Spring 2014: Volume 2, Issue 3
It's time to row
It’s been 18 months since we launched The Journey Ahead: Our Action Plan for Equitable Hiring and Promotion in Peel. Earlier this week, I updated the trustees at the Regular Meeting of the Board with a status report of our progress.
I was proud to show that our work is on track and we’ve made significant strides on each of the 33 findings outlined in The Journey Ahead Research Report. However, there is still much work to be done.
There is a Latin proverb that says “if there is no wind--row." The message is clear—achieving our goals does not happen by chance. It happens by effort. It happens by determination. And the effort and determination continue after the initial winds of excitement and enthusiasm dies down.
While the analogy may seem obvious, the reality is that sustained and continued effort towards equitable hiring and promotion is not always easy. Some people may think—even hope—that they can outlast this “phase” and wait for the next wind to carry them along—so they don’t have to row. Rowing is hard work, is sometimes far from fun, and the destination often seems far in the distance.
So, what is the point of all this rowing talk? Simply that we have reached the point with the Journey Ahead when it is time to row. And not all are equally eager to pick up the oars.
Not because they are afraid of hard work—that has never been an issue for Peel board staff - quite the opposite. In fact the commitment to transforming the equitable hiring and promotion practices in Peel has been inspiring. But as we move past the easy stuff, the checklist work, we face now face some frankly complicated and difficult areas.
Some may think, who would possibly disagree with our commitment to workplace equity and inclusion? However, the reality is that the further we travel this path, the greater the resistance we find. Some, because they don’t understand or fully appreciate the importance of the destination, others because they think they can wait it out and another wind will come.
In the months since our last update, I have begun to hear directly from those who wonder about the work. Who think we might be putting too much emphasis on the fair hiring, too many requirements, too much work, too much focus.
Yet, the destination is clear—a diverse workforce and an inclusive place to work and learn is and remains a key priority for our organization. We will not slow down, or lose focus, or stop the work until we have achieved our goal.
I am one-hundred per cent confident that we will continue to make that progress—oars in—together as we move forward on the next stages of the journey.
Associate Director of Education, Instructional Support Services
Workforce census: gearing up for the count
Did you know that the Peel District School Board is the largest employer in the Region of Peel? With more than 22,000 employees working in schools and sites across Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, it’s often difficult to understand the breadth of the Peel workforce and as such, which programs or supports would be most beneficial to staff.
Finding #28 of the Journey Ahead Action Plan suggests the need for the Peel board to conduct a workforce census to identifying the current and complex diversity of a large, de-centralized workforce.
Before we can develop programs to support our broad workforce, we need to first understand:
- who are we?
- where are we?
- where we want to go?
- who do we want to be at the end of this journey?
This information will facilitate an assessment of both the depth and nature of the Peel board’s workforce, but also an assessment of the breadth and scope the board’s collective awareness of and engagement with principles and activities of equity and inclusion.
Answering these important questions will allow the board to not only develop equity and inclusion programming and supports, it will help develop programs that serve a purpose and embed these principles across the system.
The census will be developed and led by a steering committee comprised of representatives from unions, federations and associations, as well as administrators and senior leadership, with the goal of administering the census in the fall of 2015. More information will be available in the 2014-15 school year.
Stay tuned and be counted.
Top five myths about the Journey Ahead
Myth one: The Peel board workplace census is designed to make some people happy, but in the end the results will make the board look bad.
Fact: The Peel board is conducting the workplace census—recommendation #28 in the Journey Ahead Research Report—to understand where we are and help gauge our progress on our journey to a more equitable and inclusive workplace. The results are not a “report card," but a roadmap to help identify and implement programs and supports for Peel staff.
Myth two: The Journey Ahead is about giving “some people” an unfair advantage in hiring and promotion
Fact: Quite the opposite. The Journey Ahead is about taking away unfair advantage—and making sure everyone has an equal chance to be successful in the process. It provides all candidates with equal footing and opportunity to be successful.
Myth three: The Journey Ahead guarantees a job to those who are racialized.
Fact: There are many qualified candidates from various identities who express disappointment when they apply for and do not get a role. They perceive—incorrectly—that the Journey Ahead ensures they will get the role over someone else. However, an equal playing field does not mean every qualified person who comes forward is ready for the role for which they apply.
Myth four: The heavy workload related to hiring and promotion is due to the Journey Ahead.
Fact: When the Peel board first launched the Journey Ahead, there were several significant outside forces at play—like higher teacher absences and the requirements of Regulation 274. While the board has tried to mitigate many of these concerns, there has been a burden on central and school staff. However, the work surrounding the Journey Ahead—an equitable and inclusive workforce—is, and will remain, a key priority.
Myth five: If the Peel board cared about workload, it would slow down a bit on the Journey Ahead.
