Author Archives: leighsanger

Professional Development Worth Mentioning

Everyday feels like a new beginning. Today, is the start of a journey with Karen Grose (System Superintendent, TDSB) and Jim Strachan (Program Coordinator for Beginning Teachers, TDSB). I have finally purchased a copy of, and look forward to reading, their new Professional Development resource Flash Forward! Rethinking Learning. There is an associated website as well.

Professional Development Resource

Thanks Sandy 😉

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Whole Child Education

When we speak of tensions in education, I see a great many.  The two that really stand out for me are; the lack of focus on our students as a whole and complex being within our society, as well as our unnerving need as adults/experts to control and manage learning experiences.

Last weekend I had the distinct honour of joining an amazing group of mindful educators as we listened to Jack (John P.) Miller speak about the lives of the Transcendentalists. We broke into smaller groups to discuss one of a handful of thought provoking quotations from Jack’s new book Transcendental Learning: The Educational Legacy of Alcott, Emerson, Fuller, Peabody and Thoreau. It was during this time and the large group discussion that followed that I came to experience my own learning unencumbered by external judgements or expectations. This certainly relates to my own preconceptions of what to expect having read and connected so deeply with Jack’s earlier work in Whole Child Education but I believe it also had a lot to do with not knowing any one of the 30 or so attendees before entering the room. I could come to the table, not as a student, but as an adult on equal footing.

Returning to my initial point, Jack would offer Holistic Education; one that focuses on the whole person (i.e., heads, hands, and heart), in response to the previously mentioned tensions in education. The Holistic Curriculum, focuses on three connections relating to the individual (i.e. thinking, mind-body, and soul) and three connections centering on integrated learning, the earth, and community (i.e. subject, earth, and community). But more than  just an acknowledgement of the whole child it speaks to nurturing the teacher and teaching with soul. Jack refers to Emerson’s writings about teachers using “methods of love” and concludes this new book with a comparison to Emerson’s beliefs about poets in that “teachers should also ‘be free and make free’ (p.122).”

In my Organizational Communication course I was asked to look at the leadership communication roles I wish to play in my career. I noted that I wish to become an advocate for the freedoms of children while revealing to them their responsibilities within society. This statement is a snapshot of my own transformative learning in which I have come to look beyond the limited expectations of mainly intellectual and economic preparation which is the current push within our outdated system of education. This too speaks to the tension between freedom and wisdom, a tension I hope to explore more in the future. I still grapple with how to implement a holistic curriculum while nurturing myself as a teacher within a neo-liberal school environment. This has been a major impetus in looking to open a school. Some schools are exemplary at doing this and I’d like to see more of them.

In the meantime, I will be connecting with Deborah Adelman from the Executive Committee of The Equinox School (thank you Jack) to discuss the challenges they faced in making this possible.

Priorities

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here but some times there is so much to do that even planning and reflecting have to take a back seat. Prioritizing ones time is always important. I’m slowing getting better at dumping or delegating things. Regardless, I’m super excited to be graduating this year and all the changes that come along with the new chapter of my life.

Sometimes only the first priorities get done!

Teacher Resource – Cube

Had to make note of this new resource because it keeps coming up. Its called Cube for Teachers.

A few books to add to resources

  • Awakening – 12 Tools To Unlock Ultimate Potential by Rebekah Carpenter, M.A. 
  • Transcendental Learning: The Educational Legacy of Alcott, Emerson, Fuller, Peabody and Thoreau by Jack Miller

Agreements

The past week has been so cathartic, I want to find the time to reflect on all of it through writing. In the meantime, this post is to mark my intention to explore, at a later date, one aspect; the potential of don Miguel Ruiz’s 5 Agreements as the core of the school.

Today’s words of the Dalai Lama

My hope and wish is that one day, formal education will pay attention to what I call “education of the heart.” Just as we take for granted the need to acquire proficiency in the basic academic subjects, I am hopeful that a time will come when we can take it for granted that children will learn, as part of the curriculum, the indispensability of inner values: love, compassion, justice, and forgiveness.
~ Dalai Lama  –  05:24  –  Public

Be the change

Collection of interesting images and art work. Gandhi

Grappling with identity

I’m grappling with wearing a number of different hats and the language that goes alongside. As a parent I want a better school for my daughter, one where she is valued as a unique individual yet made aware of her privilege in a way that she takes responsibility to use it for good and in inclusive vs. divisive ways. As a (student) teacher I want a school that will support me and my colleagues as we navigate the unending expectations put upon us while supporting the wholeness of each child. I am not an administrator or a trustee but I must think like one.

I should add the some of the recent reflections to the conceptualization Nodemap of the school to help clarify my intent.

Edcamp Toronto

As I mentioned, I’d like to create a post for each of the main experiences or events relating to this school starters process since the start of this course.

One such event was EdcampTO, held in Winters College at York on October 25th, 2011. I came across Edcamp unconferences during a web search after returning from the 8th Annual AERO conference in Portland this past August. The unconference model, rings deep with my view of learning. After a few emails with the lead contact (Stephen Hurley) I got more involved in the planning of the conference (where I met a number of amazing educators like Jennifer Chan of Exhibit Change).

The day was packed full of rich concepts and resources, like the book Mindset by Carol Dweck, and environment design as the third teacher. But more than that, it was a space to create understanding and connections between a diverse group of educators.

A few people I met that day that I will hopefully connect with again one day are:

  • Heidi Siwak, @HeidiSiwak, grade 6 teacher in Dundas, ON using technology to transform her classroom (met again at Everyone’s a Teacher).
  • Fiona Scott, York U research, grant writer, Remix program, alternative measures of success.
  • Andrew Locker, musician and VP of a school in York.

ABEL was onsite that day to create a video. I feel so honoured that my words were chosen out of the many authentic contributions that day to conclude the video (see 5:30).