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SIP Learning

This past friday, I had the opportunity to participate in a School Improvement Visit (SIP).  Two of my colleagues, the principal and vice-principal of  this JK – 8 elementary school shared with us (two consultants, superintendent, system principal) their school data, discussed their SIP (School Improvement Plan) and their journey with the staff.  Together, we used this time to listen, interpret data, ask questions and share expertise.  Our learning conversations were open, honest and very meaningful as we focussed on discussing how we can  build the collective capacity of the staff.

In our time together, we interpreted data that generated a cause for celebration and also offered a suggestion to ask staff how they could improve the learning spaces in the classroom.  Asking the question:  show me how learning happens in the many spaces in your classroom?  For example, the Smart Board or computer create a learning space in your classroom.  Approaching the classroom as a environment where there are many learning spaces.  There was more all connecting back to these two indicators:

  • A culture of high expectations supporting  the belief that all students can learn, progress and achieve
  • Instruction and assessment are differentiated in response to student strengths, needs and prior learning

As a system principal, I admire the courage and openness of my two colleagues, Linda and Pat!  What a great leadership team!  For me, it was the two of them that inspired me.   They modelled the way in our meeting.  They set the example by sharing with us how they encourage their staff, set interim goals and look for the small wins to foster increased collaboration and inquiry with their staff.  I felt their hearts, ongoing optimism, hard work and persistence as they shared with us.  Thank you Linda and Pat as well as Sandie, Delores and Manny for furthering my growth on our journey in continuous improvment.

Next Steps: Lifelong Everyday Learning

On Friday April 30th in Toronto, I was honoured to spend time sharing with my continuing education colleagues from all over Ontario re:  how building a PLN can empower you to grow as a professional each and every day.  The goal was to demonstrate how it is possible and essential to go beyond F2F networking and learning and move to everyday learning with each other through the use of web 2.0 tools such as wikis, twitter and video conferencing.

For two hours, we navigated our  Networking 2 Learn wiki  discussing these questions:

  • What are 21st century skills, and why do they matter?
  • What does it mean to be literate in the 21st Century?
  • What is a personal learning network (PLN)?
  • How can growing a PLN make me a better educator?
  • How do I use web 2.0 tools to build and maintain a PLN?

In terms of context, it must be stated that our group creates programs in adult, alternative and continuing education in Ontario and most of us have staff who are in many locations and it is very challenging to bring them together onground and often impossible due to the geographics, etc…  Also, another reality is that we as professionals have very unique roles in our own school boards and do find that we are different.   Our staff is different, our schools are different and hence, we often don’t fit  in with the K-12 learning community.  We did conclude on Friday April 30th, 2010 that creating a PLN and starting out slowly and using web 2.0 tools would not only allow us to collaborate and network but it would also keep us in tune with the many students we serve.  In fact, my colleague, Becky Howse from TVDSB debriefed at the plenary on our behalf and in her own unique and candid way stated that “it was time to tweet!”

As I reflect this weekend, I am jazzed and optimistic as my provincial colleagues did agree that it was time to be on board as a collective in using web 2.0 tools and building PLNs. YEAH!  My next steps will be to encourage, model, position and invite  my “con eddies” in Ontario to be online with me.  I promise to keep it going with our small group.  I will be there when  they tweet me for the first time or share in  #conted.  I promise to celebrate with them when they begin to contribute in our wiki.   My promise is to be open, to support, to share, to encourage, to celebrate and most of all to collaborate and to learn with them.   This is my promise to them and all others who join us!  Lifelong everyday learning in continuing education – makes sense to me.