President’s Message – Sue Elliot – January 2016

Supporting Innovative Practice

 

“Countries that wish to improve the effectiveness of professional development provided to teachers should increase the amount and variation of school embedded offerings such as mentoring and coaching, creating networks of teachers who learn together, and supporting collaborative research and instructional problem solving by teachers.” Teaching in Focus: Embedding professional development in schools for teacher success. OECD –TALIS. [2015-03-10].

BC has many examples where collaborative learning teams are finding innovative ways to transform practice to enhance student learning.

In Collaborative Inquiry: Empowering teachers in their professional development. Leyton Schnellert and Deborah Butler [CEA. Spring 2015] explore professional learning that enables teachers to effectively bridge theory and practice, and personalize their learning. The article outlines how schools and districts need to support and offer sustained, collaborative, inquiry based professional learning through meeting four conditions: structural supports, cultural/social emotional supports, learning and process supports, and teacher ownership /agency. “Engaging in inquiry by oneself does not have the same impact as collaborative inquiry. …teachers make and sustain valued changes to their practice when they collaboratively construct, monitor and adapt context-specific approaches to address their goals.”  Collaborative Inquiry for Educators: A facilitators guide to school improvement , by Jenni Donohoo [Corwin. 2013] provides a four step learning sequence to support learning teams  to actively develop and support the link between teacher and leader actions and student outcomes.

What is our ultimate goal as educators? I hope that our goal is ensuring that ALL students are supported in tapping their potential. A recent experience inspired my thinking about each student’s uniqueness.

Imagine being in a room of 3000 people and being invited to stand and sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer! At the December Learning Forward Conference in Washington DC, Yong Zhao did just that. He then talked about the criteria or ‘norm’ for being a reindeer: four legs and hooves, antlers, big brown eyes and a black nose. One foggy night Santa had a problem –he could not see where he needed to go. Luckily there was a reindeer who did not ‘fit the norm’ – he had a very shiny nose that glowed! You know the rest of ‘the story.’ Yong Zhao used this as an analogy of what we need to do in our schools – find the unique talents of all students, and bring them to fruition.

At Learning Forward BC we encourage you to share the story of the creative ways that you and your colleagues collaborate about how to engage and support all students to ensure that they have strong thinking and communication skills, and the social skills to work with others as they transfer their learning to life beyond school. Please join us at our April 28 networking dinner where you can network with others and learn about the innovative practice of some of your colleagues.

Help celebrate the powerful examples that occur in your sphere of influence. Please contact us and share your experience of transforming your practice.

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