The Longer View: Taking Hold of our Professional Learning

A few highlights from the past week:


  • The school store, “Joker’s Corner,” is up and running;
  • A high energy “school spirit week” sponsored by our Student’s Council;
  • The hosting of the Senior Girls’ Basketball City Championship Tournament;
  • Martial Arts classes for grade eight boys in the cafeteria (after school);
  • Articulation visits to our feeder elementary schools. 

In an article I recently read, “The Principal Connection/Taking Hold of Learning,” Joanne Rooney put forward an argument which resonated with me: 

Often, we neglect our own learning because we’re too busy “working.” Yet we hold doctors, lawyers, and car mechanics accountable for updating their knowledge and skills. Who would put their health in the hands of a doctor who relied on knowledge gained in medical school 25 years ago? Principals need to remain on the cutting edge of professional learning . . . Some see school leadership as a profound calling; for most of

us, it is at the core of our being and gives meaning to our lives. Surely the work we do calls us to place learning at the heart of our actions.


In the countless discussions I have had with you around student achievement and instructional practices, there is no doubt that learning is at the heart of your actions here at JO.  It is clear through our School Plan that we are focusing on yearly gains and this is important in that it is the only way to assess strategies and outcomes against learning objectives.  However, the most important job I see you performing everyday is preparing students to respond to and to create change in the larger world.  I’ll borrow from Bruce Bearisto (“Education Canada,” March 2009) to explain what this entails: “Developing the wisdom required to change our behaviours and apply creativity effectively requires at least two transformations: committing to the common good and embracing the longer view.”


You are connected to the “common good” through your commitment to modeling socially responsible behaviour and in your unyielding belief that failure is not an option for any of our students.  However, what is most exciting (and what is clearly apparent in our daily discussions) is that you are committed to the “longer view”: an understanding that through the collective assessment of our teaching methods, we are reinforcing the premise that ours is a “learning profession” where best practice is achieved through collaboration and the sharing of knowledge. 


As a contribution towards our professional learning and our longer view, I am passing along to you the article “Classroom Assessment: Minute by Minute, Day by Day.”




At last week’s Department Head’s Meeting, I distributed a paper that defined the three types of assessment: of, for and as learning.  This particular article is focused on assessment for learning which has five “nonnegotiable” strategies and requires us all to make a major shift—from quality control in learning to quality assurance, from assessing at the end of teaching to assessing while learning is still taking place. I hope that you will take the time to look it over and perhaps share your views with each other.


As I am writing this on Sunday, I hope you all had a restful weekend and I wish you all a good week.