School Name: Ecole Glenmore, Ecole Dr. Knox Middle, Anne McClymont Elementary, Ecole Belgo
School District: SD#23 Central Okanagan
Inquiry Team Members:firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Other: Collaboration of school based administrators/educational leaders working across schools and levels focussing on innovative learning environments
Focus Addressed: Other: We could click on all the boxes as the focus was to see if the changes that we have been implementing with innovative learning environments has actually made a difference for students
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Both in our own setting and getting out of our own settings, what do we see in innovative learning environments that is making a difference for students’ learning.
Scanning: Our schools have each gone through a scanning process, slightly differently and with different levels of engagement from staff, students and parents. Three members of our group have completed Transformative Educational Leadership Program and all other members of our inquiry team are familiar with the OECD research. We have been trying to implement what we have learned across different settings to see if what we have tried is making the difference that we think it should. In our district, administrators have time within meeting scheduled time for collaborative inquiry, all based on OECD research. This is how we were able to work across schools and levels and to go outside our district to scan in other districts and countries. We were trying to determine if we could see with our own eyes that the changes implemented were making enough of a difference.
Focus: We hope that ALL our learners love learning and have opportunities for success. We know that not all settings are the same and that the same thing will not work everywhere for the ‘love of learning’. However, we were hoping to SEE with our own eyes, examples of empowered learners- staff, students, community. We were looking to observe real life examples like we had read in the research.
Hunch: Change is difficult for many. This includes our parents. We have experienced some students and parents who have challenged the changes being implemented in how we communicate and demonstrate learning and then report on it and how we regroup learners and structures. Our hunches is that we need to be very clear about why we are changing, basing it on international research and giving specific examples of positive change for learners. Our hunch was that if we could see it ourselves with our own eyes, we would be better able to explain the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ to others. We can read research and believe it could work, but we also wanted to SEE it in action.
New Professional Learning: We dug deeper into the OECD 7 Principles, the Innovative Learning Environments research and we looked at a Harvard inquiry learning lesson together. Our district also provided learning sessions for us along the way, always based on the OECD research. The manuals from OECD were very useful and it was good to have more time with these resources to dig deeper. Members of the team were able to visit each others’ schools, schools in a neighbouring district (SD 22 Vernon Community School) and schools in France and the USA (Opal) during the year. The key was that we were given the time, within our work day, to participate in this inquiry.
Taking Action: We visited other school settings and we talked to students. We also debriefed with one another. We spent time in each others’ schools and showed examples of what our learners were doing, how we were changing our communication of student learning and how student involvement had changed. We were given TIME from our district to do this, that made all the difference. We would encourage other districts to give their educational leaders the time when schools are in session to get out and observe what is happening. It makes all the difference to SEE with your own eyes what is possible. We were not looking to duplicate, we were looking at guiding principles and ideas that we could adapt in our own settings.
Checking: We do not believe that we will ever make enough of a difference! We think that this first year is not enough time to see differences for our students but our inquiry has made a difference for the team members by widening our understanding of what implementation of the OECD principles can look like, that it takes time, that we need patience and persistence and that together we can build the relationships required to be vulnerable, take risks and try new research based practices. We have challenged each others’ adaptive expertise to solve complex problems in our unique settings.
Reflections/Advice: This year was just the beginning of this inquiry. We learned that even though we were each at a different place in implementing what we have been learning from research about the most influential key guiding principles, all were in process. We recognized that there is a tipping point where enough of our school community members come on board and then significant change can take place rapidly. We know that we as leaders need support and encouragement to SEE with our own eyes and through the eyes of our colleagues that positive change is taking place and is benefiting all members of our learning communities. Having the time, space and encouragement to do what we ask our teachers to do is modelling and helping us to better understand both the challenges and benefits of collaborative inquiry across schools, districts, countries. It is important to have the kind of relationship with other leaders that we can challenge each other to continue to strive towards ALL learners having the right to dignity, purpose and options.