Monday, October 13, 2014

Velkommen Dansk lærere

On Thursday, October 16, 2014, a group of Danish educators will be visiting my school. Torben Ruwald, Kim Clausen, Lars Rasmussen, and Lene Krabbe will spend two days with our staff, watching our classes, asking questions, and learning about the daily operations of an elementary school in Ontario, Canada. This visit is sponsored by the Ontario Principals Council and the TDSB's director's office. My principal has reassured us that this is not meant to be a "dog and pony show", but when people come halfway around the world to check out your education system, you want to make a good impression. I had similar angst when the director of education came to visit my school, and so I wrote a blog post about what I would want to showcase if given the chance. I want to do something similar here, but for the visit to be truly educational, it would help to know more about our visitors - knowing your audience is good for a teacher as well as a presenter, and I better remember that because the very next day, I'm scheduled to speak at the Simcoe County District School Board Teacher-Librarian Conference, "Inquiring Minds".

 I have to confess that I know very little about Denmark and the Danish educational system. I Googled "best education systems in the world" and in this link, Canada is listed as #7 in 2014 and #10 in 2012. In the same site, Denmark is listed as #11 in 2014 and #12 in 2012.  Other sources rank Denmark similarly close to Canada in world results. On this side of the Atlantic, we hear a lot about the Finnish education system - why have our colleagues chosen to come to Canada for their quest? If I get the chance, here are my other questions as well as my sharing points.

I wonder ...

  • When foreigners think of Denmark, what comes to mind first? If you could change this, what would you want foreigners to consider first when they think of your country?
  • What does it mean to be Danish? What constitutes your national identity?
  • What are you most proud of with regards to your educational practices? What are you most displeased with regarding education in your country?
  • How do your schools compare to those in Canada? What are the similarities and differences?
  • What do you know about Canada and the Canadian educational system? 
  • What are Danish children passionate about? How does this compare to Canadian students?
  • What do you hope to see while you are here?

You may be wondering ...

  1. What are those odd looking animals doing in the library? (clue = skinny pigs don't aggravate allergies)
  2. Why do the students keep talking about Minecraft? (clue = tapping into student passions through clubs and in-school tasks help them learn)
  3. Where did all these iPads, SMART Boards, HP netbooks, Acer netbooks, Macs and PCs come from? (clue = a variety of technology tools, won and bought, make differentiated instruction easier)
  4. When do the kids stop asking questions? (clue = encouraging inquiry throughout the day and in many different subjects makes learning "sticky")
  5. Who manages the Library Assistants during recess? (clue = students show responsibility and initiative in many ways)
The answer to #1

The answer to #2

I hope Torben, Kim, Lars and Lene enjoy their time with us and that it's a time for all of us to learn something from each other. 

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