E. Leadership In Learning Communities

OCT Standard: Leadership in Learning Communities 
Members promote and participate in the creation of collaborative, safe and supportive learning communities. They recognize their shared responsibilities and their leadership roles in order to facilitate student success. Members maintain and uphold the principles of the ethical standards in these learning communities.

Rationale: There are two reasons for including this reflection on the idea of developing learning profiles for our students. The first reason, is that, as stated in the assignment, it is very important to know our students, and developing profiles is one way to get started on this. When you are able to create a collaborative learning environment in the classroom, it leads to mores students achieving their potential. The second reason for including this is that the question I posed in the second paragraph led to a good discussion with a few other people in the course discussion forum. I will not post their responses publicly out of respect for their privacy, but the conversations helped my in my thinking about possible answers. I feel that this dialogue was a good example of the professional learning communities that we all strive to create within our profession.

Assignment/Reflection: Profiles Reflection

The importance of knowing your students cannot be understated. In order to best design learning opportunities for the students in your class, you must know some of the characteristics of them as learners. This helps to get an overall picture of the class, and help the teacher to plan whole group activities that are best suited for the nature of the group. For instance, if you have a large group of auditory learners, then planning for group discussions to help with learning activities would be beneficial. In addition, the building of profiles helps to understand the individual students better, and helps the teacher to then plan opportunities for differentiation. For example, if one student is a tactile and visual learner, in the above mentioned group discussion activity, they could be given the role of the recorder in a discussion and use the SMARTBoard to capture thoughts and images about the discussion as it happens. So in this way, a teacher can use both a class profile to help plan learning activities, and individual profiles to help differentiate for students as needed.

A question I still have about learning profiles relates to the application of things like multiple intelligences and learning styles, as some research has lately shown that adapting teaching to learning styles does not necessarily result in improved learning for the student, and I wonder if that has more to do with the nature of various subjects. Does it matter more to use the students learning styles to guide instruction, or to use a style of instruction that is best suited to the subject matter at hand?

Rationale: This reflection is included for much the same reason as the above one. I feel that part of being a reflective practitioner is to constantly consider the best ways to reach students, and as well, to reach out to parents and the broader community. In thinking about the report card, there are many positives to consider and be able to explain to parents. In addition, like the other reflection on this page, the question I posed led to a great discussion on the discussion board about the way in which different data is represented on the report card. In the end, the province decides what it will look like, but I feel that the discussion in the class learning community helped me develop a deeper understanding of the rationale for the choices made at the provincial level.

Assignment/Reflection: Report Card

There are a number of positive things with the Provincial Report Card. I think that it is important to highlight and put the Learning Skills on the first page, along with the descriptors of what each of the skills means. I think that the system should focus more on those skills in general, as in the end, it is more important to be a person with those skills, than to be a person that received an ‘A’ in a particular subject. They are, of course, connected but we should focus on the process to get there more than we perhaps do, so having the skills up front is a good idea.  I also think that having most of the space on the report card available for teacher comments is a positive thing as well. The mark is important, but it’s more important for the parents to know that the teacher was thoughtful in the deriving of those marks, and the space for the comments give the teacher the opportunity to make that clear.

I wonder about all the check boxes, which go along with every strand and subject.  ESL/ELD, IEP etc.. I get the idea that the report card must deal with every contingency, but I feel that this is sometimes overwhelming and clutters up the look of the report card to give it a busy look and feel for the sake of looking busy. I wonder if there is a better way to approach this? I also wonder about the strand-by-strand reporting for some areas (Language, Math, Arts) but not for others (Science, Social Studies) and I wonder if that unintentionally (or intentionally) downplays the importance of some subject areas while promoting others. With our provincial focus on literacy and numeracy, I understand the rationale, but I wonder if there is a way to report on student achievement in a way that is transparent and helpful without making it look like things like science and social students aren’t important. (Or maybe that’s just my interpretation.)

Next: Ongoing Professional Learning