NOII – Learning, Stretching, Inquiring and Connecting

By March 26, 2013Uncategorised

This is a longer blog post than usual  – and hopefully you will read right to the end. there is a LOT going on across BC with the networks of inquiry and innovation and we want to make sure that educators everywhere know about the opportunities for learning, stretching and connecting within the networks.
This year has provided us with a number of new opportunities connected to the Networks of Inquiry and Innovation. This is an exciting journey as we create new spaces for learning, new opportunities for team inquiry, draw on the smartest work we can find both locally and internationally – and never lose our focus on increasing quality and equity for all learners.
With the proceeds from last spring’s seminar we were able to provide small grants to all AESN schools that completed case studies despite the challenges of last year. School questions came in during the fall and are now posted on the website. Please take a look!
Network Seminar 2013 – Inquiry, Innovation, Connections – ACTION
May 5 – Simon Fraser Harbourside
The seminar this year is being held May 5 and we are looking forward to a very rich day of learning and connecting. In many ways we see the seminar as the launch for an invigorating few years of inquiry as we work towards our goal of every learner crossing the stage with dignity, purpose and options – by 2017, Canada’s 150th birthday.
We know this is a very ambitious goal but we have lots of evidence that when educators work together across roles and in a spirit of genuine inquiry, amazing things can happen.  In addition to some great opportunities for new learning and connections, the seminar will also be the time when we will be sharing new opportunities for network connections – and new forms of support for school teams. You won’t want to miss this!
You will hear from some of the leading researchers in BC – and you will learn more about the ways in which current knowledge is being put into action within and across BC schools. You will learn about innovative approaches to strengthening self-regulation, identity, creativity and engagement. You will consider the ways in which the belief that ‘Aboriginal education is for everyone’ is moving from rhetoric to reality. You will hear from a leader in the Arts community about creativity, risk–taking and Aboriginal understandings. You will learn about new opportunities for networked inquiries in the next few years, And, you will help create additional connections as part of a networked community focused intensely on quality and equity for all learners.  Please register at
Research study – Aboriginal Inquiries – Lifting All Learners
The federal government this year funded a research study on the impact of school involvement in the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network. Dr. Catherine McGregor at the University of Victoria was the lead researcher on the study and the final report will be out within the next few days. We’ll post a link to the executive summary on the website and will be sharing insights from this study at the seminar as well.
It is a very encouraging report and there is a great deal for all of us to learn from the literature review, the case studies of districts and the individual reports of educators from across BC.  In a nutshell (or as Linda and I have been known to say, the haiku not the epic) AESN is making a difference – for learners, educators, schools and communities – and we need to build on the strong work that is already taking place.
Support is Building – Opportunities are Expanding
We have new funding support for schools  interested in addressing transition challenges for Aboriginal learners – whether this is from elementary to middle school, or secondary to post secondary. The funding is being provided by a foundation at UBC and we will be inviting schools to submit questions for the 2013-2014 school year. Look for information on this towards both at the seminar and then later in May.
The Vancouver Foundation has provided a two-year grant for NOII schools to focus on inquiry at the student level. There will be opportunities for young learners to develop student-led projects that involve families, Elders and community partners. Debbie Koehn, an experienced network leader who has been involved with student-led inquiry for many years, will be leading this initiative. Again, stay tuned as to the ways in which you can become involved.
Recently we received very welcomed news from the Ministry of Education that there will be on-going financial support for AESN. This will allow us to provide support for network leaders who are invaluable in developing local networks and also to provide grants to schools who are engaged in focused inquiry connected to Aboriginal learners and Aboriginal understandings over the next year. 
Spirals of Inquiry– and more
Over the last eighteen months we worked hard on consolidating our thinking about inquiry, learning and how network schools are weaving three ways forward to meet the challenges of quality and equity for all learners. We spent two weeks last spring with Helen Timperley from the University of Auckland. Helen is one of the leading researchers on inquiry and professional learning and we enjoyed the experience of stretching our thinking.  Our collaboration with Helen led to an evolution in our thinking about the inquiry cycle and the new spiral of inquiry is being used as the basis now not only for network inquiries but also for other district and provincial initiatives including the Creating Results for Young Readers (CR4YR) work.
In February, Spirals of Inquiry was released and since then close to 3000 copies have been purchased.  Through our partnership with the BCPVPA, (after publication costs are recovered)  all proceeds will be going directly to inquiring schools. We are delighted with the response to date and are very pleased that we are now in a good position to provide grants to schools.  We know how important recognition grants (even if not very big) are for school teams. Having some discretionary funding to support your inquiry work really matters and we are very glad to be able to do so.
Our collaboration with Helen is continuing and we are now working together on a book focused on Leadership and Professional Inquiry.  We are now actively looking for BC examples of the ways in which leaders (both formal and informal, school and district) develop a culture of inquiry in their settings, develop the specific skills required for focused inquiry, work through the sticking points in the inquiry spiral, and build adaptive expertise at all levels.  We plan to have this finished within the year and hope to have Helen come to the seminar next spring.
Meetings and Partnerships
One of the things that we learned clearly from your comments and from the AESN study is the importance of face-to-face meetings. We are looking forward to reconnecting with ‘experienced’ network schools in 2013-2014 and also to welcoming new schools from across the lower mainland. We plan to have a schedule of meeting dates available before the end of June.
We really value our partnership with DASH and with the Healthy Schools Network. DASH is a key partner for the May seminar and we are also looking forward to exploring new opportunities for linkages next year and to ensuring there is always a focus on healthy living and positive connections at network meetings.
Curiosity and Passion
One of the central aims of the networks of inquiry and innovation is that we want learners to leave our schools as curious as when they arrive. We believe that it is for young learners to sustain their curiosity , they must learn with and from adults who are also curious and passionate about learning.  We see the networks as spaces where adult curiosity can be nurtured and deepened. We hope that you do as well.
We look forward to seeing you at the seminar – and at every other opportunity we have to connect over the next few years.
And for those of you on twitter, in May there will be a twitter book chat on Spirals of inquiry. Thanks to Chris Wejr and Chris Kennedy for making this happen. Stay tuned – this will be fun!
 Happy Spring!
Judy & Linda

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