Board aims for more humane management style

By Kirk Winter

Education director says PD has helped staff whether breakneck changes during COVID
TLDSB Director of Education Wes Hahn.

In recognition of the significant stresses that the pandemic has put on all levels of school board staff, TLDSB director Wes Hahn wants to move away from a style of leadership that only focuses on how the system operates.

Instead, he wants to move toward a more humane style of leadership that listens to staff and adjusts when it can to reduce stressors for employees.

“This more humane approach to leadership is not about policy and procedure or following directions,” Hahn told trustees. “It is about listening to our people and moving forward leading with heart and soul.”

Hahn said senior staff needs to balance the supervising and managing with dealing with staff in a more humane manner and understanding the stressors that staff are under.

“The workload for school staff across the province is an issue, especially when you look at the amount of communication coming in the form of memos and emails every day. Staff can be overwhelmed with all this information,” Hahn said.

Hahn said the board is already trying to compile the information their staff must have in a much more manageable fashion. The director also shared that flexibility must be shown with system-wide due dates if the schools are feeling stressed.

“We at times will need to recognize a different timeline and release the pressure on the system,” Hahn suggested.

“We also need to realize that teachers need more access to the schools,” Hahn said. “Many struggle with issues like poor wifi at home or lack of space to do their prep work. The school becomes a refuge for them and we are trying to be responsive to that,” Hahn said.

Hahn stressed the importance of supporting learning in schools, working directly with staff and students. Hahn said that he and supervisory officers learn from principals and staff at every one of these meetings, and these breakthroughs benefit students.

“We want teachers to be empowered to own the student learning based on what the data in their school tells them about the kids at their school. Supervisory officers should know the schools that are assigned to them really well because with that knowledge better decisions can be made about things like staffing,” Hahn said.

Hahn said this stress on a new form of leadership and a transition back to student learning being the priority, rather than just student and staff safety, is, “new work for many. There are many challenges. While we are still in the pandemic stage we are hopefully on the way out of it with a focus on student learning.”

Student trustee Alexia Evans-Turnbull wanted to know once COVID numbers have improved would TLDSB be returning to the semester system? Evans-Turnbull reported that a number of her peers are enjoying quadmesters and have no desire to go back to four classes a day.

“We are not quite sure yet,” Hahn said. “The province and the chief medical officer of health will make that call. Superintendents will look at the data and help make decisions (once they have been given the go-ahead).”

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