NORCAN Reflections Pereyma norway visit: october 2015

NORCAN Research Question

How can an international network of schools and educators committed to mindful leadership help to identify obstacles to students' mathematical learning and develop strategies for attaining success?

NORCAN is a partnership between schools, ministry and teacher federation officials from Alberta, Norway and Ontario focused on enhancing excellence through equity in the subject area of mathematics.

NORCAN Objectives

  • Develop teacher leadership
  • Support Principals as instructional leaders
  • Encourage student leadership so that students become meaningful partners in their learning
  • Achieve excellence through equity
  • Provide high quality learning pathways
  • Mobilize school and community assets to support equity
  • Use technology to support equity, inclusiveness and to increase student engagement in learning
Team Pereyma presents to Norwegian and Albertan educators in Oslo, Norway in October 2015

Pereyma Theory of Action

If we use research-based practices to nurture a growth mindset in students, staff and parents, then student achievement and perception will be enhanced.

Pereyma Teacher Inquiry

  • Teachers will collaborate to develop, implement and assess STEAM tasks.
  • Teachers will collaborate to refine their practice of using open and parallel tasks in the transitional math classroom.
  • Teachers will research how measurements of student learning (not performance) can be created, and how these measures can be used to drive student and teacher learning.

What NORCAN brings to Pereyma

  • Over the next three years, students and staff will travel to Norway and Alberta on multiple occasions to develop and implement collaborative action research projects.
  • Pereyma will share its commitment to excellence and equity on an international level by hosting students, teachers and administrators from Norway and Alberta on an annual basis.
  • NORCAN brings additional financial support for the next three years to be used at Pereyma for teacher inquiry, learning and sharing.
  • As they collaborate to explore and learn mathematics together, Pereyma students will connect with their peers in Alberta and Norway to develop their own global citizenship and 21st century learning skills.
Reflection creates wonderings. Wonderings create direction.
Borresen students welcome us to their school.

Bye-bye Bells

Borresen School in Drammen, Norway is a peaceful place. Students move smoothly from class to class and disruption in the hallways and stairwells is minimal. We knew that something was different as soon as we entered the school. It wasn't until classes changed that we realized the difference - there are no bells at Borresen.

Borresen School, Drammen, Norway

As I reflect on this experience, I wonder... Why do we have bells in our school? How much impact do these bells have on increasing student anxiety and the frequency of confrontations between teachers and students? Should we eliminate transition bells in our school? I wonder.

Reflection on Classroom Environment

Farvel (Good Bye) Teacher Desk

There were no teacher desks in the Borresen classrooms. And just like me, our Norwegian colleagues don't need a desk in the room. So why do I still have a teacher's desk in my classroom when I could be using the space for another learning centre? This simple observation of the Norwegian classroom has made me reflect upon and wonder about what needs to change in mine.

Reflections on a Modified Day

Full-Day Fridays

Some Norwegian schools have a modified schedule that allows students to spend one day each week immersed in exploration and study of a single subject area. I wonder about the potential impact of such a schedule on student learning and growing teaching practice.

Equity for all? Every student at Borresen has their own laptop which is provided by the school.

One of Pereyma's team goals for NORCAN is to learn to create and implement rich, STEAM tasks that nurture and support student inquiry and development of the mathematical processes.

If we had a full, uninterrupted period of time to implement such tasks, would the depth of learning and exploration be increased? Also, would a full-day Friday ensure that rich tasks requiring student movement and deeper class discussions occurred on at least these full days? Would this modified schedule motivate me and my Ontario colleagues to focus on changing teaching practice, where appropriate? I wonder...

Collaboration is critical to teacher learning. Canadian and Norwegian educators connect with one another and create learning plans.
NORCAN supports both local and international collaboration. The Pereyma team outside Oslo City Hall where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded

NORCAN provides the opportunity to explore possibilities for improving our teaching practice and our school.

Our international collaborators

Class List Continuity

Teachers at Borresen school work with the same group of students for a three-year period. Consequently, teachers get to know their students and their corresponding learning needs and preferences very well. Each student learns on a continuum. If a student is not yet ready for a concept, they have more time to work with a teacher who knows them well. I wonder how this same practice would impact student engagement, achievement and perception in our school.

Staying the Course...

While this NORCAN experience has made us want to change our classroom and teaching practice in several ways, it has also served to validate the direction in which we endeavour to grow.

We will continue to collaborate and learn together.

Conversations with colleagues have confirmed the value of the collaborative inquiry for learning mathematics (CILM) model that we use for professional inquiry and growth. Our team will continue to work together and learn together in the classroom on a regular basis. This is the practice that best supports our teacher learning.

Common goals make it easy to learn together with our NORCAN partners.

We will maintain our focus on learning to create and implement rich tasks in our transitional Math classrooms, and to explore more deeply the impact of open and parallel tasks on student engagement, achievement and perception.

Moving Forward...

We will connect with NORCAN co-learners who are working to improve assessment practices by increasing the level of descriptive feedback provided to students.

With the support of our Ministry of Education and OTF NORCAN provincial support team, we will connect with Ontario researchers in an attempt to discover how learning, not performance, can be effectively measured in the Ontario classroom.

Let the learning continue!

Team Pereyma is ready to learn and share.

We continue to be grateful for our Ministry of Education and OTF support team that has provided us with this incredible opportunity to learn, grow and work together as we strive to improve our teaching practice. Only when we, as teachers, strive to achieve excellence, can we expect our students to do the same.

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