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There were four of them who wanted to fight… uh no! Who wanted to do otherwise ...

Have you ever had the impression that meeting a few individuals sharing the same ideal could initiate a great change? I've been living it "for real" for three years. Allow me the pleasure to introduce you to our school in Scott en Beauce, the L'Accueil school.
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Have you ever had the impression that meeting a few individuals sharing the same ideal could initiate a great change? I've been living it "for real" for three years. Allow me the pleasure to introduce you to our school in Scott en Beauce, the L'Accueil school.

By Annie Guay, first year teacher

If you were there, you would immediately see that it is far from being the sexiest school in the province: a veritable labyrinth, basement condemned for flooding, long maze of trailers and outdoor courtyards that float in the spring… Our school is neither the most beautiful nor the most recent, but its real strength lies within its four walls. It's the people who make it up and those who revolve around it who make all the difference. Far be it from me to make you think that everything is perfect there and that we no longer have to learn from each other. We challenged ourselves to learn at the same time as our students, knowing that we would be led to make mistakes and make mistakes as we embarked on learning opportunities. 

You can never learn less; you can only learn more. The reason I know so much is that I made a lot of mistakes.

And like Francois Massé We have often reminded us that we must celebrate our mistakes! They are the witnesses of our learning.

To improve, you have to start from somewhere (quote from Maude Lamoureux to Clair 2019)

It all started three years ago with some courageous discussions within our school team. We observed, at this time, a vulnerability in terms of writing in our students and we wondered about what we could put in place to correct the situation for the benefit of the success of all our students. A process of exchanges under the sign of respect and trust then began. It became important to give value to what had been done before while bringing the idea that we could do otherwise to develop the taste for writing in our students, especially in our boys. 

I have already read somewhere that some schools change the trajectory of success… Well we pretended that we could try to do better! 

We had to ask ourselves: Are all of our educational decisions improving the learning of our students? 

Our power of influence lay in the strength of the group. In addition, we were fortunate to be able to count on a management which quickly expressed its confidence in us, in particular by the purchase of equipment and by freeing up class time, giving us the opportunity to discuss in addition to being accompanied by an educational advisor who wanted to learn as much as we did. We went to conferences, brought in speakers to make sure we were on the right track. We were ready to engage and hold each other accountable to improve the skills of our students by finding ways to make it happen.

Accelerated professional development

Speaking of means, we have identified our educational challenges and we have a structure that has left room for error and professional autonomy. But first, let's take a look back at the past three years that have provided us with incredible professional development activities! Invited by our school board, we were able to participate in the CAR congress last fall in Quebec City. It didn't take much longer for us to look like those penguins on YouTube running all over the place when we got back! 

We were convinced that the educational soil that we had worked on over the past two years was conducive to new learning. We needed to initiate a change in the Professional Learning Community (CAP). Nourished by the lectures of François Massé, our reflections continued. CTREQ took an interest in our teaching practices, Michael fullan came to see us and the school board offered us a pilot project related to our CAP. Indeed, a position of ADEC was offered to us. That is to say that a member of our team would become the one who would transmit information about the knowledge resulting from educational research, recognize and value successes and support the professional development of his team. -school. Again, we didn't see how to work in collaborative teams while being alone rowing on the river! We have arranged our schedules in agreement with the management to do it three times: one representative for each cycle, question that the strengths of each are used in the right places. Thus were born "the coaches of collaborative teams!" " 

And the harvest promises to be good ...

It goes without saying that all these opportunities have forged our team which will act as a flagship school during the next school year. The development of our educational project also took on a very special color since we wanted to give everyone a glimpse of what the ADEC team had experienced.

Once this process was set in motion, we had to ensure the support of as many people as possible. For this culture to endure, it was necessary to build trust between all parties. By developing this feeling of collective efficiency, we allowed a team to believe in it and to implement all the measures necessary for the smooth running of the CAPs. We often question ourselves within collaborative teams but sharing the responsibility for the success of our students has allowed people to see the gain to be made by working collectively. Our posture was also changed because we allowed ourselves to try things and readjust with the lighting of our colleagues. 

Not all the same ...

We do not tend to become clones of each other but to break the isolation of our teachers because it is clear that working in silos, training teachers individually, it does not have the same impact on success of our students. By trying to harmonize our practices, we make it easier for students to navigate and reinvest from one year to the next. A good teaching practice must be transferable and that is what we have been working on! Because we must remember that our sphere of influence is our school! Moreover, there will always be resistance fighters, you will tell me and I will prove you are right on this point. On the other hand, with these resistance fighters, it will be necessary to assert the will of the group and offer them the possibility of exchanging and discussing to undo the pedagogical knots. Any change brings about an imbalance and error is part of the new learning. 

Marius Bourgeois Would call it getting people to be comfortable in the uncomfortable.

A project to be built together

We arrive at the last level of this progression and, oddly enough, we are connected to the needs of our learners. We have launched a project that aims to offer a meaningful frame of reference for our students in writing. We then focused on a common approach that is enriched over the cycles. Through each cycle, we reviewed the steps in the writing process and each collaborative team agreed on important strategies to teach students to improve writing skills. Since last August, another project on the development of a viable and guaranteed curriculum has been under construction in order to highlight learning targets in terms that students will understand and on which they will be evaluated. 

In fact, it will no longer be the group to which we teach that will determine the success, but the teacher who will lead them to high expectations, our objective being not to modulate the expectations according to each cohort. Because what will always be non-negotiable is what the students will learn! We determine together which strategies have the most impact on success and we are free to assess our students to know the impact we have on their learning. Thus, if we notice that the teacher works harder than his student in evaluation, we will know that we have a problem! By showing our students what is the goal to reach (the famous bar), we give them the chance to reach it and perhaps even exceed it. Our ultimate goal is to strive to become effective teachers who work collaboratively and consistently with their colleagues.

And when you think it's over, it's only just beginning ...

I will end by telling you that this openness, this collaboration that we have been working for three years has led us to be more united with each other, particularly through events like those of the last year (we are talking here about a major flood of our school).

Remember that a CAP is an evolutionary process and, as said Maude Lamoureux in January 2019 at the CLAIR conference: giving time to something means giving it value. 

This fall, we took the bold step to reviewing our assessment scales! You want to see? This is another appointment that I give you!

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