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Greystone Teachers Get Fired Up After CEA Calgary Conference

What’s Standing in the Way of Change in Education?

This content has been re-posted from Carolyn Cameron’s Blog at: http://www.psdblogs.ca/greystone/2013/10/26/whats-standing-in-the-way-of-change-in-education/

I love this question! I love it when a great question like this gets me thinking. I am assuming that many other educators from around the country likely feel the same way and perhaps, that’s what drew so many of us to the Canadian Education Association’s“What’s Standing in the Way of Change in Education?” Conference in Calgary last week.

What inspired me from the day and a half that I spent with a number of stakeholders from the Education community (educational researchers, professors, superintendents, school board trustees, administrators, teachers and most importantly – students) was the opportunity that the teachers from Greystone had to share practical examples of what change in Education looks like based on their experiences in our school. These teachers were empowered to share their stories of looping, team teaching, collaborative inquiry, assessment as learning and innovation. Their stories are a reminder of what’s possible in Education when we remove barriers and have the courage to “do school” differently in order to get it right for today’s learners.

Another highlight from this conference, for me, was hearing a teacher from the Calgary Science SchoolDeidre Bailey, share her story of change with all of us. Recognizing that it is the teacher, in the classroom, who has the power to make a difference in student learning, was a message I shared with my entire staff during our Professional Development Day – which took place a few days after our Greystone team of nine returned from the conference in Calgary. I read Deidre’s story to the Greystone staff – here is part of her message: 

This change in our classroom environment was a product of co-designing learning tasks in which student voice had space and validity. Kids are so innately curious and creative. All that is left to us, is to foster an awareness of the possibilities that surround them, to let them ask questions, make decisions and make things different.

Following up from Deidre’s story, I asked staff to reflect privately on their own practice and in particular, what was the evidence they had that they were getting it right for our learners and what could they do to grow? I encouraged staff to share their reflections with each other. They blew me away with their willingness to engage in thoughtful, honest conversation. The staff did not want to stop talking! Several teachers openly admitted to taking a step backward this year in their instructional practice due to some challenges they are experiencing (including a “boxed up” schedule that was implemented to deal with additional homeroom classrooms that were added at each grade level).

So, I asked them this great question from the CEA Conference: “What’s standing in the way of changing this?” They were fired up! The dialogue and debate created more questions, more ideas and a commitment to find a better way to provide our students with more time for deeper learning through cross-curricular inquiry.

We haven’t got this all figured out yet, but I know one thing for sure…our Greystone teachers feel empowered, supported and capable of removing anything that’s standing in the way of doing what’s best for our students. I am looking forward to seeing where this takes us. In the meantime, thank you Canadian Education Association, for the great question which is going to continue to keep our school moving forward in the way we “do school”.

Meet the Expert(s)

carolyn cameron

Carolyn Cameron

Carolyn Cameron is the Principal of Greystone Centennial Middle School. Carolyn has been a teacher and administrator in Parkland School Division for 29 years. During Carolyn's teaching career, she co-created an engaging multi-age program for K-3 students which incorporated project-based learning, collaborative team teaching and a flexible re-designed school space. In Carolyn's work as an administrator, she assisted with building design, hiring of staff and organization of school resources to open a brand new middle school with a focus on collaboration, innovation and inquiry. Carolyn obtained her Master's Degree in Leadership - focusing on collaborative team teaching and open, flexible teaching spaces utilizing alternative program delivery models. Carolyn has presented internationally at the ULearn 2010 Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the Association for Middle Level Educators 2012 Conference in Portland, Oregon and provincially at the 2013 ATA Middle Years Council Conference. Carolyn has been nominated twice for the Alberta Education Excellence in Teaching Award, and was most recently a recipient of the award in 2013.

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