Education week and empowering modern learners

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BY: KATHY MCDONALD 

April is always an exciting time at school boards across Ontario. It’s Open House season as Education Week is celebrated usually in the latter half of the month. This is a great opportunity for parents, guardians and the community to celebrate the achievements of students. Parents, please visit your children’s school board website for the details regarding the dates for your children’s open house. Education week affords teachers and students the opportunity to showcase their teaching and learning. It’s an occasion for parents to get a first-hand glimpse into the classroom and witness their children’s learning. It is important for teachers to make their students’ learning visible so that all stakeholders can actively participate in the learning continuum.

At open houses, valuable information can be obtained. At the Peel District School Board (PDSB) on March 24th, well over a thousand parents attended our annual parent conference. Such conferences happen at many boards across the province. I would strongly recommend that guardians find out when their children’s school board host such events and attend. It is a great day of learning, lunch is provided and it’s a great way to get exposed to the latest in the educational realm. There are often many publishers, authors, educational experts, resource and service providers, and vendors selling various educational manipulatives. Dwayne Matthews, an educational strategist, was the keynote. The Empowering Modern Learners (EML) conference gave parents a glimpse into what learning looks like today. Hey, don’t despair if you did not attend. You can participate in a host of education week activities and learn all about EML.

EML is a philosophy. Today’s educators are preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet. As such it’s of utmost importance to arm our students with the gift of critical thinking. Today’s students must be collaborative, lifelong learners who are open and willing to adapt to an ever-changing environment. EML is not all about technology.  The competencies for the modern learner are creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, collaboration, communication, learning to learn, global citizenship and critical thinking and problem-solving. The modern learning document lists six innovative elements that are essential to teaching and learning in today’s classroom. They are as follows: Learning Culture, Informative Assessment, Access to Technology, Twenty-First Learning Competencies, Learning Environments and Models of Learning. These six elements promote a growth mindset, encourages continual learning while supporting the well-being of each learner in an inclusive space utilizing an instructional approach that is differentiated to meet the needs of all learners.

Did you know that all boards have a Parent Involvement Committee (PIC)? The Ministry of Education has mandated that all boards should have a committee comprised of parents, trustees and the director of education. The purpose of the PIC is to “ support, encourage, and enhance meaningful parental involvement within schools and across the district, seek advice and ideas of school councils and other parents and partners as they plan and implement strategies to involve more parents at the regional level, work collaboratively with the school board, develop strategies for increasing parental engagement and outreach, including parents who find involvement more challenging and support student success”.

On April 11th, the PDSB PIC will be hosting their Family Affair Conference for School Councils. These conferences allow parent council representatives to network and share information which is then brought back to local school councils. The information that is shared is often very valuable. Did you know that members of the public can apply to join any of the sub-committees of the PDSB PIC? I would encourage parents to join their children’s school council as in this venue you get exposed to a lot of learning opportunities regarding education and the nuances of your children’s school. If parents or guardians are unable to attend the parent council in person a great alternative would be to sign up to receive the parent council and or school newsletter

It would be remiss of me not to comment on the fact that it’s refreshing to see that there are still politicians that are willing to stand up for what is right. I am referring to Whitby’s Member of parliament Celina Caesar-Chavannes. Dismantling and calling out racism can be isolating work and it’s encouraging to see that people are willing to call it out regardless of the fallout. Isn’t it ironic, how, by calling out racism you are often accused of being racist or always seeing things through a “black lens”? Such incidents reinforce the need for parents, guardians and the community to stay the course and arm our youth with an education so that our children, African, Black, Caribbean and any marginalised child can take their rightful place in society. So. journey with me as we Empower Modern Learners. Walk Good! Belle Marché.

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