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Posts Tagged ‘Sue Elliot’

We have just launched a new teacher leadership series in West Vancouver.  Building on some of the fine work that has come out of other districts, over the next several months, we are bringing teachers and administrators together to explore the attributes and opportunities of leading learning.

To support the conversations, all participants are reading the latest book from James Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Truth About Leadership.  Kouzes and Posner have been powerful forces in the discussion about leadership for the last 30 years, and this new book is a reaffirming roadmap.

They write:

as much as the context of leadership has changed (in the last three decades), the content of leadership has not changed much at all.  The fundamental behaviours, actions, and practices of leaders have remained essentially the same since we first started researching and writing about leadership

There are many lists on leadership — but I do like the lists of “truths” that Kouzes and Posner share:

1. You make a difference

2. Credibility is the foundation of leadership

3.  Values drive commitment

4.  Focusing on the future sets leaders apart

5.  You can’t do it alone

6.  Trust rules

7.  Challenge is the crucible for greatness

8.  You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all

9.  The best leaders are the best learners

10.  Leadership is an affair of the heart

Given the title of my blog, this quote from their book also resonates with me regarding leadership:

You have to say yes to begin things.  You have to say yes to your beliefs, you have to say yes to big dreams, you have to say yes to difficult challenges, you have to say yes to collaboration, you have to say yes to trust, you have to say yes to learning, you have to say yes to setting the examples, and you have to say yes to your heart.

Our commitment to investing in “leading learning”, — bringing together interested teachers and administrators on a regular basis, is not breaking new ground — there are excellent models in almost all districts.  It is, however, exciting as we build our program and structures within the West Vancouver context; particularly, given the current, global conversations about what teaching, learning and schooling should look like in the future.

Our first session was well-received — and the commitment here is that this series is not a one-off — this work is too important and it will be part of what we do moving forward; I left with confidence in new strategies to try as I work with staff, students and leading learning in West Vancouver.

For those interested in a greater sense of the work we are doing, the full slide deck from the opening session Leading Learning – Building Understanding for Leaders is embedded below:

Thanks to our facilitators: Sue Elliott, Audrey Hobbs-Johnson and Nancy Hinds.

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Today is our first meeting of the year with school professional development representatives from all West Vancouver schools.  This group of volunteer teachers meet on a regular basis to share their successes and challenges and help to evolve our very impressive model.  This group is chaired by the West Vancouver Teachers Association (WVTA), Professional Development Co-Chairs, Karen Harmatuk and Sue Elliot.

Here is a one page overview of the Professional Development model in West Vancouver (scroll on the right to see the entire document):

Our Professional Development Model, or the “Collaborative Model” as it is often described, helps guide all of our work in the district.  Our core values genuinely guide the work:

•1. Our primary learning focus is on improving student learning

•2. We work collaboratively on district, school and team goals because teaching is too difficult to do alone

•3. Our work is supported by current research

The model is built around our students and improving student learning.  It also makes it very clear the best learning is collaborative.  I was reminded of the power of collaboration this past week as “Learning Teams” from Pauline Johnson, West Bay, Cypress Park, Irwin Park and Ridgeview spent a morning together looking at digital literacy.

Our professional learning model in West Vancouver is really quite simple, but important to always come back to as a guide.  As district, school, or individual professional development grows, it is important to ensure these three strands are continually supported.

Every year we look at “how we can strengthen the collaborative model.”  The model is messy – but, so is good learning.  With all the talk about personalized learning for students, that is really at the heart of what we are trying to do with the adults learning in our district.  It doesn’t mean that every staff member has an individual, unique plan, but rather they have a personalized plan that blends together district, school and individual needs.

For all of our educators, it starts with our professional growth program.  The description from 15 years ago, and the purpose of teacher growth plans, is still very relevant today:

The purpose of the Professional Growth Program is to support the professional growth of teachers for the continuous development of instructional practices in order to enhance student learning in West Vancouver.

Like all the work we do either as individuals, collaborative learning teams, schools, or as a district, at its core is the improvement of our students’ learning.

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