After discovering MORE (Mental Health Online Resources for Educators), I have been taking a selection of their professional development modules (such as how to support refugee students, supporting students with anxiety, and how to support students who are perfectionists). These helped me realize that there are many experts that can support us in the broad area of child development, but that in many ways our work is the “front line” for supporting the development of people and we need to be aware of how to create inclusive environments that support their success.
As Friesen’s 2009 work around the Teaching Effectiveness Framework suggests, we improve our practice in the company of our peers. At Connect Charter, there has been built in time for collaboration and designing learning together. With my grade/subject-matter partner, we designed and planned learning together which really helped me to improve my ideas and thinking about creating purposeful and effective learning. On several occasions we also had the wonderful opportunity to teach together, which in addition to creating more support for learners, also affords the opportunity to provide teaching practice feedback.
Every experience can be understood through different lenses – a different way of looking at things or considering ideas. At our TELUS Spark Experiential Learning opportunity, students were exploring the different facets of Electricity as part of their Science studies– but instead of just focusing on the energy exhibit, they considered all of the different ways that electricity came together or could come together to create each of the displays and experiences. This created the opportunity to understand a space deeply while developing curiosities and competencies in thinking like engineers.
After co-generating rubrics and making them available to students, learners were able to get quick access to their workspaces, and finally receive fast and thorough feedback on their learning by way of Goobric and Doctopus. As teachers, this created the benefit of understanding where the class needed to go for in the following days – but more importantly, learners received the pedagogical benefit of a detailed (and understandable – as it was theirs) review of their work, with specific suggestions for improvement to be meeting expectations (which many followed up with) – so that they could each experience success.
Towards the end of creating a positive Learning Environment, I’ve identified progress towards goals from Practicum I:
Goal 1: Inclusion, and creating safe, open classrooms where everyone can experience their own success:
- Encouraging and using “risk taking” language for students – reinforcing that it’s okay to make mistakes
- Have taken PD courses around mental health and vulnerable learners with MORE
Goal 2: Understanding the relationship of the physical environment to the teaching and learning space, incorporating accessible design and creating a space that supports a diversity of learners,
- Adopted a desk-free classroom with frequently rotating seating space
- Incorporated student feedback and accommodation requests into designing the learning space for individual and collective optimization
In growing from my Practicum 1 goals, I’m excited to celebrate progress towards these goals:
Goal 1: Engage in educational and professional leadership, and positions to support and work to better teaching and learning in my practice and in my the larger context of my learning community:
- Helped improve the visual engagement of the Connect Charter School blog by utilizing skills to contribute to community
- Shared educational technology tools with colleagues
- Volunteered to supervise an art club
In Practicum I, I defined some goals around planning for learning, and am happy to share progress towards these goals.
Goal 1: Encouraging and supporting student voice as part of my practice, and how I can improve to better meet their needs:
- Asking for teacher feedback and insights, coinciding with student assessment and reporting
- Using assessment data to think about the ways I could re-teach ideas in order to create student success
- Checking in with individual students more often to check for their understanding and developing learning plans and strategies
In Practicum 1, I identified the goal below – since then, I’ve made some progress.
Goal 1: Encouraging students to take risks in their learning and be comfortable with asking questions:
- Explained my role on day one as someone who was learning from students
- Incorporated the vocabulary and ideas of “take a risk” into asking questions
- Inherited an assessment system where students can demonstrate continued growth and development – success is always possible and what we aim to achieve
In Practicum I, I identified assessment goals that I feel I’ve made significant progress towards in this final practicum:
Goal 1: Building capacity in acting on assessment data for student success: using data to inform practice, create opportunities for differentiation, and set individual learning goals for students and myself:
- Planned loosely for the long term, but often adapted based on assessment data
- Used statistical as well as observational analysis of data to check for student understanding
- Created interview and check-in opportunities for specific students to achieve success
- The continuing goal will be to capture more of this data on an ongoing basis
Goal 2: Developing abilities for sharing assessment data for student success: be it with parents, with students, and colleagues in the educational environment – so that each can play a role in supporting learners to be successful:
- Parents are a part of the FreshGrade platform, and have access to (and can participate in) a dialogue around a child’s assessment
- Celebrated children’s successes academically and otherwise by way of emailing parents
- Experienced learning conferences, where the focus was celebrating student success and highlight areas for support and growth (specifically also developing students own ability to ask their parents for specific areas of support)
- Experienced SLC’s and planning collaboratively with school-based experts to support children’s success
Beginning with the theme of kindness, our Family Group explored the idea of kindness being contagious – recognizing that it was, we created an opportunity for our school community to contribute to the idea and “catch kindness” themselves. Our sticky note mosaic was designed as both an opportunity for our own expression, but also as a curiosity invitation to others to look and think deeply. We collaboratively designed a criteria for our individual contributions – and decided democratically that there was not one “right” way to contribute.