Cohort 21 - Recent Global Posts https://cohort21.com Rethinking learning for the 21st century Thu, 02 Apr 2020 12:05:54 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://www.cohort21.com?v=5.3.2 https://cohort21.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/cropped-logo-512-32x32.jpg Cohort 21 https://cohort21.com 32 32 <![CDATA[Book Review: Nuance by M. Fullan]]> https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/2020/04/02/book-review-nuance-by-m-fullan/ https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/2020/04/02/book-review-nuance-by-m-fullan/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2020 12:05:16 +0000 https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/?p=768 In his latest book, Nuance, Michael Fullan refines his previous research and writings on what it takes to be an effective leader of educational organizations. We can all agree that this has never been more important. We can also agree that concepts of leadership, and practices successful leadership have never before been so disrupted.
Gone are traditional face-to-face connections. Gone is the ability to convey, with ease, humour, confidence, support and empathy through body language and tone enhancing communication ("We are all just talking heads!") Gone are the many informal opportunities to connect in the hallways, lunch or staff room 
In light of this, how should leaders behave? I believe that this book maintains its value in this time of disruption - it offers us answers and practices to successfully navigate these uncertain times. When I looked up "leadership icons" to see if there was anything that captured "nuance leaders" here is what I found: None of these support the author's thesis. And so, in reading the below, I ask that you try your best to not see leadership as (1) male-dominated (2) leading from the front and (3) so interconnected that you can't find the leader(s).
Michael Fullan offers up a few key characteristics of a what he means by a 'Nuanced Leader':
Nuance leaders have a curiosity about what is possible, openness to other people, sensitivity to context, and a loyalty to a better future. They see below the surface, enabling them to detect patterns and their consequences for the system. They connect people to their own and each other's humanity. They don't lead, they teach. They change people's emotions, not just their minds. They have an instinct for orchestration. They foster sinews of success. They are humble in the face of challenges, determined for the group to be successful, and pourd to celebrate success. They end up developing incredibly accountable organizations because the accountability gets built into the culture. Above all, they are courageously and relentlessly committed to changing the system for the betterment of humanity.
This is, as is Michael Fullan's styel, verbose in the description and (for me at least) hard to pin down - to really get behind this description as a leadership approach. So let's break it down: Nuance leaders have a curiosity about what is possible, openness to other people, sensitivity to context, and a loyalty to a better future. For these set of characteristics, the author turns to Leonardo da Vinci's life as a way of explanation. He explains that a nuanced leader must live within the processes of change. It requires leaders to ask questions about the lived experience of others within the organization and get to the deeper purpose. They do this by being open to others and to believe that all can contribute to their (the leaders) better understanding of processes within the organization. They filter these contributions and information through the context of the situation and priorities that they have, but they always use these to guide them to their vision of what education can be. For example, a leader can listen, understand and empathize with employees and faculty about their current situations in Covid19. They can respond in kind with messages of hope, take action to support them, and even alter some key practices to ensure that their wellbeing is taken care of. At the same time, these actions are taken with an eye to the future ahead. So this might be upskilling some to ensure that they can maintain adding value, and feeling valued at the school. They see below the surface, enabling them to detect patterns and their consequences for the system. Nuance leaders (Note, I am, nor does the author use the term "nuanced leaders") seek to understand through patterns. They splice data to find the patterns, and are aware of emerging patterns as they unfold around them. They use these patterns to enhance their understanding of the direction of the organization, and who, how and what this means for the future. Nuance leaders can identify patterns in spending, in employment practices and in the culture and how these patterns are supporting or causing friction to the betterment of the school. They practice ideas to see how disrupting these patterns may or may not support the direction. For example, a nuance leader will look at the new normal of Covid 19 to consider how community moments, like school assemblies, have supported or hindered the student experience. They will take a step back and look at the patterns of participation across the school by grade, by faculty and even by day of the week. Then they will test out something new, taking advantage of the times to push certain aspects of community time, and reimagine others - like how might students take more ownership over this time? They connect people to their own and each other's humanity. They don't lead, they teach. They change people's emotions, not just their minds. Nuance leaders have 'human-design' at the heart of their practice and their decision-making. They consider the lived experience of others as a result of the current reality and how that might change with each decision. If a decision is undertaken, they educate the community on WHY that was the decision, and do so in a way that connects to their emotions, not just rationale. For example, in the days of Covid 19, the lived experience of all members of a school has changed and there are emotions that are attached to this. Emotions of grief, anxiety, fear and hope and joy as well. Nuance leaders connects to these emotions, and (as much as possible through Zoom and other digital tools) empathizes with the community by sharing their losses, their fears, but also their hopes and their moments of joy. They educate the community, in a way that is fulsome and directed to different shareholders (parents, students and faculty, and alumni). But they also use this time to bring the community along in their vision of the future, their hope and their joy. They don't mire themselves in a position of reactions, into a position of copying what others are doing, nor in a position of fear. No, they acknowledge all that we might do (status quo, hid in fear, do what others are doing) and then shift to the hope and joy that will come through a commitment to a betterment of humanity. They have an instinct for orchestration. They foster sinews of success. They are humble in the face of challenges, determined for the group to be successful, and pourd to celebrate success. They end up developing incredibly accountable organizations because the accountability gets built into the culture. Covid 19 has taken educational institutions and disrupted their daily rhythms, shaken what it means to be a member of the community, and the roles that we all play within them. Nuance leaders will see the need for reorganisation and realignment of roles, of positions, as well as how these roles are positioned in the HOW of the delivery of school. Nuance leaders will bring in employees to support the vision of the school at this time, and unite them through meaningful and purposeful work, and how that work is connected to the whole, the vision and direction. For example, a nuance leader will reach out to faculty and assure them of their value, their compensation, and they will also assure them that in this new normal change will come for them. They will ask them to position themselves for that exciting change, and again reassure them that they will have the support and training to make these changes a success for them, and for the organization. But they will also establish very clear lines of reporting and of being held to account. This looks like phased work plans for faculty and employees alike. It is asking managers of people to reach out and support the wellbeing of their direct reports, and by supporting their pivot to the new normal. By asking managers to seek the skills and characteristics that can support the organization in moving forward. Above all, they are courageously and relentlessly committed to changing the system for the betterment of humanity. Well, changing the system is already happening. But a nuance leader will have courage to leverage this time to not just continue to 'do school'. They will use this time to reposition and align the human resources within the organzation to support the learning experience in such a way that we capitalize on the upskilling in digital tools, and in digital pedagogy in making these a part of the new fabric of school's DNA. Now that we have seen this whole-school change in how we connect and how we learn, how we build relationships with and amongst each other, and how we understand ourselves within the school, nuance leaders will weave these skills, approaches and language into the culture of the school so that when we return to the campus, we return as humans with new skills, new hopes and ways of being that will have at its purpose human-design for the betterment of humanity.
May you go well into this ever evolving space of education. May you have time to reflect and appreciate the skills that you are gaining, the emotional fortitude that is growing your stores of resilience, and may you, now having seen what our students are capable of, pivot your practice to support their flourishing as human beings.    ]]>
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<![CDATA[Book Review: Nuance by M. Fullan]]> https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/2020/04/02/book-review-nuance-by-m-fullan/ https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/2020/04/02/book-review-nuance-by-m-fullan/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2020 12:05:16 +0000 https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/?p=768 In his latest book, Nuance, Michael Fullan refines his previous research and writings on what it takes to be an effective leader of educational organizations. We can all agree that this has never been more important. We can also agree that concepts of leadership, and practices successful leadership have never before been so disrupted.
Gone are traditional face-to-face connections. Gone is the ability to convey, with ease, humour, confidence, support and empathy through body language and tone enhancing communication ("We are all just talking heads!") Gone are the many informal opportunities to connect in the hallways, lunch or staff room 
In light of this, how should leaders behave? I believe that this book maintains its value in this time of disruption - it offers us answers and practices to successfully navigate these uncertain times. When I looked up "leadership icons" to see if there was anything that captured "nuance leaders" here is what I found: None of these support the author's thesis. And so, in reading the below, I ask that you try your best to not see leadership as (1) male-dominated (2) leading from the front and (3) so interconnected that you can't find the leader(s).
Michael Fullan offers up a few key characteristics of a what he means by a 'Nuanced Leader':
Nuance leaders have a curiosity about what is possible, openness to other people, sensitivity to context, and a loyalty to a better future. They see below the surface, enabling them to detect patterns and their consequences for the system. They connect people to their own and each other's humanity. They don't lead, they teach. They change people's emotions, not just their minds. They have an instinct for orchestration. They foster sinews of success. They are humble in the face of challenges, determined for the group to be successful, and pourd to celebrate success. They end up developing incredibly accountable organizations because the accountability gets built into the culture. Above all, they are courageously and relentlessly committed to changing the system for the betterment of humanity.
