Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thomas Frey- Futurist

At the Alberta Congress Board conference this past weekend, one of the keynote speakers was Thomas Frey from the DaVinci Institute. (He writes two blogs, by the way: The Impact Lab and Futurist Speaker).

He is a "senior futurist" and very much in demand. He held two talks and I attended both. Mr. Frey suggests that the future is created through the vision of leaders and images of the future determine actions of today. That is, he asserts: "The future creates the present."

Mr. Frey identified 8 trends:
1- Hyper-individualization.
More and more things will be custom-fit to the individual, and broad categories will be seen as too imprecise. He predicts personal health interface which will tell you what minerals, vitamins, etc. you are lacking and tell you what to eat to fix that. Products will be predictive and personal and they will come to you.

2- Battle between the atoms and the electrons.
Atoms (physical world) are losing ground to electrons (digital world) because the latter is quicker and more responsive.

3-Search Technology will expand-
Search technology now is largely linked to text, with some limited searches of images. It will grow to include many more values- taste, reflectivity, texture, smell, etc. There already exists technology (smart goggles) which can record everything the wearer sees and with search technology, it can create a searchable world.

4-Diminishing value of Proximity-
Telepresence (more than teleconferencing, the people appear three dimensional) and creating communities by design. Soon, living "near" something will relative.

5- Empire of One-
More and more businesses are a business of one person. Everything is outsourced, often all around the world, through on-line networking. People have the freedom to work from wherever they wish, as long as the internet connection is good.

6- Social Reform-
For the first time, 50% of people are living alone. More parents are living with their adult children. Life expectancy is rising and there has been a 1000% increase in blended families over the past 30 years.

7-Moving from product based to Experience-based economy-
Extreme ironing? Combo of hang-gliding and snowboarding? People are searching for the Ultimate Experience.

8-Prize Competitions-
They have been used in the past to develop an alternative to ivory billiard balls, and to motivate Lindbergh to fly across the Atlantic. Now, it is one the big drivers to innovation. (See: youtube videos on DARPA- vehicles that operate without human presence.) Prize competitions will be used more and more to circumvent a lack of political will and go directly to the entrepreneur to create the next break-throughs.

On Education
(note: he did not differentiate between post-secondary and K-12 in his comments):

-Education will need to change to keep in step with all these trends. In particular, Mr. Frey feels education will need to focus more on developing student's 3D thinking, as we are stuck in a two dimensional thinking right now. (Paper, flat screens, smart boards, etc.)
- We need to examine our structures and ask if they are preventing our kids from thinking in the way they need to be able to think to solve the problems of the world. He cited the fact that there were no Roman mathematicians of note, because of the Roman numeral system. It was not conducive to complicated mathematical problems. What systems are our equivalent of Roman Numerals?
- Teaching will become syndicated. Courses will be offered by master and/or famous teachers and their lessons will be syndicated throughout the world. Teachers in classrooms will be guides, coaches or facilitators for the on-line lesson.
- Courses will be a la carte and people will get education similar to how people now buy music through iTunes- by selecting their own personal "hits" and creating their own library or degree. (already is happening with "itunesU" and in Alberta with eCampus).
-Personal coaching will be more popular. The coach would literally be in your ear and able to see what you are doing (through special goggles which the student wears.)
-Increasing importance of oral skills versus written skills.
- Bookless libraries.
- Life long learning and going beyond PhDs. (PhD and Masters will be seen as the beginning.)
-Educational institutions will hook up with businesses to solve problems. Students will work on 'real-time' problems and research will expand.

In summary: Mr. Frey says we are "preparing humanity for worlds unknown, preparing minds for thinking thoughts unthinkable, and preparing hearts for struggles unimaginable."

Having this content come so quick on the heels of the Inspiring Education forum is fortuitous. My brain hurts a bit, but it's a good thing!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sector Review Process

We will be discussing this report tomorrow. I want to share some of my thoughts with you. As always, please feel free to tell me if you disagree, but keep your comments at the "non-personal" level... that is, don't single out or criticize individuals, rather focus on the issues.

