Blogging continues to evolve in West Vancouver. At some schools, principal blogs have become school blogs (you can check them out here). The modelling from principals and vice-principals has led to other staff starting their own digital writing space, and they offer a great sample of the conversations currently taking place throughout the West Vancouver School District. Here is just a sample of what people are talking about:
Lynne Tomlinson, Director of Instruction, recently wrote about moving Conversations to Clarity in her work:
We have seen so many variations of teaching and learning over the past year, some patterns were beginning to emerge. We came up with a framework that incorporates the core phases of learning that we have seen in our classrooms within an evolution towards ”making it real”. Learning has to be important if we are to engage our students.
Self regulation underlies all learning, as does social emotional learning. Indigenous principles of learning must always be embedded in our practice. These are the foundations of learning that have been of much greater focus in our classrooms. From there, inquiry and access will encourage student engagement. Tuning protocols for formative assessment and instructional strategies insure rigor. Finally, student presentations of their work and real world tasks provide the relevance in learning.
Darren Elves, teacher and PYP IB Coordinator at Cypress Park Primary School, investigated The Student Perspective on Questioning, which is also a link to his own current studies:
In attempting to find a viable and relevant topic to look at as a focus for my Master’s work (M.Ed in Educational Leadership at Vancouver Island University), it didn’t take long for me to pinpoint the notion of student questioning. Having the good fortune of working in a school environment that embraces a very clear stance on inquiry as best practice, we are always looking, as a staff, for ways to improve upon our learning and teaching here at Cypress Park Primary.
Cathie Ratz, Principal at Irwin Park Elementary, profiled their school’s work with MindUP – a program that continues to gain momentum throughout the district as part of the larger self-regulation strategy. She describes it as:
. . . . a family of social, emotional, and attentional self-regulatory strategies and skills developed to cultivate well-being and emotional balance. Based on the notion that intellect does not exist in isolation from emotions, connections to others or the rest of their bodies, the MindUP™ program is designed to address these components of learning for all students.
Lions Bay Vice-Principal, Jody Billingsley, also picked up on the social-emotional theme in his most recent post – Social Emotional Learning – Why Do It?:
It seems perfectly clear that we need to emphasize pro-social behaviours, character education and social emotional learning to help create caring successful citizens that will have educated minds and hearts. This cannot be a sole school issue alone; we need the support of the community and families to help mold our future minds.
. . . If we work as a collaborative team to help foster this at home, in schools, online and in public, perhaps we can avoid people being bullied to the point of no longer having the ability to cope with their situation. We need to ensure that we are not creating brilliant scientists who are evil, but brilliant citizens who think of others and how their actions impact the world.
Janet Hicks, teacher and PYP IB Coordinator at West Bay, linked the international-mindedness that is part of the IB Profile to the work that comes out of “Me to We”. Janet writes of how the energy from that day will transform into action at the school:
So, now as I go back to my Internationally Minded team I feel proud of what they CAN do for our world. I know that they are filled with so much passion and will take these messages they have learned from We Day and apply it to their lives. It is going to be exciting to watch these future world leaders go from “me to we”.
Michelle Labounty, Principal at Ridgeview Elementary, also picked up on the words of Marc and Craig Kielburger (Founders of Me to We) sharing their “Toast to First World Problems“:
None of us can help the situation we’re born into. We shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed because we have spacious homes, microwave dinners and GPS boxes that talk to us and help us get where we need to go. The guilt kicks in when we lose perspective on the little problems that arise amidst the privileges.That’s the point of memes like the First World Problems Anthem — perspective. They’re not your mom shaking a reproachful finger and scolding, “Eat your broccoli! There are starving children in Africa, you know!” But rather gentle nudges to say, “Your computer blue-screened again? So what. Take a deep breath, it’s no biggie.”
I am very fortunate to work in a school district that is open to allowing its educators to pursue life experiences and has the foresight to recognize the positive effect it would have on students.
As for my school, overwhelmingly, the Ridgeview family was the greatest supporter of my climb. Staff, students and families enthusiastically contributed to all of the fundraising initiatives from the Flags of Hope to our coin drive. For a Vice-Principal who has only been at the school for one year, I was greatly touched by the generosity of our school community.
It has been a wonderful five months raising donations for BC Children’s Hospital, sharing my story and preparing for the climb of a lifetime. I will never forget the experience or the people who helped me to make it happen.
West Vancouver Secondary Teacher, Keith Rispin, also recently had a wonderful experience attending the iPad Summit in Boston, and then sharing his learning with the rest of us. His observations included:
One little but significant piece of the puzzle, without which all is for not. There was surprisingly little if any discussion on the role of student in this little learning revolution. We talked about how teachers have to change, education systems have to change, teaching practice has to change, the physical aspects of school have to change but NOTHING about how the student will have to change. Sure we talked about what kids should be able to do when they walk out the door but we did not discuss how the learner has to change their practice but there is no need to worry…
I think I stumbled upon a little hint as to how learners will have to change as we move ahead. It lies in the single most important thing I took away from this conference. People need to become “free agent learners” It does not matter if you are student or teacher. Those who will excel in the Twenty-First Century Learning environment, will take on the responsibility for their own learning. The days of being a passive recipient of the information that comes your way is over. Those who don’t, will be left in the dust.
Finally, West Vancouver Secondary Principal, Steve Rauh, was one of several to reflect on the power of Remembrance Day:
West Vancouver Secondary School has a tradition of honour and respect. Each year, we attach a poppy on the Graduation Composites that line our hallways to the photos of our young graduates who died in conflict. This is a very solemn visual.
It is incredible to realize that in some years nearly 10 per cent of the graduating class passed away in this manner. By today’s standard that equates to approximately 38-40 students from each and any of the classes from 2002 to 2012.
It is a pretty amazing and diverse collection of ideas being shared across the district, many stories that would not see such wide audiences without the power of the technology; all stories rooted in the power of face-to-face connections. I am working in a community of storytellers, and it is wonderful to be part of such a thoughtful community.