This is, as is Michael Fullan's styel, verbose in the description and (for me at least) hard to pin down - to really get behind this description as a leadership approach. So let's break it down: Nuance leaders have a curiosity about what is possible, openness to other people, sensitivity to context, and a loyalty to a better future. For these set of characteristics, the author turns to Leonardo da Vinci's life as a way of explanation. He explains that a nuanced leader must live within the processes of change. It requires leaders to ask questions about the lived experience of others within the organization and get to the deeper purpose. They do this by being open to others and to believe that all can contribute to their (the leaders) better understanding of processes within the organization. They filter these contributions and information through the context of the situation and priorities that they have, but they always use these to guide them to their vision of what education can be. For example, a leader can listen, understand and empathize with employees and faculty about their current situations in Covid19. They can respond in kind with messages of hope, take action to support them, and even alter some key practices to ensure that their wellbeing is taken care of. At the same time, these actions are taken with an eye to the future ahead. So this might be upskilling some to ensure that they can maintain adding value, and feeling valued at the school. They see below the surface, enabling them to detect patterns and their consequences for the system. Nuance leaders (Note, I am, nor does the author use the term "nuanced leaders") seek to understand through patterns. They splice data to find the patterns, and are aware of emerging patterns as they unfold around them. They use these patterns to enhance their understanding of the direction of the organization, and who, how and what this means for the future. Nuance leaders can identify patterns in spending, in employment practices and in the culture and how these patterns are supporting or causing friction to the betterment of the school. They practice ideas to see how disrupting these patterns may or may not support the direction. For example, a nuance leader will look at the new normal of Covid 19 to consider how community moments, like school assemblies, have supported or hindered the student experience. They will take a step back and look at the patterns of participation across the school by grade, by faculty and even by day of the week. Then they will test out something new, taking advantage of the times to push certain aspects of community time, and reimagine others - like how might students take more ownership over this time? They connect people to their own and each other's humanity. They don't lead, they teach. They change people's emotions, not just their minds. Nuance leaders have 'human-design' at the heart of their practice and their decision-making. They consider the lived experience of others as a result of the current reality and how that might change with each decision. If a decision is undertaken, they educate the community on WHY that was the decision, and do so in a way that connects to their emotions, not just rationale. For example, in the days of Covid 19, the lived experience of all members of a school has changed and there are emotions that are attached to this. Emotions of grief, anxiety, fear and hope and joy as well. Nuance leaders connects to these emotions, and (as much as possible through Zoom and other digital tools) empathizes with the community by sharing their losses, their fears, but also their hopes and their moments of joy. They educate the community, in a way that is fulsome and directed to different shareholders (parents, students and faculty, and alumni). But they also use this time to bring the community along in their vision of the future, their hope and their joy. They don't mire themselves in a position of reactions, into a position of copying what others are doing, nor in a position of fear. No, they acknowledge all that we might do (status quo, hid in fear, do what others are doing) and then shift to the hope and joy that will come through a commitment to a betterment of humanity. They have an instinct for orchestration. They foster sinews of success. They are humble in the face of challenges, determined for the group to be successful, and pourd to celebrate success. They end up developing incredibly accountable organizations because the accountability gets built into the culture. Covid 19 has taken educational institutions and disrupted their daily rhythms, shaken what it means to be a member of the community, and the roles that we all play within them. Nuance leaders will see the need for reorganisation and realignment of roles, of positions, as well as how these roles are positioned in the HOW of the delivery of school. Nuance leaders will bring in employees to support the vision of the school at this time, and unite them through meaningful and purposeful work, and how that work is connected to the whole, the vision and direction. For example, a nuance leader will reach out to faculty and assure them of their value, their compensation, and they will also assure them that in this new normal change will come for them. They will ask them to position themselves for that exciting change, and again reassure them that they will have the support and training to make these changes a success for them, and for the organization. But they will also establish very clear lines of reporting and of being held to account. This looks like phased work plans for faculty and employees alike. It is asking managers of people to reach out and support the wellbeing of their direct reports, and by supporting their pivot to the new normal. By asking managers to seek the skills and characteristics that can support the organization in moving forward. Above all, they are courageously and relentlessly committed to changing the system for the betterment of humanity. Well, changing the system is already happening. But a nuance leader will have courage to leverage this time to not just continue to 'do school'. They will use this time to reposition and align the human resources within the organzation to support the learning experience in such a way that we capitalize on the upskilling in digital tools, and in digital pedagogy in making these a part of the new fabric of school's DNA. Now that we have seen this whole-school change in how we connect and how we learn, how we build relationships with and amongst each other, and how we understand ourselves within the school, nuance leaders will weave these skills, approaches and language into the culture of the school so that when we return to the campus, we return as humans with new skills, new hopes and ways of being that will have at its purpose human-design for the betterment of humanity.
May you go well into this ever evolving space of education. May you have time to reflect and appreciate the skills that you are gaining, the emotional fortitude that is growing your stores of resilience, and may you, now having seen what our students are capable of, pivot your practice to support their flourishing as human beings.    ]]>
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<![CDATA[30. Pedagogy for a pandemic with Les McBeth, Adam Caplan, Garth Nichols, and Lara Jensen]]> https://cohort21.com/teachingtomorrow/2020/03/17/30-pedagogy-for-a-pandemic-with-les-mcbeth-adam-caplan-garth-nichols-and-lara-jensen/ https://cohort21.com/teachingtomorrow/2020/03/17/30-pedagogy-for-a-pandemic-with-les-mcbeth-adam-caplan-garth-nichols-and-lara-jensen/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2020 15:39:35 +0000 https://cohort21.com/teachingtomorrow/?p=1025 Here we are on Tuesday March 17th and everything is different.    We have all found ourselves in a new normal and I feel pretty confident in knowing that we are all united in how COVID-19 is shaping our realities. Some of you haven’t left your houses, some of your children are now at home with you, some of your schools have shut down indefinitely. And with this brings up many questions.    Before all of this started to happen, I had taken a little hiatus from the podcast. I’m lucky that this isn’t my full time job and if I step back from this lil’ hobby, it doesn’t have a significant impact. I’m 35 weeks pregnant and finishing up the end of my winter term focusing solely on my students and my family felt like the best / most sane use of my dwindling energy.    And then schools in Ontario were closed--as far as we know until April 6th--and many of our administrations have announced some plan for online or distance learning to help our population practice social distancing.    The time for podcasting and sharing resources has never been more important. So I dusted off the microphone and sent a call out to a few of the smartest educators I know to talk about best practices in online learning.   Click the Soundcloud file to hear the whole episode.   Show Links Coming Soon!]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/03/17/30-pedagogy-for-a-pandemic-with-les-mcbeth-adam-caplan-garth-nichols-and-lara-jensen/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[30. Pedagogy for a pandemic with Les McBeth, Adam Caplan, Garth Nichols, and Lara Jensen]]> https://cohort21.com/teachingtomorrow/2020/03/17/30-pedagogy-for-a-pandemic-with-les-mcbeth-adam-caplan-garth-nichols-and-lara-jensen/ https://cohort21.com/teachingtomorrow/2020/03/17/30-pedagogy-for-a-pandemic-with-les-mcbeth-adam-caplan-garth-nichols-and-lara-jensen/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2020 15:39:35 +0000 https://cohort21.com/teachingtomorrow/?p=1025 Here we are on Tuesday March 17th and everything is different.    We have all found ourselves in a new normal and I feel pretty confident in knowing that we are all united in how COVID-19 is shaping our realities. Some of you haven’t left your houses, some of your children are now at home with you, some of your schools have shut down indefinitely. And with this brings up many questions.    Before all of this started to happen, I had taken a little hiatus from the podcast. I’m lucky that this isn’t my full time job and if I step back from this lil’ hobby, it doesn’t have a significant impact. I’m 35 weeks pregnant and finishing up the end of my winter term focusing solely on my students and my family felt like the best / most sane use of my dwindling energy.    And then schools in Ontario were closed--as far as we know until April 6th--and many of our administrations have announced some plan for online or distance learning to help our population practice social distancing.    The time for podcasting and sharing resources has never been more important. So I dusted off the microphone and sent a call out to a few of the smartest educators I know to talk about best practices in online learning.   Click the Soundcloud file to hear the whole episode.   Show Links Coming Soon!]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/03/17/30-pedagogy-for-a-pandemic-with-les-mcbeth-adam-caplan-garth-nichols-and-lara-jensen/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Settler Reflections on Elder-In-Residence Presence at The University of Toronto Schools]]> https://cohort21.com/marcbrims/2020/03/10/settler-reflections-on-elder-in-residence-presence-at-the-university-of-toronto-schools/ https://cohort21.com/marcbrims/2020/03/10/settler-reflections-on-elder-in-residence-presence-at-the-university-of-toronto-schools/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2020 14:10:50 +0000 https://cohort21.com/marcbrims/?p=72 Explanatory Note: The below was written by the Head of Academics, Marc Brims, with input and advice from UTS Elder in Residence, Cat Criger.  It has been almost a year since I last posted about my action plan to integrate a school community focused Truth and Reconciliation journey into our programming for grades 7-12 at UTS. After internalizing that this undertaking would take much time to even begin to realize, my baseline hope was for reconciliation processes to positively evolve one conversation at a time. It became apparent that a “school wide plan” may not be the correct approach to use for this type of endeavour, but rather a series of well intended pathways with a cautious awareness of anticipated impact. This year, many impactful conversations have occurred within our school community, and this is in large part due to the guidance and presence of Cat Criger. Cat works locally and nationally within corporations, financial institutions, government ministries, ethically based research projects, interfaith projects and initiatives, and not-for-profit organisations.  Cat has helped out (intermittently) at our school for years, currently has the role of Indigenous Advisor at the University Toronto Mississauga Campus, and recently also joined UTS in September of 2019 in an official capacity as the school’s Elder-In Residence. Cat liaises with students and staff every Friday afternoon, and also throughout the school year as often as his busy schedule allows. Perpetually, Cat can be seen speaking and laughing with students, teachers, and support staff in the hallways, and he also regularly meets with members of the school community in a space that he along with fellow teacher Negar Shayan (@nshayan) have designed and decorated to reflect Indigenous perspectives. This space acts as a student collaboration room, and a regular meeting space for Cat and members of our Indigenous Solidarity Committee (ISC). Reconciliation pledges (an initiative of our ISC) also line the hallway near the school academic office, providing a visual testament to our individual and collective school community commitment to truth and reconciliation.    Holistically, Cat’s presence brings calm to a school environment that is often frenetic and fast moving. Cat’s background in spheres of education, medicine, business, aeronautics, and many many other areas is mind boggling. His multiplicity of experiences allow for natural connections to form with our varied and unique learners. Likewise, Cat is able to deliver diverse context specific Land Acknowledgments. He opened the events at Nathan Phillips Square to ring in the new year for 2020, and more recently spoke at the Ontario Bar Association to open the reception for their Annual Learning Institute. He brings this know-how to our UTS community to lead us into professional development days, school assemblies, and even to introduce guest speakers or begin school community events (ex: Remembrance Day, Regenerative Medicine Expos, etc.). Each time Cat opens an event for us, he makes connections between the past, the present context for which the event is suited, and elements of nature that give both space and cause for each person in attendance to internally reflect and feel a sense of purpose in their present state and place. This helps build a pathway of understanding as students are more aware of other trends and a broadband understanding of truth and reconciliation beyond the classroom walls. Moreover, students now have the courage to open assemblies by performing personalized Land Acknowledgements. Through Cat’s modeling and guidance, students in our school now feel they have the confidence to speak to their own family histories of connection to the land, how they came to be on Turtle Island, and what they see as prescient for mutual and flourishing coexistence in our shared space moving forward. These student-led personalized Land Acknowledgements are a genuine evolution in reconciliation realities that have been made possible by having Elder presence in the UTS school community. Cat’s presence also adds authenticity to the learning experiences of our school community members. Earlier in the year, Cat joined our grade 7 students in attending a production of “The Mush Hole” - a performance depicting the experience of Residential School students at the infamous Mohawk Institute. Cat’s family line traces back to this reserve and contains inductees to this Residential School, and to say there was emotion felt in the audience would be an understatement. After the performance, the directors and actors did not have time to field the flurry of questions from UTS attendees. This was a great sign that curiosity and inquiry was sparked within our students, and it was reassuring to know that Cat would be on hand to help make deeper meaning of the learning experience back at school. Cat has been holding “Cat Chats” with students to facilitate reflections of learning to date throughout the school year. Indeed, we are learning to use an Indigenous perspective as a complimentary pedagogy in classes, and beginning to see the benefits of doing so. Curricularly, toward the end of the school year, our grade 7 students are coached in developing mentorship skills, enabling them to write welcome letters to new students to UTS vis-a-vis their own journey of self discovery and value formation with respect to reconciliation. It is hoped that this will continue to create a path where new grade 7 students can learn and benefit from the previous years students’ experiences. The process promotes interactive dialogue and a sharing of unique learning perspectives. Furthermore, it assists with building new school community relationships, and provides a great opportunity as educators to learn through the students how we might best iterate our teaching and learning approaches with respect to truth and reconciliation for the next year. Needless to say, student and staff awareness of and respect for multiple perspectives is healthily growing within the school community.  Along our reconciliation journey, we still have a long way to go. Cat likens this journey to the Two Row Wampum Treaty - a journey of partnership, mutual respect, and openness to learning. Next steps include creating a central hub to coordinate Indigenous content, approaches to teaching and learning, and a place to celebrate our learning process. Recognizing the multiplicity of cultures that share our space, Cat is also keen to continue supporting individual students with connecting their own identity to the place, space, and time that they are navigating. UTS students are increasingly reaching out to Cat for advice and mentorship in this regard.  It is clear that Cat has been an invaluable resource for advising our teachers, students, and administrators in vetting approaches to teaching and learning, and it is comforting to know that Cat is available to listen to ideas as a critical friend. Indeed, we are beginning to create the conditions for an ever growing frame of thought and reference to consider when thinking about our thinking at UTS with respect to teaching and learning. We have begun to honour The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action #62 & # 63 in earnest, and are grateful to Cat for continuing to share his time, knowledge, and presence with UTS as we begin to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” our way onward as a school community and as 21st Century learners.  ]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/03/10/settler-reflections-on-elder-in-residence-presence-at-the-university-of-toronto-schools/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Settler Reflections on Elder-In-Residence Presence at The University of Toronto Schools]]> https://cohort21.com/marcbrims/2020/03/10/settler-reflections-on-elder-in-residence-presence-at-the-university-of-toronto-schools/ https://cohort21.com/marcbrims/2020/03/10/settler-reflections-on-elder-in-residence-presence-at-the-university-of-toronto-schools/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2020 14:10:50 +0000 https://cohort21.com/marcbrims/?p=72 Explanatory Note: The below was written by the Head of Academics, Marc Brims, with input and advice from UTS Elder in Residence, Cat Criger.  It has been almost a year since I last posted about my action plan to integrate a school community focused Truth and Reconciliation journey into our programming for grades 7-12 at UTS. After internalizing that this undertaking would take much time to even begin to realize, my baseline hope was for reconciliation processes to positively evolve one conversation at a time. It became apparent that a “school wide plan” may not be the correct approach to use for this type of endeavour, but rather a series of well intended pathways with a cautious awareness of anticipated impact. This year, many impactful conversations have occurred within our school community, and this is in large part due to the guidance and presence of Cat Criger. Cat works locally and nationally within corporations, financial institutions, government ministries, ethically based research projects, interfaith projects and initiatives, and not-for-profit organisations.  Cat has helped out (intermittently) at our school for years, currently has the role of Indigenous Advisor at the University Toronto Mississauga Campus, and recently also joined UTS in September of 2019 in an official capacity as the school’s Elder-In Residence. Cat liaises with students and staff every Friday afternoon, and also throughout the school year as often as his busy schedule allows. Perpetually, Cat can be seen speaking and laughing with students, teachers, and support staff in the hallways, and he also regularly meets with members of the school community in a space that he along with fellow teacher Negar Shayan (@nshayan) have designed and decorated to reflect Indigenous perspectives. This space acts as a student collaboration room, and a regular meeting space for Cat and members of our Indigenous Solidarity Committee (ISC). Reconciliation pledges (an initiative of our ISC) also line the hallway near the school academic office, providing a visual testament to our individual and collective school community commitment to truth and reconciliation.    Holistically, Cat’s presence brings calm to a school environment that is often frenetic and fast moving. Cat’s background in spheres of education, medicine, business, aeronautics, and many many other areas is mind boggling. His multiplicity of experiences allow for natural connections to form with our varied and unique learners. Likewise, Cat is able to deliver diverse context specific Land Acknowledgments. He opened the events at Nathan Phillips Square to ring in the new year for 2020, and more recently spoke at the Ontario Bar Association to open the reception for their Annual Learning Institute. He brings this know-how to our UTS community to lead us into professional development days, school assemblies, and even to introduce guest speakers or begin school community events (ex: Remembrance Day, Regenerative Medicine Expos, etc.). Each time Cat opens an event for us, he makes connections between the past, the present context for which the event is suited, and elements of nature that give both space and cause for each person in attendance to internally reflect and feel a sense of purpose in their present state and place. This helps build a pathway of understanding as students are more aware of other trends and a broadband understanding of truth and reconciliation beyond the classroom walls. Moreover, students now have the courage to open assemblies by performing personalized Land Acknowledgements. Through Cat’s modeling and guidance, students in our school now feel they have the confidence to speak to their own family histories of connection to the land, how they came to be on Turtle Island, and what they see as prescient for mutual and flourishing coexistence in our shared space moving forward. These student-led personalized Land Acknowledgements are a genuine evolution in reconciliation realities that have been made possible by having Elder presence in the UTS school community. Cat’s presence also adds authenticity to the learning experiences of our school community members. Earlier in the year, Cat joined our grade 7 students in attending a production of “The Mush Hole” - a performance depicting the experience of Residential School students at the infamous Mohawk Institute. Cat’s family line traces back to this reserve and contains inductees to this Residential School, and to say there was emotion felt in the audience would be an understatement. After the performance, the directors and actors did not have time to field the flurry of questions from UTS attendees. This was a great sign that curiosity and inquiry was sparked within our students, and it was reassuring to know that Cat would be on hand to help make deeper meaning of the learning experience back at school. Cat has been holding “Cat Chats” with students to facilitate reflections of learning to date throughout the school year. Indeed, we are learning to use an Indigenous perspective as a complimentary pedagogy in classes, and beginning to see the benefits of doing so. Curricularly, toward the end of the school year, our grade 7 students are coached in developing mentorship skills, enabling them to write welcome letters to new students to UTS vis-a-vis their own journey of self discovery and value formation with respect to reconciliation. It is hoped that this will continue to create a path where new grade 7 students can learn and benefit from the previous years students’ experiences. The process promotes interactive dialogue and a sharing of unique learning perspectives. Furthermore, it assists with building new school community relationships, and provides a great opportunity as educators to learn through the students how we might best iterate our teaching and learning approaches with respect to truth and reconciliation for the next year. Needless to say, student and staff awareness of and respect for multiple perspectives is healthily growing within the school community.  Along our reconciliation journey, we still have a long way to go. Cat likens this journey to the Two Row Wampum Treaty - a journey of partnership, mutual respect, and openness to learning. Next steps include creating a central hub to coordinate Indigenous content, approaches to teaching and learning, and a place to celebrate our learning process. Recognizing the multiplicity of cultures that share our space, Cat is also keen to continue supporting individual students with connecting their own identity to the place, space, and time that they are navigating. UTS students are increasingly reaching out to Cat for advice and mentorship in this regard.  It is clear that Cat has been an invaluable resource for advising our teachers, students, and administrators in vetting approaches to teaching and learning, and it is comforting to know that Cat is available to listen to ideas as a critical friend. Indeed, we are beginning to create the conditions for an ever growing frame of thought and reference to consider when thinking about our thinking at UTS with respect to teaching and learning. We have begun to honour The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action #62 & # 63 in earnest, and are grateful to Cat for continuing to share his time, knowledge, and presence with UTS as we begin to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” our way onward as a school community and as 21st Century learners.  ]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/03/10/settler-reflections-on-elder-in-residence-presence-at-the-university-of-toronto-schools/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Spring Term Motivation]]> https://cohort21.com/robingarand/2020/03/05/spring-term-motivation/ https://cohort21.com/robingarand/2020/03/05/spring-term-motivation/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2020 00:23:25 +0000 https://cohort21.com/robingarand/?p=115 As we are heading towards March break I wanted to write this to post as a reminder to myself and my Cohort 21 teammates. I was updating my planner and looking at the time left in the year and I don't know about you, but I am preparing myself for Spring Term whiplash. With that in mind I want to remind everyone how great a job you've done and how much I've enjoyed reading your posts and learning from you. Now comes one of the hard parts. I need to remind myself to keep staying out of my comfort zone pedagogically. As we start careening towards June it's important to keep using the new tools and skills I have learnt this year and not reverting back to my old habits and comfort zone. Just because I feel rushed and stressed to get all this content done before the end of the year doesn't mean I can't keep doing rich and engaging activities and assessment. Yes it may be easy to go back to old habits but something being easier has never been a good reason. To that end I am writing this post. I will hold myself accountable and keep pushing myself. I am so excited for our final F2F where I can get re-energized talking about curriculum and assessment practices. In the meantime however, I will breathe. I will take a step back. I will remind myself that I can do this and do it well in a tight time frame. If you are reading this and feeling the same then I hope you come see me at our F2F so we can motivate each other and cheer each other on. Keep it up everyone. We got this!]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/03/05/spring-term-motivation/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Spring Term Motivation]]> https://cohort21.com/robingarand/2020/03/05/spring-term-motivation/ https://cohort21.com/robingarand/2020/03/05/spring-term-motivation/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2020 00:23:25 +0000 https://cohort21.com/robingarand/?p=115 As we are heading towards March break I wanted to write this to post as a reminder to myself and my Cohort 21 teammates. I was updating my planner and looking at the time left in the year and I don't know about you, but I am preparing myself for Spring Term whiplash. With that in mind I want to remind everyone how great a job you've done and how much I've enjoyed reading your posts and learning from you. Now comes one of the hard parts. I need to remind myself to keep staying out of my comfort zone pedagogically. As we start careening towards June it's important to keep using the new tools and skills I have learnt this year and not reverting back to my old habits and comfort zone. Just because I feel rushed and stressed to get all this content done before the end of the year doesn't mean I can't keep doing rich and engaging activities and assessment. Yes it may be easy to go back to old habits but something being easier has never been a good reason. To that end I am writing this post. I will hold myself accountable and keep pushing myself. I am so excited for our final F2F where I can get re-energized talking about curriculum and assessment practices. In the meantime however, I will breathe. I will take a step back. I will remind myself that I can do this and do it well in a tight time frame. If you are reading this and feeling the same then I hope you come see me at our F2F so we can motivate each other and cheer each other on. Keep it up everyone. We got this!]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/03/05/spring-term-motivation/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Book Review: Neuro-Teach]]> https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/2020/03/02/book-review-neuro-teach/ https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/2020/03/02/book-review-neuro-teach/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2020 20:25:39 +0000 https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/?p=762 Thanks to @jmedved for the recommendation of "NeuroTeach". Written by Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher, this is a great book that should be central to schools' professional development library. NeuroTeach is a culmination of what we know about the brain, how we learn, what non-neural factors influence learning (hint: feelings!), and practical strategies for being a Mind Brain Educator.
Teachers are researchers. They collect enormous amounts of data each day, and they rapidly evaluate and make decisions based on those data. Some of this is numerical, but much is qualitative. They may be second only to doctors in doing this. What teachers are not good at is doing anything formal with these data. Like a cup under a running tap, more and more information is constantly flowing in, too much to hold. All these data could be used as evidence to inform practice (NeuroTeach, 149)
You would be interested in reading this book if... 1) You wanted solid brain research to understand learning process in students 2) You wanted researched-supported strategies for deep learning 3) You were looking for ways to capitalize on strategies that leverage the way the brain learns 4) You want to shift your practice into that of a Teacher-as-Researcher and do something formal with the data you collect
The goal for the authors is to create a research-based approach to education: "Perhaps the most fundamental premise of mind, brain educations (MBE) science is that we can, and must, manage these factors in ways that promot the kind of changes that lead to stronger, happier, more motivated, more resilient, high-achieving students." (NeuroTeach, 34) To this end, throughout the first chapters of the book, the reader is given a tour of the brain within the context of education. This is an important piece because the information is directly applicable to the classroom, relationship and content of learning.
Getting sensory information to your prefrontal cortext is crucial for learning, and the key is the role of the amygdala and ho you cope with stressors. Working at this leads to myelination of the neural pathways from the amygdala to the prefrontal cortex, meaning that doing so becomes easier over time. Research shows that moderate levels of stress in short, defined periods, and in a supportive environment help rewire the brain to deal more effectively with stress in the future. The right amount of stress in the right conditions does indeed make you strong. (NeuroTeach, 36)
This connects back directly to the work of Lisa Damour and the differences between stress and anxiety. In her book "Under Pressure" she writes:
We don’t want our daughter’s stress level to be consistently too low or too high. But we can embrace reasonable levels of stress as a nutrient for our daughter’s healthy development that will help her grow into the strong and durable young woman we want her to be. (pg. 4)
The authors of NeuroTeach share the same approach:
So the teacher must ensure that each individual student is in what we might call his or her zone of proximal discomfort - for this student at this time, what is a good level of stress and what can I do to help balance his or her stressors? (pg. 75)
What they propose is to actually have the educators in the building engage in dialogue with students about their brain, its structure and how it is built. In turn, this will inform their strategies and allow them to make sense of new strategies that are brain-research informed.
This book also goes deep into how an educator can use Mind Brain Education science to improve their own practice as a learner.  They encourage teachers to consider this key question: "...how do we structure professional development to help us so that our kids don't just end up learning what we did and the way we did it decades ago?" What are we as educators learning, and how are we learning it, such that it will change the way we teach from the way we taught, erase neuro-myths from our repertoire of teaching, and allow us to craft approaches that we know are effective, efficient and impactful for high impact learning? Their recommendation that I really gravitate towards is the "Research-informed Reflective, Iterative Practice done Collaboratively" (pg. 165). "We want reasonable responses to genuine problems in a reasonable timescale. So let's play in the sandbox. As long as we take care to make sure that solutions are informed by research in their inception; as long as we take care to get feedback, reflect, tweak and try again so that our process is iterative; as long as we take care to make sure we are actually collecting and using evidence, and doing so appropriately, we will be moving in the right direction. " (pg. 166) How often do we encourage our own students and even ourselves to play in the sandbox?]]>
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<![CDATA[Book Review: Neuro-Teach]]> https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/2020/03/02/book-review-neuro-teach/ https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/2020/03/02/book-review-neuro-teach/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2020 20:25:39 +0000 https://cohort21.com/garthnichols/?p=762 Thanks to @jmedved for the recommendation of "NeuroTeach". Written by Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher, this is a great book that should be central to schools' professional development library. NeuroTeach is a culmination of what we know about the brain, how we learn, what non-neural factors influence learning (hint: feelings!), and practical strategies for being a Mind Brain Educator.
Teachers are researchers. They collect enormous amounts of data each day, and they rapidly evaluate and make decisions based on those data. Some of this is numerical, but much is qualitative. They may be second only to doctors in doing this. What teachers are not good at is doing anything formal with these data. Like a cup under a running tap, more and more information is constantly flowing in, too much to hold. All these data could be used as evidence to inform practice (NeuroTeach, 149)
You would be interested in reading this book if... 1) You wanted solid brain research to understand learning process in students 2) You wanted researched-supported strategies for deep learning 3) You were looking for ways to capitalize on strategies that leverage the way the brain learns 4) You want to shift your practice into that of a Teacher-as-Researcher and do something formal with the data you collect
The goal for the authors is to create a research-based approach to education: "Perhaps the most fundamental premise of mind, brain educations (MBE) science is that we can, and must, manage these factors in ways that promot the kind of changes that lead to stronger, happier, more motivated, more resilient, high-achieving students." (NeuroTeach, 34) To this end, throughout the first chapters of the book, the reader is given a tour of the brain within the context of education. This is an important piece because the information is directly applicable to the classroom, relationship and content of learning.
Getting sensory information to your prefrontal cortext is crucial for learning, and the key is the role of the amygdala and ho you cope with stressors. Working at this leads to myelination of the neural pathways from the amygdala to the prefrontal cortex, meaning that doing so becomes easier over time. Research shows that moderate levels of stress in short, defined periods, and in a supportive environment help rewire the brain to deal more effectively with stress in the future. The right amount of stress in the right conditions does indeed make you strong. (NeuroTeach, 36)
This connects back directly to the work of Lisa Damour and the differences between stress and anxiety. In her book "Under Pressure" she writes:
We don’t want our daughter’s stress level to be consistently too low or too high. But we can embrace reasonable levels of stress as a nutrient for our daughter’s healthy development that will help her grow into the strong and durable young woman we want her to be. (pg. 4)
The authors of NeuroTeach share the same approach:
So the teacher must ensure that each individual student is in what we might call his or her zone of proximal discomfort - for this student at this time, what is a good level of stress and what can I do to help balance his or her stressors? (pg. 75)
What they propose is to actually have the educators in the building engage in dialogue with students about their brain, its structure and how it is built. In turn, this will inform their strategies and allow them to make sense of new strategies that are brain-research informed.
This book also goes deep into how an educator can use Mind Brain Education science to improve their own practice as a learner.  They encourage teachers to consider this key question: "...how do we structure professional development to help us so that our kids don't just end up learning what we did and the way we did it decades ago?" What are we as educators learning, and how are we learning it, such that it will change the way we teach from the way we taught, erase neuro-myths from our repertoire of teaching, and allow us to craft approaches that we know are effective, efficient and impactful for high impact learning? Their recommendation that I really gravitate towards is the "Research-informed Reflective, Iterative Practice done Collaboratively" (pg. 165). "We want reasonable responses to genuine problems in a reasonable timescale. So let's play in the sandbox. As long as we take care to make sure that solutions are informed by research in their inception; as long as we take care to get feedback, reflect, tweak and try again so that our process is iterative; as long as we take care to make sure we are actually collecting and using evidence, and doing so appropriately, we will be moving in the right direction. " (pg. 166) How often do we encourage our own students and even ourselves to play in the sandbox?]]>
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<![CDATA[Investing in The Power of Girls: A Series of Authentic Financial Conversations]]> https://cohort21.com/pennysenior/2020/02/28/investing-in-the-power-of-girls-a-series-of-authentic-financial-conversations/ https://cohort21.com/pennysenior/2020/02/28/investing-in-the-power-of-girls-a-series-of-authentic-financial-conversations/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:54:00 +0000 https://cohort21.com/pennysenior/?p=70 “Financial Literacy is not just about the money but about launching great kids.” (Joline Godfrey, Raising Financially Fit Kids) I have given my why, I have discussed my interviews, so now I focus on my learning intention. What is it that I really want to occur from this action plan??   For our students:
  • to be empowered to make good decisions about money (to make money meaningful)
  • to open the door for money conversations to happen at home
  • to understand what life takes financially
  • to develop their own perspectives on money (and not just what they hear at home)
  • to dispel any preconceived notions about their personal finances (Eg. I won’t be able to afford a house, I won’t be able to have kids)
  • to use money to be a citizen of the world
For our parents:
  • to openly talk about finances with their child (even if it is not success)
  • to understand the use of an allowance 
  • to use the 3 piggy bank strategy (save, spend, charity)
  • to help their child start their own charity or business (should they chose to)
  • to allow their child financial independence 
  • to use money to be a citizen of the world
For teachers:
  • to prepare our students for life outside of high school
  • to use money to be a citizen of the world
HMW use age appropriate authentic contexts in order to teach the skills of financial literacy and promote a culture of philanthropy? I took all of the above and categorized them into 3 areas of interest:
  1. Money mistakes and growth
  2. Philanthropy and doing good with the money you have
  3. The importance of being financially independent and successful on your own
So how do I empower the next generation of girls to be financially literate and philanthropic? I hold an authentic conversation.  My action plan is two fold.
  1. Upper School (May 26, 2020)
    1. To host a panelist of 3 women (representing each of the 3 categories above) to share their authentic stories with Grades 8-12. To give them perspectives of real world financial literacy and philanthropy.
    2. To create a handout where students can take notes, write questions and answers and reflect on their own financial literacy goals, opening the door for conversations at home.
  2. Lower School (June, 2020)
    1. To host a “showcase” including both parents and students that will be tiered in the roles for each grade from 4-7, discussing profit & loss, the 3 piggy banks, doing good with their money and investments for future (eg. RESP, TFSA)
    2. This will be an activity that allows parents and students to work together to build their financial literacy and philanthropy.
After presenting my action plan to the Head of School, she believes this is a topic that should not happen just once a year, she wants me to make it a series or yearly event; a continuum of financial literacy learning for our girls and their families. The topics and panelists can and will change as we address other topics in the future such as teaching our girls it’s ok to ask for a higher salary, how to deal with money fraud, how to start your own charity. But the concept is the same, community members sharing their authentic stories and the lessons learned in hopes it will guide, empower, and educate our future generations.  “The difference between a fantasy and the realization of a dream is having the financial skills to make the fantasy come to life.” (Joline Godfrey, Raising Financially Fit Kids) Thanks @swelbourn for your continued support and edits! @vogtteaching @lmustard @Mathy_Panda @WoodleyMarnie  ]]>
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<![CDATA[Investing in The Power of Girls: A Series of Authentic Financial Conversations]]> https://cohort21.com/pennysenior/2020/02/28/investing-in-the-power-of-girls-a-series-of-authentic-financial-conversations/ https://cohort21.com/pennysenior/2020/02/28/investing-in-the-power-of-girls-a-series-of-authentic-financial-conversations/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:54:00 +0000 https://cohort21.com/pennysenior/?p=70 “Financial Literacy is not just about the money but about launching great kids.” (Joline Godfrey, Raising Financially Fit Kids) I have given my why, I have discussed my interviews, so now I focus on my learning intention. What is it that I really want to occur from this action plan??   For our students:
  • to be empowered to make good decisions about money (to make money meaningful)
  • to open the door for money conversations to happen at home
  • to understand what life takes financially
  • to develop their own perspectives on money (and not just what they hear at home)
  • to dispel any preconceived notions about their personal finances (Eg. I won’t be able to afford a house, I won’t be able to have kids)
  • to use money to be a citizen of the world
For our parents:
  • to openly talk about finances with their child (even if it is not success)
  • to understand the use of an allowance 
  • to use the 3 piggy bank strategy (save, spend, charity)
  • to help their child start their own charity or business (should they chose to)
  • to allow their child financial independence 
  • to use money to be a citizen of the world
For teachers:
  • to prepare our students for life outside of high school
  • to use money to be a citizen of the world
HMW use age appropriate authentic contexts in order to teach the skills of financial literacy and promote a culture of philanthropy? I took all of the above and categorized them into 3 areas of interest:
  1. Money mistakes and growth
  2. Philanthropy and doing good with the money you have
  3. The importance of being financially independent and successful on your own
So how do I empower the next generation of girls to be financially literate and philanthropic? I hold an authentic conversation.  My action plan is two fold.