We all know that school closure is emotional. Our process, in the past, has been criticized. One of the chief complaints has centered around meaningful public engagement and transparency of of decision-making. I honestly believe that this document shows how seriously we have taken those comments and how committed we are to improving our process. Please take a look:

http://www.epsb.ca/board/oct27_09/item05.pdf

In particular, I am pleased to see the multiple strategies to reach people- which shows that we understand some of the barriers to communication (language, time, place, etc.) and have brought forward strategies to address those issues. I like the clear pathway, which follows the IAP2's Public Participation Spectrum (Inform, Consult, Involve, Collaborate, Empower). I think this is a solid process. I like the constant evaluation built in to the process and the emphasis on "engage stakeholders to gather input and feedback on the transparency, openness and accountability of the process" (Page 6)

I have said all along that HOW we arrive at the decision is critical to HOW people feel about it. Closing a school will never be a popular choice, but if the process is fair, transparent and considers all input, people will at least understand the choice.

"EPSB recognizes that a robust public engagement process accompanying the sector review will contribute significantly to the sustainability of the resulting decisions. A meaningful public engagement process provides an opportunity to build trust, create ownership, improve relations and yield better understanding of the complexity of the issues related to the review and ultimately the decisions to be made." (Page 2)

I have been working so hard on this issue for many years; it's become clear to me that I can't stop all school closures but I have confidence now that the process to those painful decisions will be just, fair and transparent. I hope you feel the same... but if not, please, let me know.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Board Agenda- Tuesday

http://www.epsb.ca/board/october2709_agenda.shtml

That's the link and all the reports should be accessible.


I'm at the Alberta Congress Board conference in Jasper- must run back to my small group discussion.

Will post more later.

Ciao!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Poverty Reduction Forum

Today, I'm attending the PIA (Public Interest Alberta) Poverty Reduction Forum.

Here's the paper we will be discussing:
http://www.caledoninst.org/Publications/PDF/720ENG.pdf

Of course, the sections on early learning (and the importance of supporting children birth- five), as well as the parts on education, literacy, and high school completion are of particular interest to me.

We know that 1 in 6 children in Edmonton live in poverty. In Calgary it's 1 in 8. In Alberta it's 1 in 10. Children are the ones who pay the most, they are the most vulnerable. Poverty reduction strategies and policies are being implemented across Canada. It's time for Alberta to step up too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Final Day- Inspiring Education Forum

This day's highlights: U of A President Indira Samareskera's address and the discussion at my table. Low point of whole conference: discussion on governance.

But, let's start with the good news-- highlights from Dr. Sam's speech:
  • Reaffirmation of the importance of creativity. We need to be open to "weirdness, eccentricity and difference" (love it!). Difference must be celebrated rather than homogeneity.
  • Creative thinking is regarded by some to be inefficient, a waste of time, risky, a sign of laziness, but this is just wrong.
  • Everyone has the capacity to be creative in their field (it's not limited to arts).
  • Intellectual freedom is essential. Schools must support the fermentation of new ideas.
  • Teachers must model creativity and life-long learning in the very act of teaching through a willingness to learn from students and by being open to changes worldwide.
  • We should encourage students to ask us questions we cannot answer- encourage them to find answers themselves by drawing on expertise of many people.
  • 20-30% of intellectual growth of university students happens outside classes. This is a heavy shift to experiential learning.
  • Key skills for students to develop: the creative application of information, inventiveness, empathy and meaning-making.
  • We must ignite the passions of students.
  • My question for Dr. Sam that was not posted (due to time constraints): "We need to change the way we teach the teachers. How quickly can the U of A adapt its B'ED program to meet the new needs?"

Ideas from my table (discussion):

  • Difference between "power with" and "power over"... we need to recognize the limitations of "power over", which closes opportunities and meaning whereas "power with" with opens up possibilities for all.
  • Narrative identity development (from Phd student at my table, an expert on change!).... we develop a different way of seeing self, through our connection with others. ("One Self as An Other" recommended reading.) We self-regulate through our participation in a group. Focusing on personal achievement through a competitive model undermines levels of trust and social community. It reduces the potential of the group and actually makes us less competitive globally. As a summary: cooperation at a local level increases potential to "compete" on the global scale.
  • We added some suggestions to the "Bold and Courageous Ideas" section including: creating the time and environment for reflection & narrative inquiry to deepen understanding of the knowledge of change, personal growth & creative thought. We also thought we should create measures for the new priorities of education like creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, social adeptness, etc. etc.
  • Under POLICY THEMES there were three identified by the Inspiring Ed folks: Learner-centered system, Equitable and Inclusive Learning Opportunities and Coordinated/Integrated Supports.

