Archive for October 6, 2012

What’s the Main Thing?



Initiatives, programs, technology tools, resources, meetings, workshops, deadlines…all of this has been swimming around in my head these past few weeks and I have been trying to make some sense of it all – aligning all of the new opportunities with the work we are currently doing at Greystone while making sure we don’t go off course or become distracted by the next “bright shiny thing”. Something I am keeping at the front of my mind – I don’t want to overwhelm our teachers by adding too much to their already full plates. Specifically, I have been hashing out ideas with team members around how and what to share with teachers in order to keep the main thing the main thing.

As we started this new school year – our teachers were energized (and so was I) by the high levels of trust and collaboration taking place. Last year, as we were planning for our upcoming year, each grade level Learning Community asked that the main thing we continue to focus on was collaborative time for our teachers to work together – developing common assessments, continuing to develop their inquiry/critical thinking projects and assisting each other to develop skills with technology. This is the main thing that teachers wanted us to commit to – and we have. Every Learning Community has common “team time” this year to continue their learning together.

Next step…reminding teams that all of the work they are doing together needs to have an end in mind – what is it we are hoping to accomplish and how will we know we are getting there? What is it that we will keep in mind as the main thing when we collaborate and learn together? How will all of the programs, tools, resources, initiatives support us in keeping the main thing the main thing?

This past Professional Learning Day – we suggested that we keep the idea of Learner (student & adult) Engagement the main thing. We shared ideas around what this looks like, experiences we have had in the classroom when students were fully engaged, what fully engages us as adult learners, and we looked at exemplars from other schools who are working towards this. We connected the dots by reminding teachers that all of the work we do, the initiatives that are out there, all need to support our goal of increased Learner Engagement. We shared our overarching guiding question for our Adult Learner Inquiry this year:

What do we believe about Learner Engagement and what is the evidence that we are getting it right for our Learners?

Teachers built on each others’ experiences and ideas by capturing the themes around learner engagement: choice, purpose, risk-taking, beyond the walls, dialogue, investigation, questioning, connections are a few of the examples that emerged.

As we move forward this year – we will be focused on ways to develop Learner Engagement and what we will accept as evidence that we are finding success. Now that we have established the main thing- Learner Engagement – we can look at all the “bright shiny things” that are out there, the initiatives, resources, programs, with a critical eye and ask ourselves “how will this support our work in increasing Learner Engagement?” in order to decide which “bright shiny things” to take on.

Learner Engagement at Greystone…that’s our main thing.


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