President’s Reflection on Sea to Sky Webinar: Research into Practice

Reflection on Sea to Sky Webinar: Research into Practice

Sue Elliott, 

Learning Forward BC, President

In these times of unprecedented challenges to safely manage an education system, facilitate learning and engage students, it was a relief to focus on the end in mind of educational pursuits: student learning that leads to successful graduation.

Designed with the purpose of examining an education system that has experienced a successful uptick in graduation rates, especially among indigenous learners, there was much to learn about how Sea to Sky [SD 48] structured and scaffolded this success. This first webinar in a series exemplified a collaborative team effort that took time and patience to engage in a process where everyone’s story mattered.

Three aspects stood out.

One, engaging all individuals in the district’s collaborative structure in the design of the district’s education plan. Using an iterative process with ongoing tweaking encouraged deep dialogue and ‘buy in’ to the district’s plan.

Two, the leadership team explored the research of Tony Wagner, current research on the brain, Shelley Moore, and the work of Helen Timperley. As well, working with local elders and weaving the medicine wheel with the core competencies of the BC curriculum provides a strong foundation for infusing the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning. This is supported by Howard Gardner’s work in The Synthesizing Mind.

Three, alignment of purposeful professional learning based on what teachers felt they needed to learn in order to address the district goals. Co-designed professional learning that was purposeful and ongoing for five years provided a clear understanding of the path/plan. Using data to take a second look and refresh the process provided an opportunity to look at professional growth differently.

The belief that focusing on the most vulnerable learners benefits all, with the current lens on adaptive expertise promises to engage educators in a path forward as they continue to meld foundational practice with what is required to meet the demands of learners in the current challenges of sustaining purposeful learning during a pandemic.

Education is an act of the heart.


An alignment of research with practice, and supporting a process for all to work together, lead to a moral imperative where everyone is learning in Sea to Sky. Professional learning has been a key to the success of the education plan, and an improving graduation rate.


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