Do you have a passion for education? Do you believe all children should have a chance to be at their best? If so, this podcast is a must listen. I sit down with educational leadership expert, former Assistant Deputy Minister of Education in New Brunswick, Chris Treadwell to glean insights into how we can create a world-class education system from the ground up.
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Chris Treadwell 0:00
People are doing the best they can with what they have. That's just the way it is. And then I'll come along and say your test scores suck and you got to do better, we're going to shut you down. People are trying their best what they need is help, not condemnation and not threats and not that kind of stuff. So really, what I'd like to see is a continuous network of successful schools, helping one another and moving it forward organically rather than somebody from the top saying, I'm gonna do this next year. Here's a new program, you better do it right or else you know. And so I think system change comes from networking and allowing people to help one another.
Stuart Murray 0:41
Welcome to episode number eight of the connected movement podcast. I'm your host, Steve Murray. Are you disillusioned with our old outdated systems and stories? Are you tired of the growing polarization in society? So am I my aim is to engage in and unpack conversations with people from all walks of life as a means of CO creating a way forward for humanity. Today's guest is Chris Treadwell. Chris Treadwell believes education is everyone's business. Chris recently retired from public education after more than 30 years dedicated to the professional, though he is still actively involved in consulting and public engagement around moving education forward, both in the public and private sector. And his former role as Assistant Deputy Minister for New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Education, Chris oversaw the Anglophone public education system, leading an executive team responsible for the education of over 68,000 children from preschool all the way through to grade 12, a former elementary, middle and high school principal, Chris is a strong advocate for educational change from the ground up through empowering talented educators to bring creative and innovative teaching methods to their classroom to advance student learning. I really hope you enjoy this episode and before we dive in a thank you to our sponsor, Karen Phytoplankton. Many daily discomforts are the result of malnourishment, you may be malnourished, if you crash in the afternoon, you have digestive issues, you get lots of headaches, have trouble sleeping, you have muscle or joint pain, have trouble concentrating and so on. The good news is the right supplementation can help with this. I've personally benefited from using Karen Phytoplankton, which has helped me find more energy in the afternoons and beat that crash. You can find Karen Phytoplankton products at Costco locations or online at the Karen project.ca. Without further ado, let's dive in.
I was wondering, what was your pole initially to enter education, what brought you to education in the first place?
Chris Treadwell 3:01
It started with a great desire to learn and growing up I'd love to learn and love to read. So it was a logical step to be involved in education. I was always a reader and I it's always curious and a lot to learn. However, I never liked school, the fact that hated the place. And so it was really interesting where a person who really wanted to know more and to contribute to society did not see school as being the place to help them achieve that. I like school because of the sports I played and the relationships I hid there. But I wanted to education kind of kind of inadvertently, I was doing a master's at Queens in history. And I had a teaching assistantship. And I really enjoyed doing that. And I've learned that I've actually liked to teach not just a to learn. And so when I got out of university, I became a political foreman. And that was a great learning experience, I can tell you and working with senior men and having to be responsible for the operation of a pulp mill and all the challenges and leadership opportunities you have there. But I found that it didn't really self actualize me. And I thought back to my experience as a teaching assistant when I was doing the masters at Queens, and I felt that that would be a career for me where I could link a passion of mine to a skill. I'd gotten good feedback from the professors in my in my teaching assistantship. So one day it was the middle of August, was built to go on the Late Night Shift and about an hour before I called you and B just stood up a women said I'd like to get into your education program. And somehow I don't know how but they let me in at that time of year. And so it was kind of a combination of a push and a pull the pull being towards something I had a passion for and the skill as I say, and a push away from a career in a pulp mill where I didn't feel so back to life, despite the fact that I was making really good money as a foreman on a pulp mill. And so education, education filled the need in my life, it addressed the passion, and it gave me a chance to contribute to society. So it was a lot of things came together just just to align properly, as opposed to one thing that made me a teacher.
Stuart Murray 5:20
That's interesting. And you mentioned that you didn't really like school growing up, what was that? What? Why didn't you like school so much?
Chris Treadwell 5:28
What I found was that the prescribed curriculum was so much irrelevant to what I really wanted to learn it was, you know, you fit yourself into the curriculum, if you do fine, if you don't, well, it's tough luck. And I knew a lot of people were really quite bright, but didn't fit into that curriculum. And so when I became an educator, particularly a principal, I moved towards personalized learning. So that when you personalize you do it through pacing, kids can move at their own pace, and address experiential learning opportunities and things that interest them. And so from my own experience, I translated that into what what other kids like, and I had a successful career trying to institute that into learning environments, because it provided success in the schools that I was in. And so my own experience kind of laid the foundation for not just trying to maintain the status quo of teaching the curriculum, but understanding that people like me who love to learn, and actually I did well, in school, I used to win awards for whatever. But how could it be that somebody wanted to learn, didn't like it. So it allowed me to reflect and say, I want to do things differently.
Stuart Murray 6:41
Interesting. So when you went into teacher college and started doing that did was your initial experiences really aligned with where you wanted to go with education.
Chris Treadwell 6:52
I didn't understand what I wanted to be as a teacher when I first went in to educate education program. And I was like, most people, I was doing what they told me, it wasn't really until I got into the to the system, I only thought for three years before I became a principal. And by being forced into having to run things, you reflect and say, well, now I've got an opportunity to do what I think is right, because before I was maintaining the status quo, how could it be a better teacher and just teaching this the status quo curriculum, but as a principal, I thought, well, maybe we'll take some risks, and maybe we'll do things differently. And we'll work together to to achieve that. And I found that that were there were some teachers who really liked that they thought that that's why they want the teacher really wanted to see inspired kids and do things that were really cool. And not just maintain discipline, and you know, browbeat kids into submission. So there was a group of people that were prepared to try that. So I, my first role as a principal was for two years in high school. Then I went to Heartland High School for eight years. And that became one of 20 exemplary high schools by the Canadian education association. So they chose 20 high schools across Canada. And we submitted all the things we did, and we were selected. So they studied us for a month, they come in and they wrote a report on it, I went to a book. And one of the key things, as far as feedback goes with that the staff was probably a third, a third, a third, you know, there were a third who would be against a third who were kind of, you know, whatever, but a third who were really inspired to do that. And it taught me that the critical mass does not have to be over 50%, just fine, people are going to be keen and aligned with the culture and the vision, and didn't get a lot of things done. And so over the years, I become more effective and understanding and how to relate to teachers who didn't really understand what I was trying to do when I was I became a principal 29. And so the the thing was, how do I get better at creating that culture so that all teachers could be feeling proud of it. So I have great feelings about Heartland high school and all the teachers that are they all taught me something was a fantastic experience. And after 31 years of being an educator, I'd do things differently. But no, no great regrets. So just try to find more effective ways to bring everybody on board. That's
Stuart Murray 9:21
so interesting. So 29 in your principalship I mean that what a rare phenomena that is and being such a young person in that lead people who had been perhaps in these in the institution for 20 plus years, so I'm sure
Chris Treadwell 9:35
that you just that's what's the case. I mean, it's always an issue of credibility and trust, right. And so I didn't have a whole lot of years teaching experience. So it was difficult to establish that and but one of the key things was that having worked as a pulp mill foreman, and I was 22 when it took that job, and so talk about a challenge because I was working in a large mill in the mirror machine and I was working with men had been there a long time and they didn't suffer fools, well, especially young fools. And so they also taught me a lot about how to lead how to get things done. And I think when I was looked at to accept the principal's role, I think that counted for a lot of I could run a shift and the pulp mill, people thought that maybe I could could run a school. And it's interesting that they had faith in me. And because of that belief of those people inspired me to do my best because I valued their vision, and I valued the idea they had confidence in me. So that was a very uplifting moment when I was given that job.
Stuart Murray 10:38
So did you come in guns blazing? When you were at the heartland High School? Did you have this vision to affect those changes to start to personalize things? And, and if so, you know, you mentioned that breakdown of the third, third and third, did that start to create some protection?
Chris Treadwell 10:55
Well, prior to grant to Heartland, high school's principal for two years at Graham and and, and that taught me a lot too. And in that particular school, I came in and tried to make changes without the necessary awareness of how you create cultural change. And so but it was still a great learning experience with some wonderful teachers down there a great community and getting all these opportunities gave me a chance to, to grow. So at Heartland, I did try to do things. And to your point about the conflict, they report, and I was there eight years, or seven or eight years before we won that award. And in the report, they did talk about the friction on staff, between people with different visions. And so the the school moved and became successful. Even the people who were not seeing the vision the same way I did, they still contributed to the school. They were good teachers, they did their thing. But the big issue was, and I didn't really articulate it as well at the time as it would now. There has to be collective efficacy. And the collective efficacy is not just about each individual teacher being great, because that's that's the foundation they every teacher has to be good teacher, but are we all working together on the same page secrete the same vision. And that idea of vision, creating and the idea of every decision going back to what we say we agree in collective efficacy, we're all developing the skills, not about not just $1 individual talents, but are we all working together for the good of the system, became a learning experience. When I went to the principal to other schools. After that, I learned that you really have to have every thing you do working towards a common goal of what is it we are trying to do? Each individual teacher being at their best, it's that and more.
Stuart Murray 12:46
And what why do you Chris is that so important to have that as a starting point like that collective vision, that common goal that can help lead towards a collective.
