The pace of learning and living has put a heavy pressure on Canadian educational systems to keep up, to be effective and to position our students to be successful citizens. How are schools going to provide a pro-active vision in order to satisfy the needs of society?
Today, I had an opportunity to read Shifting Minds: A 21st Century Vision of Public Education for Canada curated by C21 Canada. This document offers seven guiding principles as a framework for school divisions to move forward in this endeavour.
1) All Canadians have a universal right to reach their full learning potential and to have a voice in their learning needs.
2) The primary focus of Canadian education is to position learns for fulfillment and success in the modern world.
3) Literacy, numeracy, science, life skills and 21st Century competencies must now be the foundational learning outcomes of Canada’s public education systems.
4) Instructional, assessment practices and learning environments must be modernized to personalize the learning experience and better engage Canadian students.
5) Personalized access to teachers highly skilled in 21st Century learning skills and research-based learning environments is a universal right of every Canadian learner.
6) Public education is a community and societal enterprise where all Canadians share both the responsibility for and benefits of providing high quality and modern learning opportunities.
7) Canadians must engage in and support their education leaders in offering today’s students creative, innovative, authentic, dynamic and modern learning experiences and environments.
I see my role, as a Curriculum Educational Technology Facilitator, to support these principles through:
- Offering resources, materials, effective learning strategies
- Listening to staff to get a good idea of their needs and wants
- Engaging in well-timed professional learning and sharing knowledge with staff
- Creating effective and continual PD (both synchronous and asynchronous)
- Connecting the various work, resources, materials and dialogue from the organizations that I work with to the school division vision
I also see my role to share the many examples of the way PSD staff engage our own learning in the classroom. I don’t believe that general society is hearing, seeing and feeling the impact that teachers and students are ALREADY making in their schools and their communities. Some of the ways that our staff and students are making an impact are:
- The 184 Days of Learning Project that shares an experience of any stakeholder that has been touched by a PSD learning event
- Student e-portfolios to track the journey of learning and develop informed digital citizens
- Teacher blogging – using blogs as a communication and reflection tool
- Using Social Media, newsletters, and school websites to share successes
- Giving student voice through school-based committees and divisional student advisory events
- Developing students as critical thinkers and assessors of their own learning
- Promoting inclusive learning through creative, collaborative and capacity-building learning opportunities
Shifting Minds means changing what and how we teach to engage, empower and position our students for success; it also means shifting our stakeholders mindsets. I believe, we are on our way, but this is a journey, a marathon and it will require continual dialogue and reflection. In scanning the C21 graphic which shows the various elements of the proposed 21st C learning framework I am reminded of Alberta’s own competency wheel. (Similar, eh?)
Overall, Shifting Minds is a document that I will be sharing with colleagues. It is easy to read, offers many suggestions, shares research and educational work from across Canada and the World, and it provides a comparison among 21st Century learning frameworks from 2009 and on. I hope it will also enter into the ongoing dialogue in and out of our classrooms.