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New frontiers for new learning
Category Archives: Staff professional learning
November 19, 2013Posted by on
Today, a group of staff from our school welcomed a team of staff from Carrville Mills P.S to engage in professional learning in the area of mathematics. The team included curriculum consultants, teachers, Designated Early Childhood Educators and administrators. The staff worked in classrooms that ranged from Kindergarten to intermediate classes. The learning and professional dialogue today was rich and I want to thank the educators who collaborated so effectively together.
As a school we focused on student engagement and enthusiasm to support students in persevering through math tasks. One classroom looked at curricular expectations related to money (ex. value of coins, determining combinations of coins for priced items) and another class looked at reading and interpreting secondary data to draw conclusions. There was time provided to take the curricular expectations and create a learning goal for the lesson we would teach today.
Mathematics is a focus of our School Improvement Plan; so too is job embedded professional learning for our staff. Today we examined research to support our planning such as how our classroom environments can foster math thinking and math talk. We talked about making mathematics real for students and linking it to real world applications wherever possible. Finally, I was impressed with how staff asked questions themselves about what the mathematics instruction should look like and sound like. As teams we spent time planning and then we actually went into two classrooms and co-taught the lessons. At the end, there was time to debrief on what we saw and heard from the students. It was a powerful learning model both for students and for us as adults.
I have said it before, and will say it again: I have the best job in the world. Each day, I get to watch magic happen thanks to our students, staff and community. Today was another fine example of the magic of our collaborative work together.
October 9, 2013Posted by on
We sometimes think of learning as “something that students do”. This week, I also want to share some of the professional learning our staff engages in both inside and outside of our school. The scope of that learning is very wide so I won’t be able to capture every opportunity here, but want to share a few examples with you.
Many of our staff take courses that lead to additional qualifications or certification including: workshops, online courses, conferences, Additional Qualification courses and training sessions. Lots of our staff enjoy reading as a means of professional development that includes: professional books, magazines, publications from professional organizations, and scholarly articles. Staff use online opportunities for learning including: websites, online chat rooms, twitter professional learning teams and e-learning modules. Finally, many of our staff participate in face-to-face learning opportunities such as: after school workshops, book studies, learning networks and even visiting host schools or classrooms. Last weekend, some of our staff participated in our board’s Google Camp that brought together over 500 staff from across our board.
This year, as an administrative team, Ms Bongard and myself are also supporting job embedded learning opportunities for teams of staff to work collaboratively. So far, three teams have met in teams that have also included our school’s Literacy Teacher and Teacher-Librarian, teachers, Ms Bongard and myself. We have made a commitment to meet early in the year, learn, implement our learning and thinking in our classrooms and then reconvene 6-8 weeks later to monitor our work. We work through a cycle of determining student learning needs, planning, teaching, assessing, evaluating student progress and assessing overall results. It is complex work, but Ms Bongard and myself must say, the sessions so far have been rich. We appreciate the staff’s commitment to building professional learning communities at our school.
Finally, you may wonder what happens on Professional Activity Days that occur throughout the year. This Friday for example, our school will focus on our School Improvement Plan. Our Director, Ken Thurston shared a number of key ideas for our work this year in his annual address at our board’s leadership conference that will also help to frame our work Friday. We will also spend time working in teams, exploring Learning Goals and Success criteria to support student achievement, exploring the questions we ask within our math lessons, planning for differentiation within our work, developing our school’s “Challenge of Practice” (more to come on this) and examining some new resources we have purchased as a school. And so, the day too will be rich.
One final way we often don’t think about is the learning that happens with students each day. We love the times when, be it a lesson, task or discussion, we learn from and with our students.
Again, it is difficult to capture the wide variety of ways that our staff engages in learning. Perhaps it is best to say “learning, it’s everywhere”.
Please let us know about the learning you engage in.