Conversations with School Leaders

This is a podcast that engages school leaders across Ontario in authentic conversations about their passion and expertise in K - 12 education. We hope listeners will gain practical insights and strategies from each other to enhance learning and strengthen their school communities. Most importantly, this podcast will highlight excellence in practice and the joy of school leadership! 

Podcast Hosts

Photo of Lawrence DeMaeyerPhoto of Susie Lee-Fernandes

Lawrence DeMaeyer 

Professional Learning Advisor, Ontario Principals’ Council 

Susie Lee-Fernandes

Director of Professional Learning, Ontario Principals’ Council 

Share Your Story

Please consider joining us as a guest by completing our brief proposal form.

Leadership Talks Proposal Form


Listen here or visit voicEd Radio. We invite you to subscribe, follow, favorite, comment or just listen. 

Episode 0 - Leadership Talks: Getting Started


In Episode 0 - Leadership Talks: Getting Started, join our hosts Susie and Lawrence to hear more about what Leadership Talks is all about. We are looking forward to our conversations with leaders in education sharing their passions, areas of expertise and authentic stories about what drives their leadership journey.

Episode 1 - Support to Thrive: Bolstering Resilience and Mental Health in Schools

Our Guest 

Dr. Kingsley Hurlington, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board


Joining us in conversation is Kingsley Hurlington to discuss the question - Ever wonder why some youth are seemingly crushed by stress in their lives while others seem to thrive? Resilience is the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to well-being in the face of adversity. In an interactive workshop, we will explore how the principles of resilience can be applied by teachers with individual students, classroom communities and entire schools in practical and meaningful ways that bolster social, emotional, mental – and ultimately – academic and personal success.

Episode 2 - Principalship at High Priority / High Needs Elementary Schools
Our Guest 

Umar Qureshi, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board


In an elementary school that is deemed "high need" within Ontario, the context of the learning is as important as what is being taught and by whom. In our conversation with Umar Qureshi, he discusses his research proposal compiling leadership competencies and standardized considerations to support school leaders. Could leadership considerations be added to the Ontario Leadership Framework (OLF) given the diverse academic and socio-economic circumstances at high need elementary schools in Ontario? A consistent leadership framework to address the student achievement gap would be beneficial with the layered nature of school principalship.

The question of how to effectively support student achievement for at-risk students in high need schools must be addressed to ensure educational equity. A systemic and structured leadership framework that consistently supports students Ontario-wide is important to implement in order to ensure an equity based school leadership approach that will reduce student achievement gaps.

Episode 3 - Leading Innovation, Finding and Activating School Leaders

Our Guest

Jennifer Shortreed, Waterloo Region District School Board


For this episode, we have Jennifer Shortreed joining us to share some of her experiences working on innovative structures that improve student outcomes over the years, most frequently in Design thinking, Student Success and Online Learning.

As a System Principal with 15 years secondary administrative experience, she has activated staff on innovation in new modular credits in student success, innovation labs with packaged credits, remote learning that centers the student, and recently blended learning. In this conversation, Jennifer outlines leadership moves, relationship tools, and the key aspects needed to ensure success on an innovation in your school, across schools, or across the system. When students are in the heart of a human centered design process, the unimaginable becomes a practical reality.

Episode 4 - Supporting 2SLGBTQQIA+ Staff and Students

Our Guest

Barry Bedford, Simcoe County District School Board


Please note that this topic may be challenging for different reasons, and while it is not our intent to cause anxiety or stress to anyone participating or listening, we acknowledge that this may be the experience for some people. If needed, we encourage you to reach out for support to a trusted friend or colleague, another personal resource or your organization’s Employee Assistance Program.

In this session, Barry Bedford joins us to discuss the realities of being 2SLGBTQQIA+ in today's schools. There is a need to challenge homophobia and heterosexism in school communities (unintentional or intentional) to help create safer, more inclusive learning environments and workspaces. As school leaders, let’s think about how to model best practices for including 2SLGBTQQIA+ issues.

Episode 5 - School / Community Read Alouds

Our Guest

Gurmeet Gill, Peel District School Board


Gurmeet Gill, our guest in this episode of Leadership Talks, has been using school wide and community read alouds to bring the community together. The intentional selection of books support school success goals around equity, including celebrating Black Excellence, learning about Canadian history with the lens of Truth and Reconciliation, and celebrates our students and community. Gurmeet’s support of read alouds, engaged community members, students and staff as her schools’ special guests and as readers. She invites you to embrace your passion, be intentional and take risks as a leader. For herself, she has found exciting work in this area that continues to flourish in many ways.

Episode 6 - Teaching Learning Walks and Rolls: Co-creating Learning

Our Guest

Dr. Beverly Freedman, Educational Services Consultant


Update - Shortly after the release of this episode, we received feedback that the term “walks” is not inclusive as not all individuals walk. We should have included terminology that is universal and does not stem from ableism. We decided to keep this episode availableas it does highlight ideas and strategies to support instructional leadership.As we re-evaluate resources, strategies, etc. to support leadership, we are committed to intentional learning about ableism in schooling and society, including our language, that perpetuate bias, barriers and oppression.We encourage our Members to learn more about ableism in education and to reflect on how that shows up in their practice as they find other learnings within this podcast. 

In this conversation, we chat with Bev Freedman about how COVID disrupted the ways we, as leaders, engage in schools and classrooms. She reminds us of the importance of intentional monitoring of teaching/learning in classrooms.

Teaching Learning Walks and Rolls (TLWR) provides a framework to capture observations not only individual classrooms, but rather a broader analysis across classrooms creating a tapestry of learning. There isn't an emphasis on a single data point, instead TLWR uses the data across multiple visits to classrooms, across all grades and subjects, as assessment for learning. When combined with other information, observational data can be used to develop trends and patterns to inform system/school planning. Providing collegial feedback using observational data becomes a form of pedagogical documentation providing the basis for collaborative inquiry, which can increase collective efficacy.

Presence in classrooms also increases principal credibility, because feedback is job-embedded, based on on-going, evidence-based teacher practice. TLWRs moves the practice from automatic to intentional using a framework to focus on various forms of evidence in teacher practice. Effective leaders are present and collaborative. TLWRs are evidence-based. Engaging and collaborating – purposeful presence is good for your health and your mind.

Let us engage, be purposefully present and learn together!


Teaching Learning Walks.pdf

*Please note that the monograph is for the personal and professional use of OPC Members and Associates. The materials should not be re-distributed or used publicly, or with staff or other groups, without permission from the author.

Episode 7 - Supporting Technological Education

Our Guest

Brent Coakwell, Halton District School Board


With the current demand for Technological Education for K – 12, Brent Coakwell joins us on Leadership Talks to share his passion for the trades. He’ll discuss how it’s possible to empower and enhance the experience for students, while supporting principals in an area many are looking to develop a deeper understanding. There are ways principals can help each other through the deep work needed to build capacity in Technological Education. Brent also talks about considerations for planning, timetabling, budgeting, and safety, as well as supporting and mentoring new Tech staff as they enter the field of education. Don’t miss this episode!

More coming soon...

Next episode anticipated for February 28

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