Day 27 ~
Today, with a little help from my friend, in the midst of a complex and intense Ministry discussion (with leads from various boards and Karen Gill, directly from the Ministry) about the Renewed Mathematics Strategy, we broached the subject of competing interests and more specifically how do we ensure that educators continue to focus on strong pedagogical strategies in the area of literacy when at every turn “Math is the Main Thing”. No sooner was the question out of our mouths, when a collective head nod of agreement from everyone around the table occurred. I was thrilled to learn that Adolescent Literacy (gr. 7-10) is still a top priority and funding for special Ministry projects had just been released yesterday. But I continued to push the conversation and asked, “But what our K-6 learners”?
We all agree that any gains that we’ve made in the area of ensuring that all of our teachers are delivering a comprehensive literacy program are still very fragile and we still have lots of work to do in this area. We also agree that children need to be provided with learning opportunities that will lead to them becoming literate citizens. We all agree that a full school focus will guarantee results more so than a fractured focus with different teachers learning about different initiatives. We all agree that having administrators at the networking table as a co/lead learner will lead to better results. We all agree that having coaches who work directly in classrooms, supporting instruction, asking challenging questions, sharing best practices in both instruction and assessment will have a positive impact on both teacher and student learning. We all agree that focusing on student work and ensuring that we are providing students with timely, strategy focused feedback will have a positive impact.
We could have continued to generate a list of those strategies that we agree upon ~ but at the end of the discussion, the question about competing agendas was still out there….labeled as a great question but still unanswered.
On Monday morning, we’re taking the same question to our own Thames Valley Senior team with the intention of creating a plan of support which will keep “Math as the Main Thing” but also recognize the importance of offering professional learning in other curriculum areas. There may be significant funding for math and Ministry imposed parameters around hiring, staffing and reporting but at the end of the day I’m confident that the Ministry wants boards to use their collective professional judgement and focus on all areas that will lead to creating a culture of both literate and numerate learners.
Our job as system leaders is to take all of what we agree upon and provide responsive, purposeful, job embedded professional learning which will assist our teachers in creating those classroom environments where students are curious about the world.
And it is that curiosity which will lead our students to use both their literacy and numeracy skills to collaborate on, critically analyze and then communicate solutions to world problems that we have yet to solve.