Monday, September 17, 2012

A very different year - Plan with questions

This is going to be a very different school year. If you read my blog post from last week, you'll remember that many of my students are looking forward to the many clubs and teams I run. Unfortunately, it won't be possible to run things status-quot like previous years. My fellow teachers and I gathered late last week after the provincial government worked on Bill 115 (the "Putting Students First" bill) and after our unions met to decide on a response. We want to be consistent in our school with the actions we take - in situations such as this, it can be very divisive if some teachers choose to use certain tactics and others do not. It was a respectful but solemn conversation. We voted as a group to "take a pause" on running any clubs, teams or programs that do not directly deal with our core teaching assignments. We had serious discussions about what we felt were required tasks and made some decent compromises. No one came out of this dialogue bubbly or happy. The teachers at my school LIKE running clubs and teams. We like helping with fundraisers so that our classes can have things we would usually have to do without. When faced with very limited ways we can indicate our displeasure with the lack of negotiations, we must turn to methods we don't enjoy, in the hope that decision-makers may reconsider.

One of the items our staff felt was a requirement of the job = long range plans. The form these long range plans take are now up to the discretion of the individual teacher, be they lists of expectations and topics we plan to cover or "road maps". I decided to experiment with the Big Ideas Road Map. I read the ministry documents on inquiry and crafted my question and the pathway based on a planning template supplied by our superintendent. I found the process a bit challenging because:
a) as a specialist teacher, not a classroom teacher, I have less subjects to teach but more groups
b) based on my courses on inquiry from my Masters of Education program with the University of Alberta, my understand is that the inquiry questions should come from the students, not from me
I ended up modifying the template and creating three "road maps", one for each division. I'll post them here and see what you think.

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