Jade Bilodeau – Former President OSTA-AECO and Student at Western University

Jade Bilodeau – Former President OSTA-AECO and Student at Western University
About Jade Bilodeau

Jade (@JadeBilodeau3) is an undergraduate student at Western University and the First-Year Representative for the Social Science Students’ Council.  In high school, she was a student trustee and the President of the Ontario Student Trustee Association

In today’s episode, she shares what she believes educators should focus on and do to make their students feel appreciated, seen and heard! 

Connect with Jade: Facebook | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

Western University

UWO Social Science Students’ Council

Ontario Student Trustee Association

Western Women in Leadership

The Transcript

**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.

Sam Demma (00:00):
Do you want access to all the past guests on this show? Do you want a network with like-minded individuals and meet other high performing educators from around the world? If so, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Sign up to join the exclusive network and you’ll get access to live virtual networking events and other special opportunities that will come out throughout 2021. I promise you I will not fill your inbox you might get one email a month. If that sounds interesting. Go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today we have a different perspective. We have Jade Bilodeau coming on the podcast. She is an undergraduate student at Western university and a first year representative of the social science students council. Last year, she was a student trustee and the President of the Ontario Student Trustee Association.

Sam Demma (01:03):

And she was responsible for bringing dozens of different initiatives and policies to the government of Ontario that students were behind that students wanted to have approved. And she did a phenomenal job. I was actually supposed to speak at one of their conferences right before COVID hit. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to speak this may instead. She’s now moved on from the association and now is a full-time student at Western, and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to bring her on and talk about what she thinks is important for a teacher to do or an educator to do to help young people. And she shares so much awesome ideas and advice on today’s episode. So I hope you really enjoy it without further ado. Here’s Jade. Jade, thank you so much for coming onto the High Performing Educator podcast. It’s a pleasure to have you. I know things have been so weird since we last spoke back in may. You’ve been still pushing still leading. I know you’ve done work now with Harvard. You’re doing some, some stuff with mental health now, as well. I’m curious to know what inspired you to be become the student leader that you have today and actually to get involved and worked, that impacts other young people with OSTA-AECO, which is done for you now. But you move on to next steps.

Jade Bilodeau (02:24):

Yeah, so essentially my journey kind of began in high school with student leadership. And one of the main reasons that I began down that route and down that journey was because of how inspired and motivated I was by the students around me. I’ve always believed that age should not define what a person is capable of doing in their life or what the I can accomplish at that time. And so that’s kind of what inspired me to become a student leader and to be able to advocate for people who were still my own age, but who also had such an important thing to say.

Sam Demma (02:55):

Cool, did you have any educators, teachers, or older influences in your life that inspired you and maybe mentored you or motivated you to take this path?

Jade Bilodeau (03:05):

Absolutely. There were so many people in my high school and community who were my biggest mentors specifically my guidance counselor at school. My board of director, cuz I was a student trustee of the Niagara Catholic district school board. And there are just so many different coaches and teachers that I’ve had. And even to this day, I still keep in touch with them. And I still ask them so many questions because as much as age can’t determine, can’t define what you can do. It’s definitely helpful to have some wisdom and so going to those people and those mentors is definitely helpful.

Sam Demma (03:37):

Cool. If you had to break it down, what do you think they did that was so impactful for you? Was it their passion when they spoke to you? Was it their experience? Like if a teacher is listening to this right now, thinking how do I impact my students the same way your mentors did for you? Like what are those characteristics that can make a huge difference in a student’s life?

Jade Bilodeau (03:57):

Yeah, for me, it was 100% their passion and their drive to wanna see their students succeed for the most part. When I had conversations with my mentors and I asked them questions they would answer with another question. And so essentially it wasn’t necessarily them giving me the steps into telling me this is the roadmap to becoming a student leader or to doing what you wanted to do. It was more of you were capable of doing it and kind of motivating me to continue to do what I loved to do.

Sam Demma (04:26):

Do you remember, and this is like a question leading from what you just said. Do you remember any of those questions that were like, whoa, this is so fitting. Like this really helped me push through something. Cause I think like the information we always seek is in, so else’s mind and the ability for us to get that information is directly tied to our ability to ask a great question. And I think what you just mentioned is so important asking great questions is so, so important for not only coaching, but for, you know, your own progress in life. And I’m just curious, you may, you may not, you could totally say no some of your crazy, but if you do remember, please let me know.

