Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gleneagles - Ch'axay Elementary School

Students at Gleneagles Elementary School in West Vancouver wrote their names into history last week, each autographing a large cedar carving commemorating the school’s adoption of its new First Nations name.
Following a naming ceremony on Thursday, the school is hereon known as Gleneagles-Ch’axay, the latter being the centuries-old title for the Horseshoe Bay area where the school sits today.
Pronounced “CHUCK-hi,” the name is a vocal approximation of the “sizzling” sound made by the once abundant herring that spawned in the waters of the bay, according to S7aplek (SOP-luck), a Squamish cultural advisor. Please follow the link above for more on this very important occasion.

Director of Instruction, Lynne Tomlinson, the former principal of Gleneagles was honoured at this ceremony by the Squamish First Nations for her contribution to increasing Aboriginal understanding and respect among West Vancouver schools. Lynne is a long time network leader whose work both with the Networks of Inquiry and Innovation and the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network is greatly valued. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Building Aboriginal Understanding and Respect

One of the greatest opportunities that Linda and I have is to visit schools across the province. The entrance to the building says a lot about the identity of the school, what is valued, and the extent to which local cultures are valued.  Kitwanga Elementary School is tucked into a remote corner of the Coast Mountains School District - and just stepping inside the school is worth the trip. At Kitwanga we were greeted by two intermediate students who took enormous pride in showing us many of the special features of their school, including this button blanket in the main entrance. The KES message contained some powerful words. "We will listen with our ears, our hearts and our brains" - imagine what our world would be like if this was something we all did.

This year we have  had the chance to create four short videos of creative and innovative work in AESN schools with a grant from AANDC. The first of these comes from Uplands Elementary School in Nanaimo where the focus of their inquiry has been on building understanding and respect through the creation of legends. We encourage you to take a look on the website to view this video.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What a weekend!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Network seminar this weekend. The learning was intense, the ideas were flying and the connections deepening. Guy Le Masurier exhorted us to move - and provided all the evidence why this is not only important, it is essential. Paige Fisher reminded us why assessment is the bridge between teaching and learning - and how the impact of our assessment practices live on far beyond what we might think.

Sharon Friesen helped us all understand what inquiry in depth really means. As inquiry becomes more of a buzz word, there is a danger that inquiry practices and understanding will be stuck at a superficial level. The resources on the Galileo Network website are very helpful - and the using the attached rubric for inquiry will help us all focus on what authentic inquiry really means.

Kim Schonert Reichl challenged us all to think about how we are attending to teacher social emotional learning - and showed some powerful graphics of the MDI results. We are grateful to Kim for her leading edge work in SEL and for her ability to link research and practice in a way that is changing lives.

Environmental sustainability is all of our responsibility and the notion of pop-up farms (farms, not gardens) is one way of creating local solutions to global problems. Having Paul Clarke share his passion and his expertise - as well as examples of the ways in which pop-up farms are changing schools and communities around the world - opened up our thinking to all kinds of new possibilities.

Laura Tait's work on deepening Aboriginal understandings and the emerging recognition across the networks that Aboriginal learning is for everyone is enormously important. Netcamp provided the opportunity for everyone to participate in focused conversations - and the conversations were great.

All the key sessions were videotaped and we will have short clips posted on the website ( within the next few weeks.

In the package was an article Linda and I wrote  -  Inquiry and Innovation - New Mindsets Required. This article is based on the work in the networks of inquiry and innovation in BC and it is being used as pre-reading for a government policy round table in Australia. Sometimes we never know where this work is going to lead. After this weekend, we are more convinced than ever that good things will happen, when in the word of Margaret Wheatley, we can turn to one another and say, " I have an idea....what if?"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Deepening Inquiry and Building Curiosity - May 6

Hang on to your learning hats - this weekend is the Network seminar.  The pace and depth of learning will be fast and intense. There are still a few spots left for those of you ready to open up your thinking to new possibilities about the ways in which we can harness inquiry and curiosity for a healthy learning world. Check out the program and go to for registration information.