy summer.
Damian Cooper, President of CAfLN