People for Education conference takeaways

Our news & views

January 11, 2017

We invited our conference speakers to share a few key takeaways and resources, and here's what we've heard so far...

On broader measures of learning, from Seamus Hegarty, former Chair of the Standards Working Group of the Learning Metrics Task Force…

  • Learning things is good; puzzling about them is better.
  • A good school is one where students are more deeply curious at the end of the year than they were at the beginning.
  • Good teachers give good answers; great teachers ask great questions.
  • A modern education system must offer all students a broad set of learning experiences if it is not to fail in its responsibilities.

On Indigenizing the classroom, from Jean-Paul Restoule, associate professor of Aboriginal Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education…

  • We all have Indigenous students or learners where we are working, whether we know it or not, and that is one reason we have the responsibility to teach with respect for the people, the culture, the land and all our relations.
  • To include Indigenous perspectives in our work not only benefits the Indigenous learners we are serving but is valuable, even necessary, for all learners.
  • It is important to start the work of including Indigenous perspectives from where we are now; putting off this work because we don’t feel knowledgeable enough or ready means that we will continue to reproduce the status quo. Fear of appropriation, offending, making a mistake, are all important feelings to acknowledge, but there are ways to mitigate these risks: by adopting a spirit of inquiry and learning along with your group; by forming relationships for support and a check on your ideas and actions; by using tried and true resources that are out there.
  • Resources:

On healthy schools, from Victor Kass, Health and Physical Education teacher at Louise Arbour Secondary School in Brampton…

  • The physical and mental health of our communities, especially that of our young people is more important than it has ever been before.
  • Schools can play a very important role in working to improve community health.
  • The Healthy Schools certification created and provided by Ophea is an amazing framework that schools can use to achieve this goal.
  • Forming partnerships within the community is KEY in working towards a healthier, happier place to live, work, and play.  For example, the partnerships we developed with our elementary feeder schools and Brampton Parks & Recreation went a long way towards our success last year.
  • Resources:

On whether high school is preparing students for their future, from Kayvon Mihan, chair of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association:

  • A greater effort needs to be made to make the careers course more experiential and life based.
  • Keep in mind the meaning of 40 hours of community service, and how volunteering doesn’t mean just doing unpaid work for school service hours.
  • The greatest civics lesson a student can learn is the one where they are experiencing what is currently going on in the world around them – be it municipally, provincially or federally. 
  • Have an open mind! Everybody is working hard to improve students’ experience, and it’s important to work with these individuals (board, ministry staff, trustees, MPPs etc.) instead of against them. 

On the transition from high school to life, from Bruce Lawson, Executive Director at the Counselling Foundation of Canada:

  • In the last several decades, we have seen a dramatic transformation in the world of employment, with the erosion of traditional career paths; the World Economic Forum is calling it the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, where technology is changing every industry at a pace never before seen.
  • Educational systems are starting to move towards competency-based approaches, which are meant to empower young people to navigate the unknown terrain of the future workplace.
  • Given the majority of occupations that young people will face when they graduate high school don’t yet exist, we need a societal shift away from asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Instead, we need to ask questions that encourage them to self-reflect:
    • What skills and competencies have you gained from your education? What about from your extracurricular activities?
    • Based on what you’ve learned in school and your experiences in extracurricular activities, what have you learned about yourself? [Example: do you like working in teams? Are you a creative thinker? Do you like being the leader or being assigned task? Are you detail oriented?

On working with Parent Involvement Committees, from Josh Duijvestein, past-chair of the Halton Catholic Parent Involvement Committee:

  • Make relationships with everyone, from superintendents to caretaker.  The more people you know and have a relationship with, the easier it will be to navigate the system when you are trying to accomplish a task.
  • Remember that everyone sitting around the volunteer table brings something different to the table. People around the parent volunteer table all have different levels of education and a different concept of how education should be for their children. 
  • People are volunteering their time; this is unpaid, so make it fun as well as productive.

On getting young people to read for the love of it, from Patsy Aldana, founder and former publisher, Groundwood Books:

  • Let the child choose what they want to read and follow their interests.
  • Never make reading a chore or an occasion for judgement.
  • Read to children every day in school and every night at home, as long as it is fun—best way to get kids hooked on new books.
  • Shared reading is great—classroom book clubs, parent child book clubs.
  • For schools—Set aside TIME for Sustained Silent Reading.
  • Remember:  Children who read for pleasure have better outcomes in all fields of study.

We will be posting video-recordings of the sessions on our conference page in the near future. You can also check out the conference highlights, as captured in tweets from that day.