Chris Treadwell 12:55
I've learned that through educational research, but also through experience, if you don't have the common goal, the schools atomize they go, they break off into congenial groups or you know, you want a school to be congenial, but moreso collegial. And if your school is really congenial, at the expense of being collegial, in fact, you get a really happy place to be, but nothing much is happening. So we really wanted to make it clear that there were there was to be regular and professional development, the people were there to all help us work together. And so by the time I got to Park Street, I was clear on that. And so that when we work with professional development, we we kind of categories that various people go to work in, but it wasn't a free for all, they had to choose areas that they could work in that were under the realm of where the whole school was going. And that allowed for peer coaching, team teaching and things of that nature. Because if the whole staff was not moving towards something collectively, even if you do peer teaching, or peer coaching team teaching, it still could be pulling you away from your key goals. So the idea of having an institution that's all where everybody's clear where you're going, and everybody's being helped to get there is really important if you're going to move a school along, as opposed to the whole other really good teachers doing their own thing.
Stuart Murray 14:11
Where does that vision come from? Is that something that each school ought to be focusing on and working together? And what what role does the district in the department play in influencing that vision?
Chris Treadwell 14:23
Well, the district should have the same focus, a district should have certain key aspects that they want the district to achieve, but then it needs to be contextualized based on the context of every particular school, right? And so you have that overarching umbrella that the district is supporting. And then you have the local context. And a lot of us centers around your school improvement plans and really around your school review. So when you when you do a review and you collect the data, and if the if the instrument is good, and it's telling you that you've got strengths and weaknesses, then you use that data to say to the teachers, we this is an area of weakness, whatever it is, how can we all work to gather to get there because you for the credibility of the vision need to have data to show, there's a sense of urgency and as a reality there. And so when you do the school reviews and use the instrument, you get the data back, then what one of the key things a district can do to help you is to resource it. So in a lot of situations, you get a school review, and you get the data back. And and then people just say, Okay, fine, it really should be embedded in your school improvement plan, that you go off to district office and district office should resource the areas in that particular school that need help. So in other words, it's not read school as a standalone, but the collaborative process that moves up the line.
Stuart Murray 15:38
Yeah, very interesting. And I'm wondering, given that you've spent so much time as a principal, but also, you know, as a teacher, and then in your, your latter years up at the departmental level, what do you think the role is of a principal, in school or in education?
Chris Treadwell 15:57
The big issue of the principle is to create the environment where your teachers and kids can be successful. And the key issue is certainly its input about the teaching, but there really shows about the learning, you can be having a lot of inputs and say, Well, I'm doing all this stuff. But if the data doesn't say the kids are learning, you better take a look at that. So we know that the principles impact on learning is is through the teachers. It's not direct, it's an indirect impact, but it's still a huge one. And so they're all the principles should be to help take the data to create that that collective vision of where the sense of urgency needs to be, and then provide the resources on the environment of the culture to make sure the teachers and kids can be supported to, to do that. So I wouldn't be in the classroom teaching kids, but I'd be making sure that the teacher had the proper resources, the proper professional development, that the kids are well behaved, the school was a great culture to learn. And if you can provide that, that environment, that culture, then you really can unleash your teachers, providing the teachers know where they're going, and that the teachers have the resources to do that.
Stuart Murray 17:07
There very interesting. Yeah, I I totally agree. And I've heard at times, kind of the analogy of principals being mentioned almost as a as the warden or the gatekeeper. And I really hearing you talk makes me think more so of that climate control, and helping to create the right conditions for both the teachers and the students and the rest of the staff to to be able to thrive and flourish in that environment.
Chris Treadwell 17:32
Well, that's a good point, Stuart, that that is true. And for the most part that is CO created with the staff and the actually the community and in some cases, the kids, where everybody's working together, the clearer you are on the vision, the clearer it is that it is CO created, then you have that ownership. Every once in a while you got to sit people down and say we're doing this. And over my 31 years as a principal, occasionally, I'd have to go to a staff meeting say this is happening, I have to trust my own judgment. And it primarily happened. Not when there was a crisis. Everybody realize you got to do something about a crisis. But I found that in Jim Collins talks about his his book, Good to Great, Good is the enemy of great. And I've seen where we had data that showed that one part of the school is doing really well and not another. So the fact that the other part was doing good. They were not motivated. But other parts of school were doing great. We made a change at one of the schools that what Park Street and we move to to the non graded aspect and literacy numeracy, because we had to do something to work together because it's very difficult to teach those prime classes all kinds of EAs and needs in the classroom. So we made a structural change. And our test scores shot up into the fact to the point where it was a challenge to the emergent teacher, so they were good teachers and doing good results. But if Good is the enemy of great, that was a classic case, because then we sat down the emergent teachers and said, Well, you're doing this because the data says that we can. So you know, if I learned something from Collins book Good to Great, there's a lot of truth to that Good is the enemy a great,
Stuart Murray 19:14
very interesting. You've mentioned Park Street a few times now and I know even myself going through teacher college and learning about the education system. Park Street has often been cited as, as a model school. And I know that as largely largely due to a lot of the seeds you had planted during your time there as principal and could you speak to some of the changes that you put in place or collectively with the staff? Obviously, you helped create that vision but can you speak to some of that?
Chris Treadwell 19:45
Yeah, and I'd like to start by going back a little bit because every school I was at taught me something. So by the time I got the park I was there 19 years the other schools I was at and the teachers in the schools. Were all great instructors for me as what could do better. Because remember, by the time I got the product I'd had like, for 13 years as a principal. So there was a lot of learning opportunities in my case. And so when I got there, I was clear on what it was I wanted to do. So one of the key things is always believe that people are most important natural resources. So every kid needs to reach a potential. And I saw many circumstances that was not happening. So when I went the park, I was talking about how can we make sure that every kid reaches their potential, so we're always teaching at the zone of proximal development when it comes to the cognitive side of it. So kids are always in that in that zone. And that meant that you had to break through grade levels. Because a lot of kids are below grade level, or a lot of kids are above grade level. So we had to find flexible groupings. Want to talk about flexible groupings, I'm not talking about not talking about streaming, streaming is the idea that you put kids into a stream based on ability, I never used the middle, they always used achievement, because achievement is based on hard work and effort. So you, if you work harder, you can move up the ladder, so to speak, and you can achieve more in an ability grouping people have levelled you it's, you're not going to come out of that you're stuck. And so it takes away from that effort to to work harder, because it won't make a difference. But in six week blocks of achievement, kids can really get feedback and move through the system. So we moved the flexible group into the idea we wanted to personalize and be personalized based on on the cognitive level and the pace of what the kids could work at their interests. We worked on experiential learning as much as we could. And we looked at various ways to assess it. It's my belief that as critical as numeracy and literacy are, and they are foundational to learning, you have to expand the definition of educational success beyond those two subjects. And as you know, it's a cliche, but what gets measured gets taught. And because really, we only measure literacy, numeracy. I mean, that's such a big, big issue. But we approached we move towards a whole lot of other things. We had the only orchestra in elementary schools in New Brunswick, and that wasn't a band was an orchestra, it had strings and we'd looked at kids involved. We had Duke of Edinburgh Award, we worked with that organization, they only go down to age 14, but they did a project with us to go down much lower. We did mindfulness, we had the seven habits of highly effective people and Stephen Covey actually visited Park Street School, we had student led clubs. In other words, we found many ways to address the the multiple intelligences. And so what happened was kids who may have been only mediocre didn't have much of a passion for literacy or numeracy, but had great interpersonal skills or loved music or want to run their own clubs. And by the way, the student led clubs was a fantastic way of having experiential learning. And so we remade the curriculum, the the approach that, let's say for every kid find their purpose in life and so on, sometimes they don't know that, but they have to find it. And the school was helping them to do that. And their purpose has changed today, they might want to be a hairdresser tomorrow, they might want to be mechanical knows. But point being is that the school was not just about regimented instruction, putting kids into that status quo and making them do the curriculum, we moved to the concept of the kid as a curriculum, and tried to find ways to everybody reached the potential, not just in literacy and numeracy as critical as that is, but in other ways that kids might have success in life and have a sense of purpose.
Stuart Murray 23:38
It's so interesting. There's some massive shifts there. And just for everyone listening, I think it's important to know that you're not talking about even a middle school like this is a K to five, right?
Chris Treadwell 23:48
Yeah, so that's why kids in grade one, when we went to non greater than literacy and numeracy are taking the top math, in literacy numeracy in the school, which was beyond grade five, and there in grade one, it just showed me the low expectations we often have of certain kids, and the idea that artificial seems like grades, hold kids back. So if teachers can, my experience with teachers is that the vast majority of teachers really want to do well, I have not had that experience where the school system or the teaching profession sucks. That's not been my experience at all. I do find that sometimes people are caught in the paradigm that the goal is just to make the presents situation better. And they do it incrementally. And that's great. We have to do that. But when you can break the system open. That's why I'm an admirer of high tech guy in the States and other I want to see in Edmonton where they had these magnet schools and charter schools where you can innovate and see what happens. And so I'm a big I'm a big believer in that because I think teachers know what's going on. They can think for themselves and given an opportunity to take some risks and given an opportunity where the principal creates an environment where he can resource cool things. help teachers help themselves by getting into PA you're coaching and team teaching where there's a lot of collaboration, you can move the school really fast, because teachers, once they're empowered, can do a lot of great things. So my feeling was to do that, rather than just say, Okay, we're gonna get better at doing the same old, same old.
Stuart Murray 25:15
So how did that start? I mean, there were some massive changes, getting rid of, you know, moving away from the grades and these different models. How did that initial process look like? Like, how did you start to create these transformations within the school,
Chris Treadwell 25:28
it didn't happen overnight. And it happened because we continue to create momentum. So we had success at this success at that we just keep layering things on top of each other. And what happened was, there was credibility and trust created between the administration staff and teacher to teacher and really school a community. Because people had the backups, I remember the night that we had the big public meetings about going to non graded the literacy and numeracy and, you know, a lot of people showed up, because this had to be done in the spring, and that people know what the kids are getting into. And you kind of hear that there's going to be some rumblings in the parents, because that was, that was a word that got back to me. Some there in front of in the cafeteria, speaking all these parents and you leverage your previous success. So it was just one thing after another, and I can't remember which initiative followed the other. But by the time we got around to flexible groupings, we had enough credibility and trust in society that the parents trusted the teachers to do what's right for their kids. And that's what parents want, right. So we also have worked very closely with the community. And I've learned as a principal more and more to do that. And I became more effective at that over the years. And even in high school, Heartland high school, I started a homeschool movement, recognizing the importance of the community in the school, because oftentimes, schools try to shut the community out. Big mistake, that's a big mistake, because you need to leverage community assets. And parents who feel comfortable in the school who feel welcome, who find the schools transparent, are far more willing to support school innovations and initiatives than parents who feel that it's only a top down from the District Department of Education. And it's a bureaucracy rather than a, a communal approach. I mean, all learning in in the communities is neighborhood. And so you really want the neighborhood community to understand that the school feels as part of that community rather than just the bureaucracy.
Stuart Murray 27:34
I couldn't agree more. And I, I see so often that it's like, okay, this new vision comes out, or the new plan comes out, be that from the department or the district or the school and teachers, I can speak to that, because I've been in that position, often feel like they're just being told and dictated what to do. And just like a kid, right? It's like, well, we ought to start with why we're doing these things. And so that we know that we, like you said earlier that shared vision, that common goal, because as you said, once these people are empowered, and they're moving towards that, be it the teachers, be it the parents and the community members, when we're inspired to change, it seems like our risk tolerance goes up, our engagement goes up, our involvement goes up, were much more willing to work as a team to uphold these things. And I'm sure as a principal, you would also notice, the amount of force and friction required to affect change would probably decrease.
Chris Treadwell 28:31
That's very true. You're you're betting on one of the key things is that there's an argument that the the system doesn't really see teachers as being professional. In fact, they're being told what to do by people at the top, where teachers are respected for the professionalism for their knowledge, and, and when you can leverage that, in fact, that's where you start to get a big change. And I highly respect the teachers professionalism, because saying, every school I've been at, I've been amazed that even people didn't agree with my approach, that the contribution they made to the school, the extra hours, they put in the things they did. And so that idea of teaching or treating teachers as a profession needs to be really enhanced in the system, because they've got a lot to contribute. I would say the system, you know, across North America is really top down and no child left behind in the states of the total disaster and and we're trying to dig ourselves out from that even from the Race to the Top of Obama. I think we do have to have an understanding that we need to empower teachers, listen to them more and treat them more as professionals than as a people just employees.
Stuart Murray 29:44
Absolutely. Yeah. Just like our children, right. If we, if we were able to do the same with the kids that we serve, rather than Well, I'm here to shove you full of information that I think that could unlock some pretty powerful things in our classrooms.
Chris Treadwell 29:58
Well in the value of The idea is that you get people believing in what they're doing, they feel proud of a team proud of something they've co created, we're all in this together. And then you get peer pressure to keep it going. Because everybody's is expected to contribute. If you don't do that, you get resentful teachers, to your point about if you continually come from a meeting from somewhere on top, where people are saying, okay, teachers will do this and do that, and they've had no input. Pretty soon, they just shut their doors, do whatever they always did, and, you know, maybe, maybe just for optics purposes, pretend. But teachers have a lot of power just to ignore what's going on. Because once they shut the door, that, you know, it's, it's their world, so to speak. So I tried to change that, the more you do flexible groupings, and the more you have peer coaching and teen teaching and peer mentoring, the more that people working together, because the the isolation that teachers face is a block towards moving the system forward. So you got to overcome that that structural block, one teacher, one classroom, to find ways to work together. So if you have a school where people are not on the same wavelength, even having people work together, it's not doesn't work, because the collaboration is not going somewhere together. So there's, there's a number of things that have to take place. And I don't, it's very difficult to train principals to do that, but they need to be. And so principals need help. They're also in a tough situation, again, the vast majority, I know, I really want that the schools to do well. But it's not easy creating change, I think we really have to have a strong principal training program, where not only is there a very effective selection process, like who should be leading schools and why that needs to be there, then there needs to be a really strong program to train these principles. And then thirdly, they need coaching themselves. Like if it's just a credential system, you go in to get your principal certificate, or a few courses and the way you go, but nobody believes that you still have to work with people, because it's a real difficult job changing the school. So if you take a look at what Linda darling Hammond has done, she, she's identified six or seven of the best principal training programs in the United States. And they're powerful things, and they aren't one and done type of thing. So there's all kinds of opportunities for peer coaching to go into the system and be supported, rather than getting your credential going away and trying to change the school.
Stuart Murray 32:29
That's I guess, you just touched on a lot of what I wanted to actually ask about being a principal and in that leadership position is like, how do we create a system where teachers feel more respected? feel like they're trusted to be able to take their diversity and take those challenges? And, and perhaps, you know, as a parallel to that, what is professional development and look like as we move forward?
Chris Treadwell 32:50
Yeah, I think it starts with a mindset, like what is public education trying to achieve? And so if teachers are just trying to raise test scores, and you know, there's a lot of stress to do that. I don't think that motivates a whole lot of teachers. I mean, they're conscientious they do, make sure that teach the curriculum and things are covered. But covering doesn't mean kids have learned, you know, I've been in many a staff meeting prior to report cards and people saying, well, I gotta cover this before, you know, before the report cards out, and, and then the in good conscience can say they've done it, but whether kids learn or retain anything is, is an issue. So I think you have to really start with that kind of collective efficacy or collective identity. What are we trying to do as a staff? How, how do we become effective in doing that? I think Hattie now has collective efficacy as the most important trait that we should be looking at, right? And that doesn't happen without somebody really knowing what they're doing. So I think principals need to be trained. I think the teachers need to be trained, say, okay, maybe you're teaching chemistry, or maybe you're teaching literacy, but the fact you're part of a team in the school, and start to change the whole idea of how we run an institution like a school. There are classic examples are in very good schools in this province. And like in Fredericton, there are no bad schools, some are just better than others. And so I think there needs to be a clear understanding of higher education needs to move forward, be more intentional how we train principals, and teachers, and then provide that kind of coaching. If you take a look at the really good organizations, I just read a book on Southwest Airlines. I mean, they have a huge amount of time put into people working together and the idea of relational trust and the idea of having their supervisors not there just to catch bad apples, but to work there to support everybody. And I think there needs to be a lot more support for teachers growth. And I don't mean when you talk about professional development, development. We all know about the drive by shootings where people go for PD day and then that's it. Again, nobody believes that works. There's a need for awareness. So yes, there may be need to PD day and their professional learning day whatever and have it so that people Understand, but then after that, people have to come back and they need to get the coaching. That's a big flaw in the system right now we don't coach Joycean showers back in the 80s, we're talking about that. You can do all the PD, you want, people go back and attended to the same thing because it become less competent. When you try something new for a period of time, your executive control is not as good. So people just give up and go back to the tried and true, unless there is coaching. Me coaching and team teaching and collaborative approaches where it's not one teaching one classroom need to be the new structure. And you take a look at the business world, people collaborate all over the place. And so leaving one teacher on plasma is not a model where you're going to get the most effective way of professional learning.
Stuart Murray 35:46
Has, it's interesting to even you think about how kids are answering tests and doing these things like oh, well, you got that answer from from somebody else. So Well, that can't be good, right? It's like, well, I that's just not the reality that we need moving forward, it is a lot more about how we can communicate and collaborate well with others be at it as our peers when we're young, or all the way through and this idea of you know, there's no shame and standing on the shoulders of giants. In fact, that's, that's really how will we will create greatness is by building on the experiences and examples people have set before us.
Chris Treadwell 36:52
Well, you're right. And so the even the PISA assessments now are taking look at how do you how do you assess collective engagement. Because in the whole world, I mean, my wife works for IBM, and she works on a team, and they're from all over the world, if you don't have those skills, and if you take a look at Fulham and his 60s, and whatever collaboration is a big one of them, right. And so, in today's world, because you've got the amount of knowledge that the computer has at your fingertips, the teacher being the dispenser of knowledge is no longer the model, we're talking about the fact that the teacher's role now is to help the kid to learn how to take all the knowledge they have at their fingertips and make sense of it. That's one of the huge goals of public education. And so you don't have people going on the internet and being blindsided by stuff. That's not true. There's a whole set of competencies that allow you to take the information and apply it in a real life setting in a real way. Because if you don't, I mean, people are going to play with your mind, they're going to use the internet to to create terrible things. And, and so I hope the teachers are working towards that so that it's no longer distribution of knowledge, but the application of it in real life settings.
