Saturday, June 22, 2013

Inquiry in Action - Leaning from BC

Right now, Linda and I are preparing to spend a week working with a group of schools in Sydney Australia who are interested in using Spirals of Inquiry to deepen their own work. As we were putting together our slides and our ideas for tomorrow, we were reflecting on some of the amazing work we have seen recently in BC. Over the next while, we are going to share some specific school stories with you on this blog - and we hope you will be as impressed and excited by the work as we have been.

Here are three examples just to kick this off.

Some of you may have read about the work on personalized learning taking place at George Bonner Middle Schools in Cowichan. We are pretty confident that if we dropped into George Bonner, we would be able to hear learners provide thoughtful answers to the key learning questions. Check out this recent article from Adminfo by principal Heidi Grant.

This year, we were fortunate to spend time in the Coast Mountains School District and to see the transformative work underway in a number of schools. We also really like this image from Suwilaawks Elementary School that was included in their growth plan. The work at Suwilaawks was also featured at the network seminar, but if you missed that, then take a look at this short video of a school on the move.

Finally, there has been a lot of interest in the Community of Learners work in Nanaimo. We really appreciate the teamwork that has created a short video explaining some of the key aspect of this work.
In addition to the Community of Leaners, there are also great video clips from other schools on the network website.   Stay tuned for more stories about BC schools over the summer!

And, all ideas about sunny Australia can be put to rest for this week at least. Storms are rolling in one after another.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Seminar 2013 - Videos now available

NOII Seminar 2013

Thank you to all who attended the annual Network Seminar held on Sunday, May 5th, 2013 in Vancouver.  The focus of the Seminar this year was on the ‘down home world class work’ of BC educators, researchers and practitioners, and how that collaborative, world class, innovative work is contributing to the Network vision of EVERY learner crossing the stage with dignity, purpose and options.  It was a timely reminder that we all have a lot to celebrate!

Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation provided the welcome for the day, and spoke thoughtfully about the value of sharing traditions, language and learning with future generations.  Participants then had the opportunity to hear from a number of world class presenters:

-        Judy Halbert & Linda Kaser celebrated the disciplined approach to inquiry in which Network members collectively engage, and how this innovative approach is creating new opportunities for the NOII and AESN.
-        Laura Tait in describing how Aboriginal education is for everyone, reflected on how the personal is pedagogical, and encouraged us to reflect on who we are as educators and in so doing, ‘live’ inquiry.
-        Trish Rosborough shared her personal stories of building culture and identity. She demonstrated through story the value of building collaboration relationships between education and Aboriginal communities.
-        Nancy Perry & Deborah Butler spoke to the benefits of creating environments that support self-regulated learning while encouraging learner autonomy, and building capacity for educators to support this learning.
-        Paige Fisher, using her intriguing canoe metaphor and emphasis on teacher learning/teamwork, explained how creating a sense of belonging for learners is foundational to building confidence and success.
-        Brooke Moore captured how the Network is crucial as a safe space for teacher learning and collaboration, and the courage to swim against the stream as a collective of ‘blue fish.’
-        Catherine McGregor shared observations and reflections from her recent AESN impact study, and how Aboriginal inquiry is lifting all learners to new heights of engagement.
-        Jim Wright closed the day with a call to action, encouraging educators to take risks and embrace creativity through thoughtful leadership.   

These presentations are now available to view on the NOII website. Seminar participants also had the opportunity to network and break out into smaller, focused learning sessions.  Some key ideas that emerged include:

·       Difference between “professional development” and “teacher learning” is profound – a change in mindset.
·       Teacher learning is driven by teacher needs just as student learning is driven by student needs. There must be space for teachers to address their individual learning needs within school growth plans.
·       Teacher learning requires support on different levels, including sharing knowledge, experiences, research and beliefs.  Building relationships and trust between teachers helps build the capacity for teacher learning.
·       Celebrate both students’ and teachers’ successes in learning on a regular basis!

The themes of the day were seamlessly pulled together through the skilled facilitation of Debbie Leighton Stephens and Lynne Tomlinson. Thanks to everyone involved for contributing to another successful Seminar! 

Save the date now for next year. Seminar 2014 will take place the first weekend in May (May 2,3,4).  We are planning to build in more global connections and opportunities to network both within BC and beyond. Stay tuned for more details in the fall.