23 January 2020

INTERVIEW: PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITY IN NOVA

Good day dear Nova community, with this e-interview we would like to open a discussion about the importance of  ‘professional learning communities (PLC)’ for educational institutions. In order to achieve that, we decided to ask several questions to our colleagues Ms. Kristen Fink a middle school social studies teacher, and Ms. Radica Jovanovski an elementary school homeroom teacher on the topic of  PLC.  This is our interview with them.

NOVA: Please describe for us the professional learning opportunity or opportunities you have attended in the past year. 

Kristen Fink: Last year we had a wide variety of Professional Learning offered on site at NOVA, including Ken O'Connor's presentations on standards based teaching and grading, Ellen Donnelly's report on meeting the needs of different learners, Myron Dueck's presentations on assessment and competencies, and Peter Welch's look at international student population and how best to communicate with and reach each student as an individual, rather than just a representative of their home culture or country. Outside of NOVA, I also completed the National Geographic Certified Educator certification program and an additional Service Learning project training.

Radica Jovanovski: Dr.Fran Prolman’s presentation on Transforming Schools -Leading and Learning in Complex  Systems, focused on the lenses we look through addressing trust, fear, and transformation. Also, expanding our strategies for building an inclusive and welcoming community of learners.   

NOVA: How has this learning opportunity affected your teaching philosophy/style?

Kristen Fink: Ken O'Connor and Myron Dueck's assessment suggestions have greatly impacted me; they further reinforced a commitment to standards-based grading and the importance of honest feedback and transparency with students. The National Geographic Certified Educator helped me see how our school curriculum connects to the greater world, and opened up new sources of information and support.

Radica Jovanovski: This learning opportunity has helped me to develop my consciousness, intentionality, and skill set to foster transformation through collaboration. Through the analysis of the 5 categories of trust, I have learned how to intentionally model and build trust. Also, it has helped me to build a psychologically safe learning environment.   

NOVA: How important would you say such opportunities are for our faculty and staff?

Kristen Fink: I think they are VERY important, but only if they are reinforced and teachers are given the time to apply what they learned. Last year we had so many amazing ideas pitched to us, but no time to explore or apply them. We didn't have enough (in my opinion) training on the new systems we were using; IPC/IMYC, Classroom Monitor, etc. Now with the move to MYP it's important to ensure teachers are trained to do what they are expected to to day-to-day, and then to add on additional levels when teachers are ready and have the time to implement them properly. 

Radica Jovanovski: These learning opportunities are very important for each staff and faculty member because one small change can have massive implications. Systems continue to change, studying and planning make the system smoother.