Stuart Murray 37:32
Yeah. And in from my background in environmental studies, we use an approach when we're doing strategic planning called backcast. And where we actually look to our future scenario. So say we want something 20 years down the road, we would look ahead and say, Well, what does that look like without any, you know, step outside of the box step outside of the existing constraints, the existing reality? And let's imagine where we want to be in 20 years? And what does that look like? And so really focusing on that vision first, and then looking back to where we are and saying, Okay, well, now, what are the steps we need to take to get there? And I think there's probably a significant amount of value in that where that might be one tool to help us break out of the paradigm paralysis of, well, we're just doing the same thing, walking backwards into tomorrow, because we're just following the same dictates as of yesterday and trying to meet these these old standards. So I'm curious, like, along those lines, how do you build that collective vision? Are these common goals? Where does that come from? And how do we get really clear on where we want to go without being shackled down from the constraints of a past?
Chris Treadwell 38:44
Well, the key thing is that vision of what you think the future might look like, we don't know, perhaps we didn't create that vision together. But point being that it's just not a matter of race to fill kids heads with knowledge. And so what are those competencies that we need to have the global competencies or the 60s, Michael Fullan, talks about, and figure out what kind of skills or mindsets these kids need to prepare them for whatever future is ahead of them. And not just having it so that they can create a do well on a test? And again, that's the power of the principal and the power of the leadership of the district office and and the province to say, Okay, how do we work together to create that because that that is the essence of what education should be doing. And so Peter singIe, back in the 80s, talk about the tension between reality and in the world and what you're doing and if you don't have a clear vision of what's happening, it is a free for all. But if we know we want global competencies to be skills that kids can demonstrate, then whether it's physics or math or music or art, kids can show they have those skills in addition to that both minds inspired me in addition to those skills, so it keeps coming back to the idea of of the role of leadership. And it's not just the role of the positional power of the principal, but the leadership that's distributed and involves the community and parents are saying, okay, yeah, we all believe in this, let's go there together. And so again, there's many avenues to, to, I guess, leverage. But the key thing is that everybody's working together.
Stuart Murray 40:23
Totally. And I guess to if we, if we do want to bring in those different skill sets, and the mindsets, those are things that must be lived through experience, which requires that different pedagogy that shift, because you know, if we want to teach swimming, we know we should probably get in the pool, and start in the shallow end and learn not do a PowerPoint on, on swimming. And so that is it is a shift. And I agree with you, I think that, for me has always been a factor of where I think he did a phenomenal job at that, as Assistant Deputy Minister to, to hold the vision. And to say, well, we can take risks, we can move that forward and jump in the shallow end and start playing around, don't be afraid to fall flat on the face or to do something a little bit different, because we're going to get messy with this. But if the district and department can provide the supports and structures to help bridge that gap, I think that would be so invaluable to help support teachers and principals and, and community and making that shift
Chris Treadwell 41:29
would be invaluable. And the key thing there is that you need to model what you believe. So if, if you don't really believe in the value of physics, and you're just teaching us a course, it's really hard to motivate kids. That's why I'm a big believer of getting the school into the community, and exposing our kids to experts and how they think and how they act. So we support the teachers and what they're doing. So the teacher doesn't have to be all things to all people, but they can facilitate and, and the idea is not just teachers facilitating, it's that they're active in the learning, too, that they're part of making sure that the kids are doing something cool, they're part of it. And it's not a passive role for either the teacher or the student. So I'm also a believer that the community is a classroom, you take a look at your assets, you find out who's out there, you bring them into the school, education is everybody's business. And my experience has been that many people want to help pay back and have their kids involved in activities, not just philanthropic groups, but business people that they love to help. And when you have that kind of environment, then you have that kind of inspirational atmosphere where you don't have to wait for anybody to tell you what to do. You're facilitating that. And, and whether or not the district or the province catches up to you, you're moving ahead and hopefully providing a model for the other schools. I don't, it's very difficult. And we learned that as adn it's very difficult to decree, the whole system's going to change overnight, it just doesn't happen. And so if you need to play the long game, take some time, have some schools be successful, and then network them. And so there could be four or five schools across the province doing it the network next year, there's 10, then there's 20, because parents hear what's going on, and they see what's successful. And then other principles they had, like be proud of that. And they get support from the from the schools that are successful. And you create that network because not only do individuals need to be mentored, but school schools do, schools need to line up and as an example of, of in London Tower Hamlets, which was a very, very poor area, but they link some challenging schools up with really successful schools. And because it's very difficult for a school to get better on its own people are doing the best they can with what they have, that's just the way it is. And then to be able to come along and say your test scores suck, and you got to do better, we're going to shut you down. People are trying their best, but they need his help, not condemnation and not threats and not that kind of stuff. So really, what I'd like to see is a continuous network of successful schools, helping one another and moving it forward organically rather than somebody from the top saying, I'm going to do this next year, here's a new program, you better do it right or else you know. And so I think system change comes from networking and allowing people to help one another.
Stuart Murray 44:24
Couldn't agree more. And again, that goes back to being inspired to change and not not receiving that in some dictate of what your how your schedule is going to be taken over and manipulated. But not only am I then inspired to change because I can see that those actions align with our collective vision. And I can also see that there's a clear pathway and a mental mentorship pathway that can help me step into that. So I'm not alone here. You know, I've got the supports. I can troubleshoot it, I have somebody to turn to and so now I don't feel so alone. I'm in doing this. And as you said, it actually aligns with where I can see that we're going collectively so I can get behind this, I see so much value in that.
Chris Treadwell 45:10
Well, your portable being alone as a good one, very, very difficult for an individual to change a school by himself, therefore, you need to work with the teachers and the community. But then to change the system, you want the next school to change. It doesn't have to happen just with somebody saying, Well look at that school is doing what it can't be like them. Well, if you're part of a network, and if you're part of the idea that is no longer one school, you know, 111 system, but in fact, we're all part of a bigger system, then we help one another. And that sense of being alone is a hard one being a principal, because there's a lot of responsibility. But if you're part of a system, where you working with people who have shown they can do something, and you've got a chorus interpreted, based on your local context, and Michael Fullan, has made a career out of showing how to do called educational change, right? Because when we started out with the effective schools, we knew what the correlates were, but how do you create them. And so that had to take place. And so now we need to unleash the power of successful schools help others rather than just making a top down mandate. I mean, nobody believes that either. And so that kind of structure is going to be necessary to move the system. Because the other thing is that if it's just an individual school, and a really strong, heroic principal, and whatever, as soon as a lead, it's very difficult to sustain that momentum. But if you're proud of the system, or other people can help you, then it's a lot easier to maintain that momentum. And as I say, I think that one bricks and mortar school does not make a whole system, we got to work together on the salt. But that idea of modeling collaboration that are that 60s, hold on talks about needs to be modeled by the system and not just the cost to the kids.
Stuart Murray 46:57
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that's, that's, it needs to be lived, in order for it to be actualized. And I remember being back in my teacher training, I was fortunate enough to actually, you were in addition to being the Assistant Deputy Minister of the province in education, you also offered time to go in to teach early career teachers, and I know that you had mentioned to me, then that was important to you, to be seeing these new people coming in and to be able to work with him and to plant the seeds and to, to help even create the container for that vision at that time. And I can say with confidence that I was actually I was ready to leave the province anyways, and go teach elsewhere and encountering you was such a breath of fresh air at that level to see somebody in such a high position of leadership speak. So candidly, about, you know, like to hear you say, the kid is the curriculum that shifted something in me that I'm taking, you know, five plus years, I'm sure in my lifetime to unpack and realize how much that's inspired me. So how was your experience with that, you know, going in to a system that is traditionally perhaps more top down and you were really an advocate for bottom up change for Grassroots Leadership, that kid being the curriculum, what did you learn from from that experience?
