When we started the Network in 1999, we had no idea that thirteen years later the work would be continuing. Neither of us has ever lived in a house that long let alone stuck with an initiative that has become such an important part of our lives. We occasionally wonder when it will be time to step away and say that the work is all done. From our perspective in working with schools across BC, there is still much to be done. We are encouraged by the ways in which more and more educators are embracing the goal of every learner crossing the stage with dignity, purpose and options. We are gratified by the extent to which coaching forms of assessment is becoming a way of life in many settings. And, we are deeply interested in the various ways that professional inquiry is becoming central to professional learning.
At the same time, we hear from, see and meet many educators who continue to feel isolated in their settings, where professional learning is disconnected from the needs of their learners, and who are thirsty for the kinds of connections across schools and districts that the network provides. We also know that there are still many learners who are not intellectually engaged in their learning and who feel little or no connection to their schools. To borrow from the words of Robert Frost “We have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep.” Our promise is to always provide a space for BC educators to explore powerful ideas, to interact with each other, and to make a contribution to the learning of others.
So, what does that look for the Network going into a new year? We are welcoming questions from any school in BC (or the Yukon) who wants to be part of a networked inquiry community. The template is easily accessible on the website (www.noii.ca) and while we would like to receive questions by the end of December, it is never to late to get started. We are looking forward to the spring seminar that will be held May 5 in Vancouver – there will be lots of opportunities for interaction, for learning from other schools, and also for probing some leading edge research. Look for a flyer early in 2013 and save the date now!
Across the province, network meetings are taking place in a variety of forms. We know that face-to-face meetings are really important – and that if we use technology skillfully we can create many other ways for connections to be strengthened. The big idea is that teachers, principals and support workers have the opportunity to learn from and with each other in ways that are not constrained by geography, or role. We are also very pleased that starting early in January, there will be a research study looking at the impact of AESN in deepening knowledge and changing outcomes connected to the goals of district enhancement agreements. We are also very pleased that we have secured funding support from two foundations. This will help us to deepen and extend the support provided to schools. We are pleased with the ways in which other initiatives, for instance the Changing Results for Young Readers and the VIU Rural Literacy projects are building on much of the work of network schools. We are looking forward to the release in February of Spirals of Inquiry and very much appreciate the partnership with BCPVPA that will direct all proceeds to network schools.
The next phase of the OECD Innovative Learning Environment project also has a direct connection to BC and to Network schools. We have been invited to be part of the international team looking at ways to sustain and extend the learning that had emerged from the international case studies on innovative learning environments. The BC network is seen as an important example of a sustained approach to innovation and we are looking forward to sharing what we learn from the workshops and deliberations that will be taking place at the International Conference on Innovative Learning Environments in January.
Our very best wishes to everyone for a relaxing an happy holiday season. May 2013 be filled with enthusiasm for learning, new connections, and the contentment that comes from knowing that our work truly does change lives.