  1. Upper School (May 26, 2020)
    1. To host a panelist of 3 women (representing each of the 3 categories above) to share their authentic stories with Grades 8-12. To give them perspectives of real world financial literacy and philanthropy.
    2. To create a handout where students can take notes, write questions and answers and reflect on their own financial literacy goals, opening the door for conversations at home.
  2. Lower School (June, 2020)
    1. To host a “showcase” including both parents and students that will be tiered in the roles for each grade from 4-7, discussing profit & loss, the 3 piggy banks, doing good with their money and investments for future (eg. RESP, TFSA)
    2. This will be an activity that allows parents and students to work together to build their financial literacy and philanthropy.
After presenting my action plan to the Head of School, she believes this is a topic that should not happen just once a year, she wants me to make it a series or yearly event; a continuum of financial literacy learning for our girls and their families. The topics and panelists can and will change as we address other topics in the future such as teaching our girls it’s ok to ask for a higher salary, how to deal with money fraud, how to start your own charity. But the concept is the same, community members sharing their authentic stories and the lessons learned in hopes it will guide, empower, and educate our future generations.  “The difference between a fantasy and the realization of a dream is having the financial skills to make the fantasy come to life.” (Joline Godfrey, Raising Financially Fit Kids) Thanks @swelbourn for your continued support and edits! @vogtteaching @lmustard @Mathy_Panda @WoodleyMarnie  ]]>
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<![CDATA[A Few Thoughts on Policy: Proceed With Caution]]> https://cohort21.com/grahamvogt/2020/02/28/a-few-thoughts-on-policy-proceed-with-caution/ https://cohort21.com/grahamvogt/2020/02/28/a-few-thoughts-on-policy-proceed-with-caution/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2020 13:28:44 +0000 https://cohort21.com/grahamvogt/?p=168 First, a few thoughts balance: In a community, such as say a teaching faculty, it’s important. It’s not a directive, it’s a choice. It’s achieved through active, ongoing engagement. It is personalized. It is not provided, it is sought.  It is maintained through shared experiences and ongoing discussion, listening, respect, open-mindedness, thoughtful contribution. The very idea of balance invites engagement and support.  And now, a few thoughts on Policy: In a community, such as say a teaching faculty, it's important. It's a directive. It does not provide choice. It is final and wide reaching. It leaves little room for debate, discussion. It instills fear; fear of what will happen if broken, fear of what will happen if not maintained. It has been my action plan these past two years to explore the idea of community: the importance of fostering and understanding how it may empower professionalism and autonomy,  unleashing the potential of all members (teachers and students alike) in a way that inspires each other. Most recently, this exploration has been a reflection upon the ideas of balance and policy, and the extent to which they often sit in opposition. In fact, until recently,  I haven’t really given much thought at all to the the separate entities they occupy. The tension between balance and policy, however, is ever present. Just like in life, a teaching and learning community will turn to policy when conduct and behaviour become disruptive. In such instances, laws provide clarity and make us feel safe. I find this curious. (This is perhaps a little extreme, but I actually find myself returning to The Handmaid’s Tale as Atwood, to an extreme (?) extent, captures the complete willingness of a humanity to surrender moral freedom in the face of uncertainty.)   At a boarding school, this tension is highly pronounced in the final days preceding a long weekend or an extended break. Students are getting squirrely and so their behaviour, at times, becomes unruly.  Quite suddenly, it seems, the community turns to policy. We clamp down harder on existing policy, or we identify the lack of policy. Sometimes it can feel as if the very reason students are unruly is because we are not insisting upon policy strongly enough. At our school for instance, we do not maintain a published policy on late and missing work. Therefore, it can feel as though the reason a project is not submitted on time is precisely because of our lack of policy. Is this actually true though?

_________________________________________

Perhaps it is my experience as a parent that causes me to pause. I have two kids (4 and 7) who are beautiful angels but they can also be entirely “unruly.” When they loose control, the easiest thing for my wife and I to do is yell and punish; to provide clear consequences. Their behaviour solicits my anger, and so it’s very easy to unleash that anger. It is much MUCH more difficult to help our kids through those moments; to love them, to listen, to learn something of them - their feelings, frustrations, their day, their extremely complicated little lives - and to help them learn something of themselves and their effect on others. Indeed, there are sometimes consequences. Often in fact. Hitting is not ok, and Maki and Gus need to know that. I’m just not sure the rule is more strongly pronounced and maintained because of the consequence attached to it. Is Gus less likely to hit because he knows his dinosaurs might be taken away?

_________________________________________

It strikes me that in the teaching world we can easily feel caught between extremes. We should, I think, always be evaluating our place within multiple dichotomies. There is an ever present danger, however, as the tension of a professional discussion can suggest that we’re to pick an extreme, to declare a clear, collective stance. What do you pick? high expectations over love and support? Critical feedback over encouragement? Controlled outcomes or constructivism? Outcomes or experience? Inside or outside? Instruction or inquiry? Test or project? Focus or fun? Phones! Learning tool or distraction? Hey, anyone want to talk about grades? Be clear, I don’t believe that any of these examples are actually opposing  Each of these are great topics for incredibly rich professional discussion, and we need to be actively and openly pursuing these discussions. Indeed, it is essential for a school to be facilitating these discussions in thoughtful ways that actively solicit the voices of  the many PROFESSIONALS comprising the community. The danger occurs when the intent of those discussions shifts to consensus. Or, even worse, POLICY! Is it common in all professions to desire governance as strongly as the teaching world seems to? To tell or be told clearly, in black and white, the institutional stance on a particular “issue?” Or is that desire a remnant of our conditioning? Does it have something to do with the sometimes concerning fact that we find ourselves in this odd reality of engaging in, and perhaps even attempting to reimagine and innovate, the very institution that in part created us? It seems a little like becoming the mayor of the small town you never left. Thoughts, ideas, approaches, initiatives are often deeply rooted; in this way, they are often tainted by emotional connections and experiences that manifest as biases.  Cohort21 lifer and former facilitator, google innovator and educator/dude supreme @ddoucet and I were very recently having an incredible discussion about biases just the other day. I think I can sum up his wisdom with this question: have you ever noticed how easy it is to validate a bias within a school community? To pick one side of a discussion and quickly gather evidence that might in some way validate it? I can’t begin to express how dangerous I think this is! To be clear, I do think it’s great to feel strongly, passionately about something. I believe it indicates engagement and concern. It also, however, underlines how essential it is for a school to be always pursuing the very idea of open, professional discussion. The great educators understand how important it is to both acknowledge and challenge personal biases. I believe a great school will facilitate, if not insist upon, this process.  If we live in a world primarily focused on policy, that seeks consensus truth, then we are also in a world that informs rather than engages us. In a school this may mean that “professional development” is intended to dictate or train, rather than stir and excite (where exactly is the development?). A school ruled by policy - a classroom ruled by policy - sends kids out when their phone turns to distraction. It has the potential to negate the healthy discussion built upon a nurturing relationship.  Hey, I happily acknowledge the utopianistic tone of this piece, because I do believe the pursuit, if idealistic, is also worthy. Actually, it’s essential. Imagine the implications in a classroom for instance if our first instinct is to explore and understand the tension of a moment rather than solve it; relevant, memorable, lasting experiences may in fact be built upon this idea. I will also happily acknowledge that any community requires grounding. But let’s direct greater attention and urgency towards creating the essential time and space that allows for shared learning and thoughtful discussion, processes and procedures. Let’s “co-construct” shared understandings. And let's never stop revisiting those understandings. In any school community, we have the capacity to formulate agreements about, say, the purpose of a grade on a report card. It’s important to know why we do the things we do. There is a lot of power in founding the agreement upon discussion, particularly if that discussion is ongoing.  As educators, we are provided with the most powerful grounding force imaginable: our students! All thoughtful educators have experienced this epiphany (perhaps again and again): when the frustrations of a day, a moment are suddenly washed away by returning to the student experience. In his recent post @gnichols at least alludes to the importance of meeting students where they are and building learning upon that. In her most recent post, @jsheppard captures the vital and even urgent need to hear each other and work as one. Indeed, we are in a time of tension, of actively distancing ourselves from a tradition so that we may better understand both it and our present, and to move meaningfully beyond in a way that addresses the needs of our world, of our students. What a complex yet exciting process, and one that more strongly favours action over compliance, understanding and empathy over directives. Balance over policy. ]]>
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<![CDATA[A Few Thoughts on Policy: Proceed With Caution]]> https://cohort21.com/grahamvogt/2020/02/28/a-few-thoughts-on-policy-proceed-with-caution/ https://cohort21.com/grahamvogt/2020/02/28/a-few-thoughts-on-policy-proceed-with-caution/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2020 13:28:44 +0000 https://cohort21.com/grahamvogt/?p=168 First, a few thoughts balance: In a community, such as say a teaching faculty, it’s important. It’s not a directive, it’s a choice. It’s achieved through active, ongoing engagement. It is personalized. It is not provided, it is sought.  It is maintained through shared experiences and ongoing discussion, listening, respect, open-mindedness, thoughtful contribution. The very idea of balance invites engagement and support.  And now, a few thoughts on Policy: In a community, such as say a teaching faculty, it's important. It's a directive. It does not provide choice. It is final and wide reaching. It leaves little room for debate, discussion. It instills fear; fear of what will happen if broken, fear of what will happen if not maintained. It has been my action plan these past two years to explore the idea of community: the importance of fostering and understanding how it may empower professionalism and autonomy,  unleashing the potential of all members (teachers and students alike) in a way that inspires each other. Most recently, this exploration has been a reflection upon the ideas of balance and policy, and the extent to which they often sit in opposition. In fact, until recently,  I haven’t really given much thought at all to the the separate entities they occupy. The tension between balance and policy, however, is ever present. Just like in life, a teaching and learning community will turn to policy when conduct and behaviour become disruptive. In such instances, laws provide clarity and make us feel safe. I find this curious. (This is perhaps a little extreme, but I actually find myself returning to The Handmaid’s Tale as Atwood, to an extreme (?) extent, captures the complete willingness of a humanity to surrender moral freedom in the face of uncertainty.)   At a boarding school, this tension is highly pronounced in the final days preceding a long weekend or an extended break. Students are getting squirrely and so their behaviour, at times, becomes unruly.  Quite suddenly, it seems, the community turns to policy. We clamp down harder on existing policy, or we identify the lack of policy. Sometimes it can feel as if the very reason students are unruly is because we are not insisting upon policy strongly enough. At our school for instance, we do not maintain a published policy on late and missing work. Therefore, it can feel as though the reason a project is not submitted on time is precisely because of our lack of policy. Is this actually true though?

