Learning/Wonderings/Reflections from the Norway trip in October by Mrs. Leanne Oliver
Borresen School in Drammen, Norway is a peaceful place. Students move smoothly from class to class and disruption in the hallways and stairwells is minimal. We knew that something was different as soon as we entered the school. It wasn't until classes changed that we realized the difference - there are no bells at Borresen.
As I reflect on this experience, I wonder...Why do we have bells in our school? How much impact do these bells have on increasing student anxiety and the frequency of confrontations between teachers and students? Should we eliminate transition bells in our school? I wonder.
Farvel (Good Bye) Teacher Desk
There were no teacher desks in the Borresen classrooms. And just like me, our Norwegian colleagues don't need a desk in the room. So why do I still have a teacher's desk in my classroom when I could be using the space for another learning centre? This simple observation of the Norwegian classroom has made me reflect upon and wonder about what needs to change in mine.
Some Norwegian schools have a modified schedule that allows students to spend one day each week immersed in exploration and study of a single subject area. I wonder about the potential impact of such a schedule on student learning and growing teaching practice.
One of Pereyma's team goals for NORCAN is to learn to create and implement rich, STEAM tasks that nurture and support student inquiry and development of the mathematical processes.
If we had a full, uninterrupted period of time to implement such tasks, would the depth of learning and exploration be increased? Also, would a full-day Friday ensure that rich tasks requiring student movement and deeper class discussions occurred on at least these full days? Would this modified schedule motivate me and my Ontario colleagues to focus on changing teaching practice, where appropriate? I wonder...
Class List Continuity
Teachers at Borresen school work with the same group of students for a three-year period. Consequently, teachers get to know their students and their corresponding learning needs and preferences very well. Each student learns on a continuum. If a student is not yet ready for a concept, they have more time to work with a teacher who knows them well. I wonder how this same practice would impact student engagement, achievement and perception in our school.
Staying the Course...
While this NORCAN experience has made us want to change our classroom and teaching practice in several ways, it has also served to validate the direction in which we endeavour to grow.
Conversations with colleagues have confirmed the value of the collaborative inquiry for learning mathematics (CILM) model that we use for professional inquiry and growth. Our team will continue to work together and learn together in the classroom on a regular basis. This is the practice that best supports our teacher learning.
We will maintain our focus on learning to create and implement rich tasks in our transitional Math classrooms, and to explore more deeply the impact of open and parallel tasks on student engagement, achievement and perception.
We will connect with NORCAN co-learners who are working to improve assessment practices by increasing the level of descriptive feedback provided to students.
With the support of our Ministry of Education and OTF NORCAN provincial support team, we will connect with Ontario researchers in an attempt to discover how learning, not performance, can be effectively measured in the Ontario classroom.
Let the learning continue!
We continue to be grateful for our Ministry of Education and OTF support team that has provided us with this incredible opportunity to learn, grow and work together as we strive to improve our teaching practice. Only when we, as teachers, strive to achieve excellence, can we expect our students to do the same.
See the highlights of our journey below: