One of my big take-aways from this year’s Cohort 21 experience is the overall momentum and capacity for shifting our practice that was generated within the members this year. When Justin and I first began this journey, we had talked about how important it was to us, personally, that we pursue excellence in our classrooms and school as a whole. It has always been about improving student learning; however, gauging student learning, understanding how it improves, and how to measure it, can be like standing on shifting sands. What I’ve arrived at, is that this is not a bad thing; rather, this is a great thing!
Knowledge is changing, the way we use knowledge is changing, and so too should have we use it, learn it and teach it. So too should be how we ask students to manipulate it, experience and create it for themselves and others. Just look at the results when you Google: “How is Teaching a Journey”? It is a reflective practice like none other that I know of…
And so, through our year at Cohort 21, I’ve seen many of our members reflect on their journey, stumble, run into challenges, or even successes, as they strive to shift their practice and improve student learning in the 21st Century.
Check out how Alexia Moliotsias has repositioned her role in the classroom:
This is a perfect example of how a teacher has leveraged technology to redefine the role of the student in the classroom and shifting the locus of control and of knowledge.
Also, check out how Carolyn Bilton reworked her Canadian History essay when she made the decision to free up the tools in the classroom: “Knowing that time would constrain me to really learn Voicethread, I decided to ditch it, and allow the students to use any program they liked for their major research assignment.”
Catherine McCauley explored how best to make a cultural change, and (after running into a few challenges) emerged with an excellent look at shifting culture: “Exploring new ideas and dialoguing about educational issues is the best part of my job. I read magazines, watch Ted Talks and follow list serve blasts all to stay current. Cohort 21 felt like a buffet of new tastes to try. My learning insight was a reminder that new ideas, even ones grounded in research and filled with promise, need time, patience and an implementation plan that reflects school context. I plan to move forward with the following strategies:” (Read more to find out her excellent strategies!)
Adam Caplan, has modelled how to implement change at the level of organizational management as well. His reflection on that moment in a staff meeting where we know we shouldn’t add any new business, but we do anyway, is worth the read!
“So we reluctantly booked some time in our monthly staff meetings. If your school is like mine, it is an incredible challenge to get groups of people together in meaningful ways that maintain the special mixture of availability and attention. Our staff meetings are booked from 3:45pm – 5:00pm and generally end around 4:30, give or take a few errant items for the ‘Any Other Business’ section of the agenda.”
The list goes on and on with examples of real shifts in teaching, real questions about what our role is both as teachers and administrators. We’ve created a culture of being relentless in our pursuit. We’ve made it so that being relentless with our attitude, disposition, behaviour and growth, is now what we do. We’ve embraced being relentless in our pursuit of growth:
One of the synonyms for being relentless is persevering. You may have read my work on persevering in the classroom, and it is incredible to see our members persevering. It is my hope that we keep persevering, that we keep blogging, and that we keep being relentless in our pursuit of improving student learning in the 21st Century.