Fact: We understand the pressures on staff and senior leaders and we are working to relieve that pressure. But doing the right thing—hiring fairly, making sure it is bias-free, making sure hiring and promotion are documented—takes work, sometimes new work.
Professional development and equity leadership
The Peel board continues its commitment to strengthen leadership training for equity and inclusion for employees. Training is not intended to convey isolated or discreet knowledge and skills, but rather to promote principles, policies and practices to embed equity and inclusion into the work and vision across the system. In fact, a vision and commitment to equity is fundamental to success in a leadership role at the Peel board.
This issue of Roadmap highlights the following leadership resources:
- Ready versus qualified: Professional knowledge in action
- Mentoring on track for aspiring leaders
- New Peel Leadership Framework for instructional staff
Ready versus qualified: Professional knowledge in action
When planning your career path—whether you’re interested in a promotion or planning to apply for an administrative position—the objective qualifications are clear and may include:
· required years of experience
· current performance appraisal
· experience with Special Education policies and procedures
· experience in differentiating instruction for students
· Principal’s Qualification Program
However, what is sometimes less clear are the contextual knowledge and experiences that help facilitate success in a leadership role. This knowledge refers to how competitive a candidate may be compared to others in the applicant pool and may include:
· demonstrated ability to work effectively within a diverse school community
· demonstrated experience modeling the principles of equity and inclusion
· demonstrated leadership in a variety of contexts
For example, an applicant for a math position in a secondary school may have the necessary teaching qualifications and length of experience to meet the requirements posted in the job description; however, that candidate’s “readiness” for the position is also dependent upon the candidate’s additional, deeper professional development and leadership experience.
In the current climate of highly qualified candidates and few open positions, assessments examine not only the qualifications of candidates to system needs, but inevitably compare candidates one against the other in order to seek and promote the best candidates.
To learn more about leadership “readiness” as well as providing substantive information on how to present and enhance your application package, visit http://inet.peelschools.org/departments/staffdev/documents/PDSB218-AFLBookletRevised.pdf.
Mentoring on track for aspiring leaders
In April, the Peel board launched the Aspired Racialized Leaders Mentoring Pilot Program for new and aspiring racialized leaders. The program connected 25 self-identified racialized educators, aspiring to enter the vice-principal promotion process in the next two to five years, with an experienced vice-principal or principal mentor.
“As a Vice-Principal, my mentors have been a tremendous help to me and I hope to provide that same support to Kulbir,” said Elizabeth England, vice-principal at Stanley Mills Public School and a mentor in the Aspiring Racialized Leaders Mentoring Pilot Program. “The support and training in the program provides a strong foundation for our work together through relationship-building, Lumina Spark and the Peel Leadership Framework. It is an amazing opportunity to support leadership and promote equity within the Peel board.”
The 25 mentors and mentees were individually selected through an extensive application process in February. In early April, all participants took part in “speed interviews” and mentees were asked to identify their top selections for a mentor. The pairs were matched and the program launched on April 23 with a full-day training session.
In addition to leadership development, insights, resources and information, the pilot provides both mentors and mentees with the tools to enhance their own leadership skills. The program does not provide new or discreet information, but rather, raises awareness of existing material and resources available through Leadership Development and Support Services.
“As a mentee in the Aspiring Racialized Leaders Pilot Program, I have been able to further my understanding of the Peel Leadership Framework and how my teaching and learning have been developed throughout my journey thus far,” says Kulbir Dhaliwal. “My mentor, has helped me understand the connection between my Lumina Spark results and how I can use them to be an effective leader. Our trusting relationship is growing because of our mutual and transparent commitment to this exciting program in Peel.”
The pilot will continue through the 2014-15 school year with ongoing support and programming for the mentor-mentee pairs, as well as the group as a whole. For more information about the program,
New Peel Leadership Framework
Whether you are an aspiring leader or already in a leadership position, the Peel Leadership Framework provides important insights about building your leadership capacity. It is a valuable tool for self-reflection and self-assessment.
The Peel Leadership Framework is designed to:
- Facilitate a shared vision of leadership in our schools and district
- Promote a common language that fosters an understanding of leadership and what it means to be a school or system leaders
- Identify the practices, actions and personal resources that describe effective leadership
- Provide a framework for reflection and mentoring
- Guide the design and implementation of professional learning and development for school and system leaders
- Support School Success Planning
- Align performance based assessment with evaluation and annual success planning
- Aid in the recruitment, development, selection and retention of school and system leaders
- Guide and direct candidates through the promotion process
“The updated Peel Leadership Framework is designed to support leadership development across the organization,” says Jerry Powidajko, superintendent of leadership development and school support. “Instructional staff can use this tool as a gap analysis to determine areas of strength and those areas where more experience or additional training may be beneficial.”
To learn more, visit http://inet.peelschools.org/departments/staffdev/documents/PDSB218-AFLBookletRevised.pdf.