The LOW POINT--- the discussion on governance. For many of the 180 trustees in the room, this was THE topic of most interest on the agenda. They wanted to know Where are we going? Will the government unveil their plan? Is the Education Superboard coming? Or will we now learn about some other model of distributed governance that involves giving parents more authority over their individual school (the "Every School is a Charter School" model). There was an expectation in the room that this would be a clarifying moment. Sadly, it was not.

The governance conversation started with a reading entitled "What is my unique contribution to the whole?" Interesting choice, I thought, to get us all in the right mindset. There were passages that said things like: "If we're going to reweave the world rather than have it disintegrate, we need new ways to understand diversity and differentness". It emphasized the importance of seeing our interconnectedness and listening quietly to other people's stories in order to find common ground.

Okay, I'm ready. I'm open. I'm listening quietly. Lay it on me- where are we going? But then I started to feel a little anxious, for some reason. For the first time in two days, doubt crept in.

Then out comes the wordle... it shows the answers that most people gave in response to a question something along the lines of: who is a contributor, with a shared responsibility for education? The words Parents, Teachers, Community were in huge letters of course. In small, insignificant letters was "school boards". I'm okay with that, but to take this information and tape under the heading: GOVERNANCE seemed disingenuous. The people being consulted last year never heard the word "governance"during these consultations....at least it wasn't mentioned at the session I attended. So to assume that having a shared responsibility is the SAME as governance doesn't jibe for me. And it didn't jibe for the trustees I met during the break. They were ticked off, in fact!

The sheets we filled in during our group discussion were entitled "A Shared Governance Model" and we were encouraged to think about how these contributors' roles could be increased. So people spent time examining how parents, teachers, students, etc. could have a more meaningful roles in governance. Because school boards had been presented as insignificant (visually and metaphorically by the wordle), I doubt they appeared on many sheets.

Then the photographs came out. I got a spider on a web and I was asked to tell the group how my photograph illustrated the governance themes of "Community Involvement", "Accountability and Shared Responsibility" and "Parental Engagement and Choice". I felt frustrated and, to be frank, manipulated.

To be clear, I support shared leadership. I support strong community ownership of education. I support meaningful involvement of students, parents and teachers in education. I believe we all own education, but I was looking for a discussion about "governance"... as I understand it...not more discussion of what photographs of swimmers, mountain bikers and compasses mean. I don't think the governance themes were genuinely generated in the first place (because the questions were never framed accurately), so I felt the whole conversation started in the wrong place. Ultimately, I want to hear where trustees and boards fit into all this.

I brought these concerns to the attention of the Minister of Education following the session today. He said I was confusing "governance" with "government". What I was looking for fell under "government" which would be developed based on the desired principles of "governance". He said everyone is involved in governance, only the elected officials are involved in government. I told him I thought most trustees labelled their work as governance and so it was logical they might be some confusion around this. He said he would clarify meaning through a communication, possibly on his blog. I thanked him for listening to my concerns and agreed that clarifying meaning was a good idea. He reiterated that he had no intention to create a superboard. "Why would I do all this and then create a superboard?" he asked. I also mentioned that not recognizing the 180 trustees in the room might have been interpreted as a lack of recognition for them and their work. I concluded by telling him how positive I thought the whole conference had been and thanked him for creating the opportunity for this important discussion. Change, I feel, is inevitable; the synergy of 800 people focused intently on one shared purpose will make it so.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day One, Part 2, Inspiring Ed

The second speaker was Mark Milliron. (www.catalyticconversations.blogspot.com and on twitter as well.)

His speech was jam-packed with info, book recommendations, humour and insight.
Here's my scrambled, organic notes:

  • We don't have a clue what's coming. Book by George Friedman "The Next Hundred Years". Conventional analysis shows a profound failure of imagination and common sense will be wrong.
  • We will need deeply strategic thinking to address challenges ahead (Thomas Friedman, "Hot, Flat and Crowded")
  • Learning is not a linear pipeline, but a swirl that people will enter and re-enter many times in their lives. Some districts have developed integrated K-20 education policy that shows a high level of coordination between schools, colleges, and universities. Kids graduate gr. 12 with many credits for post-secondary.
  • We have a lot to learn from gaming- kids will work very hard to get to the next level. If we incorporated this into learning- how would they soar? One school is doing this- with a game to test all the curricular outcomes. Kids need to master the level to move on, when they complete the game, they've covered all the course material. Results: better achievement, more intrinsic motivation and they finish the work in half the time!
  • Using technology (holographs, simulated worlds, etc.) to expand the possibilities for engaged teaching.
  • Deep data model (analytics) can show trends, give triggers and tailor-make learning. (i.e. warnings when an at-risk kid is about to drop out, based on data of actions or inactions.)
  • Four ingredients for transcendent learning: critical learning, creative learning, social learning, courageous learning.
  • Critical learning is based on scientific theory, active reflection, introspection, using solid metrics to pursue new methods.
  • Creative learning creates divergent thinkers. (See: "Outliers" by Malcom Gladwell or "The flight of the Creative Class" by Richard Florida).
  • Social learning is learning how to get alone (most important skill for retaining a job!). See: "Social Intelligence", "The Hard Truth about Soft Skills" or "Crazy Busy".
  • Courageous learning involves the ability to let go, unlearn, relearn... to have rookie courage. See: "The Art of Changing the Brain", "Five Minds of the Future", "Life Entrepreneurs."
  • Mark posed a tough question to all of us in the education field- are we willing to be critical, creative, social and courageous in the face of change?

What struck me in Mark's speech (besides the fact that I have a lot of books to read!) is that this all feels strangely familiar. For me, it's linked to the drama classes, the general arts background, the collective theatre/Fringe experience, the constant need to re-invent myself over the past twenty years as a freelance artist. I've probably had more jobs than most people my age; I've been the "rookie" so many times, it actually seems odd to me to consider that, if I'm elected again, I will be in the same job for 6 years. My previous record is 2.5 years. It turns out, I'm the new normal.

HA. Now, that's amusing!

Inspiring Education- reflections

Today was the first full day of sessions for Inspiring Education. We listened to provocative speakers talk about both the need for change and the resistance to change.

We also had time throughout the day to work at small tables, discussing the papers presented as a result of the province-wide community conversations.

I started tweeting, live, but soon ran into technical difficulties and couldn't access any internet for most of the day, which was frustrating to say the least!

My thoughts, in point form, highlighting what resonated with me:

Dr. Jennifer James- speaker
  • We are experiencing broad, rapid, unprecendented change. During periods of great change, people will experience a high level of free floating anxiety, which some will interpret as a moral void. ("World going to hell in a handbasket.")
  • We are becoming increasingly culturally assimilated- France and Germany have written joint history books. The ability to talk to people all over the world, via the internet, brings about a different understanding of events, "truths", history, economics, ideas in general.
  • Most people cannot imagine the change that is needed to prepare kids for the future.
  • Everything changes when technology changes- personality, belief systems, economic systems, who is a citizen (democracy). It changes who is in the room and who has a voice.
  • Cultural mythologies are difficult to change- our tapestry of beliefs need to unravel slightly before they can be rewoven.
  • We need leadership to create stories to transition the change, so people can "see where we are going." The people telling the story need to be BELIEVABLE and the story has to resonate with deeply held values.
  • We should be open to considering competency testing for teachers (esp. in technology), recongnizing master teachers, eliminating tenure for teachers.
  • Kids need to learn to be researchers, collaborators, systems analysts, with cultural intelligence, negotiation/mediation skills.
  • What does your school value? (Check the trophy case for clues!)
  • Can we move up Maslow's ladder from security to self knowledge, to self actualization to transformation?
  • There will be increased demands for justice, quality of life and meaning.
  • Multiple choice exams teach the student to suspend judgement. They don't teach them to think.
  • Other trends: Access to information, inclusivity, alternatives to violence. We must learn to be kind and how to channel our fear when we perceive a threat.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Photos- Meadowlark Read IN







As promised, shots of me, dressed as a princess for the Meadowlark Fairy Tale fashion show druing Read In Week. The librarian at Meadowlark (seen above dressed as the Scarecrow) has organized this extravaganza for ten years in a row, where kids dress up as their favourite story book character. She also provides costumes for a few teachers, seen here as the Tin Man and Dorothy. It was a whole lot of fun!






Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Restorative Justice

On October 1st, I attended a day-long conference on restorative justice, facilitated by David Moore from Australia (www.primed.net.au). Many EPSB staff members were there, as well as people from Edmonton Catholic Schools, Parkland District , a nearby Blood Tribe, Alberta Education and Alberta Justice.

