We spend a lot of time talking about how our network influences our professional lives and how technology often assists in that networking. But, when B.C. educators talk about “THE NETWORK” it means something quite different.
For more than a decade, the Network of Performance Based Schools – school-based teams with an administrator and teachers – have focussed on B.C. Performance Standards with some of the deepest, most powerful professional learning in our province.
Instrumental to this professional learning, Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser have brought a network of teachers and administrators together in ongoing conversations about improving education opportunities for all students.
And just what is the Network?
The Network of Performance Based Schools is funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Education and is designed to improve quality and equity through inquiry, teamwork across roles, schools and districts, and a concentrated focus on applying coaching forms of assessment to assist learners to take greater ownership of their learning. Participation in the Network is on an annual basis and is voluntary. There has been a steady growth in Network membership since its inception in 2000.
Dedicated to the vision of EVERY learner crossing the stage with dignity, purpose and options, the network is supported by volunteer leaders in sixteen regions of the province.
Schools participate in an annual spiral of inquiry that provides the structure for their improvement and innovative work. School questions, case studies, resources and reflections are shared in a spirit of generosity and curiosity. The BC performance standards provide a framework for educators, parents and learners in developing a deeper understanding of content area progressions and assist learners in answering three key learning oriented questions identified by John Hattie and Helen Timperley:
Where are you going with your learning? How is it going? Where to next?
The six key strategies of formative assessment are used to assist learners in taking ownership of their learning. Without clear learning intentions, the thoughtful use of criteria and informative descriptive feedback, it is virtually impossible for learners to answer these questions.
Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser have an amazing way of making everyone feel special in the Network – they link what we do to the very best work they have seen and heard of around the world. Part cheerleader, story-teller, social connector and deep co-learner, Judy and Linda have invited thousands of teachers and administrators to join in the journey.
The Network has brought the BC Performance Standards to life as guiding documents for teachers, administrators, parents and students as we continue to move from a sorting to learning system. And, the Network continues to evolve; it has moved from a strict focus on reading, writing, numeracy and social responsibility to asking the essential questions about Aboriginal learning, healthy living, and focussing all of our work to be better tomorrow than it was today.
When asked about the one professional development experience I recommend for teachers or administrators, I always say “to get a team in the Network”. The connections that come out of this participation can improve us as professionals, and help move our schools forward.
As another successful year of the Network comes to a close with the recently held Leadership Seminar and School Project Showcases / Celebrations around the province, much thanks goes to Judy and Linda for continuing to lead this conversation. More than a decade in, the Network is one of the quiet, non-political and powerful ways that differentiates our system and how we work from so many others in North America.