The Open School Network represents the work of teacher inquiry teams in the Avon Maitland District School Board and the emergence of a new model of professional learning in Avon Maitland. Each of our 9 Secondary Schools has teacher inquiry teams dedicated to developing an open and collaborative practice and to improving student learning. One team per school focuses on improving student writing (our board goal) and consists of teachers from various curriculum areas. We called these our Writing Across the Curriculum teams (WAC).
Writing Across the Curriculum Team Members:
- identify challenges they face when teaching;
- share these challenges within a PLC structure;
- use conversation structures/protocols to focus inquiry;
- share student and teacher work at every meeting;
- select three students to track and collect a continuum of work;
- explore strategies to improve student learning.
Student work, assessments, lesson plans or classroom observations are always on the table and at the heart of the conversations. Like the protocols, these records of practice help to focus dialogue and discussion.
Informed by Teachers
Teachers want more time to work in their buildings, on their own practice, with their own staff. The Avon Maitland District School Board’s professional Learning model moves away from the centralized professional development of teachers to a model that provides structure and support to job embedded teacher learning and collaboration within schools.
Informed by Research
This model of professional learning stems from the research of Lynne Hannay, Bob Garmston, Richard DuFour and Rebecca Dufour, Michael Fullan and Richard Elmore. At the same time, it is a form of research as we continue to evolve. Our Writing Across the Curriculum teams receive support from Growing Accessible Interactive Networked Supports (GAINS) as we pursue the following questions:
- Within our schools and school board, how can we develop, nurture and sustain efficacious networks focused on improving adolescent literacy across subject boundaries?
- How can cross-curricular groups share, develop and contextualize promising practice for various subjects?