Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What a way to start the day!

At North Cedar Intermediate, teachers start each day with thirty minutes to think, plan and learn together while student-leaders, EAs and principal or teacher lead all students in fitness. Listening to the teachers talk together, I was reminded of the power of "off-topic" conversations. The group, clearly comfortable with each other and the process, began with their purpose in mind: reviewing the learning outcomes and considering how what they are doing meets them. They reviewed a potential project with Hul'qumi'num teacher Jerry Brown to translate a text of Aboriginal stories and to work with him to develop text-to-text connections, visualization strategies, and assessment into a learning sequence to use with the stories. They quickly agreed on shared tasks, and organized times.

They then pulled out the learning outcomes and began to think further about their programs. Somehow, the conversation turned to the Pigeon stories (if you haven't read them, do so now!) and someone connected them with drama and the group bounced around the idea of having students create their own dramatized Pigeon stories for Literacy week, which somehow led to a sharing of excellent read-alouds that support practice of visualizing strategies (and had us all scrambling for our pens to write down titles), which led to pondering together why some students are inattentive, which led to thoughts about increasing participation and attachment theory.

What a way to start the day! Children come to class ready to learn after 30 minutes of vigorous exercise (the research is extensive to show that learning increases and negative behaviour decreases with daily exercise) and teachers come to class ready to teach - their minds open to thinking about participation, belonging, strategies, ready to reflect on their practice as the day unfolds and knowing that tomorrow they have a supportive team to share questions, concerns, new ideas and triumphs.

You might be wondering how your school could re-organize to make this happen - and you might also be wondering (especially if you are a teacher) - where can I get a copy of the Hulquminim lesson sequence when it's completed or the Pigeon drama lessons? Where can I get the list of great read-alouds? Once you begin working together, surely the next step is more working together. What if we had better communication and sharing channels so that we can build on our work instead of continually beginning from scratch at each site - or worse, in each classroom? We keeping working so hard, but we can't seem to keep ahead of changing students with changing needs in a changing world. But if we worked together, if we found ways - through professional learning communities in schools, across the district, and, indeed, connecting globally - surely our combined strength could ensure that each child was beautifully educated.

For more on our PLC series
If it's important
Seaview Elementary
Bayview Elementary
What do we value?
McGirr Elementary

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