There have been some exciting programs introduced to our school this year. Each would have easily been successful within the confines of individual classrooms but have spread enthusiastically beyond those four walls to enhance the education of many more students at Ridgeview. As school leaders we recognized that when our teachers are provided with opportunities, they will take the initiative to share knowledge and collaborate with peers to allow for the successful implementation of new programs.
One such innovative program is Storybird which was introduced to me by a grade one teacher in our school, Bryan Schofield. He had discovered the program while searching for innovative methods for students to express themselves through digital storytelling. After some time exploring and using the program with his students, he felt it was a valuable addition to his toolkit of useful resources. While working with Bryan and using the program in our buddy class sessions, I recognized his enthusiasm and desire to go further. He was given the opportunity to spend a morning leading a workshop that presented the program to the primary teachers. He modelled how it could be taught, and then worked with the teachers to clarify issues in order to provide a level of comfort that would encourage them to use it with their own students.
I’ve learned that often times teachers go to inspiring professional development workshops and there is no follow through, because there is no follow-up. With this in mind, we wanted to support Bryan’s initiative and decided that by making time available for follow-up he could then go into the primary teachers’ classrooms and work directly with them as they implemented the program with their students. By covering some of Bryan’s teaching time, we were able to take a tool used in one class and put it into practice for wide spread use in all of our primary classrooms. This was a simple yet effective example of how providing time for capacity building can enhance student learning and engage educators in sharing their knowledge and expertise.
Creating an atmosphere of collegiality encourages educators to exchange perspectives and address common questions. By looking closely at the organizational frameworks we have readily available to us, we can find ways to cultivate inquiry, professional growth and reflection within our school community with positive results.