Volume 7

FINLAND Report

Authors: Lori Barnes, Dorothy Cammaert, Michelle Cassidy, Kate Diakiw, Janet Hicks, Allan Hoyle

This report is the product of the group that visited the Espoo School Board in Finland during May, 2013. Observations included primary and lower secondary schools, discussions with school psychology and central staff. In addition, our staff visited the children’s hospital and met with Pasi Sahlberg, internationally renowned author and Finnish educator. The schools we visited included mainstream programming, as well as a special education focused elementary school.

Keywords: Finland, international

Report of the Jurisdictional Learning Visit Tower Hamlets and Hackney, London, UK

Authors: Denese Belchetz, Kathy Witherow, Chris Sarellas, Clayton LaTouche and Elizabeth Gordon

In addition to the many rich experiences available locally, the York Region District School Board values professional learning opportunities in key jurisdictions beyond Ontario for the purpose of benchmarking the Board’s work against other high-performing global educational jurisdictions. This past July, 2013, a team from the Board visited London, UK to observe high-leverage improvement strategies in school districts in challenging circumstances. The learning from this and previous visits continues to impact our district’s strategic thinking, and is highlighted in the London Jurisdictional Learning Report.

Keywords: jurisdictional, learning, UK

Finland Reflections

Author: Paulla Bennett

While visiting Finland in May of 2010, I had the unique opportunity to observe and engage in their learning environments through the lens of an Information Technology professional. I will admit I was curious to explore their systematic approaches to ICT Education and Digital Literacy.

Keywords: Finland, reflections, information technology

Teacher Leadership in Professional Learning Communities such as Networks

Author: Clelia Della Rovere

Over the past thirty years, significant research has been conducted in the area of teacher leadership (Harris, 2005; York-Barr & Duke, 2004). Katzenmeyer and Moller (2001, p. 17) define teacher leadership as follows: “Teachers who are leaders lead within and beyond the classroom, identify with and contribute to a community of teacher learners and leaders, and influence others toward improved educational practice” (Harris, 2005, p. 204, 205).

Keywords: teacher, leadership, communities

Re-thinking Transitions: Innovation, Improvement, and Inquiry

Author: Dr. Susan E. Elliott-Johns, Nipissing University

This article explores the nature and importance of successful transitions for all learners (K-12 and beyond), and fundamental strategies, aptitudes, pedagogies, and programmes that nurture and support a wide variety of today’s student transitions (Tilleczek et al., 2010; Hargreaves & Shirley, 2012; Helling, 2013). Teacher education and ongoing professional learning is discussed as being central to establishing and sustaining innovative approaches to transitions, along with excerpts from the author’s own current research and practice in this area. Increased understandings of the highly complex, varied, and cyclical nature of transitions in education, and the effective re-thinking of transitions, will also be enhanced by attending to contemporary voices from the field (Elliott-Johns & Jarvis, 2013).

Keywords: transitions in education, student success, leadership, teacher education, professional learning, inquiry

Stress Less Classrooms: A Contemplation in How to Stress Less and Learn More

Author: Nicole C. Fisher

Statistics from the Mental Health Commission of Canada demonstrate an urgency in how we understand our life choices and likewise calls our paradigm thinking to the fore, stating that “1 out of 5 Canadians (6.7 million people) experiences a significant mental health problem in any given year.” The question then arises, what are we to do to bring ourselves back into a regenerative state of resilience and improved learning without leading a compromised life half-lived? When it comes to discussing stress, we have to realize that there is more going on than we may have predicted. The knowledge is available to shift our awareness; however, it is the wisdom to take action and live it each moment that awaits us.

Keywords: stress, classroom, learn

Identifying a Learning Disability in an ESL Student

Author: Christina Franz

English as Second Language learners are often over-identified or under identified as having a learning disability in our current education system. Cummins (1991) claims ESL students are often over-identified as having a LD because educators often mistake the student’s slow progress in acquiring the English language as them having a disability. Educators often overlook the student’s prior education, literacy in native language, time in new country, learning style, or motivation as all reasons for the students progressing at a slow learning rate (Cummins, 1991, p.77).

Keywords: learning, disability, ESL

How Ontario spread successful practices across 5,000 schools

Author: Avis Glaze

Before 2003, many would have said that the Ontario school system was in crisis. Today, the province has been recognized as one of the fastest-improving jurisdictions in the world. Ontario is lauded for achieving both excellence and equity, goals that many believe are mutually exclusive. One of the many lessons that Ontario learned is the importance of building capacity among teachers and principals to sustain strategies that work. When this happens, teachers are motivated, and they strive to do what they do best — educate all children, regardless of background or personal circumstances, to the maximum of their capabilities.

Keywords: Ontario, successful, practices

Total Quality Management for Continual School Improvement: Guiding principles of success that can be derived from Mauritius

Author: David Hung and Jean Claude Ah-Teck

As a small island country, Mauritius is relying on its human capital and innovative hi-tech industry to ensure future economic viability in the global market. As such, Mauritian education authorities are seeking ways to raise educational standards. One government’s reform idea being canvassed is that Total Quality Management (TQM) could provide the framework for Mauritian school leaders to deliver imperatives for change and improvement so as to achieve ‘world-class quality education.’ However, whilst there is a burgeoning literature on TQM and a quality culture in education, little research attention has been paid to the practical processes of implementing TQM concepts in realizing and sustaining quality in schools, and when this has been done it has tended to be limited to higher education institutions. Moreover, no research has covered this topic in the Mauritian context.

