Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Leading the Change

Challenging times right now for everyone  - especially as year end decisions pile up. And yet, every day Linda and I are inspired by the quality of learning taking place in BC schools and the terrific educators with whom we get to work. 

As an example, the year end meeting last Friday for the northwest region was a cause for real celebration. Along with several teams from Prince Rupert, Nisga'a, Coast Mountains, Bulkley Valley and network leaders from Nechako Lakes and Prince George,  Linda and I had an amazing day. Each year we attend the Northwest Celebration we see that the work just keeps getting smarter, deeper and more connected. Some of the recurrent themes in the school presentations were:
  • be relentless in support of all learners
  • make intentions and strategies clear
  • project based learning and building community connections
  • self-regulation from emotional control to deep readiness to learn
  • the impact of co-teaching
  • going in depth on one topic "If we lose focus, so do the kids."
  • the ripple effect of resiliency
  • moving from a small team to a whole school initiative
  • integrated and seamless use of technology 
A big thank you to Bulkley Valley School District for hosting the celebration and to Dwayne Anderson for facilitating the day. And, thank you to the Northwest network leaders  - in particular Nicole Davey, Roberta Edzerza and Debbie Leighton Stephens  - for making this day and the work in the northwest so very special. This was Debbie Leighton Stephens' final meeting as she leaves her formal role in Prince Rupert and she will be sorely missed. Debbie has been a support, a mentor, a leader and an inspiration to countless educators and families - not just in Prince Rupert but across the region. We have reminded Debbie that no one actually ever retires from the network and we look forward to hearing her say 'yes' repeatedly over the next few years. 
Debbie Leighton Stephens and Roberta Edzerza at NOII Northwest celebration

We respect that it may be difficult for school teams to meet to complete their case studies - and we would like to keep this as simple as possible. The completion and submission of the case studies is one consistent way we have to learn from each other. Up to now, we have been able to provide recognition grants to all schools that completed their case studies and this is the plan for 2013-2014 as well. The templates will be emailed to all network schools within the next week and they will also be posted on the NOII website. 

Just before the long weekend, we had the great pleasure of visiting schools in Vancouver Island North - being part of the trades and transitions experience at NISS, meeting with the inquiry team at A J Elliott, learning about the depth of the Aboriginal language and culture work at Fort Rupert Elementary School, and observing the STEM challenge at Seaview Elementary Secondary School in Port Alice. D'Arcy Deacon did a great job of organizing the STEM Challenge - here is the powerpoint he used to explain the process to the students involved. 

We also really enjoyed meeting and learning from the students at Fort Rupert who explained the Dukwala'mas Project, shared their writing about a recent field study, and showed us some of the masks and the dances they would be sharing at the ing house in June.  Check out the school blog post. http://fres.edublogs.org/2014/05/15/celebrating-fres/

And, the work in BC is being recognized in a range of international forums. Lead the Change is the name of the journal prepared by the Educational Change Special Interest Group (SIG) at the American Educational Research Association. Recently Louise Stoll, a lead international researcher from the Institute of London, was interviewed by Dennis Shirley.  She was asked what she saw as some of the most promising educational change innovations. As part of her response she identified the work in BC and the spiral of inquiry as 'a research-rich framework for collaborative inquiry.'  

Check out  the complete article. 

Louise also talked about the importance of the OECD study on innovative learning environments, especially what will be learned from the five systems participating n the final stage of this study. We are  proud that BC is one of these systems - along with New Zealand, Peru, French Belgium and Kwazulu Natal in South Africa. 

There are three key aspects to the BC work featured as part of the OECD study - the focus on disciplined inquiry through the networks of inquiry and innovation, leadership development for formal and informal leaders through the CIEL and MEDL programs at Vancouver Island University, and the provincial curriculum reform initiative.  Next steps in the study is for each system to provide an update on how things are unfolding and also to consider an evaluation framework for innovation that is being developed by Helen Timperley and Lorna Earl. The will take place at a meeting in late June and we will let you know what we learn as a result. Here's more information on the ILE study.

Despite our challenges, there is much for us to celebrate and for us to be proud of. As Linda so eloquently said at the recent symposium, BC teachers rock! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Network Learning Through Coursera

Have you experimented with Coursera yet?  Did you know that the Network is involved?

Judy and Linda, through the Commonwealth Education Trust, have designed a 7 week Coursera course called “Planning for Teaching and Learning.”  This course is the 5th component of an 8 part series of courses that make up the Foundations of Teaching for Learning Specialization. The Foundations of Teaching for Learning program is a specialization primarily for people who are currently teaching, but have had little or no formal teacher education. It is an introductory program that considers the three domains of being a teacher: Professional Knowledge and Understanding; Professional Practice; and Professional Values, Relationships and Engagement.  