Jade Bilodeau (05:03):

For sure. I remember one time it was during university applications and I was sitting in my guidance counselor’s room her office and I asked a question about one of the application essay questions. And I said, how should I interpret this? Like, what should I do about this? How should I answer it? And she basically told me, she said, how do you see it in your own life? Like relate it back and connect it to yourself. So she was kind of just, none of her responses were actually answers that I was looking for. But rather her question kind of like led me to reflect deeper and to actually think about how the things that I’ve done can relate to what I was trying to accomplish in the future.

Sam Demma (05:39):

Hmm. I love that. And I it’s cool. Cause my, one of my mentor does the same thing with me and he was telling me earlier, usually the answer is a part of the problem and you don’t actually have to absolutely reinvent it. You have to just ask enough questions to figure it out and sure. You ended your role as the president of the OSTA-AECO back in June, July. Was it around there that you guys?

Jade Bilodeau (06:00):

Yeah, my term officially ended on August 1st. Okay. so it did go through part of the summer. But those two years, as part of the Ontario student trustees association were so pivotable and my student leadership journey, I’m so grateful for the experience that I got there. And funny enough, there were even mentors that I would consider my same age. And there were students part of the, a Ontario student trustee association that I would consider mentors as well. And they were people, people my age or younger.

Sam Demma (06:28):

Awesome. You ended your term when COVID was just unfolding. And so you got a, you got a little piece of the pie in terms of the pick sure. Of what things were shaping up to look like for the coming year. What were some of those challenges that you were facing towards the end of your term with COVID and trying to run this huge organization?

Jade Bilodeau (06:47):

Yeah. There were so many barriers and challenges. Seeing kind of the barriers that school boards were facing in terms of trying to create a plan for September was huge. But then more than that, it was essentially the biggest barrier that we faced was how can we support students during this time? Because definitely one of the biggest challenges that I’ve personally faced, and I know that students across Ontario and across the world are facing right now is adapting to this new learning style and this new environment of learning. And so during that time, and at the end of the year, when everything was unfolding, it was essentially what can we do to make sure that students are in the best position going forward. And currently, cause obviously there are so many barriers in the education system and then adding a pandemic, a global pandemic on top of that, doesn’t make it easy. So it was definitely just a matter of what resources and what supports can we try to provide to students.

Sam Demma (07:37):

And I know during the pandemic, when it was just unfolding, you guys still pushed forward and tried to do virtual events where you could, do you have any tips on engaging young people virtually? I know teachers it’s, it’s a struggle, the struggle that you mentioned earlier about dealing with the pandemic and all the other barriers, it applies right now to schools and teachers as well. You know, if you were a student in classroom and you had to learn virtually what you are with university, what would you want to tell your teacher to do, to make it a better experience?

Jade Bilodeau (08:07):

I would say one of the biggest things, especially being around the third week into post-secondary online and even last year planning some of those virtual kind of provincial meetings. One of the biggest things was trying to be creative in terms of having synchronous and dedicated time to social interactions online and so for example, whether that’s kind of matching people up and pairing them for coffee chats, or it’s kind of just interacting increasing that user friendly techno technological tools, that was a big thing, is finding a platform that could then integrate a bunch of different kind of softwares and programs that we could use. It, honestly, for teachers, I would say in the classroom, it can be as easy as taking a poll halfway through class. Does this make sense to everyone or things like that? Just something to keep people engaged cuz staring at a computer screen all day is definitely not an easy task.

Sam Demma (08:56):

Yeah, no, it’s definitely weird. And as an educator, people that maybe just started in education are getting thrown into this job thinking, oh my gosh, this stuff is crazy. Like I didn’t sign up for this. I signed up for teaching. This is like 10 jobs in one. I’m not ready for this. But it in education, we also have the opportunity to impact so many young people. And although you weren’t a formal teacher, you were, you know, at the head of an organization that was impacting thousands of young people’s lives. I’m curious to know if you have a story you can share about the work that you did at OSTA-AECO?