Before I went, I happened to read this section of Alberta Education's book, "Supporting Positive Behaviour in Alberta Schools": (page 55)

"Suspensions can have a number of unintended consequences. Research conducted by the British Columbia Ministry of Education (1999) suggests that suspension:
- does not have the same effect as in years past due to the changing nature and extent of behaviours, and changes in family and community structures
-contributes to a student's alienation from school
-increases dropout rates
-contributes to academic failure
-appears to be a factor in students' involvement in risky or antisocial behaviour
-may precipitate more serious crimes in the community
-may have no effect or even increase the likelihood of the behaviour recurring
-may increase aggressive or avoidance behaviour."

What I learned at the Restorative Justice conference affirmed my personal belief that there are good alternatives to suspensions that all schools should be employing. By dealing with student behaviour through a restorative rather than retribution lens, we can teach students the critical skills of relationship, conflict and anger management, as well as develop their coping and communication skills. Children can also learn to be more intrinsically (internally) motivated, rather than relying on traditional "sticks and carrots" methods which seek to force or coax positive behaviour. We know from experience that once the stick or carrot disappears, so does the positive behaviour. So, it is essential for children to become intrinsically motivated.

Schools (and society in general) punishes for four reasons:
1-To restore moral balance ("You'll pay for this!")
2-To act as an individual deterrent ("That will teach you.")
3-To act as a general deterrent ("Let this be a lesson to the lot of you.")
4-To exercise power ("That will remind you all who's in charge.")

A lot of "Zero Tolerance" or "Tough on Crime" policies are driven by these four thoughts. However, research shows that they do NOT deter behaviour (see our rotating doors in jails), do NOT restore moral balance and are limited in their effectiveness of the other two objectives.

Instead of relying on an "single authority/punisher" approach, restorative justice demands full participation of all involved parties. All must come into the circle. (And if this sounds vaguely Aboriginal, you are right: this method draws heavily on Aboriginal teachings.)

A shared understanding is developed by asking everyone involved the same questions:
What happened?
How did you feel?
What thoughts went through your head at that time?

When the shared understanding is achieved, the group moves on to determine an action plan: What do we need to achieve?
What are several ways to achieve that?

And, after all the options have been articulated:
Which of these options is most practical and mutually acceptable?

What an amazingly simple, yet demanding, process this would be for us all to go through the next time we experience conflict. How different from our usual model of debate, where Person A puts forward their position and defends it against all assailants while working hard to ignore or destroy Person B's position. As was said in conference: "Debate is a machine for creating interpersonal conflict."

Some schools have fully integrated restorative justice techniques and are finding that is not only useful for solving interpersonal conflicts and student misbehaviour, it actually helps foster and encourage GOOD behaviour. Once trained in the techniques, the students and teachers use them everyday as a way to address issues BEFORE they become issues and to build resilience.

And isn't that what we all want? Safe, caring schools full of kids who know how to solve problems and who are resilient and learn from their mistakes? I would prefer this to suspending kids who often (because they often lack supervision at home during their suspension), end up making more poor choices, further compounding their problems, increasing their feelings of isolation and possibly damaging any positive relationships they've established in the school.

These are our kids- let's teach them how to be good humans, rather than focusing on "teaching them a lesson."

If you want more information, please contact Sue Hopgood. Coordinator, Alberta Conflict Transformation Society. suehopgood@ACTSociety.ca. 780-944-5265

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 13 Board Meeting

It's a busy board meeting on Tuesday. In particular, the Transportation Review report (item 9) contains a lot of critical information that I would recommend everyone read. (You can read the full reports by visiting the Board Agendas Link, under Helpful Links to the right of this post). We will be discussing changing the boundaries to Ward H (Trustee Ripley) and Ward F (Trustee Fleming) in report 4. We will be discussing declaring 18 school sites surplus in report 6. In item 7, there is a motion to consider withdrawing from the Public School Board Association. My prediction is this meeting will extend beyond 9 PM. My guess- 10 PM.


The outcomes from the October 13, 2009 board meeting will be posted October 14, 2009
http://www.epsb.ca/board/october1309_agenda.shtml

Here's an abbreviated version of the agenda, as you can see, comments from the Public and Staff Groups is near the front of the agenda, following Improving Student Achievement. If you would like to comment on anything related to education, you may do so at this time, with no need for advance registration. You will have 2 minutes to speak. If you want to speak to a specific item on the agenda, you need to register with Anne Sherwood (Anne.Sherwood@epsb.ca) by noon on Tuesday. Happy Thanksgiving all!

