Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

My Heroes Are...

My Heroes Are...

My students, who willingly take risks in my classroom every single day, bravely sharing bits and pieces of themselves with me and with their classmates, simply because I ask them to...

My colleagues, who can make me laugh, even before my morning coffee, and support each other despite increasingly demanding schedules, demonstrating an unending zeal for learning and discovery...

My family, who give me the enormous gift of time to explore my passions and forgive my numerous flaws and foibles...

My friends, who show such courage, overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges with grace and patience, all the while offering me unwavering support and encouragement...

They may not wear capes, leap tall buildings with a single bound, or possess supernatural abilities, but without a doubt, these are my heroes

Monday, 2 February 2015

Taking the Next Step: Collaboration Calendar & Shared Learning Resources

          Teachers at Sullivan Heights Secondary are ready to take the next step. Already "Taking the Lead" when it comes to establishing a culture of trust and collaboration, teachers want the opportunity to extend and build upon the "Teacher Drop in Day" experience.

Selection of responses from Learning Partners "Teacher Drop In Day" follow up survey.

          Teachers clearly valued the collegial and collaborative environment that was created by the day, but wanted the opportunity to extend the "Open Door" policy and sharing of innovative teaching and assessment practices, on an ongoing basis. As such, a collaborative partnership between Learning Partners and members of our Information Technology department, led to the creation of a "Collaboration Calendar".
          By using Outlook to create and share the "Collaboration Calendar" with our staff, teachers are now able to enter and share actives and assignments with their colleagues. They are then able to visit each other's classrooms before or after their teaching day, (Sullivan Heights operates on an extended day schedule) during prep time, or by accessing Learning Partners department release time for class coverage.
          Rather than being confined to a single day, we are now able to facilitate "Teacher Drop in" on an ongoing basis. As well, the goal is that the "Collaboration Calendar" will function as a digital artifact of the many great things that are happening in classrooms, and so even if teachers aren't able to visit on a particular day, they can still be inspired by the various activities that are entered on the calendar.
Learning Partners "Collaboration Calendar"
          While creating the "Collaboration Calendar" was a logical "next step", it also made sense to provide an opportunity for teachers to share the specific documents that accompanied the activities and assignments that they were entering. Ben Richardson, a member of the Information Technology department at Sullivan Heights, proposed the creation of repository of  "Shared Learning Resources" for this very purpose. Originally from Australia, Ben had previous experience with a similar sharing platform. The question was, which platform would best meet our needs?

Considerations as to which online sharing platform to use included:
1. Accessibility
2. Efficiency
3. Sustainability

         Ultimately, we wanted teachers to have easy access regardless of whether they were at school or at home, be able to share a variety of document types, and be assured that whatever we decided upon wouldn't be phased out within the next couple of years. It was determined that Google Drive met all of these criteria. As well, in a move towards the gradual integration of the redesigned curriculum, folders were created that will encourage and support teachers as they focus on creating lessons and assessments that connect to the "Core Competencies" .

          By accessing the shared Google Drive, teachers can upload a variety of documents, creating an enormously valuable repository of free, cross-curricular resources. Ultimately, the goal would be to perhaps extend this "sharing" of resources beyond the walls of Sullivan Heights, to other schools within the Surrey School District.
A sample of documents in the "Integrating Technology" folder. 
          As with any new initiative, Learning Partners will continue to gather feedback from staff and navigate challenges as they arise. But based on the culture of collaboration and trust that has already been established at Sullivan Heights, I have no doubt that our teachers will once again "take the lead" as they continue to demonstrate their willingness to take risks and reflect on their own professional growth and development as a means to enhance student learning and achievement.