Monday, April 24, 2017

Spiralling Into Something Better

Several years ago, well before the inception of the Network, Linda and I spent some time in New Mexico and became intrigued with spiral images that were all over the place. We came home with earrings, candle-holders, necklaces, tee-shirts, coasters and even placemats. Although we have cut back on spiral purchases, the image remained compelling.   

We hadn’t really made the connection to inquiry until our work with Helen Timperley helped us all realize that the inquiry process is much more of a continuous spiral than it is a fixed cycle.  We like the red brush stroked spiral that was designed to reflect our conceptualization of the inquiry process. While we knew the image was right, it was only recently that we learned more about the spiral and what it means to some Native American groups. What we found out made the image even more special.

Over Spring Break I spent a few days with a friend from childhood at an adventure spa in southern Utah.  We hiked, practiced yoga, tried out a barre class (never again), had massages and swapped stories over wine.  The weather was glorious and the red rocks of the canyons were stunningly beautiful. 

On one guided hike, a ranger took us into hidden places where the rocks were covered with ancient petroglyphs of the Navajo people. Spiral images were everywhere. She said that the spiral represents the space between what is and what can be, between the present and a preferred future. It also reflects the passage between life as we know it and an after life. 

Later, we were encouraged to walk slowly around, into and out of a spiral of stones in the red dirt. As we walked in, we were encouraged to be aware of the burdens we were carrying, the hurts, the sorrows, the losses -  a metaphoric backpack. Once in the centre, we were to put the backpack down and imagine it being consumed by the fire and the energy that exists in the core of the spiral. On the way out, we were to be open to new possibilities. I can imagine some of you thinking I must have been on a very strange adventure.

And yet, when I thought about it, I saw some close parallels with what the spiral of inquiry asks educators to do – and where it can take us. Being open to listening to our learners and reflecting on our own practices takes courage and can often feel a bit overwhelming. The backpack of understanding can feel pretty heavy. And when as a team, we decide to put the backpack down (or as Helen Timperley advised us ‘put down the ducky’) we open ourselves up to all kinds of new possibilities. The changes that schools are making when they go into that space of listening to their learners can be life changing for them.  

We say repeatedly that the spiral of inquiry is not an initiative -  it is a way of professional being. The idea that the spiral represents the way between where we are and a better place for our learners makes the image even more compelling.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pre-Symposium Seminar - May 11th

We are very pleased to announce the NOII Pre-Symposium Seminar with Dr. Helen Timperley and Amelia Peterson.  

This seminar is designed for educators:
  • determined to strengthen professional learning in schools and districts
  • curious about what other jurisdictions are doing to help all learners thrive
  • interested in how professional inquiry is helping to change the life experiences of learners

When: Thursday, May 11, 2017
             10am - 2:45pm

Where: Westin Wall Centre
              3099 Corvette Way
  Richmond BC

Cost: $150 (including GST) – Enrollment is limited
           Registration is online by credit card:

Dr. Helen Timperley, University of Auckland, New Zealand, is widely recognized for her work in professional learning. She has published widely, including her most recent book Realizing the Power of Professional Learning (2014).

Amelia Peterson is completing doctoral studies through Harvard University’s PhD in Education. She is currently studying the development processes of innovative education policy agendas, and working on Thrive: Why 21st Century Skills Are Not Enough (with Valerie Hannon, forthcoming June 2017).

Join us for an engaging session with two international scholars! Please share the flyer with your colleagues. Not registered for the NOII Symposium on May 12 & 13th yet? Registration is almost sold out:

Monday, March 13, 2017

Assessment for Learning Drive-In

Interested in assessment for learning and strategies for making the new BC Core Competencies visible for students?

The Centre for Innovation Educational Leadership at Vancouver Island University invites you to the Assessment for Learning Drive-In on April 20th from 4pm – 6pm at VIU Cowichan Campus in Duncan. For more details and to RSVP, see their flyer.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Tools to support school-wide inquiry

Network schools are now fully engaged in their school inquiries, collaborating across roles and schools to improve teaching and learning in their districts. Please take a few moments to scan through the list of topics for this school year so you can see the breadth of learning taking place across the province, as well as potentially connect with another school and/or district working on similar learning goals. There are three lists of inquiry topics to explore:

Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network
Schools focused specifically on Indigenous ways of knowing and worldviews. For example, history/culture, residential schools, place-based learning, self-identity, etc.

AESN Impact Study
Secondary schools focused on student transitions for Aboriginal learners. These schools are also engaged in a research study looking at the impact of their inquiry work. 

Network of Inquiry and Innovation
Schools focused on a variety of topics linked to specific school needs. For example, self-regulated learning, the new curriculum, student engagement, math, co-teaching and collaboration, etc. 

