Reflections from Brooke Moore on this year’s NOII Symposium: Stories of Change and Pictures of Possibility
Most of us can feel it – this new sense of flexibility and an invitation to be creative, to take a well-considered risk. The Ministry is quietly giving us permission to break from the constraints many of us have felt for too long: those of curriculum and timetables and calendars.
So, here we are. Now what? Many BC teachers and districts have been developing their own answers and recently I sat, along with 250 other educators in a hotel conference room for two spring days, eager to hear all about it.
This is what I heard: we must work to develop a sense of collective ownership over our systems successes and failures, over our experiences both past and present.
I heard it first in Chris Kennedy’s talk when he referred to how we bring parents into the conversation. School looks different now than it did when parents went to school – or at least it’s starting to! Parents who balk at a school trying something new – like feedback instead of grades, or multi-aged classrooms, or every student with access to technology or a report card that is a conversation instead of a ranking sheet – balk because they feel no ownership over this shift, over this “new” way. We need to bring them along and, even more than that, innovate and lead with them.
I heard it again in a different way, when Laura Tait shared her story about a recent learning experience she had at a role-playing workshop about colonization. She had many of us shiny-eyed with tears as she described how this learning experience has given her a sense of empathy and understanding about our country’s past that even having a mother who survived residential school wasn’t able to give her. Because of this learning she now has a sense of ownership over a past she wasn’t yet alive to experience. What if all Canadians shared this sense of collective ownership over the events that brought us to our current place as a country? What would that mean for the future?
I heard it again today during a Flash Chat (half hour table talks about specific topics) with my colleagues about student-led inquiry. If students feel a sense of ownership over their learning, research shows and common sense suggests, they will be more engaged in the work of learning. So how much are we inviting learners to direct or focus their learning? And even better – what if students feel a collective sense of ownership over their learning? Will they work to improve the learning of their peers as well as themselves? What would this mean for the future?
And, finally, I heard it again in Diane Turner’s presentation as well as in a panel discussion that included Rod Allen and Maureen Dockendorf, teachers, a superintendent, a professor of education and a university dean. It’s wonderful if a teacher innovates and impacts learners positively – but it’s more wonderful if that teacher feels a responsibility to the collective and shares his or her innovation so as to positively impact students across the province and beyond.
So many stories of change and pictures of possibility here. I’m leaving these two days of networked learning with more questions – and the energy to work with others toward the answers.