Unpacking Inquiry: June 14th with Trevor MacKenzie at Oak Bay High

You are invited to Oak Bay High School for the next #YYJedchat meet-up! The theme of this meet-up is unpacking inquiry. 

Date: Tuesday, June 14
Time #1: 4:30-6:00pm
Face-to-face location #1: Oak Bay High School
Time #2:#PubPD: 6:15-8pm
Face-to-face location #2: Penny Farthing Pub

Online location: via Periscope (link will be sent to you on registration)
Register: CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

* If you are unable to attend in person, or would prefer to connect online, you can still complete the form linked above, and select the “Online” option in the multi-access section. You will then be sent a link to Periscope assuming you provide your email in the form as well. 


The event will be an edcamp-style session where those participating (f2f or online) will unpack inquiry and share insights, tools, follies, skills, expertise, and knowledge to best support our learners. There will be a series of prompts with group feedback and ideas being contributed to a shared google doc. All stakeholders in education are invited: teachers, administrators, pre-service teachers, learners, parents, and interested community members – please join us!

The session at Oak Bay will move on to the Penny Farthing Pub (2228 Oak Bay Avenue) for a #PubPD social. We will continue to wax on inquiry, network (f2f and online), and enjoy some bites and refreshments. Again, all are encouraged to join. We have the back room booked so there will be ample space.

Host Trevor MacKenzie has been a teacher in SD61 since 2003 and utilizes an inquiry framework in his classroom.  Find him on Twitter and his blog for further info.

 

A Community of Learners: May 18th with Heidi James at Colquitz Middle School

You are invited to Colquitz Middle School for the first #YYJedchat meet-up! The theme of this meet-up is community building in the classroom. 

Date: Wednesday, May 18
Time: 3:30-4:30pm
Face-to-face location: Colquitz Middle School
Online location: via video conference link and using your webcam and a browser
Register: please follow this link to add your name to the list.

* If you are unable to attend in person, or would prefer to connect online, you can still complete the form linked above, and select the “Online” option in the multi-access section. You will then be sent a link to the live video chat assuming you provide your email in the form as well. 


Developing a strong sense of community in our shared learning space is my highest priority in my middle school classroom. I begin long before we even meet by trying to learn a little about each child through transition events and by keeping our classroom decor to a minimum. I want the students to feel that our space is a place where they hold an integral role in designing.

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach grade 6, as this grade is the learner’s first experience with middle school. There is often a heightened sense of anxiety as the new school year unfolds and learners switch schools, becoming the youngest in the group. This reinforces the need to come together as a community.

As soon as our class is assembled, I share my wish for our time together: a feeling of becoming a family. We hold a family meeting and discuss what that might look like and feel like. All of our social media accounts have “family” as part of the title: Our Twitter account @mrsjamesfamily, and we blog from MrsJamesFamily15. Each student has a role in ensuring that everyone feels safe in and beyond our classroom walls, and they take it pretty seriously!

Backchanneling Opportunities to Develop and Strengthen Classroom Community

Empowering learners to have a strong voice in the daily running of classroom routines and learning has become an integral part of how my community comes together. I try to provide ongoing opportunities for learners to speak with me and each other during class time and beyond school hours. This means providing safe access points to backchannels where the student voice dominates and the teacher presence is lighter. Some of the backchannel tools I use frequently in my classroom are TodaysMeet and the posting feature in our Google Classroom. Learners can “chat” while lessons unfold or while they are asked to apply their learning. They can work collaboratively without disturbing other learners, and can seek help instantaneously without waiting for a teacher to be available. This flattens our classroom walls and reduces the impact that structured scheduling has on learning. Learners can communicate and connect as needed in a seamless fashion!

A community does not materialize or sustain itself without continuous effort. This looks different with each group of learners and their varying needs. Some years, we’ve needed weekly family meetings to come together and share our lives and learning. Other years, I’ve had TToCs comment on how they felt like a guest in a room that did not actually require any adult intervention whatsoever! My learners welcomed the TToC, shared the plans for the day, and essentially carried on with the routines that were in place!

It brings me great joy to have the opportunity to learn alongside my little family of learners on a daily basis!

How Does This Connect to #yyjedchat?

As we launch #yyjedchat, we must consider that the ultimate goal of this resource is to foster a similar sense of community amongst a diverse group of lifelong learners. How can we include as many voices as possible? How can we bring people together from around the south island? What needs to happen to ensure that everyone feels welcomed and included?

The first #yyjedchat will explore the concept of becoming a community of learners, both within a classroom and beyond. We will share our ideas about how we all work to create our own classroom cultures and a sense of community in our classrooms. We will also explore how some of these same strategies might work to develop a strong sense of community for #yyjedchat.

We’d like to thank the #yyjedchat community for the opportunity to host an event, and we are looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible!

What is #YYJedchat?

We are excited to share our ideas about what #YYJedchat is and how it might work. The shape of it may change in the months or years to come. In fact, it would be a problem if it did not. The purpose of #YYJedchat is to build an increased sense of community and support for teachers, for mentorship opportunities, for resource sharing, and for a chance to feel that they’re part of something larger.

The challenges that provoked this dialogue was a need for increased community between organizations and the organizational nature of school systems that inhibit communication and collaboration among educators in Greater Victoria, in effect creating silos. These silos are felt between K12 organizations (both public and independent), content providers, and higher education programs.

The proposed format of #yyjedchat:

Who can host an event:

A #YYJedchat event can be hosted by any educational stakeholder: an educator, a parent, a student, an administrator, a professor, a museum curator, a preservice teacher, a coach, a teacher-librarian, an environmental steward, a public librarian, etc.

