While at a PD session on building inclusive environments, the participants received a Parkland School Division Educational Tool Box. When first receiving it, several of us opened it up expecting to see something inside that we could take back to our schools and share with our colleagues, but surprisingly the box was empty. My colleagues and I quickly came to realize that the box was symbolic and that the tools that belonged inside were the skills, knowledge and expertise each of us had acquired over the years.
As Learning Coach this year, I have been able to add to my toolbox various times as a result of new knowledge gained from collaborating with colleagues, observing in classrooms, having planning and reflective conversations with co-workers, collaborating with members from Learning Services, and attending PD opportunities offered by the division.
Of these experiences, one that has really stuck out for me was being part of the collaborative planning sessions with our school based team and learning services at both my schools. At the end of each meeting, we were all asked to give one word that would describe how we felt about the meeting. Some of the words that were shared were “hopeful”, “thankful”, and “collaborative.” Each person sitting around the table had come to the meeting with a variety of tools from their tool box. I remember thinking how great it was that so many people with various backgrounds and various areas and levels of expertise had come together to share ideas and strategies to help with the programming needs of one student. From the perspective of a teacher, I wished that I had had the opportunity to sit in on one of these meetings years ago. The sharing of tools from everyone’s tool box was invaluable.
It seems that many educators work alone and don’t take the opportunity to share the tools from their toolbox. What I have learned is one tool can get the job done, but collaborating and sharing our tools is instrumental in providing the best learning environment and learning opportunities for each and every student. As educators, we all come with our own areas of expertise and knowledge; by sharing these tools we can become better educators.
As a Learning Coach, I am thankful for all the opportunities I have had to add to my own toolbox. It has also been extremely gratifying to help others add to their toolboxes. As Learning Coaches, we are lucky to be in the position where we can assist others by promoting and facilitating collaboration within our schools. Those of us that have done this can attest to how powerful this is in providing the best education for ALL students.
Whose toolbox have you helped to enrich today?