_________________________________________

Perhaps it is my experience as a parent that causes me to pause. I have two kids (4 and 7) who are beautiful angels but they can also be entirely “unruly.” When they loose control, the easiest thing for my wife and I to do is yell and punish; to provide clear consequences. Their behaviour solicits my anger, and so it’s very easy to unleash that anger. It is much MUCH more difficult to help our kids through those moments; to love them, to listen, to learn something of them - their feelings, frustrations, their day, their extremely complicated little lives - and to help them learn something of themselves and their effect on others. Indeed, there are sometimes consequences. Often in fact. Hitting is not ok, and Maki and Gus need to know that. I’m just not sure the rule is more strongly pronounced and maintained because of the consequence attached to it. Is Gus less likely to hit because he knows his dinosaurs might be taken away?

_________________________________________

It strikes me that in the teaching world we can easily feel caught between extremes. We should, I think, always be evaluating our place within multiple dichotomies. There is an ever present danger, however, as the tension of a professional discussion can suggest that we’re to pick an extreme, to declare a clear, collective stance. What do you pick? high expectations over love and support? Critical feedback over encouragement? Controlled outcomes or constructivism? Outcomes or experience? Inside or outside? Instruction or inquiry? Test or project? Focus or fun? Phones! Learning tool or distraction? Hey, anyone want to talk about grades? Be clear, I don’t believe that any of these examples are actually opposing  Each of these are great topics for incredibly rich professional discussion, and we need to be actively and openly pursuing these discussions. Indeed, it is essential for a school to be facilitating these discussions in thoughtful ways that actively solicit the voices of  the many PROFESSIONALS comprising the community. The danger occurs when the intent of those discussions shifts to consensus. Or, even worse, POLICY! Is it common in all professions to desire governance as strongly as the teaching world seems to? To tell or be told clearly, in black and white, the institutional stance on a particular “issue?” Or is that desire a remnant of our conditioning? Does it have something to do with the sometimes concerning fact that we find ourselves in this odd reality of engaging in, and perhaps even attempting to reimagine and innovate, the very institution that in part created us? It seems a little like becoming the mayor of the small town you never left. Thoughts, ideas, approaches, initiatives are often deeply rooted; in this way, they are often tainted by emotional connections and experiences that manifest as biases.  Cohort21 lifer and former facilitator, google innovator and educator/dude supreme @ddoucet and I were very recently having an incredible discussion about biases just the other day. I think I can sum up his wisdom with this question: have you ever noticed how easy it is to validate a bias within a school community? To pick one side of a discussion and quickly gather evidence that might in some way validate it? I can’t begin to express how dangerous I think this is! To be clear, I do think it’s great to feel strongly, passionately about something. I believe it indicates engagement and concern. It also, however, underlines how essential it is for a school to be always pursuing the very idea of open, professional discussion. The great educators understand how important it is to both acknowledge and challenge personal biases. I believe a great school will facilitate, if not insist upon, this process.  If we live in a world primarily focused on policy, that seeks consensus truth, then we are also in a world that informs rather than engages us. In a school this may mean that “professional development” is intended to dictate or train, rather than stir and excite (where exactly is the development?). A school ruled by policy - a classroom ruled by policy - sends kids out when their phone turns to distraction. It has the potential to negate the healthy discussion built upon a nurturing relationship.  Hey, I happily acknowledge the utopianistic tone of this piece, because I do believe the pursuit, if idealistic, is also worthy. Actually, it’s essential. Imagine the implications in a classroom for instance if our first instinct is to explore and understand the tension of a moment rather than solve it; relevant, memorable, lasting experiences may in fact be built upon this idea. I will also happily acknowledge that any community requires grounding. But let’s direct greater attention and urgency towards creating the essential time and space that allows for shared learning and thoughtful discussion, processes and procedures. Let’s “co-construct” shared understandings. And let's never stop revisiting those understandings. In any school community, we have the capacity to formulate agreements about, say, the purpose of a grade on a report card. It’s important to know why we do the things we do. There is a lot of power in founding the agreement upon discussion, particularly if that discussion is ongoing.  As educators, we are provided with the most powerful grounding force imaginable: our students! All thoughtful educators have experienced this epiphany (perhaps again and again): when the frustrations of a day, a moment are suddenly washed away by returning to the student experience. In his recent post @gnichols at least alludes to the importance of meeting students where they are and building learning upon that. In her most recent post, @jsheppard captures the vital and even urgent need to hear each other and work as one. Indeed, we are in a time of tension, of actively distancing ourselves from a tradition so that we may better understand both it and our present, and to move meaningfully beyond in a way that addresses the needs of our world, of our students. What a complex yet exciting process, and one that more strongly favours action over compliance, understanding and empathy over directives. Balance over policy. ]]>
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<![CDATA[Too many ideas, too little time.]]> https://cohort21.com/hollyjepson-fekete/2020/02/27/too-many-ideas-too-little-time/ https://cohort21.com/hollyjepson-fekete/2020/02/27/too-many-ideas-too-little-time/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2020 03:01:58 +0000 https://cohort21.com/hollyjepson-fekete/?p=77 After our last F2F session I left feeling like I had a better handle on my HMW question, but now I again have many thoughts floating around and I wonder if I have over complicated this all for myself. Am I trying to do too much? I feel like I have too many ideas and too little time. Maybe what I really need to do it take a deep breath, and choose one path to follow, and see what happens? At the end of the last F2F session, I realized that I wanted my action plan to focus on this idea of a thinking classroom.  I wanted my HMW question to address student responsibility, motivation, engagement, making math meaningful and relevant to the real world.  However when I sat down to write out what I had been doing in my classes, I realized that I was leaning towards drawing connections between the concepts we are learning and situations that are happening in the real world. Which brings me to yet another HMW question How might we challenge students to use their understanding of mathematics to explain the world around us? I set a goal for myself to create more open ended assignments for my students. To be honest this has been a challenge since math lends itself really nicely to tests, and students are used to a traditional test. However, I have been honest with the students letting them know this is my goal, and we are all guinea pigs in this. I have been testing out these assignments with my MCV4U classes.  As a culminating project in Vectors, I asked student to plan a trip around the world, and use these locations to develop vectors, equations of lines and planes.  I made this optional for the students and about 25% of them submitted an assignment. Overall it was well done, and the students feedback indicated they appreciated the opportunity to show their knowledge. The downside to this assignment was the numbers ended up being really large making the calculations quite tedious. The other assignment I gave to them had them research the United Nations sustainable development goal and look at the rates of change at different periods of time in a chosen country. I had mixed feedback from the students about the assignment, some of them were hesitant to write a mathematical paper, others liked the fact that they were applying what they were learning to something that interested them. I have ideas for the other courses I teach (grade 10 and grade 11), I have tried a few open ended mini projects, and hope to roll at least one open major ended project in each course before the end of the year. I will keep you all posted!]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/02/27/too-many-ideas-too-little-time/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Too many ideas, too little time.]]> https://cohort21.com/hollyjepson-fekete/2020/02/27/too-many-ideas-too-little-time/ https://cohort21.com/hollyjepson-fekete/2020/02/27/too-many-ideas-too-little-time/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2020 03:01:58 +0000 https://cohort21.com/hollyjepson-fekete/?p=77 After our last F2F session I left feeling like I had a better handle on my HMW question, but now I again have many thoughts floating around and I wonder if I have over complicated this all for myself. Am I trying to do too much? I feel like I have too many ideas and too little time. Maybe what I really need to do it take a deep breath, and choose one path to follow, and see what happens? At the end of the last F2F session, I realized that I wanted my action plan to focus on this idea of a thinking classroom.  I wanted my HMW question to address student responsibility, motivation, engagement, making math meaningful and relevant to the real world.  However when I sat down to write out what I had been doing in my classes, I realized that I was leaning towards drawing connections between the concepts we are learning and situations that are happening in the real world. Which brings me to yet another HMW question How might we challenge students to use their understanding of mathematics to explain the world around us? I set a goal for myself to create more open ended assignments for my students. To be honest this has been a challenge since math lends itself really nicely to tests, and students are used to a traditional test. However, I have been honest with the students letting them know this is my goal, and we are all guinea pigs in this. I have been testing out these assignments with my MCV4U classes.  As a culminating project in Vectors, I asked student to plan a trip around the world, and use these locations to develop vectors, equations of lines and planes.  I made this optional for the students and about 25% of them submitted an assignment. Overall it was well done, and the students feedback indicated they appreciated the opportunity to show their knowledge. The downside to this assignment was the numbers ended up being really large making the calculations quite tedious. The other assignment I gave to them had them research the United Nations sustainable development goal and look at the rates of change at different periods of time in a chosen country. I had mixed feedback from the students about the assignment, some of them were hesitant to write a mathematical paper, others liked the fact that they were applying what they were learning to something that interested them. I have ideas for the other courses I teach (grade 10 and grade 11), I have tried a few open ended mini projects, and hope to roll at least one open major ended project in each course before the end of the year. I will keep you all posted!]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/02/27/too-many-ideas-too-little-time/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Shifting the Lesson Paradigm 3: Write]]> https://cohort21.com/brandonblack/2020/02/27/shifting-the-lesson-paradigm-3-write/ https://cohort21.com/brandonblack/2020/02/27/shifting-the-lesson-paradigm-3-write/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2020 23:23:16 +0000 https://cohort21.com/brandonblack/?p=228 I want you to do something for me. It’ll only take three minutes, I promise. I want you to get a pen and a piece of paper. Once you’ve done so, set a timer for three minutes. Then, using the prompt below, I’d like you to write until the timer expires. Before you start, don’t focus on grammar or spelling, don’t stress about the quality of your ideas, and don’t be concerned with whether or not you're answering the prompt "correctly". I just want you to try to write for the full three minutes. Are you up for the challenge? If so, start your timer and take a look at the prompt below. I’ll be waiting on the other side of three minutes for you. Prompt: Respond to a character from a recent book, movie, or show in any manner of your choosing. Well? How did you do? Hopefully, you had fun writing. Maybe you wrote something of which you’re proud. If not, perhaps, at the very least, you wrote down something that you hadn’t actually articulated before. Or, maybe, you just skipped down to this part of the post!? If anything, though, that was probably a little tougher than you initially considered. I know it was for me when I first started implementing these quick writes and began modelling writing for my students. In any event, if you did write, congratulations, I’m proud of you! If not, it's ok, my feelings aren't too hurt. Each day in class, once my students have had time to read, I have them write  by way of daily quick write, which are a series of predeveloped prompts. Often, I’ll choose a prompt that is relevant to what we are learning that day. Students then have anywhere from three to five minutes to write a response to the prompt. I encourage my students, just as I did with you, to focus purely on writing for the entire time and to disregard spelling, grammar, diction, syntax, the strength of ideas, or any judgements. You might wonder why, as an English, I actively encourage my students to disregard these elements of their writing?  