Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How do We Sustain this Learning in our School?

Many of these posts have been written with the intent to show the learning at our school, not just mine, but all the members of this school.  Our Innovation Grant is not just about myself and my co-chair Jennifer Spain, but every person in our school (from secretaries, aides, to the teachers and admin) have been trying new ways to be innovative and improve their own practises. My purpose in this large scale learning (along with my co-chair Jennifer Spain) is to organize events, give people time to evaluate what they are learning and its effects, listen when need be and just plain answer questions.

A while ago my administrator Rex Hayes called me into his office to discuss a meeting he attended with all the administrators who were given the Innovative Grant or the Technology Grant.  There were many but only a few who had the entire school involved in the learning.  This alone caused my heart to swell with pride for my colleagues and I.  But it does involve a different dynamic of reporting for our finding and sustaining such a large diverse amount of learning.

We've worked as a group to increase communication inside our school and outside to the community at large.  We used technology with blogs, tweeting, wikis, forms, and just plain emailing parents.  We've brought in the outside world with invitations to other schools with similar classes:  SKYPEing, speakers, online presentation (Dr. David Suzuki was interviewed live online and this presentation was arranged by a Grade 12 student in our school), and many other learning opportunities.

Something that opened my eyes, and changed the way I viewed Sullivan happened two montes ago at a District Meeting for Department Heads of the district.  We had the opportunity to study what type of leader each of us were (Red for make a decision, Green for gathering things, Yellow for creative, but there's so much more).  Rex asked our group (we had two tables of Department Heads interested in learning about themselves) what was special about our school, a question asked by the presentor.  Someone said "Nicole" and I proceeded to list all the learning in our school.  But Randy Jaggernathsingh (an excellent teacher, friend and role model for me) stopped me and said something that changed the way I view the school.  He said "I've talked to other Social Studies Department Heads here and you know what's different about us, what makes us special?....  We really care for each other.  We're a family".

Last week I had a Department Head release day, running around fixing technology, finishing up projects for the school, talking to teachers with concerns.  That's when I cam to the realization that we
are a family.  From the bratty brother to the perfect one, the ADD sister to the hyper cousin.  We have the aunt that gives out gifts and kind words to family members that need a lift to the uncle that says "Pull my finger" (never understood that one...).  All shapes, all characteristics, all personalities in our family.  But one thing that joins us all is our drive to make this school as great as possible, to care for our kids, and to learn as much as we can so we may reach these goals.  We help each other, cover classes, share materials when asked, and give suggestions when need be.  There is trust and love here.  And like every family, we do have our squabbles, but when it's over, there is still the respect of person to person.  We have our ups and downs, celebrating and tweeting all the great things in the school (1000 sulli rocks) and discussing how to handle the huge growth in our school (we have 5 periods and different times that teachers work, so we're a bit separated from each other).  We've lost members that have moved on or moved out in transfer, those that have taken leaves, but we still share anything we learned through blogs, tweet, interviews, forms, surveys,  meetings and more.  

So when asked by the people who gave us this grant to explore new methods of learning, of communicating, of assessment and so much more, how will we sustain this learning in our school my answer is two fold:  "We were learning and growing before the grant and we'll be learning and growing after the grant.  We'll find the means and release time to help support our family in their endeavours to grow professionally as well as help each other to improve our school."   The second thing to help sustain the learning is also just as simple:  Respect for each other, respect for our colleagues outside our school, and love.  Love of the learning.  This school loves to learn everything, they just need a little encouragement and a pat on the back every once in a while, some recognition.  

This is my answer.  I just organize, the Sullivan members of the family do what they do because of love.

Hey, look at that, my summary is my report of our research.  Moving on to the next job of learning ;)

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