Abbreviated Agenda list---

2. Improving Student Achievement: An Update on AISI Cycle 4

G. Comments from the Public and Staff Group Representatives

H. Reports

3. Report #2 of the Conference Committee (From the Meetings Held September 29 and October 6, 2009)

4. Motion re Ward Boundaries

5. Locally Developed Courses - Additions

6. Surplus School Sites

7. Motion re Public School Boards' Association of Alberta (PSBAA)

8. Public School Boards' Association of Alberta Fall General Meeting

9. Student Transportation Service Review Findings

10. 2008-09 Student, Parent, Staff Satisfaction Survey Results and 2008 09 Community Satisfaction Survey Results

11. Status Report: Edmonton Public Schools Foundation

12. Responses to Board Requests for Information

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sector Review- Hardisty/City Centre

EPSB is committed to creating meaningful opportunities for public engagement on the critically important issue of excess school space. There can be no denying that this is an issue which must be tackled now: with the addition of six new schools in 2010 and looming budget cuts, the pressure to consider the consolidation of schools is increasing exponentially. A new process, called Sector Planning, will allow us to look at schools as part of complex picture--to examine the surrounding schools and programs, to ensure rich educational experiences for all children, to evaluate the impact on our transportation department (ride times, congestion, etc.) and to consider community needs & values in our decision-making. We are aiming to make decisions that reflect a wholistic, big picture view, while at the same time recognizing the particular uniqueness of individual communities and schools. It's not going to be easy and we need your participation to come up with solutions we can all live with!

An independent company has been hired to help facilitate community conversations. Here's some info on the process. The first two areas (Greater Hardisty and City Centre Project) are not in my ward, however, West One Sector takes in almost all of my ward and West One is scheduled to be going through this process in 2010. Therefore, I've highlighted a couple of things that may be of interest to people in Ward C. -Sue

Sector Planning is a review of all school space within Edmonton Public Schools, to address areas of low enrolment, low class size, and a surplus of school space. The plan will show where new schools are needed, and how existing schools can be renewed to serve students in the future. The main focus on this approach is to make sure all students have quality programs and schools in their sector and at the same time allow communities to benefit from any surplus space in the schools.

From October through December 2009, Edmonton Public Schools will be engaging people in a number of different conversations about the possibilities and challenges of school space as part of a complete and vibrant community. Reports will be prepared from each event, and a final report outlining what has been heard will be presented to Trustees in January 2010, for implementation in September 2010. In 2010 the conversation will extend to Central, South Central and West 1 Sectors.

LEARN about the issues
Throughout the project, we’ll provide information, updates and reports on what we are hearing. You can learn more by:
• Visiting the website at http://sectorreview.bangthetable.com
• Visit the school in your area – starting in late October, they’ll have information available
• Attend the Presentation on the Sector Planning Public Engagement Process to Board Trustees on October 27, 2009


PARTICIPATE in the conversation
Use the Workbook
Using the workbook as a conversation starter, you can learn about the issues and share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions
• Become a volunteer and host your own conversation using the workbook.
• Attend a training session to learn how to host a conversation using the workbook
• Participate in a discussion hosted by a friend, classmate, colleague or neighbour
• Complete the workbook yourself – you can pick it up at your school at the end of October, or download it from the website and fill it in online

TRAINING SESSIONS (to learn how to host conversations)
October 26, 2009
7:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
McNally School
8440, 105 Avenue

October 29, 2009
7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
John A. McDougall School, Cafeteria
10930, 107 Street

November 7, 2009
9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Centre for Education
One Kingsway

Attend a Community Forum (Times/dates/locations found at end of this post)
• Attend a Community Forum to talk about what is important to you and talk with others about the principles for how, where and when school space is used in the community.
• These forums are NOT drop-in format, and we encourage you to be part of the conversation for the entire time.

Participate in a Workshop
• Participate in a workshop that will build on the input received from the workbook and forums, and focus on how to use school space in the local community.
• These workshops are drop-in format, so please come when you can and plan to say for about 90 minutes

Complete a Questionnaire
• Respond to a questionnaire, online or in hard copy, and tell us your comments and thoughts.
• Available from November 30 – December 14, 2009.

