We first connected with EdTechTeam to support our staff as learners when we moved to the GSuite for Education domain in 2015, and they have been a perfect fit for Yellowknife Catholic Schools. What started out as a custom summit to assist staff in learning how to use GSuite and EdTech tools, has become a collaboration in support of our district’s vision, with EdTechTeam becoming an integral part of our journey.
Of course, this would not be the case without the amazing Michelle Armstrong. She has been instrumental in supporting our growth based on her insight and understanding and has this uncanny way of ALWAYS finding the absolute best fit for our district. Not just for the day but with big picture thinking as we discuss our direction for Yellowknife Catholic Schools. As Canadian Regional Director, Michelle is invested in us. She is an advocate for our district and the work we are doing and has been crucial in the success of this partnership. Naturally, we need to give a big shout out to Michelle for the incredible work she has done in supporting our school-change program.
Our hope at YCS is to empower our students to be advocates for their own learning. In committing to a three-year plan our partnership with EdTechTeam evolved from one of learning about the use of EdTech tools to one that is focused on promoting a deeper understanding of student-centered learning through a school change mentorship. Our mentorship program has been designed to empower teachers as learners in areas of student agency and courageous leadership, with each day building upon the one before. In planning with EdTechTeam, we have been successful in creating a flexible blueprint that has provided teachers with time to explore, collaborate, and plan together.
Our emphasis on student-centered learning included Sean Williams and Jessica Loucks focusing on student-agency using Dive into Inquiry by Trevor Mackenzie as a foundation for inquiry-based learning. Types of Student Inquiry models the process of creating independence over time, and building on inquiry as a model, Mark Garrison focused on the importance of the 4C’s in developing independent learners. Mark provided practical examples to foster the 4C’s in classrooms every day. He challenged our leadership team to think about how we are “managing change” to support technology integration and innovative learning models, and shared the Knoster Model for consideration in examining the gaps in our school-change process.
Exploring inquiry-based learning and discussing the importance in developing independent global learners, led us to explore student agency through 20Time Projects or Genius Hour. Kevin Brookhouser shared his passion for engaging students in real-world and relevant projects that ignite their interest for learning and spent a day visiting each of our sites discussing learning environments and redesigning spaces. We also had the privilege of working with Brian Hamm as he walked us through the Design Thinking process using our Schoolwide Needs Assessment for Personalized Learning (SNAPL) results. We worked with The Janus Group to administer the survey as part of our EdTechTeam mentorship. The survey provided insight into our understanding and practice and presented information in assisting us in determining where additional focus needed to be placed.
Last but certainly not least, and possibly the two most powerful days, involved bringing our students into our leadership and mentorship program by hosting a Student Summit and a Student Technology Leadership Workshop to support our goal of developing school-based Student Technology Teams. Blake Everhart and Andy Wallace facilitated an amazing experience for our students, a day that really epitomized what we had been learning and striving towards all year.
Now, as we begin our new year of learning we are looking forward to going deeper by focusing on growing leadership at three levels; students, teachers, and administration. We are excited to be working on this project with Micah Shippee, Ph.D as part of our on-going mentorship program.
Shifting mindsets and cultivating transformation is a daunting task, to say the least, however, our partnership with EdTechTeam has provided us with connections, resources, motivation, inspiration, and thought-provoking challenges along the way. A shift is certainly taking place. As we continue to collaborate and make a difference at Yellowknife Catholic Schools, EdTechTeam is part of our story.