The Power of Purple

Bob Rodgers, Principal, Crossfield Elementary School When designing our prototype for the Four Year Plan we found that our conversations kept coming back to a central theme: the power of collaboration for effecting positive change. Our playbook committee members were able to share many examples from their own practice where collaboration made a positive difference to their practice and student engagement. These observations were a natural fit to our "How Might We" (HMW) question of, “How might we amplify the culture in our building so that we can advance our instructional pedagogy through genuine conversations and authentic sharing experiences?”

In response to our HMW question and our desire to leverage the power of collaboration and engagement we created the “Purple Block” prototype. Within this model, each staff member works within a self-selected collaborative team on an action research project designed to increase student engagement. Each group is given access to a minimum of one hour a month of collaborative time via “Purple Block” release time, so called because the available times are highlighted in purple on the monthly calendar (we really know how to name things!). Admin covers classes during those times so that the staff members can meet and work on their projects. Each group is given a chance to celebrate its success and describe its progress within the iterative model at our school-based PL days. We asked for some of the staff members to describe their projects and received the following feedback: 

“From an administrator perspective, our CES Purple Plan prototype offers a unique opportunity to work alongside both staff and students. When staff work together on chosen research projects, we can support their professional collaboration by covering their classrooms. This gift of time for staff allows us to work with each student, building strong relationships from an academic, social, and emotional perspective. In addition, we have noticed a positive shift in professional learning because our staff are engaged with each other on topics that are meaningful and authentic, resulting in significant growth and learning for all.” L. Metcalfe 

“The ability to work collaboratively with peers is invaluable. Too often, school staff members feel a sense of isolation when contemplating embarking on new meaningful learning. We often hear it said that we work in a silo, insulated from each other by the needs and make ups of our respective classroom environments. The prototype at CES allows for interested staff to work together. Ideas are shared, leaders emerge and the collective result is growth for all. We can leverage the significant excellence in our building to raise us all up. Personally, I have been able to implement a teaching structure in math that I have been contemplating and researching for a few years. The shift has been monumental and was a daunting task when not supported with extra collaborative time. I am able to see it in action through observation in other classrooms and improve my personal implementation through collaborative reflection time with mentor teachers and colleagues.” K. Vandersteen 

“Our Purple Block time has been an amazing opportunity for me to focus on my passion for math and collaborate to improve my teaching practices, which I hope will improve the learning for students. In our profession, we are always pressed for time to accomplish our goals, so to have designated time in our school schedule set aside for the improvement of teaching practices is amazing! Also, being encouraged to do this collaboratively allows for sharing and reflecting on ideas, which has helped me to expand and improve on my instructional methods. This time has allowed me to observe, plan, and implement a new teaching structure (Daily 5 Math), which helps students build math fluency through a variety of multiple representations of math concepts. I feel renewed and excited to be trying a new method of instruction and making math more meaningful and engaging for students. Our Purple Block time has been of great value to me.” J. Kiernan 

“This year, our collaborative team has embarked on a mission to showcase all of the great teaching and learning that occurs at Crossfield Elementary School. We came up with slogan, #BeCrossfield, which has become our school's mantra and we are proud to be able to share with the community and the school division what it means to #BeCrossfield. For the past few years, we have made kindness the cornerstone of all learning in the school. We have 'Whoo's Kindness Crew', which is a group that demonstrates kind acts in the community, we wear 'Kind People are Our Kind of People t-shirts and we have an ongoing 'Kindness' board in the front hallway of our school. What does it mean to #BeCrossfied? It means collaboration, creativity, caring and compassion. That is what you'll find when you walk the halls of Crossfield Elementary School.” L. Atfield

This project has created a lot of positive energy and pedagogical growth so far this year and we are excited to see where the purple journey leads us!