Our Board will be making a decision today (Monday, March 31) about how we will support changes to our learning environment in Hamilton-Wentworth. This vision speaks to creating learning opportunities in every classroom where students take ownership for their learning, both collaboratively and individually, and where teachers support these learning opportunities in different ways. Sometimes a teacher’s role will be that of a facilitator, sometimes as an observer, always as the professional whose expertise provides each student with what he or she needs to think, create, evaluate and communicate in the context of new learning.
This learning environment requires giving students access to different tools. The textbook and the notebook have been the common tools in every classroom for many years. Though there is nothing wrong with these tools in and of themselves, they do not provide our students with access to the world in which we live, in the same way that technology and digital resources can. Because our world is both digital and physical, it is imperative that parents, guardians and schools assist our students to live in both realms. This does not mean that students will always be staring at tablet screens or using the Internet to complete learning tasks; rather, this means that students will have access to our global world at any time through technology because we will provide individual tablets to make this happen.
This work is not about technology in an of itself. Instead, it is about creating new forms of classroom instruction and learning environments. We are working very closely with a smaller number of schools over the next two years to learn how to support teachers to use technology to create, with their students, the type of learning experiences I describe. Our goal is to learn from these schools so that we may then apply this learning to the entire system. This is a major undertaking, but certainly an important one if we are going to achieve one of our Board’s Strategic Directions – Equity Matters. In this way, each student in every classroom has access to technology and digital resources and an opportunity to learn in an environment characterized by inquiry, curiosity, interest and engagement so that they are able to “achieve their full potential,” which is our Board’s vision.
I introduced these concepts at a recent gathering of system leaders. Please take a look at the video below or YouTube link! When we support great teachers to engage students, amazing things happen! This is our goal in HWDSB!