Keywords: quality, improvement, principles, Mauritius

Exploring Finnish student success

Author: Colleen Ireland

In May 2011, I had the opportunity to accompany a York Region District School Board (YRDSB) group visiting Finland for five days. Key interests for me were the role of the union in Finland, reasons for such high PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores in that country and approaches to education that might serve us well in Ontario, given the opportunity and the will to adopt them. Recent accolades by international journalists and education pundits made the opportunity to do some hands-on observations all the more appealing.

Keywords: Finnish, student, success

Deconstructing the “At-Risk” of Student Success- A Literature Review Summary

Author: Tara Kumabe

This paper is a summary of the literature review written for a major research paper conducted through the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE/UT) and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). This research looked at how the Student Success program was being offered at a specific junior high school in Toronto. Student Success is a government initiative that provides support for students learning in secondary school. At one particular junior high school, an intervention program to support academic gains was designed for students who were considered academically “at-risk.”

Keywords: deconstructing, at-risk, student, success

Professional Learning vs. Professional Practice – Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice in Mathematics Education: One Teacher’s Journey

Author: Tisha Nelson

As life:long! learners teachers are continuously encouraged to participating! in! on: going! professional! learning! in order to stay current! with effective pedagogical practice within the domain of teaching and learning. But what impact in teacher participation do such engagements have on teacher practice?! How! can! teachers remain accountable to new learning that they have acquired? This study seeks to uncover the impact of engaging in professional learning in the content! area! of mathematics. Through reflective journaling, one teacher will uncover the changes and continuity! is in her practice before and after engaging in a mathematics additional!qualification!course.

Keywords: professional, learning, practice, mathematics

Jurisdictional Learning: Garden Grove Unified School District

Author: Dr. Steven Reid, Dr. Kathy Witherow, and Scott Yake

The YRDSB continues to look beyond its borders to learn from high-performing school districts. Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD) in Southern California is a school district that has shown excellent progress based on intentional continuous improvement strategies aimed at closing the opportunity gap for all students. There are 50,000 students in Garden Grove’s 46 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, 7 secondary schools, 2 special education schools and 2 continuation schools. A majority of the districts’ students are Hispanic (54%) and Vietnamese (33%).

Keywords: jurisdictional, Garden Grove, unified

An Equity Journey

Author: Cecil Roach

In 2010, our new Director of Education, Ken Thurston, breathed new life into York Region District School Board’s (YRDSB) equity journey when he announced that equity would become one of the Board’s five priorities.

Keywords: equity, journey

Plant Services-York Region District School Board Finland Study Tour Experience

Author: Margaret Roberts, Robert Selvazzo, Kathryn Powell

In May 2011, a group from the Board’s Plant Services participated in an international study tour. While the educators discussed and examined the world of academia, the Plant representatives spent time inspecting rooftops, visiting the bellies of buildings, hiking around school exteriors, and examining mechanical and facilities systems.

Keywords: plant services, Finland, experience

Can inquiry math resolve math anxiety?

Author: Amy Smith

The present study investigates inquiry-based teaching as a potential solution to reducing math anxiety experienced by teachers and students. A literature review and analysis was conducted using search engines: ERIC, JSTOR, PsychInfo, ProQuest and more. It was found that both parents and teachers have the ability to pass on their math anxiety to their students, students with high levels of math anxiety are less successful in mathematics, females and other marginalized groups are at a higher risk of experiencing math anxiety and the disconnect of curriculum to students’ lives contributes to poor math results and increased levels of anxiety. Inquiry Math is suggested as an effective teaching strategy that may help alleviate math anxiety experienced in both teachers and students. Future research into inquiry math as an intervention for math anxiety using a pre-post-comparison model is recommended. Implications for teachers on preparing both themselves and their students for inquiry-based learning are discussed.

Keywords: Math Anxiety, Fear of Math, Mathophobia, Teachers, Students, Attitudes, Inquiry

Thirst for Learning

Author: Rashmi Swarup

This article is about the VIDYA School, a school in India which offers programs to children and adults. The school was founded by a Rashmi Misra, 28 years ago when she recognized the inequity of education in India given the great disparity due to socioeconomic status. VIDYA has created its own designation as a movement that serves the socially disadvantaged and combines excellence with equity. The school currently has about 500 students from nursery to grade 10. VIDYA serves students from underprivileged homes where the family income is less than INR 10000 (INR = Indian rupees) a month that is equal to $170 (Canadian). The school enlists the help of a social worker to establish qualifying families based on the income criteria. Home visits are made by school teachers to learn about the parents’ commitment and support for their child’s education and to understand the social capital of the family. The parents are then invited to the school for an interview and conversation with the Principal as well as Board members. The VIDYA culture is to give, help, empower, build confidence and see the positive in every challenge. Every effort is made to provide a holistic integrated education and to empower students to take back the learning to their families and community to triple its effect.

Keywords: VIDYA, learning, knowledge

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