Flat design to encourage conversation:

The format that inspired us was the edcamp model, which is bottom-up and flat or non-hierarchical. The difficulty with edcamps, though, is that – although they are championed over the workshop or conference-style, top-down pro-d days – they still only occur on one day… and may even occur only once a year. We believe that most educators inherently want to share. We believe learning happens best when that sharing happens. When space and time is created to share, with no boundaries from affiliations and that sharing happens in a casual, conversational style, we believe community can be built along with the wonderful learning that comes with a strong community. The situational learning is also important, being in a classroom or other place of purpose when having that conversation, be it a sport context, aboriginal context, content-provider context such as a museum, nature context, higher education context, research lab context, library context, or even a pub context… When hosting an event, we only ask that you obtain admin approval for any school-based locations.

Flexibility:

The values around the format is that it should be fairly flat and conversational. If there is any one-to-whole sharing, it should normally be short. Like an edcamp, people can come anytime and leave anytime. There won’t be a concept of “being late” or “leaving early.”

Topic:

There needs to be a topic or theme related to education. The educator hosting the community event should pick a topic or theme that they want to shape the conversations around.

Keeping links with preservice and between organizations:

We do want to have some structure to help to keep some ties between K12 and higher education. For that, we’re hoping that the host educator will draw on one or two preservice teachers to help out with the hosting of their event. This is not meant to be a forced partnership, though, and if it doesn’t happen, that’s fine. Perhaps the connection is already there or else we could help to find someone who aligns with the topic of their event. We also want all meets to be open to all educational stakeholders from any educational organization, including SD61, SD62, SD63, independent schools, universities, or content providers. The #yyjedchat tag was created so that it can help to merge some of the conversations. Instead of tapping #sd61learn #sd62 #sd63, #uviced #edci336 #smuslearns #rbcmuseum #mygns etc. to share educational discourse, we could tag our own organization and perhaps add on #yyjedchat or use the broader tag when trying to get news out to the broader community.

Access:

We need to honour that people have different needs in terms of how they want or can join this dialogue. This means those who can make the face-to-face meet-up get to do so, but recognizing that others may have challenges in timing, commute, or commitments, we will make sure that some online activities happen monthly and these can be part of the host’s planning or separate. We will have a monthly twitter chat on the fourth Thursday of each month. We also will encourage that we have an online video-based conversation at some point. Again, this can be a part of a host’s event or separate. There is no requirement for a host to have to be on twitter or to set up a video feed into their classroom. If they want to, go for it. The preservice teachers could be tapped for help. Otherwise, we’ll just keep that part separate and packaged as the overarching offering we plan to have once a month. The only commitment is that you facilitate sharing on a topic. If you need help with the brainstorming, promotion, social media, or planning, there are lots of volunteers at your service. In closing, someone who simply wants to host or participate in a f2f-only gathering can do so. Someone who simply wants to host or participate in an online gathering can do so. Someone who even wants to host a multi-access session (allowing both in-person and online access simultaneously) can do so.

Design of the Meet:

Ultimately, how you design your meet is up to you. If you plan something that is more than just one hour or that happens on more than one day, that’s fine. If you plan to host a screening of something, or to bring in a speaker, that’s fine. We encourage that you make space for an open conversation a priority in your design. The event should be free. That said, should there be cost associated with attending some event as a group, that could be acceptable but should be not be revenue-generating. Other education events that do not meet these #YYJedchat terms, can still be submitted and shared on our calendar, but they won’t be branded as a #YYJedchat event.

NO TWO #YYJedchat events need to look the same! We are excited to see all the beautiful diversity that we have in Greater Victoria. We also know that we all have different strengths and different areas for lifelong learning. Meets could also be professional case studies for “how do I..?” discussions around challenges to overcome in your classroom or on learning how to bring in a new approach to that setting, be it BYOD (bring your own device), new curriculum implementation, or an emphasis on gender inclusivity. It does not have to be about sharing expertise. It can be about new areas for exploration and inviting the community in to help in that exploration. If there are specific people you hope to have attend your meet, simply invite them directly to come.

Scheduling of Meets:

We have lots of interest already from educators who are interested in hosting a meet, so rather than try to manage and schedule these meets, we’ll let people book at will, much in the same way one would submit an event to the Victoria Tourism events calendar or to the UVic events calendar. We have set up a mechanism to submit your event and have it appear on a calendar. We think the interest in hosting shows that educators do want to share and do want to open up their classrooms for place-based discussion and community building.

Signing Up to Host or Attend Meets:

We have created two sign-up forms:

  • Submit to host an event. This is a form to get your event information and contact details. Once submitted, the form will be queued for approval. This is simply to prevent spam or incomplete postings into the calendar. An event may be held in queue until admin approval is confirmed if it is hosted on school grounds.
  • Sign-up to attend an event. This is a form to register your attendance to a #YYJedchat event just so the host can know what numbers to expect. These events are free and NOT formal and should your plans change, we only ask that you let us know at yyjedchat@gmail.com in case we have an event that has reached capacity.

Joining the Community:

We have also created a “Join the Community” form off our “Get Connected” page. This is just to help you to get connected to each other. We will add anyone with a twitter address to our twitter list of #yyjedchat people. We are considering creating a blog hub as well. That said, how much information you choose to share and whether it is private or public is up to you. As we move toward personalization of learning, it may be helpful to reach out to community members who say they are into a certain topic to let them know when something of their topic interest is coming up in an event.