The answer: we should be fostering an enjoyment of writing within our students and encouraging them to get their ideas from head to page rather than critically analyzing every detail of their work. Of course, if I am assessing the work, I have my students take more care in the development of their writing and I'll provide specific feedback along the way. But, if the task is formative, then I want to champion a student who has been actively engaged in the writing process. These prompts vary in tone and challenge. Sometimes, the prompt will be more simplistic, and, at other times, I give students the choice to select their own prompt. Sometimes, I might project a quotation from a ‘must read’ book and will have students respond to that quotation in a manner of their choosing. Really, they can write whatever they want because the task is not about the product but rather the process. In doing so, along with exposing them to samples of great literature, I’m hoping that students learn how to engage in the writing process and to refine their writing skills over the course of the year. When students write, I start a timer and cue them with suggestions to get them started. As the year goes on and they get used to this process, I cue less and less, and, eventually, I write alongside the students, which is a teaching strategy that I've adopted from Penny Kittle. I will project my work, in real-time, and write the same prompt that they are writing in hopes that they can get a sense of what the writing process should look like: difficult, messy, uncertain, yet rewarding. I remind the students that my response is not the gold standard, but rather a sample of that real-time process. Through this process, though I have no real basis for measurement, I’ve seen marginal improvements in student writing across the board. Further, when asked about the degree of confidence in their own writing, most students responded that the quick writes have helped them. Either way, students are writing more: small victories. Certainly, there is a time for high stakes writing and for comments and feedback. But there is also a time to simply allow students to write, learn the process, and hopefully come to enjoy it. I often hear students tell me that they aren’t writers, but then I have them flip through their notebooks and see the writing that they’ve accomplished to date. In doing so, I have them rethink their initial analysis of their abilities by reminding them that "you are a writer if you choose to be." Students are writers if they choose to be. That doesn’t mean that they’re all going to be great novelists or even great writers, but how can we expect to be good at something if we never practice? How can we, as teachers, expect students to progress if we don't give them the opportunity to identify as writers? That’s why, each class, students are given time to practice, time to get better, and time to refine their writing skills. Each class, students are given time to write.   If you’ve made it this far, actually completed the prompt, and are feeling brave, share your response to the prompt in the comments below! We ask students to take risks every day with us, so I’m hoping you’ll take this risk with me. Who knows, you may be surprised by the outcome?   Follow and tweet @bjeblack!]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/02/27/shifting-the-lesson-paradigm-3-write/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Shifting the Lesson Paradigm 3: Write]]> https://cohort21.com/brandonblack/2020/02/27/shifting-the-lesson-paradigm-3-write/ https://cohort21.com/brandonblack/2020/02/27/shifting-the-lesson-paradigm-3-write/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2020 23:23:16 +0000 https://cohort21.com/brandonblack/?p=228 I want you to do something for me. It’ll only take three minutes, I promise. I want you to get a pen and a piece of paper. Once you’ve done so, set a timer for three minutes. Then, using the prompt below, I’d like you to write until the timer expires. Before you start, don’t focus on grammar or spelling, don’t stress about the quality of your ideas, and don’t be concerned with whether or not you're answering the prompt "correctly". I just want you to try to write for the full three minutes. Are you up for the challenge? If so, start your timer and take a look at the prompt below. I’ll be waiting on the other side of three minutes for you. Prompt: Respond to a character from a recent book, movie, or show in any manner of your choosing. Well? How did you do? Hopefully, you had fun writing. Maybe you wrote something of which you’re proud. If not, perhaps, at the very least, you wrote down something that you hadn’t actually articulated before. Or, maybe, you just skipped down to this part of the post!? If anything, though, that was probably a little tougher than you initially considered. I know it was for me when I first started implementing these quick writes and began modelling writing for my students. In any event, if you did write, congratulations, I’m proud of you! If not, it's ok, my feelings aren't too hurt. Each day in class, once my students have had time to read, I have them write  by way of daily quick write, which are a series of predeveloped prompts. Often, I’ll choose a prompt that is relevant to what we are learning that day. Students then have anywhere from three to five minutes to write a response to the prompt. I encourage my students, just as I did with you, to focus purely on writing for the entire time and to disregard spelling, grammar, diction, syntax, the strength of ideas, or any judgements. You might wonder why, as an English, I actively encourage my students to disregard these elements of their writing?  The answer: we should be fostering an enjoyment of writing within our students and encouraging them to get their ideas from head to page rather than critically analyzing every detail of their work. Of course, if I am assessing the work, I have my students take more care in the development of their writing and I'll provide specific feedback along the way. But, if the task is formative, then I want to champion a student who has been actively engaged in the writing process. These prompts vary in tone and challenge. Sometimes, the prompt will be more simplistic, and, at other times, I give students the choice to select their own prompt. Sometimes, I might project a quotation from a ‘must read’ book and will have students respond to that quotation in a manner of their choosing. Really, they can write whatever they want because the task is not about the product but rather the process. In doing so, along with exposing them to samples of great literature, I’m hoping that students learn how to engage in the writing process and to refine their writing skills over the course of the year. When students write, I start a timer and cue them with suggestions to get them started. As the year goes on and they get used to this process, I cue less and less, and, eventually, I write alongside the students, which is a teaching strategy that I've adopted from Penny Kittle. I will project my work, in real-time, and write the same prompt that they are writing in hopes that they can get a sense of what the writing process should look like: difficult, messy, uncertain, yet rewarding. I remind the students that my response is not the gold standard, but rather a sample of that real-time process. Through this process, though I have no real basis for measurement, I’ve seen marginal improvements in student writing across the board. Further, when asked about the degree of confidence in their own writing, most students responded that the quick writes have helped them. Either way, students are writing more: small victories. Certainly, there is a time for high stakes writing and for comments and feedback. But there is also a time to simply allow students to write, learn the process, and hopefully come to enjoy it. I often hear students tell me that they aren’t writers, but then I have them flip through their notebooks and see the writing that they’ve accomplished to date. In doing so, I have them rethink their initial analysis of their abilities by reminding them that "you are a writer if you choose to be." Students are writers if they choose to be. That doesn’t mean that they’re all going to be great novelists or even great writers, but how can we expect to be good at something if we never practice? How can we, as teachers, expect students to progress if we don't give them the opportunity to identify as writers? That’s why, each class, students are given time to practice, time to get better, and time to refine their writing skills. Each class, students are given time to write.   If you’ve made it this far, actually completed the prompt, and are feeling brave, share your response to the prompt in the comments below! We ask students to take risks every day with us, so I’m hoping you’ll take this risk with me. Who knows, you may be surprised by the outcome?   Follow and tweet @bjeblack!]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/02/27/shifting-the-lesson-paradigm-3-write/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Test Coming Up? Have a Math Party! (Free Resources Included)]]> https://cohort21.com/michaelmoore/2020/02/27/test-coming-up-have-a-math-party-free-resources-included/ https://cohort21.com/michaelmoore/2020/02/27/test-coming-up-have-a-math-party-free-resources-included/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2020 00:42:44 +0000 https://cohort21.com/michaelmoore/?p=327 (If you would like to run your own math party, HERE ARE ALL THE RESOURCES you will need, as well as instructions for printing and set up.) In my last post, I vowed to keep things short and sweet, then proceeded to ramble on for 599 words. So this time I'm going to do my best to get to the point. Here goes... I tried something a little different recently. As a way of practicing/reviewing for upcoming test on similar triangles and right triangle trigonometry, our class had a Math Party! First and foremost, there was food! I'm not sure I could've called it a "party" without snacks of some sort. As student came into class, they were given a white board marker and a name tag containing the name of a famous mathematician and a number. The first thing I had students do was research their mathematician, then speak to other students about what their mathematician accomplished. Then for the rest of the class students walked around and attempted to answer the problems posted around the classroom on the whiteboards, Wipebooks, and windows (yes, windows! Give it a try, students love it and there's no mess). However, there was a catch! Each problem had a famous mathematician's name where a number should have been, so students needed to seek out who in the room had that particular name tag in order to find the missing number so they could proceed in solving the problem. I'm so happy with how this turned out! The room was abuzz with students working on problems, asking each other questions, talking about about famous mathematicians, and of course, eating lots of food! I can't wait to try it again with my grade 12's during our upcoming vectors unit. If you'd like to run your own math party, please feel free to use/adapt the resources linked above. Thanks for reading. [gallery size="full" columns="2" ids="366,365,361,360"] [gallery size="full" columns="2" ids="370,369,368,367,364,362"]  ]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/02/27/test-coming-up-have-a-math-party-free-resources-included/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Test Coming Up? Have a Math Party! (Free Resources Included)]]> https://cohort21.com/michaelmoore/2020/02/27/test-coming-up-have-a-math-party-free-resources-included/ https://cohort21.com/michaelmoore/2020/02/27/test-coming-up-have-a-math-party-free-resources-included/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2020 00:42:44 +0000 https://cohort21.com/michaelmoore/?p=327 (If you would like to run your own math party, HERE ARE ALL THE RESOURCES you will need, as well as instructions for printing and set up.) In my last post, I vowed to keep things short and sweet, then proceeded to ramble on for 599 words. So this time I'm going to do my best to get to the point. Here goes... I tried something a little different recently. As a way of practicing/reviewing for upcoming test on similar triangles and right triangle trigonometry, our class had a Math Party! First and foremost, there was food! I'm not sure I could've called it a "party" without snacks of some sort. As student came into class, they were given a white board marker and a name tag containing the name of a famous mathematician and a number. The first thing I had students do was research their mathematician, then speak to other students about what their mathematician accomplished. Then for the rest of the class students walked around and attempted to answer the problems posted around the classroom on the whiteboards, Wipebooks, and windows (yes, windows! Give it a try, students love it and there's no mess). However, there was a catch! Each problem had a famous mathematician's name where a number should have been, so students needed to seek out who in the room had that particular name tag in order to find the missing number so they could proceed in solving the problem. I'm so happy with how this turned out! The room was abuzz with students working on problems, asking each other questions, talking about about famous mathematicians, and of course, eating lots of food! I can't wait to try it again with my grade 12's during our upcoming vectors unit. If you'd like to run your own math party, please feel free to use/adapt the resources linked above. Thanks for reading. [gallery size="full" columns="2" ids="366,365,361,360"] [gallery size="full" columns="2" ids="370,369,368,367,364,362"]  ]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/02/27/test-coming-up-have-a-math-party-free-resources-included/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Testing out new strategies]]> https://cohort21.com/sarahendsley/2020/02/27/too-many-ideas-too-little-time/ https://cohort21.com/sarahendsley/2020/02/27/too-many-ideas-too-little-time/#comments Tue, 25 Feb 2020 19:13:07 +0000 https://cohort21.com/sarahendsley/?p=76 1. Google Docs with Google Read&Write - I have enjoyed using the add on because it allows me to leave voice memos to the students with my comments for their work. This means the students have to actually process what I am saying and translate that into an improved product rather than perhaps copying and pasting what I have written in the feedback. 2. Conferencing - I used to conference with my students in a very informal way. This year, I have asked the students to bring something to write with (computer/pen&paper) and they have to write down three pieces of guidance that they recieved from me during the conference. This actually must be included in their reflection for the final product and explain how they used the guidance to enhance the product they produced. 