Training Day with Mr. Thiel

Sorry for the extended absence, I have three posts on the go and it seems that every time I sit down to write that something comes up. This should be expected and is not an excuse, I simply dislike being inconsistent in my writing, but that is enough with the sympathy search.

I had the wonderful pleasure of spending last Wednesday with Mr. Glen Thiel, the principal of Brookwood Elementary in Spruce Grove, Alberta. It was a wonderful eye opener in many aspects, the largest being how an administrator works with and in a school that is bursting at the seems with students in a population boom. Brookwood School currently has 550 students from Kindergarten to Grade 4. Designed in 1970 as an open area school, Brookwood School promotes a friendly and caring learning environment, where a high level of cooperation is nurtured amongst students and staff.

Thinking about all the issues and day to day concerns that I have when it relates to working with early years students, I was prepared to have a very busy day with Mr. Thiel. This however was not the case. Aside from a couple of issue that were, for the most part minor, Mr. Thiel and I were able to spend the day talking, discussing, supervising (recess) and participating in the building of a common goal that we believe in…


This was evident from the moment I walked into the school and into Mr. Thiel office. First thing in the morning, as an arrangement with a student Mr. Thiel has morning check-ins, which allows the student to discuss what is going on for them, what they are interested and to form relationships. While for Mr. Thiel it reveals how the student is doing that morning, what frame of mind they are in and what is going on in the students life.

Later in the morning during recess, I went out on supervision. Mr. Theil revealed that he intentionally does this for a number of reasons, however I observed that the largest reason is that he gets to spend that time with the students. Asking them how they are doing, check with them about things that may have happened or are  happening and to get a feel for how the day is going. It was also clear that the students loved having Mr. Thiel out on supervision, as we always had kids around us and Mr. Thiel was constantly in the process of receiving hugs.

There was only one thing in my entire day that caused me to step back and that was this greeting the students and Mr. Thiel shared by waving fingers. I asked what this was and was given the greatest reasoning. Since Brookwood is an open concept school with minimal number of walls students yelling out good morning or saying hello whenever Mr. Thiel was around could be very distracting. To minimize this distraction, there was the finger wave and the number of fingers used related to what grade the students were in. Amazing, the students could say hello, and get a response without causing a break in the regular flow of things . This was a great idea and a wonderful way to daily communicate with students when time doesn’t always allow.

I would like to thank Mr. Thiel, the staff at Bookwood and the students for their warm welcome. I would also like to thank Mr. Thiel for showing me that in my journey to understand the inner workings of being an instructional leader one of the key components is creating, maintaining and always developing relationships.


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