Sam Demma (09:37):

If you could share like a story where they work, you guys did impacted a young person just to remind educators that the work that they’re doing is so important right now. And you can change the student’s name if you’d like to keep it private. Or if they’re like someone who you think would love to have their name shared, you can go for it.

Jade Bilodeau (09:56):

I would say ironically enough, one of the biggest things that we had done in my term last year as a part of it was actually the e-learning survey which was data from the previous academic year. And so the results from that survey kind of showed that students are in the same mind frame as student, as teachers right now, in terms of wanting e-learning isn’t necessarily what students want at this time. The results of our survey basically showed that 96% of students were against mandated e-learning cuz that was the topic that was talked about. And so obviously it’s not necessarily an optional thing right now because of the safety of communities in the world. And so the, I guess thing that I could say to teachers right now is that it’s a learning experience for both students and teachers and that learn and grow together as a class because obviously it’s gonna be both parties, students and teachers learning specifically something that kind of a story that we did last year was we kind of had this dialogue with student trustees across the province about share something motivational or inspiring that one of your teachers did during COVID.

Jade Bilodeau (11:07):

And that was kind of just to keep things hopeful and to remind students that even though during this time, teachers are still trying their hardest and that’s ultimately students will recognize that when teachers are trying their best to provide the best educational experience.

Sam Demma (11:20):

Do you remember any of those stories? Just curious, like, I don’t know if you do maybe some crazy ones?

Jade Bilodeau (11:24):

Yeah. yeah. There was actually quite a few awesome ones, especially for graduating students. There were some really awesome things that teachers had done specifically, actually in my school board and in my high school actually the teachers had compiled in a van and had driven around to all of the graduating class of 2020 and had honked and kind of like celebrated balloons and kind of like the whole 10 yards. And it was kind of just a way to say, we appreciate your four years at high school. Like we recognize that you’re graduating. It was just a good experience, even though it couldn’t be in person.

Sam Demma (11:59):

And that could also be applied to a birthday for anyone listening, who doesn’t have a graduating class. Imagine if you drove to everyone’s house on their birthday and gave them, you know, a piece of cake or Uber eats them a cake from Baskin Robbins or something crazy. That’s absolutely no shows that you care a little bit more. Cool. And what’s next for you? I mean, you’ve done so much in education already. I know you’re still leading in space as a young person. What are you working on now and what’s coming up?

Jade Bilodeau (12:24):

Yeah, so currently I’m a first year student at Western university. I’m an international relations. And so I’ve just been, I’ve just been looking for student leadership opportunities in post-secondary cool. And so I’m planning on joining my residence, council, social science faculty, student council. I just joined the Western women in leadership club. And so just finding ways to still get involved in meet like-minded people, because that was one of the best things that I ever did in high school was get involved to meet people who are similar.

Sam Demma (12:55):

Nice. And if a teacher wants to reach out and get a younger person’s perspective on anything related to student engagement, student leadership, doing activities for their kids where can they reach out to you? What’s the best way to get in touch?

Jade Bilodeau (13:08):

I would say the first place is definitely their students in terms of their classes, aside from that their student leadership teams at their high schools. And then even if they wanna go further than that, their student trustees at their school boards are always such a great resource. I know I loved when educators came to me and asked me questions. And then even beyond that, the Ontario student trustees association, or just groups of students that are similar, where they’re all kind of striving to represent that student voice. But essentially just having and engaging students in a conversation, whether that’s the person who sits in the front row of the class or the person who sits in the back row, whatever it is, just engaging students in conversation in general.

Sam Demma (13:47):

Love that and say an educators listening to this podcast right now and they’re thinking to themselves Jade’s awesome. And she might have some cool perspectives that, that she can share. Is there a way that they can actually get in touch with you personally to bounce some ideas around or have a conversation?

Jade Bilodeau (14:01):

Yeah, absolutely. You can reach out to me on Facebook. That’s usually where a lot of educators do and it’s Jade Bilodeau. And other than that through the Ontario Student Trustees Association, there’s lots of, kind of different alumni networks through there.

Sam Demma (14:17):

Awesome, Jade, thanks so much for taking some time to chat and sharing a little bit of your wisdom and your story. I really appreciate it.

Jade Bilodeau (14:23):

Thank you so much for having me.

Sam Demma (14:25):

And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating. You so other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you wanna meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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