Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tales of a First Grade Trustee

At the end of my first year, what have I learned about the role of trustee? What advice would I give to someone is considering running?

  • The first four months are very hard. The next four months are a bit easier. Hang in there.
  • Almost daily you will be confronted with your own lack of knowledge. Believe that your fresh eyes are an asset, rather than focusing on what you don't know.
  • You will be asked to make difficult decisions before you feel "qualified." Make them based on your best thinking as well as your guiding principles and values. Don't be afraid to ask for other's opinions.
  • Trust that you've been elected for some solid reason, even if you can't remember what that might be in Month Three.
  • You will meet a lot of people, who will all have the advantage of reading your name tag. You won't. Smile.
  • A tsuami of information will threaten to drown you. Learn to let go and recycle. Find out what other experienced trustees keep and what they throw out.
  • A sense of humour is a great thing.
  • Countless dinner functions and lunch meetings coupled with long hours of sitting are tough on the old bod. Get moving whenever you can.
  • You will meet amazing people, who are doing incredible things in education. Take full advantage of this opportunity. Listen. Be inspired. Marvel at their dedication and talent.
  • Working in a team of nine is hard if you're the typical Type A, get-things-done personality. Try to remain open and trust that you'll get there over time.
  • Get out to the schools as much as you can. Seeing kids smiling faces will remind you of why you are doing this and fill you with energy.
  • Meet other politicians. They know what it's like and will have words of advice far better than mine!

I hope some of you will consider running in two years time. The future of trusteeship depends on people committed to public education. Public service is not easy, but I think it is very worthwhile. Get involved. Imagine what your contribution might be. Whether I decide to run for another term or not, I will be offering job shadowing (as confidentiality permits) and mentorship in my final year of this term.

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