Future Readiness for All Learners

Pam Davidson – Director of Learning Services – As we look ahead to the next 4YP, from my lens as the Director of Learning Services, having everyone embrace a disposition of inquiry is essential. Whether students or staff, all of us are learners and we have an obligation and terrific opportunity to focus and refocus on that.

In the fall of 2019, in addition to our new Four-Year Plan, a new Teacher Quality Standard, Leadership Quality Standard and Superintendent Quality Standard, will be implemented at the same time as new curriculum is expected to be tabled in Alberta. Although aspects of the new curriculum are familiar, there are some notable differences from previous programs of study.

Front and centre in the architecture of the new curriculum is the development of competencies in addition to the exploration of concepts within disciplines. Being mindful of the new Teaching Quality Standard, to effectively design and facilitate learning for students RVS staff will have to model high impact learning and teaching strategies. Elevating the collective capacity of staff to meet students’ learning needs in light of new curriculum and competencies will be central work. In his ‘Visible Learning’ research, John Hattie identifies Collective Teacher Efficacy as having the highest impact on student learning. (2016) The research is undeniable – teachers’ belief in their ability to positively affect students profoundly, has the greatest impact on student learning.

With the acceleration of change and volume of information in our world, it is imperative that all staff - teachers, assistants, administrators, building operators – every staff member in our system, possesses a disposition of inquiry, considering ‘How might I best serve students?’, ‘What do I need to learn to be most effective?’, ‘What is relevant relating to curriculum that I need to know to support students?’. In Learning Services, our focus is, and will continue to be, on designing and providing strategic, comprehensive professional learning for every member of RVS staff, to develop collective efficacy and capacity in the service of students.

Within all classrooms, students will continue to be nimble and agile learners. They will be expected to develop a disposition of inquiry, ask good questions and find solutions to problems that don’t yet exist, cultivating a robust skill set founded in surface, deep and transfer learning. Focus on developing competencies through curriculum exploration will expand to prepare students to inhabit a world that is dynamic and unpredictable. Just as the staff who support them will be expected to be dynamic designers of learning, students will be expected to be creators, problem-solvers and innovators. Futurist Alvin Toffler said in the 1970s, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write. It will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” To navigate the future, students and staff will have to commit to their learning.

As a learning organization, RVS is intentional and deliberate in its support for staff to support students because as Helen Timperley stated, “Achieving a systemic lift in student engagement and learning to meet the challenges of change means that all educators throughout the system need to learn how to enact their roles and responsibilities in ways that focus on and achieve those outcomes valued for students...teachers...need to work in a system that learns.”(2011)