What is “Pathways to Learning?”
Pathways to Learning is just as it sounds…a selection of strategies and structures in our district designed and used to help our students achieve 21st Century skills (called competencies) in the areas of Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Contribution (Citizenship), and Creativity.
What about curricular content?
Curriculum is important for our students to know. However, deeper learning involves students taking that knowledge and applying it to develop core competencies….in other words, we don’t develop core competencies in students to learn content.
We Teach Content >>>>>>>To Develop>>>>>>>Critical Thinking, Creativity, Contribution, and Collaboration
What can I expect to see that’s different?
Changes are often varied and depend on several variables. For example, a classroom strategy (Project-Based Learning) or departmental initiative (Instructional Assessment) may be more responsive to change than a school program or district/provincial plan. However, these changes usually involve a “Big Idea” that encompass a systemic change. Our systemic change focuses on the following…
As we “…create safe, purposeful and powerful learning environments in order that all students can think critically, create, collaborate, contribute and learn…” we are moving from
i. working in isolation to working in collaboration with students, parents, and the school community
ii. a mode of reacting, to learning with purpose and authenticity
iii. models of compliancy to engagement
(Tony Wagner, “Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools, 2005)
So, as we work to improve the learning opportunities of our students, parents, and staff, we would need to ask ourselves if we are moving from ISOLATION, REACTION, and COMPLIANCE to COLLABORATION, PURPOSE, and ENGAGEMENT.
So how do I know learning is happening? How is this measured?
In order to reduce the vulnerability of our students, we need to carefully consider data. The data we consider depends on how we interpret it and use it to inform our planning. There are several sources of data available including provincial (Satisfaction Surveys, provincial exams, graduation rates, completion rates, etc.) and school-based (transition rates, readiness levels, attendance, course-based assessments, anecdotal, parent and student feedback, etc.). While this data is valuable, it must be used with caution. It should be dis-aggregated (drilling down to determine where vulnerabilities exist) and triangulated (used with other data sources) to determine if what you believe it represents is reliable and valid.
What do you do with all this data?
We use this data to help inform our decisions by answering the following questions:
1. Does this information help us engage in purposeful and meaningful learning? (Moving from Reaction to Purpose)
2. Does this information lead us to decisions about learning in isolation to collaboration? (Moving from Isolation to Collaboration)
3. Does this information help us develop pedagogy that engages learners? (Moving from Compliance to Engagement)
In answering these questions, we’re in a better position to mobilize resources and change instructional practices. Similarly, if done correctly, triangulation of data should result in the ability to identify the problem of practice and apply the general improvement strategies needed.
How does this tie Pathways and the development of Core Competencies together?
Through our Pathways, we form our pedagogical approach to move us towards developing core competencies in our students.
This approach honors the pedagogy (instruction) and the teachers, not the programs themselves. Students are in a position to articulate their deeper learning through a process that encourages purpose, collaboration, and engagement.
What is a Theory of Action and why is it used to build a school improvement plan?
Theories of Action uses specific data sets (triangulated data) to connect general improvement strategies to specific problems of practice. Theories of Action are essential in designing a School Improvement Plans since they are easily identified as If what…Then what statements that act as causal links in a chain. The statements in a Theory of Action are falsifiable (we should be able to prove/disprove them) and they articulate where you intend to focus your energy. Click here for an example of a Theory of Action.