In “What is Cohort 21 Part 1” I wrote about the format of this PD experience and what a participant can expect from the experience. Part 2 is an opportunity to meet the facilitators. These are CIS Ontario educators just like you who are interested in sharing what they know but also learning from the community/cohort we bring together each year. This year we are lucky to have seven facilitators on our team. You can meet them below 🙂
Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario
The Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario (CIS Ontario) is a collegial group of forty-six member schools whose mission is to advance educational excellence in Ontario Independent schools. As such, partnering with the Cohort 21 initiative is both timely and applicable to all we do at CIS Ontario in promoting progressive and innovative teaching practices, fostering the development of inter-school professional networks and facilitating collaborative forward-thinking around what it means to be a 21st century educator.
I am very excited about this professional development initiative for our member schools, and very proud to be a facilitator, in what we hope will be a new model for effectively imbedding technology and best practices in our classrooms.Cohort 21 is the creation and vision of two outstanding educators in the CIS Ontario school community, Justin Medved and Garth Nichols. Together, their enthusiasm for teaching and life-long learning has brought about this special opportunity for educators to learn, think and share. My sincerest thanks to them both for initiating such a creative and collaborative adventure for our member school communities.
I believe that it is the elements of change and continuity that make teaching the best profession for me. It is a profession that energizes me, keeps me young at heart, and hopeful about the future. As the definition of teaching becomes more and more difficult to pin down, I get more and more excited about the possibilities and opportunities that independent schools have to chart a path into the future of what, where, when and how the classroom can be. I am excited about Cohort21 because it is an opportunity to expand my educational and professional networks, and a chance to create and design a new type of professional development experience. it captures the idea that the best teachers are those that learn alongside their students.
I am teacher with 15 years of experience in classrooms from middle to upper school levels, as a coach of basketball, soccer and rowing, and as a mentor, faculty adviser, and most recently as the Assistant Director of Personalized Learning. I am the Director of Teaching and Learning at Bayview Glen. But my Linkedin profile will tell you that. I believe that I can be a destroyer of classroom walls, but my Twitter bio will tell you that. So, you know a lot about me already…I look forward to learning more about you and your gifts as a teacher.
Cohort 21 was born out of a frustration with professional development experiences that did not practice what they preached. Having attended numerous “21st century workshops and conferences” that were facilitated using using 20th century practices I felt that it was time to create the change that I wanted to see. Cohort 21 is a step in that direction. What happens when you bring together a group passionate CIS Ontario teachers and build a powerful networked learning community around them? Read their blogs to find out 🙂
Justin Medved is the Director of Learning, Innovation and Technology at The York School. He works with teachers, students and parents preparing and educating them for the demands of the 21st century. He is also one of the lead facilitators of the CAIS 2051 Project. You can read his thoughts and ideas on education, technology and leadership at by following his on twitter http://twitter.com/jmedved or the Cohort 21 Google + community.
Once upon a time, I decided to become a teacher because I really (really) love school and learning. I love not knowing something, and trying to find a way through a sticky puzzle. I love being part of something larger than myself and connecting with others in a community of seekers. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes only after goals were reached that once seemed scary and lofty. I love uncovering who I am as a human by better understanding a subject area or deeply reflecting on a profound experience.
I was never traditionally the “good student” who payed attention to everything in class and got great grades. In fact, many of my former teachers are shocked that I would even think of entering the profession based solely on karma. In my first round of teacher’s college applications in 2001, my motto was “Teach the skills, and the curriculum will sort itself out”. Needless to say, I was not accepted to any Bachelor of Education program that year! That said, this idea is at the core of everything I do, both in and out of the classroom.
As a member of the first Cohort 21 group, I was inspired by not only what Garth and Justin were presenting but by the people around me. I have been very fortunate that early in my career I was able to work at some great schools with amazing people, but this was different. We were actively involved in each other’s action plans, being introduced to amazing Edtech to enhance collaboration and assessment in the classroom, and we followed each other’s progress. It was unlike any other PD session I had every experienced, in all the right ways.
Teaching, in the traditional sense, does not come easy to me. I’m not much of a planner, I have a strong distaste for using numbers to judge student accomplishments, and I loathe asking for help. But that said, teaching is undoubtedly the right profession for me and the most fulfilling job I’ve had (and I’ve had a few). Teaching allows me to be constantly learning alongside my students. Whether it’s because I suddenly need to become an expert on hydroponics, or find my way around India with a group of teenagers, teaching ensures that my need for new experiences is always stimulated, and my thirst for change is always satiated.
Change is one thing that I strongly believe we need to prepare our students for. In a world where app developers are making billions overnight and 14 year old kids are solving world problems from their parent’s basements, we see how the old concept of getting a job and working away at it until you retire is no longer a viable option. And if the purpose of school in the industrialized age was to prepare workers for a job, then the purpose of school in the 21st century is surely to prepare young people to be innovative, creative and entrepreneurial.
I am privileged to work at a progressive school with accomplished, motivated teachers. It is this collegial community that has also drawn me to Cohort 21. I am honored to be a part of the program this year, and I look forward to connecting with new colleagues and future friends as we learn to better design experiences that prepare young people for an uncertain (a.k.a. exciting) future.
You know that “Ah-ha!” moment, that split second that changes everything for a student? When ideas make sense and suddenly click? When the world is instantly illuminated in Technicolor? I love that. That’s the Holy Grail for most teachers. For many of us that’s what keeps us coming back. Watching wonder and curiosity take root and grow. But the “Ah-has!” don’t come easily. They require risk and vulnerability or, as Amy Poehler might say, “getting our hair wet”. They also require time. Good teaching has always been about that, I think. About finding that perfect balance.
I’m fascinated by the intersection of learning and technology. As technologies continue to emerge and morph, they shape our students’ current global, cultural, and social experiences. And while our teaching must be sensitive to this digital proliferation, we must aim to model innovative, idiosyncratic and select use of digital tools. In doing so, we enable our students to take calculated risks, maximize their creative and analytical potential in post secondary studies, the workforce, but more importantly, in their twenty-first century lives. I’m fortunate to work at a school where “Ah-has!” abound daily. Like most of you, I wear many hats. I am Head of Innovation and Instructional Technologies and a teacher of English Literature and Film Studies. I get to take risks and be creative everyday. Whether it’s nurturing the cinematic talents of students or lending a voice to the chorus of protest, my happiest moments have been ones when students have taken the plunge and found that they can swim against the current. While some of my teachers have been fictional: Holden Caulfield, Blanche Du Bois, Chaplin’s ‘Little Fellow’, (characters that took risks and moved against the crowd) my greatest teachers have often been my students. They continue to show me profound truths about life and beauty and art.
I’m excited to be part of the rich and vibrant Cohort 21 community. I’m looking forward to learning alongside everyone, making new friends, exploring uncharted territory in our classrooms, and contributing to a culture of exploration and reflection.