3. Docappender - I just started using this and look forward to beginning the next school year using this. This is an addon that can be used with google forms to track feedback over the year in one google doc. I think collecting all of their feedback in one spot will make it easy for students to refer back to when they are working on any task. 4. Single point rubrics - I have been using these in a variety of ways. I have been able to use them for daily tasks as a check list and also have been able to get the students to determine their own areas of growth and strength. It has made them more aware of the skills they are developing on a day to day basis. 5. See-saw - Students have been asked that when they are doing their homework, they select the most challenging question that they are really proud they were able to complete on their own. They need to tell me in the video why they struggled with the question to begin with, they have to explain how they were able to overcome the challenge and then explain how to solve the problem. This has had them have to really reflect on their homework strategies and has provided them with an excellent resource for revision when preparing for a test. 6. Generalized feedback - For some tasks that I feel that I am making the same comments repeatedly - I have decided to create one single document with my overall feedback for the assessment. Describing many of the things the students did well in certain aspects, but some of the major challenges that I came across. I would also provide examples of the best work and some resources that they can access to improve in these aspects. From all of this it has led me to my action plan which I will share in a later post! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about what I have posted above. I have just found reflecting on all of these strategies has been really helpful for guiding me to my next steps.]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/02/27/too-many-ideas-too-little-time/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Testing out new strategies]]> https://cohort21.com/sarahendsley/2020/02/25/testing-out-new-strategies/ https://cohort21.com/sarahendsley/2020/02/25/testing-out-new-strategies/#comments Tue, 25 Feb 2020 19:13:07 +0000 https://cohort21.com/sarahendsley/?p=76 1. Google Docs with Google Read&Write - I have enjoyed using the add on because it allows me to leave voice memos to the students with my comments for their work. This means the students have to actually process what I am saying and translate that into an improved product rather than perhaps copying and pasting what I have written in the feedback. 2. Conferencing - I used to conference with my students in a very informal way. This year, I have asked the students to bring something to write with (computer/pen&paper) and they have to write down three pieces of guidance that they recieved from me during the conference. This actually must be included in their reflection for the final product and explain how they used the guidance to enhance the product they produced. 3. Docappender - I just started using this and look forward to beginning the next school year using this. This is an addon that can be used with google forms to track feedback over the year in one google doc. I think collecting all of their feedback in one spot will make it easy for students to refer back to when they are working on any task. 4. Single point rubrics - I have been using these in a variety of ways. I have been able to use them for daily tasks as a check list and also have been able to get the students to determine their own areas of growth and strength. It has made them more aware of the skills they are developing on a day to day basis. 5. See-saw - Students have been asked that when they are doing their homework, they select the most challenging question that they are really proud they were able to complete on their own. They need to tell me in the video why they struggled with the question to begin with, they have to explain how they were able to overcome the challenge and then explain how to solve the problem. This has had them have to really reflect on their homework strategies and has provided them with an excellent resource for revision when preparing for a test. 6. Generalized feedback - For some tasks that I feel that I am making the same comments repeatedly - I have decided to create one single document with my overall feedback for the assessment. Describing many of the things the students did well in certain aspects, but some of the major challenges that I came across. I would also provide examples of the best work and some resources that they can access to improve in these aspects. From all of this it has led me to my action plan which I will share in a later post! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about what I have posted above. I have just found reflecting on all of these strategies has been really helpful for guiding me to my next steps.]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/02/25/testing-out-new-strategies/feed/ 0 <![CDATA[Question Breakdown]]> https://cohort21.com/eadaoinoboyle/2020/02/24/question-breakdown/ https://cohort21.com/eadaoinoboyle/2020/02/24/question-breakdown/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2020 13:29:12 +0000 https://cohort21.com/eadaoinoboyle/?p=88 How might we foster real, brave conversations between students and teachers that lead to real changes within a high-performance, high-output environment? This question sounds fancy. It sounds relevant. And it truly comes from a place of concern and care. But what does it mean? You see, back when I interviewed my students months ago, as part of my Cohort homework, what they were telling me is that they are stressed. This isn’t anything new, but it really bothers me. Sometimes I try to grapple with the fact that I am part of a system that causes significant stress for these students. Yes, we could look at so many factors besides school that contributes to young people's stress, including technological distractions and the realities of 21st century life, but I wanted to make a difference in my classroom nonetheless. I should also mention that my question is partially inspired by one of the discussions we had as a Birch group in one of our face-to-face sessions. Although I don’t think it prudent to go into detail about this discussion here, I will say that I will never forget it and I am grateful to my group member for speaking up about a very real struggle. So I have been challenged on my question. Although I see meaning in it, one could argue that it is quite vague. I want to give a shoutout to Eric Daigle for challenging me on this, and for our personal conversation during the last face-to-face. I’m going to break my question down into smaller parts.  
  1. How might we foster real, brave conversations between students and teachers
What is a real, brave conversation? At its core, what I want is for my students to be honest with me. I don’t need them to go into great depths about the state of their emotional health. But I do want my students to see me as a person who cares about what they have to say and what their needs are as a student. For example, a student might be struggling with an assignment and not feel they can speak to me about it honestly. I want that student to have the confidence to speak to me and be very candid about their concerns and needs.  
  1. …that lead to real changes…
This has to make a difference in the student’s life. It could be a boost in confidence because they sought out help and got what they needed. It could just be making a connection with an adult who cares and getting something off their chest. It could be a sharpening of academic skills. Maybe it could lead to other conversations about life and learning that could have big implications for the future.  
  1. …within a high-performance, high-output environment?
Schools are stressful. As much as we focus on wellness and the whole student, we are challenging these kids in ways that that stretch them. We also ask them to do a lot: juggle 6-8 classes, volunteer, engage in co-curriculars, pursue leadership opportunities, be away from home, be a good friend, apply to university, embrace failure, and more. They feel the pressure to perform at very high levels. They need support, and they need people to be able to talk to. I hope this provides some clarity about what I feel and a little bit of context for my question.   *A note about blogging: As an English teacher, I find this blogging experience to be difficult! In the spirit of being real, I have to say that I feel very self-conscious here. I think we all expect our English teachers to be good writers and being put in this type of spotlight is hard! This is certainly a potential exercise in empathy as I reflect on how I ask my students to stretch themselves.  ]]>
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<![CDATA[Question Breakdown]]> https://cohort21.com/eadaoinoboyle/2020/02/24/question-breakdown/ https://cohort21.com/eadaoinoboyle/2020/02/24/question-breakdown/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2020 13:29:12 +0000 https://cohort21.com/eadaoinoboyle/?p=88 How might we foster real, brave conversations between students and teachers that lead to real changes within a high-performance, high-output environment? This question sounds fancy. It sounds relevant. And it truly comes from a place of concern and care. But what does it mean? You see, back when I interviewed my students months ago, as part of my Cohort homework, what they were telling me is that they are stressed. This isn’t anything new, but it really bothers me. Sometimes I try to grapple with the fact that I am part of a system that causes significant stress for these students. Yes, we could look at so many factors besides school that contributes to young people's stress, including technological distractions and the realities of 21st century life, but I wanted to make a difference in my classroom nonetheless. I should also mention that my question is partially inspired by one of the discussions we had as a Birch group in one of our face-to-face sessions. Although I don’t think it prudent to go into detail about this discussion here, I will say that I will never forget it and I am grateful to my group member for speaking up about a very real struggle. So I have been challenged on my question. Although I see meaning in it, one could argue that it is quite vague. I want to give a shoutout to Eric Daigle for challenging me on this, and for our personal conversation during the last face-to-face. I’m going to break my question down into smaller parts.  
  1. How might we foster real, brave conversations between students and teachers
What is a real, brave conversation? At its core, what I want is for my students to be honest with me. I don’t need them to go into great depths about the state of their emotional health. But I do want my students to see me as a person who cares about what they have to say and what their needs are as a student. For example, a student might be struggling with an assignment and not feel they can speak to me about it honestly. I want that student to have the confidence to speak to me and be very candid about their concerns and needs.  
  1. …that lead to real changes…
This has to make a difference in the student’s life. It could be a boost in confidence because they sought out help and got what they needed. It could just be making a connection with an adult who cares and getting something off their chest. It could be a sharpening of academic skills. Maybe it could lead to other conversations about life and learning that could have big implications for the future.  
  1. …within a high-performance, high-output environment?
Schools are stressful. As much as we focus on wellness and the whole student, we are challenging these kids in ways that that stretch them. We also ask them to do a lot: juggle 6-8 classes, volunteer, engage in co-curriculars, pursue leadership opportunities, be away from home, be a good friend, apply to university, embrace failure, and more. They feel the pressure to perform at very high levels. They need support, and they need people to be able to talk to. I hope this provides some clarity about what I feel and a little bit of context for my question.   *A note about blogging: As an English teacher, I find this blogging experience to be difficult! In the spirit of being real, I have to say that I feel very self-conscious here. I think we all expect our English teachers to be good writers and being put in this type of spotlight is hard! This is certainly a potential exercise in empathy as I reflect on how I ask my students to stretch themselves.  ]]>
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<![CDATA[Long Time No Post…]]> https://cohort21.com/lauraross/2020/03/10/settler-reflections-on-elder-in-residence-presence-at-the-university-of-toronto-schools/ https://cohort21.com/lauraross/2020/03/10/settler-reflections-on-elder-in-residence-presence-at-the-university-of-toronto-schools/#comments Sun, 23 Feb 2020 21:03:17 +0000 https://cohort21.com/lauraross/?p=72 I was lucky enough to participate in Cohort 21 3 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was some of the best professional development I have done throughout my career over the last 15 years.  Being involved in the program reignited my intellectual curiosity for teaching and learning having been stuck in somewhat of a professional rut.  My various teaching experiments during C21 led me to engage in a few other PD courses around project based learning, critical thinking and leadership, which ultimately pushed me to begin my Masters degree with Queen’s University last academic year.  As part of this program, I am currently working on a Collaborative Inquiry course. For one of the assignments, we are asked to engage with a professional learning community and begin contributing our ideas - I thought what better opportunity to reconnect with Cohort 21? While involved with the program 3 years ago, I found the blogging element particularly beneficial.  It gave me a chance to reflect properly on what I was working on. Being forced to put my ideas into writing made me consider my thoughts and observations with much greater clarity than my usual GO train downloading process on my way home from school.  This time around, I saw my assignment as a way to reconnect with the C21 community this year and find out what you have all been up to so far. My intention is to share some of my own experiences since being part of the program and offer some suggestions to other bloggers as they work towards the final F2F in April.  All this has been made possible because @gnichols responded to my random request message over the weekend - thanks again Garth! For fans of Community, I am hoping to ‘go meta’ as Abed would say by working on my collaborative inquiry project by being involved in a collaborative inquiry project! Laura]]> https://cohort21.com/blog/2020/03/10/settler-reflections-on-elder-in-residence-presence-at-the-university-of-toronto-schools/feed/ 0