WQSB case study pt3: Creating a framework for learning

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Sometimes extraordinary events can become a catalyst for change, a time for us to examine processes with an analytical eye and identify room for improvement.

Our third guest post from the  Western Quebec School Board,  describes the creation of  an induction training programme for their non-qualified staff. The process has been challenged and supported by the Board’s team of consultants. By creating an environment conducive to knowledge transfer and delegating responsibility to these consultants, valuable knowledge has been shared. This programme was a product of being forced to adapt to the obstacles presented by the pandemic.

Shared Beliefs and Purpose Fuelling Creativity, Collaboration and Innovation

The Western Quebec School Board’s (WQSB) clear strategic directions have been critical in driving the commitment to a high quality level of teaching and learning for all students during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the school board adapts to supporting the professional growth of teachers in new ways, and responds to a large number of non-qualified (NQ) teachers in the system, pre-established structures have been central to offering strategic support and promoting meaningful growth. 

The Consultants’ Coaching and Mentoring Team (CCMT) was formed seven years ago in an effort to promote alignment and to improve support for students, teachers and schools. The team provides a space for critical discussions about pedagogy and opportunities for collaboration. Over time, the team has grown to include consultants from multiple departments in the school board (Education, Complimentary Services and Technology), expanding its breadth and depth of knowledge, experience and skill.

Presently, the team includes eleven consultants who meet monthly with a common goal of improving the quality of teaching and learning in WQSB schools. All work undertaken by the group is rooted in the CCMT’s mandate:

1.     To share best practice and promote collaboration among pedagogical consultants
2.     To meaningfully and effectively support schools’ Professional Development Plans 
3.     To monitor and support teachers in the WQSB Teacher Induction Programme
4.     To develop and utilise a common set of competencies for WQSB consultants that will inform feedback for growth.

 

Throughout the global pandemic, members of CCMT have framed Covid 19 related challenges as opportunities for innovation and growth. Seizing on the expertise, experience, creativity and commitment of its members, CCMT has continued to create and deliver meaningful support to teachers and schools across WQSB’s diverse landscape.

Working within the framework of the Four Capitals, consultants draw on expertise (Knowledge Capital), interpersonal and collaborative skills (Social Capital), ethical and responsible behaviour (Moral Capital) and effective use of time and resources (Organisational Capital) to prioritize, implement and manage initiatives.

Exemplifying the theory of collective efficacy as explored by Jenni Donohoo, CCMT members have acted on the belief that their shared efforts and knowledge lead to meaningful learning for teachers and students. Three innovative and impactful projects have emerged from the CCMT this year, influencing and improving practice in schools across the school board.

  1.     Non-Qualified Teachers’ Induction and Training Program

The CCMT has planned, delivered and supported the training plan for a group of 29 non-qualified teachers who are working in WQSB schools this year. Absolute belief in moral and social capital has allowed the CCMT to build strong relationships with this group of teachers. By capitalising on the expertise of each team member, sessions have been varied and tailored to the diverse needs of the NQ group. CCMT members have been able to offer break-out sessions that focus on subject-specific resources, sessions that focus on the twelve teaching competencies and sessions that emphasise the importance of differentiation and effective use of technology. 

  1.     Webinars to Support Online Teaching

The Ministry of Education of Quebec (MEQ) provided three additional professional development days to schools to be dedicated to training and planning for online teaching and learning. The CCMT responded quickly to develop five one-hour webinars specific to WQSB’s context and values that can be accessed by schools on an as-needed basis. Working in pairs, consultants created sessions covering the following topics:

Working with tight timelines, and the added challenge of creating and delivering professional learning in an entirely new way, the team rose to the occasion, supporting and learning together throughout the process. To date, sessions have been viewed more than 350 times—addressing the immediate needs of teachers with a focus on practical and research-based strategies to support positive outcomes for students.

  1.     Peer-Coaching to Encourage Reflective Practice and Professional Improvement

Eight members of the CCMT have opted to participate in a peer-coaching project for the 2020-2021 school year. Using the Consultant’s Competencies document (a document that organises consultant performance in the context of the Four Capitals, with indicators of efficacy for each capital, and reflective questions to promote growth and consideration of next steps), consultants set up to two professional goals. Goals are shared with their peer coach, and regular meetings allow for progress review, critical questions and celebration of successes. This new initiative has spurred rich conversation, reflection on strengths and honest needs analyses. Consultants report that the peer-coaching project has provided a critical mirror for their work, a sounding board for ideas and a cheerleader when needed. Moreover, consultants report feeling grateful for the added layer of accountability that regular peer coaching meetings has brought to their practice.

The three initiatives described above have both strengthened and developed the capacity of CCMT—all the while allowing the team to stay true to its mandate. When questioned about the benefits of belonging to the CCMT, the following words resonated with multiple members: collaboration, connection, support, sharing and learning. Collective belief in the value of the work the team is engaged with, as well as the impact that collaboration has on individual projects allows the members to innovate and support growth inside the team and throughout the WQSB.

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We hope you found this posting interesting as it shows how our theory of action can be deployed to improve conditions created in part by the pandemic.  We would like once again to thank all those involved.  The work is being led by Mike Dubeau, Western Quebec School Board Director-General, the team includes Amy Curry, Poltimore Elementary School Principal and Teacher Induction Program Consultant, and Teacher Induction Program Consultants Jeff Harvey and Sylvie Pouliotte.  

Take care and stay safe.

George