We also want to share a great new resource from the New Zealand Ministry of Education focused on the Spiral of Inquiry. Their new website features resources to support all stages of the Spiral, including collaborative inquiry examples, videos, links to the work in BC, and more. Certainly worth checking out and sharing widely! You can find this and other materials linked on our Resources page on the website. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

NOII AESN Extended Lower Mainland Meeting – Jan. 23rd

You are invited to our second Extended Lower Mainland Network Gathering on January 23rd from 4 – 6 pm at Norma Rose Point School in Vancouver. This is a great time to share in some professional dialogue with other educators and learn from both local and international research. It is always exciting to share our stories.

Our focus for this session will be Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives.We are so pleased that Jo-Anne Chrona, Jurisdiction/TEFA Curriculum Coordinator from FNESC (First Nations Education Steering Committee) will be joining us and sharing the new Science First Peoples resource.

There will be an opportunity to explore, discuss and learn about this resource and make connections to the revised curriculum and interdisciplinary learning frameworks. We also welcome Linda Klassen, who will be sharing an “Ignite” session about Aboriginal Education at Gibson Elementary School in Delta.

After this session, teams will have an opportunity to share their inquiry work and case studies to date.
Please join us and bring a friend!

Share this flyer with your colleagues and networks.

Norma Rose Point School
5488 Ortona Rd, Vancouver (near UBC)
January 23 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Refreshments provided

Friday, December 9, 2016

Free UBC Course - Starting January 24th

Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education
January 24 -­ March 7 | Free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

Engage with Indigenous knowledge keepers, educational leaders, and resources to enhance your understanding and knowledge of practices that advance reconciliation in the places where you live, learn, and work.


This course will help you envision how Indigenous histories, perspectives, worldviews, and approaches to learning can be made part of the work we do in classrooms, organizations, communities, and our everyday experiences in ways that are thoughtful and respectful. In this course, reconciliation emphasizes changing institutional structures, practices, and policies, as well as personal and professional ideologies to create environments that are committed to strengthening our relationships with Indigenous peoples.

For educators, this means responding to educational reforms that prioritize improved educational outcomes for Indigenous learners. In addition, educators must support all learners to develop their knowledge and understanding of Indigenous people¹s worldviews and cultures as a basis for creating equitable and inclusive learning spaces. To support these goals, teachers, administrators, young people, school staff, and researchers will learn from Indigenous Elders, educational leaders, and culturally relevant learning resources as part of their experiences in this MOOC.

For others who want to build their own competence and the capacity of those around them to engage in relationships with Indigenous peoples based on intercultural understanding, empathy, and respect, this course will help get you started in this process.


This online course is delivered using the edX platform, learn about how to register here.

·       DATES:   January 24 ­ March 7, 2017
·       LOCATION:  Online (asynchronous)
·       REGISTRATION:  Register by January 23


Visit the website for more detailed information, and program contacts:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Regional Meetings Update (lots of resources!)

The Networks have been busy over the last week with regional meetings happening all over the world (yes, world!), including Nanaimo, Smithers, the Lower Mainland and Australia (yes, Australia!).  We have a lot to share from the discussions and networking over the last week.

Judy and Linda, and AESN Impact Study leader Debbie Leighton-Stephens were in Smithers with the North West Regional group for a day of professional learning and networking. Judy and Linda shared the brand-spanking-new Spiral Playbook, which they were asked to write by C21 Canada aimed at Canadian Superintendents.  There are a bunch of resources that accompany the Playbook which we hope you will find useful, including the Spiral Playbook Quick Reference Guide.  Debbie shared more about the AESN Impact Study, and specifically how schools involved with the study are focusing their inquiry work around transitions for learners. You will hear more about how this work is going at the NOII Symposium in May.

The central Vancouver Island Network meeting was held in conjunction with the regional Canadian Assessment for Learning Network (CAfLN) event – two great events in one! The CAfLN conference is in Nova Scotia this year in early May.

The Extended Lower Mainland group meet in Burnaby, with Network Leaders Brooke Moore (Delta) and Lynne Tomlinson (West Vancouver) focusing a part of the discussion around assessment and sharing a bunch of ready-to-use tools and resources. Check out the Embedded Critique and Feedback Rubric (developed from Ron Berger’s Leaders of Their Own Learning), this Science 10 Lab Rubric developed by Michelle Wood, and this visual rubric developed by Kelly Skehill. We also thought this Grade 1 Term Overview by Annieville Elementary is a really helpful way to communicate student learning and focus for the term. (See what you miss when you don’t attend meetings??!! – I missed attending this one and was so disappointed!). The next Extending Lower Mainland meeting will be on Jan. 23rd (lock it in!).

Last but not least, NOII Australia kicked off their first meeting as an official region of the Network – go team! We’re thrilled to learn with and from this great group lead by Network Leaders Natalie Mansour and David Sim. Make sure you plan to attend the NOII Symposium on May 12 – 13 in Richmond in order to meet and network with some members of this Australian team.

If you held a meeting that we’ve missed (or you have one upcoming) please let us know by dropping us a line along with a few details (and even better, some resources) to

Thanks to everyone involved – especially those hosting meetings, sharing during discussions and attending for the first time – for all your great work in supporting inquiry, teamwork and curiosity. And please keep in mind that submission of your school inquiry focus is due by November 25th. See more about how to do that here.