Today is the first full day of the 26th International Congress of School Effectiveness and Improvement in Santiago Chile. The setting is stunning, the weather is glorious (the sunshine feels great), and the learning promises to be very rich. This is the first time that ICSEI has been held in Latin America and it is exciting to learn about the advances that are being made in Chilean education over the past ten years, Chile has been identified by the OECD as the most rapidly improving education system based on TIMSS and PIRLS - and the congress organizers also acknowledge that they have a long way to go to achieve the levels of quality and equity to which they aspire. The partnership between Canada and Chile in many education reform effort has been very important. We have been impressed with the number of Canadians in attendance and the strong contributions Canadian educators and researchers are making both in Chile - and on an international scale.
Just take a look at the program to see the number of Canadian colleagues represented!
Yesterday started with a pre-conference on leadership. Teams from across the world were asked to bring short video clips of interesting practice to stimulate discussion. Three of the short presentations weren't just from Canada, they were from BC. First Lynn Brown and Michelle Jones shared a clip about the connection between Dover Bay Secondary and a primary school in Wales. The clip featured a visiting Welsh teacher interviewing and expressing her amazement at the depth of knowledge demonstrated by Lynn's students involved in literacy inquiry projects. The second clip was from Kamloops where John Churchley introduced the delegates to the Beattie School of the Arts and the importance of an arts infused curriculum in a short and powerful piece. And finally, Linda and I shared one of the AESN clips featuring the focused inquiry work of Mike Skinner and the team at Lakes District Secondary in improving student outcomes. (This clip can be seen on the NOII website - www.noii.ca)
Last night Michel Fullan (recently recognized as a Officer of the Order of Canada) provided the keynote address. You can see a video stream of all the keynotes, including Micheal's on the ICSEI site. We were particularly interested in hearing his description of the characteristics of effective networks. Consider these in terms of the networks you are involved in - and the ones we are so closely connected to as well:
1. Focus on student learning
2. Have effective leadership
3. Adult learning is key
4. A focus on learning and persisting with specific strategies
5. Combination of mutual allegiance (bigger sense of commitment) and collaborative competition
6. Reach outside for learning and contribute to the system you are in.
His powerpoint hasn't been posted yet but here's a recent one that includes much of the content of last night's talk.
Today started with a keynote from Marlene Scardamelia (U of T) on Knowledge Creation. Marlene's work is truly brilliant and to do justice to it in a blog post is beyond my capacity. At the very least, I hope you'll check out her website.
Since ICSEI 2009 in Vancouver, BC educators have increasingly become involved in this congress - and are making a great contribution. Paige Fisher from VIU is now on the Board of Directors and the final session on Sunday involves Paige, MaryLynn Epps, Lynn Brown (all from Nanaimo) and Doug Livingstone from Nisga'a showing how an inquiry approach in a variety of contexts is having a significant impact on student learning. There is also a group from TRU who are attending for the first time - and making their presence known in a very positive way as well. Linda and I are also part of two international leadership symposiums - and running around like nuts trying to absorb everything we can.
In the meantime, I'll try to provide some additional highlights from the sessions. You can also follow the twitter conversation at #icsei2013
It feel great to see the impact that Canadians at all levels of the education system are having. Our work matters and is making a difference.