Chris Treadwell 48:27
One of the key things for me was to feel that I could pass on my experience to people. And so first of all, the system allowed me to, to leave at four o'clock every day and or be there at four o'clock, and make that a priority. And so I was very grateful to the people at the system to say, okay, we can and that wasn't just the politicians, but it was my colleagues who reported to me to saying that I'm not going to be there at four o'clock, I can have a meeting with you, because I want to contribute to the education of the next generation of teachers. So I was unable to get in there because people were supportive. The thing is that people need to understand the role of K 12 public education. My belief is that it is critical for the well being of this province. So the personal well being the Civic well being and economic well being. And so the mindset is often that we've got to raise test scores, you know, the media gets on us every time in the fall, we get the test scores back in the eighth grade. But I think it needs to be a profound shift. And to understand what K to 12 education can do. There. We know that public education and when I say public education, I mean education that is doesn't have to be in the public. It could be private, it could be homeschooling, whatever the mode is needs to come understand that every child needs to reach their potential. And so my, my great goal would be to have the next generation of teachers and politicians and leaders understand that when you take a look at places like Singapore, or Finland, how much people are respected as educators, they're, I believe in New Brunswick, local communities, respected teachers, that's been my experience. But at the same time, I think that when teachers are just seeing us as employees to teach the curriculum, and they do that as best they can, as I say, it's, it's been my experience. But can we have a new mindset that says, Let's really unleash the potential, when you look at Singapore, they have no natural resources a British left during the 60s when they decolonize the enough the harbor and that was it. The only big natural resource said was people and they ever leverage that well. And so I would like to see education, this province, in addition to having high literacy and numeracy skills, also address the issue of of is everybody well, well being and we know there's all kinds of issues with depression and anxiety and obesity in this province. How can education be the foundation to make changes? So really, the politicians and bureaucrats and the community really have to work together to do this one? Well, because not one leg of that stool can do it by themselves. And that would be my great goal is to have people understand how can we help one another, I belong to an organization called the coalition of concerned citizens. And our goal is to support government with policy and persistent and make right decisions. So that the quality of life of this province rises, we believe in our elected officials, we believe that democracy is the way to go. But I'm also a big believer that we have to have stronger voice in the community. And community needs to be empowered. So we're actually in June, we're bringing over Cormac Rasul from Ireland. And he's a world leader in community development to come and to have a for symposiums in a month in Fredericton, St. John, in the mirror machine, talk about enhancing community voice, so that education is no longer just a bureaucratic political, and but in fact, it's empowered by the community with the idea again, education is everybody's business, and let's leverage the assets in each community, and move forward.
Stuart Murray 52:26
I love that that's such a constructivist approach, rather than sitting back and pointing out what's not working, you know, I think that's the educator in you or in me that I see that it's like, okay, well, we get this friction, we hit this barrier, and then we must ask, so what, what do we do about that? How do we move forward collectively together to do something constructive about it so that we can leave a legacy that is more beautiful for the coming generations more beautiful than than what we had? And, you know, maybe what we have served us at some point in time, but to be able to check that and say, is that still? And if it's not, what needs to change? And I'm wondering, even around that, like, what should what should we be measuring? Like, what key data what what should be KPIs or indicators that we're doing well, in education?
Chris Treadwell 53:22
Well, one thing that we're using as a key indicator is student engagement, which is really low. Okay. Kids, disengaged, probably grade five, grade six, it goes down, I think, really substantially after those years. And so they're just engineering school. And kids who are just in during school are not working at the best because they're not motivated. And so yeah, they may pass a test, they might reach some standard, but I don't think they're at their best. So I think engaging kids in reality for them, is education, addressing things that makes sense to them. I mean, are we are we using technology? Are we keeping it upside the door? I mean, if kids lives are centered around technology, and it's be proud of how they're doing things, to not allow them to use it in schools is is a problem. And so the idea is that technology over the years is seen as being a silver bullet, but it's never been one. We've never used it properly. I do believe if used properly, it's a means to an end. It's not an end in itself, but it is a means to an end. So I think technology is important because it makes learning relevant the kids so back to your point about you know, what, what is the focus what what can we change now that society has changed? I mean, nobody operates today, successfully. That's new, some kind of technology not nobody operates today. in isolation. Everybody needs to learn those global competencies. So to me, we have to really get together as a province and have people understand how what what does the what are the politicians who are elected leaders a lot What does a party platform look like, but it should be based on listening to people who know what they're talking about. And when, you know, bureaucrats who are really skilled, but also practitioners, teachers, the parents who really are saying, okay, my kid needs this and of course, the kids. And when I talk about consultation, I'm not just talking about, you know, a dog and pony show where people go round, and have events. I mean, I shouldn't be dismissive of that, because it is important. But at the same time, it's not event driven, it is certainly an ongoing process whereby we have to listen because when things change, education should change with it. And to your point about education being stuck in time. Again, it's a cliche, but a lot of people talk about it, we're still in the industrial mindset with education. You know, we have an agricultural calendar, and we're teaching things that are no longer really relevant. You know, the Great, the great videos, YouTube videos by Sir Ken Robinson, about schools crushing creativity and changing education paradigms are hugely watched me, I think they want to build creativity as the most watched YouTube of all time. And so we understand, we've got to do things. And if we don't, that student engagement is going to decline, and you're going to start to get things happening. So one thing is, you're going to have low motivation with students. But you're also going to start to get alternatives, you're going to start to get more homeschooling, you're going to start to get more private schools, you're going to get people saying, Okay, if the school is not going to do it for us, then maybe we're going to take learning into our own hands and figure out how to do this. And so I am in favor of innovative schools, whether they're inside public education or private, that find other ways to do things. So if you go to High Tech High, which probably impressed me and I, there was a number of them that I visited in California, but it's a charter school. And they've got some flexibility to do things. I think innovation, to address, the lack of student engagement needs to be a focus. And we got to find leaders and teachers and schools who want to do this and figure out how to work together to address kids who no longer feel engaged in school, I mean, the idea of like, in the past, simply dropping out or go and do something else doesn't work anymore. You just can't get a chain son to go work on a scooter anymore, right. So that option of dropping out and getting a job is not there, we got to educate everybody. And we got to be concerned about rigor in the school. So it's not just a matter of passing people through the system.
Stuart Murray 57:37
Right? Yeah. And I guess retention in and of itself is not near enough. Rather, you know, engage them and seeing them at their best, which would require some creative metrics. But I've seen some very interesting ways of, of assessing that. And I've explored that with myself. So it's certainly possible. I'm curious, what in education, what do we need freedom from and freedom to is Michael Fullan, often alludes to what what do we need the freedom from and freedom to do?
Chris Treadwell 58:06
I think when freedom promise is that the micromanaging of the system over people that you know, there's a standardization, everybody has to do this, and if you don't do it, there's consequences and, and all of that stuff that was still left over from the No Child Left Behind concept. I think we have to move away from that kind of controlling and takedown environment, to freedom to innovate, to use professional discretion, utilize community resources, and say, Okay, well, we we have the knowledge, we have the passion in our schools, let's let's allow people to do this. You mentioned earlier about risk taking and things of that nature, we have to allow for that. And trying to control and standardize and make a top down is not the way to go about this. And so there's a concern that yeah, there are a few good schools and we have some out there, but they're not scaled up. It's people who've done it, and they're stuck in their school, so to speak. So how do we take those schools and move them so that the system helps itself? So the group helps the group as opposed to the top down telling people what to do? That's, that's a huge paradigm shift in people's minds and instructors, but we have to show some trust and find those really good schools and allow them to expand. What would really be good as if you took certain schools and said, Okay, maybe the principle there is been very effective. How could that person be utilized to work in a collaborative approach to assist other people? No, one really good approach that I am a big believer in is what's called educational rounds. It's similar to what you see with the medical rounds. Richard Elmore has written a book about it and it's the It Works So rather than having a person stuck in their school, how can we have it so that people get to see other schools, they do educational rounds, they see things. There's ways to change things. So that we leverage the skills of what's happening in school, rather than somebody telling us, this is what you must do. That, to me is a big issue for micromanaging to empowering professional discretion and scaling up those successful schools. That's the big challenge of districts and Department of Education.
Stuart Murray 1:00:39
I love that. And I've seen and heard and talked to so many teachers who have gone to High Tech High, who have felt so inspired, and then come back and, you know, might feel back in a rut or not really, fully sure. And I just dream and envision of well, why why not create these centers here, in this province, these beacons of light that become the model schools that become these places that we don't have to leave our country or our province, but we can actually go there. And, you know, we're starting to see that with the park streets in the superior middle schools and Shediac capes that are blowing up the walls. So we're starting to see those aspects. But to have that long term integration, where it's like, now you've got a local educator that you can connect back with, you've got these mentors. And I could see that actually, in flipping the pyramid on its head as the child and the community being the base of what education is. And then, you know, as we move up the top, I still, I'm personally not opposed to that hierarchy of leadership of district and department. But if they can be the ones that facilitate the sharing of that vision, and the holding of that in a way that actually takes a load off of the teachers, takes a load off of the parents takes a load off of those who are on the ground floor doing that, that Grassroots Leadership in the system and say, Hey, we're gonna give you these days to go to the school. And here's some time to integrate, or we'll change the schedule so that you can collaborate with your other teachers in house and troubleshoot and work through things. I just, I think that's so possible. And I would just love to see that scaled up.
