My first day – #OutstandingPrincipals Learning

I’ll start off by saying I’m humbled and a little shell-shocked to be where I am right now. I’m in a room with 39 other Canadian principals as lucky as I am. We’re in a room that, over the next 5 days, will be filled with some of the top business and education leaders in the country. They’ll be my teachers at Rotman’s School of Management for The Learning Partnership‘s “Canada’s Outstanding PrincipalsTM” 5-day executive program. Because of a successful nomination submitted by staff member Cathy Dykstra and supported by parents, students, community members and supervisors, I get to hang out here and learn. To quote Adam Sandler, “Not too shabby.”

I made a commitment before leaving for this once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’d blog about my experience daily. I’m going to try and honour that commitment, one made easier by the fact that I typical rise by the crack of dawn if I lived somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. One made a little harder by the fact that our days are jam-packed both professionally and socially. I’m also going to state now that any misquotes, errors, blunders or missteps are mine. They’re all part of the learning process. I doubt any will be fatal. 🙂

I won’t share it all. Some things will need time to digest and won’t make their way here. Others need to be left for those blessed enough to attend in future years to discover on their own. Still more are part of an already trusting group of co-consultors and reside inside an unbreakable cone of silence.  My plan is to share here in the same way I would have shared in this space in the past: to provide food for thought, to share some of my reflections and questions and to make my own learning as visible as possible. I expect that of my staff. I expect it of my students. I’ll try and lead by example. I invite you to comment and share your own learning.

The first words that resonated with me were from Rod Thompson, Director of Executive Leadership for The Learning Enterprise. It wasn’t that those who spoke before him were any less inspiring. We had heard from Akela Peoples, President and CEO of The Learning Partnership and Jon Powell, the National Program Manager for the Canada’s Outstanding Principals program, two key people in this experience from whom I am sure to learn a lot. I was just a little too overwhelm to take much in.

Rod mentioned that 65% of the Canadian economy is based on small business and the entrepreneur. That struck me. That statement was followed shortly by two statements shared by Prof. Joseph D’Cruz of Rotman’s which I’ll paraphrase. He reminded us that manufacturing, once a large economic sector in this country has changed forever. He reminded us that China will soon surpass the United States as the largest economy on the planet. The Economist states that this will happen by 2021. His question is one I have been wrestling with for a long time. “Are we preparing our students for the world of tomorrow?”

Our afternoon also included a Marshmallow Challenge which saw many of us break a ‘non-disclosed’ rule and attach our marshmallows to the ceiling. I defined that as ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. Others defined it as failure. 🙂

Marshmallow challege

Lucy Martin, Social Media specialist, opened many more principals to the world of Twitter. She made a powerful statement about businesses being irrelevant if they are not using social media. She then asked if schools can afford to be irrelevant i that regard as well. I was able to personally connect with people I already followed. Fellow ‘tweep’ Lea Lamoureux and I are going to offer a lunch-time tweet up (thank for the inspiration, Jenn Apgar) for those who want a little more help getting there.

But that question… “Are we preparing our students for the world of tomorrow?”… that’s the one. That’s the hook on which I am going to hang all future learning over the next five days. I believe it is the lens through which I will view other learning.

Monday’s schedule looks a little daunting. Which business leader do you think I might learn a little from? 🙂

Day 1

3 thoughts on “My first day – #OutstandingPrincipals Learning

  1. Hi Peter,

    Congratulations on a well deserved and obviously very exciting / unique opportunity! Hearing these speakers will certainly give you a different perspective on the ‘real world’ and I’m looking forward to reading more of your reflections. I’ve recently made a commitment to enter the blogosphere myself so I will use your posts as further motivation to honour my commitment. Have a great week! ~ Scott

    1. Thanks, Scott. Please let me know when you start your blog. I already learn tons from you on Twitter. Can’t imagine your blog would be any different. 🙂


      1. Hi Peter. Thanks for the kind words and the feeling is definitely mutual. I was extremely envious seeing the agenda for your day and am looking forward to reading more about it as the week goes on. I just ‘launched’ my blog today at, so if you get a chance, please check it out. Have a great week!

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