Coursera offers individuals the opportunity to take courses through their online education platform for free.  Sometimes a small fee (optional) is charged in order to be granted a verified or specialized certificate.  Learners from all over the world can participate, working at their own schedules, and interacting through online forums.  Check out the video where Linda and Judy describe the course in more detail. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Presentations and Flash Chats from NOII 2014 Symposium

Photo courtesy of Brooke Haller. Made With Paper.
Thank you to everyone who contributed in making the 2014 NOII Symposium a great success. The event, held this past May 2 & 3 with the theme Stories of Change: Pictures of Possibility, featured deep and powerful presentations and thoughtful discussions between peers and colleagues through flash chats and numerous networking opportunities.
Check out how participants were sharing ideas throughout the Symposium through #noii2014. You can also access pdf copies of speaker presentations and the flash chats (small group discussions on various topics).  Very soon we will also be posting videos of both feature and breakout presentations - stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Flash Chats - Ideas and Actions

At the symposium May 2-3 participants had a chance to participate in a series of flash chats on key topics related to the network goals, the seven key principles of learning, Aboriginal transitions, student -level inquiry and many more. Some very useful ideas were shared and new strategies identified. Please take a look and check out the ideas that were generated. 
David Istance from the Innovative Learning Environment Study at the OECD addressing the NOII symposium 
Jacob Martens, Bev Young, Catherine McGregor, Harry Janzen, Jo-Anne Chrona and Tony MacKay

Sunday, May 4, 2014

We have permission. Now what?

Reflections from Brooke Moore on this year’s NOII Symposium: Stories of Change and Pictures of Possibility

Most of us can feel it – this new sense of flexibility and an invitation to be creative, to take a well-considered risk. The Ministry is quietly giving us permission to break from the constraints many of us have felt for too long: those of curriculum and timetables and calendars.

So, here we are. Now what? Many BC teachers and districts have been developing their own answers and recently I sat, along with 250 other educators in a hotel conference room for two spring days, eager to hear all about it.

This is what I heard: we must work to develop a sense of collective ownership over our systems successes and failures, over our experiences both past and present.

I heard it first in Chris Kennedy’s talk when he referred to how we bring parents into the conversation. School looks different now than it did when parents went to school – or at least it’s starting to! Parents who balk at a school trying something new – like feedback instead of grades, or multi-aged classrooms, or every student with access to technology or a report card that is a conversation instead of a ranking sheet – balk because they feel no ownership over this shift, over this “new” way. We need to bring them along and, even more than that, innovate and lead with them.

I heard it again in a different way, when Laura Tait shared her story about a recent learning experience she had at a role-playing workshop about colonization. She had many of us shiny-eyed with tears as she described how this learning experience has given her a sense of empathy and understanding about our country’s past that even having a mother who survived residential school wasn’t able to give her. Because of this learning she now has a sense of ownership over a past she wasn’t yet alive to experience. What if all Canadians shared this sense of collective ownership over the events that brought us to our current place as a country? What would that mean for the future?

I heard it again today during a Flash Chat (half hour table talks about specific topics) with my colleagues about student-led inquiry. If students feel a sense of ownership over their learning, research shows and common sense suggests, they will be more engaged in the work of learning. So how much are we inviting learners to direct or focus their learning? And even better – what if students feel a collective sense of ownership over their learning? Will they work to improve the learning of their peers as well as themselves? What would this mean for the future?

And, finally, I heard it again in Diane Turner’s presentation as well as in a panel discussion that included Rod Allen and Maureen Dockendorf, teachers, a superintendent, a professor of education and a university dean. It’s wonderful if a teacher innovates and impacts learners positively – but it’s more wonderful if that teacher feels a responsibility to the collective and shares his or her innovation so as to positively impact students across the province and beyond.

So many stories of change and pictures of possibility here. I’m leaving these two days of networked learning with more questions – and the energy to work with others toward the answers.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Laura Tait - Featured Speaker at NOII Symposium Tomorrow!

The NOII Symposium is only a day away now! We’re excited to reconnect with friends and colleagues around “Stories of Change: Pictures of Possibility” featuring leadership in education in BC and beyond. We’re also excited to have Laura Tait as one of our featured speakers – making a repeat appearance this year as there is simply so much we can learn from and with her! 

Laura is Director of Instruction with the Nanaimo School District, and she plays an integral role in working with schools in BC to build Aboriginal ways of knowing into all aspects of learning and teaching, for all students. In some of her presentations in the past, Laura has shared her passion for challenging teachers to take action and include Aboriginal content in lessons, even if there are no Aboriginal students in their classes, with the understanding that all students benefit when all viewpoints and perspectives are valued in the school and classroom.  Building educational spaces where students and family communities can feel safe and valued is integral to every students finding success in school and beyond.

We’ve included a short clip below that captures a portion of Laura's presentation last year.  

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Symposium tomorrow!

Introduction 3 points of inspiration (Laura Tait - Part 1) from Shawn Lam on Vimeo.