The CAHM: a school (and a director!) Like no other

The Clair 2017 conference will be sold out from January 26 to 28. To get in the mood, we meet the director of CAHM, Roberto Gauvin.

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The conference Clair 2017 will be sold out from January 26 to 28. To get in the mood, we meet one of the organizers, Mr. Roberto Gauvin.

Clair is this small village in New Brunswick where, every year, educational professionals meet at the Center d '@ pprentissage du Haut-Madawaska (CAHM) to discuss new pedagogy and pedagogy in the digital age. The conference Clair 2017 will be sold out from January 26 to 28.

I had the chance to experience “my own Clair” during a visit and a privileged meeting with its inspired director, Mr. Roberto Gauvin. After starting his career in Saint-Jean, New Brunswick, he migrated to Manitoba to teach science in French immersion. He finally returned to his native New Brunswick in 2000, as director of the CAHM.

The trigger

Roberto-GauvinIn 1997, the Haut-Madawaska school district decided to close the schools in four neighboring villages to establish a different school in Clair. The people concerned were promised: "You will have a school of which you will be proud".

It is to fulfill this promise that Roberto Gauvin received the precise mandate to establish a school where digital technology would hold a central place.

Educational innovations and its participation and that of its schoolchildren in conferences and local and international projects have not stopped since. In 2002, Mr. Gauvin received the Industry Canada “IT Community Hero” award. He is one of the main organizers of the annual colloquium Clear. It participates in the development of a Creative lab at CAHM and to the project Acadiepedia.

His philosophy of education

Why do you want to “do something different”? “Some parents look at traditional education and say 'it works for my child, why should we do it differently? ". It's that it works for some children, but it doesn't work for all children, ”he explains.

Mr. Gauvin's philosophy is based in particular on the “theory of choice” of psychiatrist William Glasser. It is an approach in which the individual is responsible for their choices and their personal transformation. It is this approach of individual responsibility that he tries daily to implement with all the students of his school with his team of teachers, that he has been able to convince of the validity of this attitude.

The undeniable success of this vision of education was not instantaneous. Change takes time and a little turtle on Roberto Gauvin's desk aims to remind him that we have to take one step at a time.

About leadership

When we work in innovation, we have no proof to offer to those who question. We must therefore develop a culture where teachers accept to take risks, knowing that their director supports them (and encourages them!).

While some principals are afraid of losing control over their teachers, he prefers to eliminate barriers by giving them pedagogical control. He has promised his staff that he will accompany them and give them what they need to carry out their educational projects. He believes that his job as director is to ensure that his team has the necessary tools to do what it needs to do.

Being a leader, a school principal, does not mean controlling, but encouraging the members of the teaching team to work in the same direction, with the same mission in mind. When all the staff of a school move together in the same direction, it is then possible to live school differently.

Change management, a few tips

Roberto Gauvin offers some advice:

  1. Develop leaders within our establishments to continue the culture of openness to change.
  2. Empower teachers to do new things (which develops their leadership).
  3. Not always being reactive to what is happening.
  4. Breaking the isolation of those who innovate in education (this is also one of the goals of the Clair conference).
  5. With freedom also comes responsibility. You have to be able to demonstrate that what you do adds value, quality to the education offered to students.
  6. Every second Wednesday afternoon, all school staff meet to plan and coordinate their activities.

An educational model aimed at "learning for life"

The educational model of the CAHM, which enables students to learn for life, is based on the following pillars.

  1. A management at the service of its team of teachers who draws on the strengths of each to achieve with them their dream school.
  2. An organizational structure where members know they can take risks, are entitled to mistakes and are supported.
  3. Respect for basic needs, including satisfaction, which allows optimal development of the individual:
    • autonomy, feeling at the source of one's actions;
    • competence, to feel efficient;
    • social belonging, feeling connected, supported by other people.
  4. The support of experiential pedagogy and metacognition, which asks young people to:
    • plan and work to achieve its goal;
    • discover the knowledge necessary to perform tasks;
    • think about your work;
    • then, at the end of the process, become an “expert” on the subject he has been working on.
  5. Maintain the delicate balance between the desire for successful learning and progress each at their own pace.
  6. Improve student learning without harming those who already know, and teach them to go and help those who have difficulty. When students feel they are part of a learning dynamic, they feel proud and confident.

One example among others, the young digital "experts" of the CAHM give courses to elderly people in the community, according to the needs expressed by the latter: one to learn to write e-mails, the other to write e-mails. Internet searches, or the other still find and play games ...

“At the CAHM, we do projects and activities because we see the potential for student success. We want to offer them "a toolbox of life". These activities exceed the requirements of the Ministry of Education. "

. . .

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at some of the institution's flagship projects and programs.


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About the Author

Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise LePage is a pedagogue and museologist who recently came out of premature retirement to be reborn as an educational designation. She has taught at the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke in science education, in addition to working at the Canadian Heritage Information Network as a museology consultant. She also writes for our French friends at Ludomag. She also invites all interested to contact her so that she can talk about you, your students, your school and your particular experiences in digital and computer education.

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