Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ontario Teachers are Learners

I've often said that I love living in the world of Edu-Blogs and Twitter for the simple reason that this is where the learners are. It's next to impossible to see yourself as a learner, if you're not finding ways to connect with other like-minded educators, so the increasing numbers of Ontario educators learning in virtual spaces has been reassuring.

The act of connecting with virtual colleagues may be rich for each participating individual, but will such engagement ever be enough to bring about systemic change? If inspirational educators worry only about "today, in my classroom", then who will inspire the professional growth local 'unplugged' peers? It begs the question: "Is your PLN virtual, or real?"

In recent years, school-based teams in Ontario have become engaged in Teaching-Learning Critical Pathways a collaborative process that engages teachers in reflective practice. The process has grown out of Crevola, Fullan & Hill's, 2006 book, Breakthrough, and succeeds when every classroom participant benefits from a customized learning experience.

Classroom teachers are active learners throughout the process: collaboratively designing lessons; assessing the effectiveness of shared strategies; using the evidence to plan a way forward. In short, the teachers are co-learners with their charges. Combine this colleague-to-colleague professional learning with what appears to be happening in online spaces, and the future looks promising for Ontario families.

A Caveat:
Boards of education across the province have widely adopted this practice with elementary school teams, yet the TLCP process and related terminology are foreign to secondary teachers in my region. While the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat has been spearheading the adoption of research-based practices in grades 1 to 8, many secondary schools continue to stagnate.

What are the steps will lead to the development of relevant courses, learning strategies, and professional learning for Ontario's high school teachers?

Photo Credits: story photos courtesy of torres21
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