Chris Treadwell 1:02:13
I'd like to build on what you said. And Cormac Russell comes, I want to have a good long talk with him about how community in schools should be working together and hear what he has to say. Because the he asked three questions. He says, you know, what, what can? What can? Or what should communities do by themselves? You know, so if you can do it by yourself, you don't need our schools in this case, what could schools do by themselves? Or should schools? If you don't need the district and the province, then go ahead and do it? But then there's another question, what can the school do if it had the help of the district of the province? And then what can only the district problems do to help schools? I mean, your point of view, we will never, we will always need districts and Department of Education, that's never going to change because you do need those layers of support. But what is their role? And the role should be drawn back to empower and build capacity inside the local school? So if they can do it by themselves, build up power to do it, because you could you get ownership motivation. But if you need some help from the district, or need some help from the province, because they they fund most things, so there's funding, there's other issues at the district, the province play, but there's not a school in this province living off its budget. I mean, every schools out there peddling something to add to its to its budget, right, because a good principals out there working with the with the community, but some communities have a lot more to give than others. I've been in very poor communities as a principal. I've also been involved in new communities, and there's a huge difference. And so when you talk about school budgets, you got to also take into consideration some schools do a lot better because they can tap the community. And so again, I would like to see more money go to schools that come from destitute areas. And so if you've got if you've got like, we're still living in a structure whereby we're living under Louis Roby shows structure. So 1965 1967 We were always show was famous for doing the right thing. He people were having all kinds of, there was a whole lot of discrepancy in the way they're being paid. He centralized and he led North America that was was a phenomenal leadership move. But this is 2020 in 2022. Right, so look, the key thing is, does that structure still work? And it doesn't. And so right now, rather than centralizing and everybody getting the same thing, equals not fair, because if you're from a really, really poor area, and you're getting the same budget, then that a high in school is and we know it takes a lot more money to educate a poor kid than than a middle class, upper middle class, then I think your funding has to acknowledge that so I would like to see more money go to areas where there's been an awareness that there's a whole lot of poverty or a lot of newcomers and that the challenges are greater, because you can't expect people the greater challenges, given the same resources to do better than the than the air. I'd like to see that kind of discretionary funding given the schools, I know that St. John has done some great work down there, and finding extra resources to to promote their schools, and not just, and so doing as a community, not just because one school summer has a leader in our homeschool or parents school support committee and is able to do it. But as a community of St. John community moved that way. And I would love to see that. And that was a big, big believer in Sackville 2020, I was hoping that that would become a model for schools across this whole communities across this whole province, and embed schools into the community more and do that kind of thing. Because if you go back to Carmax question, What can schools do by themselves? And they should be doing that? What do they need help from when it comes to district or province or working on a district or province? Do I think Sackville 2020 helped answer those questions.
Stuart Murray 1:06:06
They certainly did. And I love how most of this conversation often circles back to community. And the fact that school is, is in community and a school as a community that that barrier becomes quite porous. And in the amount of assets that we have access to, when we get beyond the brick and mortar of a traditional school system and say, Wow, that look at how many assets we actually do have here in this community. It's just tremendous. The amount of doors it opens right away. And I love those three questions from, from Russell, that it's, it's just, it's an amazing shift to say, Well, okay, what can be done in house? What can't you know, where do we need these bigger supports. And I find a lot of the time I've heard people demonize a district or department as being these big roadblocks. But on the other hand, I've seen them do tremendous work, I've just was working at the district to help facilitate change and leadership that was teacher driven, that was student driven. And so to experience and to have offered that kind of leadership that is so different. And I've noticed teachers say it takes it takes a load off, they feel supported, okay, we want to move in this direction. But we're going to help with how we can do assessment moving forward, how Oh, you we need some some money here or grant here or access to these community resources. And all of a sudden that the doors just become opened up. And it's not about well know, you're not making enough minutes here. Or you're going to make sure you have these this many subjects or this many hours of certain things. But how do we make that happen for you, you have a vision, how do we how do we remove any barrier that you're encountering, and allow you guys to, to thrive in that environment.
Chris Treadwell 1:08:03
So that's a very good point. So the micromanaging that I talked about needs to be taken back because in many times the system doesn't shouldn't act as a, as a quarterback more as a blocker, getting rid of the things that are getting in the way of the of the school, but then it requires a school leadership. And I when I say leadership, I mean, the principal and the sort of leadership colleagues to do something and I remember, at a situation that high school where I wasn't happy with resources that I was getting for art, we didn't have an art teacher. And so I needed to do something about that. So I called a lady who was a doctor's wife who moved the circles that I didn't. And within a few days, she had a whole lot of money for me. So we could employ an artist to come in and teach in our, in our school, I didn't know the budget for it. And I didn't have the connections for it, but she did through the community. And we were able to do that. And so the district to my to your point about the district can unblock so to speak, but then people have to step up and do something. And that's the leadership role. And you know, we talked about leadership and management in school and you have to do both, you have to manage because you have to make sure you you timetable the school and you do the buses. It's got to work. But the other side of the coin is leadership. And so some principals are very good at managing they do their budget, well, whatever. But the idea of innovating and leveraging school or community resources to me will be one of the next profiles of a really good principle, because you nobody's living inside your budget. So the more effective you are at working with your community, and even in the poorest community, you get somebody who cares and can do things for you. Right. So I think that we need to train our principals on the point you're talking about, okay, the district is going to be supportive. But then what are you going to do about this because if the district Just gives more money, the province just gives more money, it's back to the idea that somebody else will solve our problems. Just Just give me more money. But in reality, you don't get the buy in. And so if there's no money, no resources, you've done all you can, then maybe you've gotta go to the district, like I was saying, Maybe we have to differential funding because of the challenges certain communities have. But until the community has exhausted its own efforts, then we shouldn't be depending on somebody else to make it easy for us.
Stuart Murray 1:10:29
I agree that's it's money alone is not the solution. And sometimes that can be a great way to remove the barrier, but just pouring money on an issue is always somewhere I hesitate to enter into in these educational talks, because I agree with you, I think it has so much more fundamentally to do with the vision and the leadership. And I even do that when I help. I've written a lot of grants personally, and I've helped others write them, but I don't write them until there's a clear purpose, or there's a clear why, how that will be used, because I've seen so much money squandered to do the same thing. You know, as we had been doing in the past, and even if that's buying, buying iPads, you know, it's like, what's the goal of this? Is it to just consume more? Or are we moving along that spectrum of of consuming technology to creating with that, can we move beyond the the information exchange and, and find ways to use that technology to be the creators of content, and the producers of our new vision, and the ways that we can we can use that exchange to actually put something of value out into the world?
Chris Treadwell 1:11:45
Well, that's a good point. So if you took, if you got a big raise in money, and you put it equally across the province, you're back to the problem of you're, in fact, creating more disparity. So I I'm much more of a believer in targeting where the data says resources have to go, I think I think there's always a value to adding more money, so long as it's targeted to where the data says you got the biggest challenge. And I'm not saying that only challenging, schools can use money effectively other schools can, too. But education was meant to be the great leveler. And in fact, education in many cases of working the other way that in fact, is creating more gaps. And so in a world that is that is very challenging economically. So kids are competing against not just their local person, but against somebody from all over the world. You need to make sure these kids are highly educated, otherwise, somebody's going to eat their lunch. And so I'm really a believer of we've got to sit down and say, okay, the school does not have all the resources, but the communities did when I like, tried to put the trades back into the high schools, and learned that it was very difficult to do that. Because the gap between trades and technologies is so hard, you couldn't write curriculum fast enough. And secondly, you can't find the trades teachers and tech teachers are not going to come into the school system. And this is very difficult to get them. And thirdly, we couldn't afford to retool. So what really makes sense to send the kids out and going to work at IBM or Peterbilt or other places where they're, they're learning experientially, in an environment where they're learning from the very best. And then that way, we can also cut down on the cost. And so trying to retool all those shops or whatever just wasn't going to happen. So we need we need some genius in the system. We need some really, really bright people who are well read, who are extremely passionate towards service. I mean, I'm a New Brunswick patriot, I grew up in this province, I grew up very poor, the province has been good to me, I've had a great career and lifestyle. And so but you know, close to 35% of new Brunswickers are too poor to pay taxes. There's a lot of poverty out there a lot of suffering. And when you work in schools, and any teacher who's been in the system at all will know that there's a lot of unhappy children and they deserve it. Well being in life, how can we find the great leaders who were passionate about that and want to support the teachers who are dealing with hungry kids and crying kids and kids who are in homes where lives? Hell, you know, I think we need to really establish money to address those issues and not just political agendas.
Stuart Murray 1:14:29
I couldn't agree more with what you're saying. And I'm wondering for you, you know, with such a steady career and even in into your retirement, just working tirelessly at at advancing that vision of education, what are the key principles and values that drive you in the work that you've done?
Chris Treadwell 1:14:50
I think I found work that was meaningful for me. And that that was really important. I hope that every teacher who goes into education goes in for the right reasons. that it is certainly a minute you, I thought University for 12 or 13 years. So I was exposed to people who were on the, on the brink of of the careers. And I think that most people are very Gwyn with a passion. But where did they lose? You know, so we do know the teachers kind of go over the dark side after a period of time. I've even seen people in my classes who have gone out there, you teach them in the fall, and they're fantastic after they've been out there with a practicum, they come back with a different, different attitude. I think that one of the key things is to always keep a moral purpose. And so I always felt pleased that I was in a role where I had that Napoleon Hill taught me that it's, that was a great career too. And I got lots of money, but it just didn't do it for me. So I'm glad that I kind of landed on something which gave me that sense of purpose. And I hope that every teacher has that because if you don't, or if you're working in trying circumstances, it's very difficult to be a good teacher, when you're not, you're not feeling high morale, it's a tough job. It's a very difficult job. So you need to maintain that moral stance. And you need to be around people who motivate you, if you're in a school where there's a lot of challenges, and you got behavioral problems and whatever else. But if you're working with a strong principal, or a strong group of colleagues, and I always felt I was lucky in that in every place I've been, I felt there were people who I could count on and people the same values that I did. So I felt that I belong to something that was sent to me on DC and Ryan talk about that sense of belonging, right. And I think that's really critical. And then the idea that you can feel can make an impact, I felt as a principal, I can make an impact. And lots of days, John never came easy to me, by the way. I mean, having been farming and dealing with some pretty rough situations. And it was never that easy. And so I found it was emotionally tiring. And I never liked to have a problem just before the weekend or before March break or something, because you're in a situation where you kind of thought about it all the time. And so some people could break could make that distinction. I, I always said my work kind of compound with me. So was always good to have people to work with who you could confide in and know that we're on the same track. So that that was important. But the idea in the end, that you could do something and make kids happy. Good grief, I still see kids like over 31 years, I've had 1000s of 1000s of kids, right. And so I see these kids, and I don't even recognize, but they recognize me. And they'll talk to me. And it's I know that I made the right decision. And so that that, to me is what I hope everybody ends a career on that. You could have had a job, but I certainly had a career. And I don't regret it those things to say it wasn't I don't want to sugarcoat it, there was a lot of times in the more challenges holding left and right. You shake your head at times, but wow, you know, there was worth doing. And I looked back and you know, the research on really good companies talk about love. And I think you'll see those teachers, they love their kids. They love what they're doing. And I've been around those teachers, I've been around those kids and they've inspired me. And so rather than working in a an environment where you're only getting paid, I worked in an environment where I was around people who also inspired me, very, very fortunate. If you don't feel you've got that in the system, that's a big challenge, because you do need that to be successful.
