Building community at #ABEL

Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending the Mobilizing 21st Centruy Teaching & Learning Leadership Symposium hosted at York University by the ABELearn program. The timetable for the day was:

  • ‘Unleashing the Passion’ Keynote by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
  • How Does It Work? – Tools, Strategies and Results – a Carousel of break out sessions
  • ‘Teacher Professional Learning for the 21st century’  Keynote by Ron Owston
  • Dimensions of Change: Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd (facilitated discussion and action planning)

During the Carousel of breakout sessions, I chose to attend the discussion titled ‘Building Capacity: A Shared Leadership Approach’. This session was an open round table discussion. A quick round of introductions revealed a diverse group of roles represented including teachers, eLearning leaders, ICT consultants, school administrators and CIOs.

The range of ideas and comments put forward hit the predictable topic list: getting more teachers on board, training, costs, access and funding. While many good points were made, I was quite fascinated by the discussion from one point of view. It was very interesting to see how many people focused on ‘getting something going’ in their own classroom, school or program. This approach certainly does create an energy at the grass roots level and is arguably important in the context of change at the local site level.

However, this approach does not guarantee a coordinated change at the system level. A few of the participants, including me, also spoke in support of the need for a system perspective on planned change as well. Key areas from a system point of view would include setting expectations, a focus on embedded technology use of specific curriculum needs (e.g. non fiction writing), staff development program support and IT support. Once these points were made, the group generally seemed to express agreement that this aspect of moving forward is a key ingredient.

All in all, this was a fantastic learning opportunity. I look forward to reviewing the content, actions and ongoing discussion in session wiki that will be set up.

~ Mark