I think it’s an exciting time to be involved in the world of education.
Across our country, school jurisdictions are rolling out plans and policies with the hopes of making school a more engaging place of learning for students. As our profession makes this foundational shift, I get excited imagining classrooms that are places of vibrant, technology-supported, hands-on learning where all learners are supported and find success. As I read these various visions I hope that all students are able experience a learning environment buzzing with discussion, activity, and engagement as students invent, share, refine and improve their own and each other’s ideas.
To support these visions, I think we also need to shift what teacher learning looks like. Many 21st Century frameworks for student learning (for example here and here) revolve around skills such as collaboration, networking, creativity, communication and innovation, and I believe teachers need opportunities to learn and grow in similar learning environments. I believe teachers need opportunities to see compelling images of contemporary teaching and learning being lived out in classrooms with opportunities to share, discuss, collaborate and learn from others. We need professional development that is built on teacher engagement, networked learning and collective improvement.
With that in mind, a group of educators from across the country have created ConnectED Canada – an annual gathering of teachers, students, parents and other stakeholders, each coming with a similar goal of making school more relevant and purposeful for students. The goal of ConnectED Canada is to provide a platform for discussion and idea generation – all situated within a school community striving to live out the best of 21st Century Teaching and Learning.
ConnectED Canada is open to teachers, administrators, superintendents, and ministry representatives in additional to students and parents. We want to bring together engaged professionals from across the country gathering to talk about what’s currently working , what’s emerging and where we might go next.
The first year of ConnectED Canada is taking place May 25-27th 2012 at the Calgary Science School, a school of 600 students focused on inquiry-based, technology-supported and outdoor education-enriched learning. You can see examples of our approach to teaching and learning here on our school blog.
As a staff member at the Science School I am so pleased we are hosting this first event. While we feel we have some great things happening at our school the idea of opening up our classrooms to 300 outsider visitors is both thrilling and nerve-wracking! As the first day of the three-day event will be a normal day at the school, our teachers welcome the opportunity to share their ideas, questions and struggles with a wider audience. Also, we are eager to provide our students opportunity to share their experiences with a national audience.
The second and third days of the event will be built around conversations and discussions. We are currently looking for facilitators willing to host and lead 90 minute discussions. Topics of discussion can range from technology implementation to policy development to assessment practices – all framed around how we might better the needs of learners in the modern world.
We hope you’ll consider bringing forth a topic for sharing and discussion – the deadline for proposals in Dec 8th, 2011. You can submit a proposal here.
Our hopes for ConnectED Canada are many. We hope this event will give participants a chance to engage in rich and timely discussions about meaningful topics and innovative ideas in education. We hope that participants will initiate new relationships and deepen existing ones. We hope that the student and parent voice will play a significant role in the discussion. We hope participants will experience engaging learning taking place in real classrooms. Overall, we hope that ideas will be shared – and that participants will leave invigorated and excited about the wonderful work that is teaching and learning in the 21st Century.