Stuart Murray 1:18:46
Yeah, I feel emotional. Just hearing that. I think that's one of the greatest tips I could impart on, on anybody working in that system is remember that you're a human being working with other young human beings. And these human beings have feelings, they have needs, they have aspirations, and if we can attend to that, and honor that, you know, as much as we need to take care of the management aspects of education and, and all the the day to day like he said, the plate just gets so heavy and so big. And it's easy to forget that we are an influential human working with young malleable minds. And that to create that right container so that the human being can thrive and flourish in relation is really for me at the heart of what education truly is.
Chris Treadwell 1:19:39
Well, that's a very good point because there's a tipping point there. And that is that when you teach kids who are really challenged and your heart goes out to them. I said teachers who we do standards for those kids well, you know, they're from a poor home. Let's let's boost them on whatever and they understand the compassion behind that. But my feeling was always yet had the compassion plus the rigor because those kids will not be successful in life unless they can do the math illiteracy in the other skills that are going to get them some places. So, you know, when you when you when you're exposed to the suffering, it's easy to say, Okay, I'm going to be understanding but you can be understanding and also helpful. So that point about helping these kids is to help them break that cycle and then teaching in New Brunswick. Every teacher I mean, as I visited a high school in a community one time and the city, and I was talking to the principal, I was at him, I said, Tell me about your school. Because I got to go to her. And she said, you know, he talked about stuff. And he said, Are you starving kids here? And I said, You mean hungry kids, he said, No, I have starving kids here. That just blew me away. This is New Brunswick. And I've worked in poor communities. And I've seen unhappiness, I'll put it that way. And this particular principle I admired because she sent a food truck out into the community to not only send food home with kids, but sent the truck out there to assist these these people. And, and that's the kind of leadership we have. So the expectations are going to be that, okay, we got to feed kids, and we got to make sure that they're emotionally healthy, but they've got to get a high quality education, you otherwise are going to repeat that cycle. So I needed to find teachers who are going to be compassionate, but also demanding, awesome of the warm demander. That's I really liked that term, a warm demander. Because, you know, if you're not that great a basketball player, you're not going to make the team unless you try a lot harder. And I think for those kids who come from those disadvantaged environments, they just need a lot more support. If they're going to break out. And this I do consult or I did consulting for the American Inter American Development Bank in the Caribbean. And I was in Trinidad one time and was visiting these these schools. And this school was we needed to escort the wind because it was a gang ravaged area in this particular community and terrible. It's unbelievable. However, the principal went and met with again as a woman went and met with the gang leaders to try to avoid the shootings around the school. And so while this is not a Canadian, New Brunswick principle, it's that kind of courage and vision that educators around the world have. And I bet there'd be New Brunswick principals who would do the same. That's the kind of stuff we need. So when you talk about one of the really important things, it's that belief system that's way beyond any kind of pay scale, or beyond any kind of professional expectation just towards a principal or a teacher, believing that they've been so fortunate to give a job where they can contribute to humanity.
Stuart Murray 1:22:54
Wow, I love that. And I liked the highlighting of the fact that it's compassion along with high expectations, or a high regard there for the individual. And I really, I fundamentally believe that when we can create an environment where trust is honored if we can trust the individual, that young mind, to, to do their best, and then create those conditions collaboratively for them to attain mastery, for them to be autonomous. Wow, it's just time and time again, I see. These young individuals who some, some others may have written off for whatever reason, just do wonderful, wonderful things. And I think if we shift that mindset for some kids might be the difference between a successful career as an entrepreneur or whatever to present. That subtle difference?
Chris Treadwell 1:23:46
Well, you've probably seen it and I have that those teachers exist, they're able to do that I call them good whispers, you know, that they exist, and they are highly motivating. I hit a school where it is this teacher aide, and she's also a librarian, we hit this child to come into the school. My mother was a prostitute, there was all kinds of problems. She was a very, very troubled young lady. And it was easy to get into power struggle with her. But this particular EAA, and librarian recognize that this kid had compassion for the less fortunate and we had this girl work with kids who are physically had special needs was unbelievable. And so rather than working against her and dealing with her weaknesses, we played the restraints. And I think really good teachers can can do that because this girl came around because every new now she could help this little girl in the wheelchair. She wheeled her all around us and loved her. And so there's good and all these kids, right, but we need really strong teachers who can avoid those power struggles and understand why they're teaching. And to your point about you They exist, how can we continue to win we give in service to talk about that, and not just the subject based in services, but how can we work together as a team. To do those things, I'd like to see methods and resource teachers in the classrooms more modeling how to work with these kids and, and team teaching with them. And all kinds of peer coaching, I would put a lot more money into peer coaching and team teaching in schools. And like Southwest Airlines put more time into the relationship building. So that is not just reactive stuff. But working on that approach that we we need these people to be there with us. Because if you are in a class where there's six or seven EAS, and it's really challenging, it's great to have a colleague there because then you're not on your own right, particularly skilled one. So there's things that I would do differently. I know that New Brunswick could be a powerhouse of education, I really believe that. I just hope that again, we can find the people who are prepared to work together because it's going to take all legs of the stool to make this work.
Stuart Murray 1:26:04
So to that point, if I'm a teacher, and you know, maybe I'm thriving, or maybe I'm struggling right now, do you have a message for for educators as far as you know, how they can keep pushing forward? And maybe if they're feeling like they're struggling right now or any tips?
Chris Treadwell 1:26:24
Yeah, I think there's a number of things you can do. One is to be really clear on what your challenges you is what's really making you feel either empowered or disempowered, so to speak, and, and build relationships on stuff. And find the people who are not going to be the complainers and whiners and all the things that are terrible about the profession, because people do get overwhelmed over the years. And sometimes they're not the most optimistic or supportive, right? So it's really important to be around people are going to uplift you and not continue to bring you down and they exist. I know people used to carpool and stop doing that, because the drive the school was so negative in the morning that I started out the day like so discouraged, right. So that was a good mindset check. So I think, find the right people to encourage you. And you know, if there is a situation in the school where you feel you're not enjoying your career, or even your life anymore, because for motivated people who are not reaching their their passions, that can be a downer, they go home they carry that we're calling with you, it may be that you have to look around and find another teaching environment. I've had to shift I've been in six different schools over the years, every one was and I didn't leave because of negativity, I left because I felt there was an opportunity to grow. So you reach a stage where you know, the school has given you as much as they can, and you've you've learned a lot, but this other school might have a greater challenge that aligns with more with your passion. I think people shouldn't feel stuck in a school, that they should look at the system and there could be other places to go that they'd feel more self actualized. So, but it's easy to get stuck in a school, have your friends there. And, and that congenial thing can overwhelm the collegiality and the professionalism. So I think at some point, you got to maybe pull the trigger and find an environment, even if you've been in the school 1015 years, it might be time to, to find another one.
Stuart Murray 1:28:20
I love that not moving away from your dislikes, but leaning into the opportunities. I really like that pivot there. And so then if I'm a parent or a concerned citizen, how can I help move education forward? How, what can I do to advocate and just move the system in general forward right now?
Chris Treadwell 1:28:42
Well, I think that a parent needs to have as good or better relationship with the school as possible. I'm I'm working on vising, a person on a private school. And one of the key things I told this person is that it's not the teacher should be educated the child but the school, because you can have really good schools and then have a particular teacher is not that strong. And so the school may be great, but the child's experiences that one teacher, that should not be, it shouldn't be that the child's experiences with the whole school. So whether it's through flexible groupings, or other ways that the child is able to reach the potential through the whole school environment. So if I was a parent, I'd be working with the principal to find as many ways for my kid to be self actualized as possible. And so that could be a visit to the principal or the teacher. Talk about what what really excites my kid and give them the kind of feedback so the teacher hopefully can consider that when they're doing things in classroom or in the school and also getting involved in the either in the home at school or the parents school support committees. And having it so that they feel that their voice is heard. And if we can learn from Cormac Russell, how can we amplify that voice so maybe this It'll be an easier way for parents. But until that day happens, I think parents have to assert themselves. And even when the schools don't let them in, the doors are locked. And there's a sense of, you know, the school like the community to consider the threat because of all the shootings, whatever. I think we overreact to that stuff. And and I think we need to be if a parent does not feel welcomed, and I think we have to kind of push the door, but it was my kid and I wasn't satisfied or felt that could be more done, I would certainly be advocating for my child, because it does make a difference.
