Navigating Uncharted Waters

Staff of Chestermere High School – As our team moved through the Discover Phase of Rocky View Schools’ (RVS) design-thinking process, it quickly became obvious that, after a time of vast population increases, staff turnover and demographic changes, our school community was in need of defining our evolving school realities. What also became evident was the need for a formalized Professional Learning Model to help strengthen, guide, and solidify the vision of the foundation upon which we would build our Playbook. In order to do this, we created and defined a framework that was personal to our school and journey as a learning community. 

There were many valuable takeaways from this phase in the design process, but the most meaningful for us was the importance of the collaborative approach that allows staff, students and parents to connect with each other. In her book, "Realizing the Power of Professional Learning", Helen Timperley outlines the importance “of meta-cognitive awareness so learners are able to take control of their own learning.” This meta-cognitive process began with stakeholders coming together in an authentic and purposeful way, enabling us to establish a direction for the desired goal of our school community. This highlighted for us how our individual areas of strength and insights become stronger when our ideas are brought together, allowing us to construct a meaningful format to reach our collaborative goals.  

Through the design-thinking process, we were able to see patterns emerging in areas of Pedagogical Design (e.g. Curriculum, Instructional Design, Assessment, and Learning Support), Character Pillars (e.g. Recognition, Resilience, and Healthy Relationships), and Safe and Caring Schools (e.g. Conflict Resolution, Restorative Justice, and Positive Behaviour Interventions & Supports). This process created a space in which we were able to strategically identify areas of focus and the strategies needed to reach those goals, all the while valuing the different voices in our building. 

It was a wonderfully efficient and collaborative process to see how the foundational elements of Resilience, Healthy Relationships, and Conflict Resolution supported the framework of our practice and were the key to identifying all other areas of our professional learning framework, which the staff named The Lake House. The design is structured in such a way that it sets the long-term direction and purposeful professional learning that can naturally evolve over time, helping us to navigate through this time of transition and change.