It is that time of year when we have our feet in two camps. We are fully engaged in the work before us this year, and we are gathering insights from all over our system to plan for next year!
Our direction for next year is that we are “staying the course”. This course though is not a static one; rather, we are deepening the important work in which we have been engaged over the last few years.
As we continue to focus on improving student achievement and well-being, we know that our learning environment in HWDSB makes all of the difference. We continue to focus on the collaborative inquiry process to change instructional practice. This process means that we plan effectively, we act with dedication and commitment, we assess the results and observe what has taken place, and we reflect on what just happened and what needs to happen next! All staff are expected to learn in teams. This is our primary vehicle for supporting the learning.
We are also committed to supporting our learning culture in HWDSB by training many of our staff to be effective coaches and facilititators. We are also sharing leadership in coordinated ways…this cordination is not meant to be stifling; rather this coordination means that we are able to improve because the leadership offered by many within the school influences action.
We continue to grow as an intelligent and responsive system; a system which sets clear direction and yet responds to the local realities that exist in each school and department.
We are also looking at the evidence we gather and the measurements we are using to really determine if a school is improving. We plan to focus our attention to this part of the cycle next year.
We are grappling with our understanding of personalized, collaborative, inquiry-based learning environments. We know that learning is changing. We understand that digital resources and technology are assisting this change. We accept that our students needs to be prepared for our constantly changing world and in concrete ways we need to strengthen our students’ creative and critical thinking abilities. Deepening our understanding of personalized, collaborative, inquiry based learning environments so that instructional practice changes is a clear goal for next school year.
We know that positive learning conditions are important for students to achieve. Further, the culture of the school also makes a huge difference to student achievement and well-being. To this end we will continue focusing on building a positive school climate for our students. By integrating what we know about mental health, safety, equity and inclusion, we believe we will support our students to become the best they can be.
And finally, we have focused over the least few years on creating a culture of academic optimism throughtout our system. A culture of academic optimim means that staff feel a sense of collective efficacy, that trust exists in the school and that a culture of high expectations is emphasized so that all students are successful. In the context of academic optimism, we will be focusing on the notion of creating a culture of high expectations, an aspect of academic optimism that has been known to have a greater impact on student achievement.
As mentioned previously, we will be focusing on these things in the context of the work we are already doing. Every school and department will engage in an authentic self-assessment process to determine focus. Professional learning opportunities will respond to the capacity building needed for improvement to take place in terms of this focus. Leaders will be supported through their learning to determine if improvement is actually happening.
In conclusion, I invite you to take a look at the 10 minute video below that captures the essense of our work, our goals, and our commitments. I would like to close these reflections by simply saying that all of the planning in the world will not take the place of passion and dedication….two qualities that effective educators need to make a difference in the lives of their students.
We are making a difference for our students in each classroom and school in Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board! We will definitely continue on this road……Thank you!!
Dr. John Malloy
I really enjoyed this post of yours! I love our Board focus on “academic optimism” and ensuring that all students learn. As a teacher, this focus has really made me examine how I’m teaching, and how I can have high expectations but useful supports in place for my neediest learners. I’m seeing a classroom where all students are able to access the content that they need to succeed, and I’m seeing growing independence in all of my students.
I also like the focus on digital resources and technology, but with curriculum in mind. I think it’s easy to get consumed by the tech, but not look at the connection to learning. Our Board focuses intertwines the two. It’s made me more aware of how I’m using technology with my students. Instead of discussing tools and programs now, I’m discussing expectations and how the tools and programs help students meet these expectations. My change in vocabulary is also changing how the students discuss technology.
I’m very excited by this Board direction, and I look forward to seeing the growth that continues to happen next year!
Academic optimism is so important to create the culture of learning that our students need!