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Day 11: Nancy Gordon, Director of Educational Programs (SD37)

September 19, 2012

This past week, I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of primary teachers. It was one of those meetings where I left feeling invigorated, thinking “this is why I love my job!”

There were six educators in the room all talking about a new resource. They were highly motivated teachers who were deeply engaged in inquiry – it was an example of professional learning at its finest! The teachers filled the room with an energy and excitement that was contagious!

As the discussion about the new resource unfolded, one of the younger teachers made a critical observation. She commented about how exciting it was to be a part of a collaborative team – how much she was enjoying having the opportunity to share her thinking and work together with others to improve the learning for her students. She said she had never experienced anything like that before and that it was having a very positive effect on her teaching. Her insight instantly caught the attention of the entire team – we were all struck by the importance of her words. This is how teaching should feel!

In our discussions at the district level we often come back to the power of Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser’s three questions designed to empower learners:

  • What am I learning?
  • How is my learning going?
  • Where am I going and how am I going to get there?

As I think back to that meeting, it is clear to me that the teachers with whom I met clearly knew themselves as learners. They were immersed in what they were learning and they knew exactly where their learning needed to take them next. Their learning was, in the words of John Hattie, visible.

These questions help us to make learning tangible – something we can talk about and share with others. They help us to make our learning visible – to ourselves and more importantly, to others.

I invite you to explore these three questions with your own professional learning. I encourage you to use them with your students.

Finally, because we know that learning is a social process and that relationships are critical, Kaser and Halbert encourage asking yourself and your students one final question:

  • Can you name one or two people who believe in you; who believe that you will absolutely become a success?

For the teachers I visited, the answer was clear – they had developed a fabulous network of support where they trusted and believed in one another. They believed, without a doubt, that collectively they would succeed and that they would make a positive difference for their students.

These are powerful questions to explore. Try them out. What you learn will astound you!

Nancy has been Director of Learning Services for the past three years.  She has worked in Delta for over thirty years, teaching grades one through ten before becoming a school administrator.

Image from NWABR’s photostream.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 20, 2012 10:22 pm

    Thank goodness for our collaboration days in secondary schools (elementary schools hopefully to follow). I can’t imagine going back to when we really didn’t have time to reflect on those three questions and share what we are learning with each other. Now, it’s part of our culture!

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