Stuart Murray 1:30:32
It really does make a difference. And it is going to be that collective action that pushes things forward, because parents and students are really who we're serving here. And so if that voice does get louder and more aligned, I think they'll be that pressure to shift. And you mentioned it earlier, very briefly, but I'm just wondering if you could share a little bit more about what you've been up to with the concern, this coalition of concerned citizens, and how people could check in with these upcoming meetings and how they could be engaged moving forward.
Chris Treadwell 1:31:08
the coalition of concerned citizens has been around for about four or five years. And we're becoming more, it's primarily people who are retired, although now we're trying to become more diverse and inclusive. So we're open to anyone who'd like to become a member. And so they would get the newsletter and other information that we're trying to work on. So the areas that the focus is right now is on municipal reform, which we've worked closely with the government on. So that's already taken place, health care and education. And the fourth one will be economic development. And the idea is that we want to be clear on what the government is doing, provide resources to help either co creator or give feedback and government policy because many of the people involved retired senior civil servants, retired business people, that they're very credible, and then New Brunswick Patriot secure about the people of this province. They stayed here most of their lives, they've been contributors to the community and want to get back in such a way that they want to support the elected officials. And that may mean that, you know, the feedback is supportive or negative towards government policy. But it's always with the idea that we want to cooperate to assist with the government's doing to help people. And so we as I say, we become more inclusive. And we have First Nations support. Now we have more and more females, we're making it so that it should reflect the culture of New Brunswick. So as I say, if this people listening, who'd like to be part of that they can go online, the Coalition of concerned citizens as a website. And also if they're interested in coming to the for symposiums that are in the June 21 22nd 23rd, I believe 24th, they believe it's those four days, it's that week of June, then you can go online, and they can register there is a cost, but it's prorated based on whether you're a student or senior whatever. And we expect those to be packed. And so that that would be an under an opportunity to understand what Cormac Russell has to say, but how communities get involved. So your point about how could a parent get involved, they might want to hear what this person has to say and see what the role could be. Because when you read his book rekindling democracy, there's very inspiring big nets in there about how communities when they're well run, can do a lot of good for people. Right now with the sense of, of COVID coming over and people feeling like they did end the high level of anxiety, depression, by the way, in my university classes, it just blew me away. How many top end students had anxiety, depression, challenges, I had no idea you see them in school with kids are challenged, but these are high in people. And some of these people gave presentations on these things, right. And so there's a lot that we can do. And if people would like to come to these events, we're welcome to They're welcome to come. But I would suggest that go on soon, because we plan to be full in these four communities.
Stuart Murray 1:34:18
Awesome, and I'll make sure to include the website and where people can register for these events in the show notes. Like our conversation
We'd love to have, I'm really looking to create this coalition of people who care. And so the idea is that people as individuals can step up and do their thing, but I think people are even more powerful. They're proud of a coalition and proud of an organization that they believe in. That kind of amplified voice has an impact
I agree, I think it's like that old saying if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far go together.
Chris Treadwell 1:34:18
Stuart Murray 1:34:18
It really it does. Take a community that to raise our children and to bring that back to the focus of, of how we learn and grow together I think is really ultimately going to be our only way forward. And as you have said, which is been branded onto my heart is education is everybody's best interest. And I couldn't agree with more. That's right.
Chris Treadwell 1:34:28
And so if people have gone to school and have only known, the one experience, often they don't appreciate that it could be different way of doing things. And that communities again, like cycle 2020, and other projects like that could be the model for New Brunswick. I'm sorry, that cycle 2020 didn't reach its potential or there were reasons there. But I think that can be dusted off and go forward. And so at the, at the Monckton, one, I'm part of a panel, and I do a cycle 2020 represented, I want people to hear what what could have happened there, and what could happen across this province with community stick together, I just love that model is ADM, totally supported the
Stuart Murray 1:34:43
Yeah, and the division is still alive. And well, even if it, you know, doesn't happen in somewhere, immediately. It's open for another community to take that and run with it. It's all open source. And these people believe in it. And it's been adopted in other provinces and other other jurisdictions already with with high success. So there's much room for that. And I have one last question for you, Chris. But I'm wondering if you have any other message that you'd like to say or leave before that final questions?
Chris Treadwell 1:35:00
Well, we'll just education needs to evolve. And we need every, it's all hands on deck we need we need everybody to assist us. And so we need to have people who by nature, understand we're all in this together. And we can get better at everything we do. But we really have to come together to figure out what will be the best model for New Brunswick, and find a way of doing that, and then resource that as best we can. Would be great. I mean, Singapore has about 750,000 people, but the size of New Brunswick, and they don't have a natural resources, I just think that New Brunswick could be such authority, a great place to live, there's all kinds of real advantages to living in New Brunswick, we just have to use education to address the well being of this province in a more effective way. So looking for everybody's help in some way to contribute to that. And it's a matter of numbers, but it's also a matter of a vision and passion. So hopefully people can come to these seminars and understand what could be done and maybe in some way affiliate with a coalition. And we can all work on it together.
Stuart Murray 1:35:41
I love it. I love it. I plan to and look forward to being there. And I'm curious, what is your big vision to help move humanity forward?
Chris Treadwell 1:35:51
Well, I'm still active as a consultant. And one of my goals is to work with an individual who wants to create a private school, private schools are controversial. And people say, well, it robs the public schools of top kids, but not necessarily so. And also this probably want more than one way of future reform. And I think alternatives are fine. I don't think public school should be threatened by alternatives. And I think if you keep the costs low, and have them around the cost of daycare people used to just having daycare costs now you put them into private school costs, because we're not talking 30 $40,000 We're talking about much less than that. And so the ideas that are there are there other ways that I can contribute to, to the discussion about how to move this province forward, using education as a platform. I don't, I was never an education as a job. So when I retired from an official position, I still want to do something where I can leverage my experience and my passion, because that's not gone away. So one of the key things for me is to find the right people to work with have opportunities to work with people like you to be on this podcast to get the the message out. Because I think I do have a message. Over the years have developed some expertise and exposure to wonderful people have taught me a lot. And I don't think I want to retire cold turkey. So there's a number of things I'm working on here. Number of projects, I got like four or five of them on the go now. And but that one to me is is really a major one because of we can create a model where it's really not that much more expensive than daycare. And we can have a lot of kids go to it. And it becomes an effective way of educating kids great. And if it gives the public education system a nudge, that's great, too. Because if it's if it works, and we can work with public education as a model, we're prepared to do that, you know, in Edmonton, that the public education system was so good there when Angus beef was there. There were no private schools. They're all under educate under the education system in Edmonton because the private schools wanted to be under the public domain. That's what could happen in this province. And so we could have multiple ways of innovating. It could be Christian schools, it could be Montessori schools, who knows. But in Edmonton, there are under public education was just alternatives, choice and innovation. So if we saw these alternatives rather than as a threat to education, but more as a as a way to innovate, and work together, then I really feel good about that, because public education is great for all kids. But if there's some kind of environment that's better for certain kids, then let's find that in Assam, I know that the Frederick Christian Academy is doing very well here in Fredericton. A lot of people want that Christian context to their education, that's fine, too. But I don't, why wouldn't want people seeing these as as competitions or threats, but as alternatives. find alternative ways to have every kid reached the potential. So I'm really pleased about doing this allowing me to work with some really interesting people. It keeps me aware of the research because I continue to read heavily now that I got a bit more time or even read, read more, and I get more inspired as to what could be so every day I get up and how, you know, we could be doing so much more than again, just to be in contact with people like you. And to get the word out, I want to have that my own personal network sustained, so that we can build that kind of coalition of patriots in this province to really help every kid and, and have it so that people can have a great living here in New Brunswick.
I couldn't agree more, Chris. And it really at the end of the day is about having everyone at their best. And if we can leverage every possible mechanism and an avenue to make that happen. Let's do it. And it's very clear that for you, it's never just been about a job. I've watched that, even when you were in the career, the way you spoke, and how your actions aligned with what you said. It just held so much. It had so much weight to everything that you said and everything that you did. You have been both in the professional career. And as you've retired and taking on all these new projects, it's very clear that you have strong vision, and principles that guide you in the work that you do and that you believe that every kid and every human in this province and beyond, can be at their best. So thank you for the work you do and for taking the time to chat. I really appreciate it.
My pleasure, Stuart and keep up the excellent work. And I do admire the fact that you're prepared to address the status quo, and to stay and put up the good fight because it doesn't always come easy. But I also recognize that you want to be part of something which is significant. And I recognize that in you as a student. And I'm glad now that you're still maintaining that that that desire to have that impact because it doesn't matter the person's age or experience. What matters is that we are kindred spirits people need the next generation step up like you are and hopefully you'll have other people join you and be part of a movement
Stuart Murray 1:43:19
I hope you enjoyed this episode with Chris Treadwell. And we're able to glean from his wealth of knowledge and passion for seeing kids and community at their best. Once again, a big thank you to our sponsor Karen Phytoplankton. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts. You can also find me on Facebook and YouTube at the connected movement. Thanks again and see you next Monday.