Note: This is written by Garry McKinnon, Superintendent, Connect Charter School, Alberta and cross posted from the Inspired Learning community and excerpted from his blog.
Action Strategies for a Transformation in Education
- Develop and Articulate a Shared Vision for Implementing the Inspiring Education Agenda – We need to engage everyone involved in and impacted by the work of our schools including Alberta Education, universities, school and school jurisdiction leaders, teachers, students, parents and community members in a process of making meaning of the Alberta Education Inspiring Education agenda. Traditionally, education has been left up to the educators; we now realize that the transformative agenda for creating a knowledge society impacts everyone and should be everyone’s priority.
- Make Teaching Practices Open and Public-If we are going to move beyond the celebration of exemplars and best practices and to establish new practices, we need to move away from the idea of teaching as a solo/isolated activity, to a more public, collaborative model. We need to open the doors of our classrooms, take the roofs off our schools and seize every opportunity to explore best practices and to learn with and from each other.
- Provide Well-informed, Supportive Leadership – Certainly it is critical that leaders in education at all levels develop a deep understanding of: societal changes; the impact of digital technologies; the increasing diversity of learning needs; the challenge of authentically engaging all students and providing opportunities for success and the need to provide leadership in learning globally. Leaders in education at all levels will need to be very good at telling the story and working collaboratively with others in developing a shared vision and commitment to action.
- Actively Involve Students in Directing Their Own Learning– We need to develop new approaches for hearing the student voice and actively involving students in sharing feedback about their learning experiences to enable their teachers to develop and implement diverse pedagogical strategies designed to better meet their needs. As well, students should be encouraged to take ownership for their learning as active members in the process.
- Create a Culture of Collaboration at all Levels in Education-We have seen the tremendous benefits for teachers of: having open classrooms with frequent visitors and opportunities for pedagogical dialogue; mentoring student teachers; collaborative planning and team teaching; sharing best practices and learning from others and having opportunities for participating in rich professional development activities with an emphasis on co-learning and co-creating through job-embedded learning experiences. In fact, creating a culture of collaboration at all levels in education is the key to successfully achieving the transformational goals articulated in Inspiring Education.
- Partner with Universities in Enhancing Teacher Preparation and Professional Learning Experiences – If we are to bring about significant changes in education, schools and school jurisdictions we need to partner with university teacher preparation programs to provide learning experiences for our future teachers in classrooms similar to those we have highlighted as exemplars. Universities can serve a major role as change agents through providing teacher preparation experiences and supporting ongoing, job-embedded, professional learning opportunities and establishing new structures to build the capacity of teachers and school administrators.
- Recognizing the Important Role for Technology as a Means to an End Rather Than an End in Itself – We need to recognize that technology in itself is not the change we are pursuing, but technology can certainly change how teachers teach and students learn. We have seen many rich examples of learning and teaching being enhanced through the appropriate use of technology for communication, research, collaboration and learning.
- Celebrate Diversity as a Feature of our Classrooms – We need to think not only in terms of addressing the diverse needs of learners, but also promoting diversity in teaching practices designed to intellectually engage and meet the needs of all learners.
- Work Together in Making Fundamental Changes in Curriculum and our Approach in Developing Learner Competencies-Educators should work together in making structural changes relating to curriculum and the competencies for 21st-century learners, which address the problems of fragmentation and enable teachers to explore the curriculum in a meaningful, engaging manner and to use a variety of teaching strategies to meet the diverse needs of their students.
- Promote Research and the Development of Research-informed Pedagogical Practices– We have seen the efficacy of conducting various forms of research and fostering research-informed practices. There is tremendous potential for more actively engaging teachers as action researchers and working closely with universities through opportunities such as the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) to conduct research related to new approaches to learning and teaching in keeping with the spirit of Inspiring Education and to openly share the learning experiences and the findings with others.
I welcome your feedback, thoughts and ideas related to this blog. I will continue to embrace opportunities to learn with and learn from others.