Find out MORE or RSVP to attend a session
If you have a question, comment or need more information, please contact us.
Email: info@dialoguepartners.ca
Phone: 1-866-269-1276 ext 102

COMMUNITY FORUMS
November 12, 2009
5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
McNally School
8440, 105 Avenue
With a focus on the GREATER HARDISTY AREA

November 14, 2009
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Centre for Education, Conference Centre
One Kingsway
With a focus on the
CITY CENTRE EDUCATION PARTNERSHIP AREA

WORKSHOPS
November 30, 2009
4:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
McNally School
8440, 105 Avenue
With a focus on the GREATER HARDISTY AREA


December 1, 2009
4:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
John A. McDougall School
10930, 107 Street
With a focus on the
CITY CENTRE EDUCATION PARTNERSHIP AREA

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Know Your Trustee Website

I, along with my colleagues and many members of the media, received the following email yesterday:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KnowYourTrustee.ComEdmonton, AB (2009/10/7) Information about the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) can be difficult to find and understand. A new independently published website, knowyourtrustee.com, is now available that promotes accountability by providing quick access to public information about the EPSB. The website has been started by including information on trustee requests for information and trustee-initiated motions. The website allows one to view motions that were approved, defeated or referred for in camera discussion.Easy to find and clearly presented information is essential for the residents of Edmonton to participate in shaping the future of education and assuring that trustees reflect the values of the community when providing leadership to the Edmonton Public School district.-30-http://knowyourtrustee.com/

Contact: Dale HudjikEmail: dale.hudjik@gmail.comTelephone: 780-904-6081

I have visited the site and of course, I support increased transparency. This site certainly provides information that would be difficult to easily access, unless you were willing to attend every board meeting (and not too many have that fortitude!). However, I would like to add the following caveat--- notices of motion and requests for information are only two "measures" of a trustee's activities. Some trustees are very curious and, perhaps due to inexperience, have a lot of questions (like me!). Other trustees may already possess a base of knowledge and do not feel the need to put as many requests for information forward. Some trustees prefer to conduct their inquiries or encourage the board to move in a certain direction through other (less public) means; their contribution may not be as readily understood, but is certainly known by the trustees and administrators who work with them closely. Some trustees would prefer to be measured by the achievement of the board as a whole (i.e. accomplishing district priorities or strategic plan objectives) rather than through individual actions or initiatives.

All and all, I applaud the initiative of Mr. Hudjik and his efforts to illuminate the work of trustees and increase transparency. A better informed citizenry is, absolutely, in the best interests of everyone.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

EPSB Discussion paper on School Act LINK

Our discussion paper regarding the School Act is up and we seeking feedback. Here's the link:

http://www.epsb.ca/schoolact/index.shtml

It's also the lead banner on the home page www.epsb.ca

Please let us know if we missed the mark...if you have additions, suggestions, deletions... we value your insight!

Cheers,
Sue

Monday, October 5, 2009

Read In Week, World Teacher's Day, Indigo

This is Read In Week- a week to foster and celebrate the joys of reading with children. If you haven't volunteered to read at your local school yet- there's no time like the present!! Hockey books, Spongebob, Junie B, books about pirates, princesses, dogs & squirrels, adventures, overcoming tragedy...books that inspire, educate, amuse and soothe. Books truly are the windows on the world.

I started this morning at Indigo Books, North Town Centre, with Glendale School. Glendale is one of twenty schools chosen across the nation to receive a grant from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. The foundation, started in 2004, has given out $7.5 million to needy schools to help stock their libraries and inspire a love of reading in children. Glendale is the lucky recipient of $45, 000 and this morning the students were allowed to select their favourite books to help transform the school's library. What a great sight: young kids, eyes wide with excitement, looking for that perfect book. The Indigo staff, including store manager Liza, were almost as excited as the kids. She told me that last year, one little boy said, upon walking into the store, "I didn't know there were this many books in the world!!" It's sad to think that some children show up in kindergarten not knowing how a book works, but with the generous support of community partners like Indigo, schools work to address those inequities.

This afternoon, I read to Room 9 at Brightview School. The rest of my week is packed with appointments to read, as I know are the calendars of all my colleagues and many politicians, sports figures and fellow Edmontonians.

So, please consider sharing your love of reading with kids! It is one of the most important activities we can do with children. Hearing stories read aloud improves a child's vocabulary, listening skills, reading comprehension and writing capabilities. These are the foundational skills of literacy, which is tied to improved health outcomes, financial stability, success in post-secondary education, etc. There's a lot riding on the ability to read!

Also, today is World Teacher's Day.... thank you, teachers for all you do, everyday. It's not easy work (as my husband keeps reminding me), so thank you, thank you, thank you.