Education/Human Resources Committee
April 18, 2012
A meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee was held in Committee Room A at the Limestone Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, on Wednesday, April~18, 2012, at 4:30 p.m.
H. Brown, Chair
B. Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education
A. Labrie, Superintendent of Human Resources
N. Marsh, Superintendent of Education
A. McDonnell, Supervising Principal
D. Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
Chair Brown called the meeting to order, welcoming those present to the meeting. She reported that regrets were received from Trustees Murray and Ruttan.
Approval of Agenda
MOVED BY Trustee Chadwick, that the agenda, as distributed, be approved.–Carried
“Open Doors” Award
Supervising Principal McDonnell advised that she was asked to bring the Terms of Reference for the Open Doors Award to the Education/Human Resources Committee by Director Hunter, for approval for implementation of the award. She stated that the Terms of Reference for the award were brought forward to Executive Committee. She stated that this award came forward as a possibility, prior to the previous Supervising Principal’s retirement. The award was developed by the LDSB Accessibility Work Group, as part of the Accessibility Work Group’s mandate, which focuses on inclusion of all members of the school community. The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding achievements of students who have demonstrated openness and a willingness to ensure their school
community is inclusive to students and community members with disabilities. Thus this award provided the Limestone DSB with an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate a broader view of the value of inclusion and citizenship.
MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, the Education/Human Resources Committee recommends to the Board, that the Limestone District School Board approve the Open Doors Award for implementation.
Trustee Chadwick stated that she did not know if the June Board meeting was the appropriate time for recipients to receive this award, as June is such a busy time of year for us. She said that when we talk about citizenship would there be somewhere where that idea could be included in the Terms of Reference? She suggested that perhaps the award could become more of a citizenship award; however, that might be narrowing its scope.
Trustee Goodfellow indicated that at the recent Outstanding Service Award Selection Committee meeting, Trustees found the criteria to be vague also, and therefore, doesn’t give the committee a fair indication of how to judge the nominations. She said that she believes the Terms of Reference should be narrow. She commented that she does not believe that the June Board meeting would be the best time to present this award.
Ms. McDonnell stated that if the Trustees would like more clarity in the Terms of Reference, the Terms of Reference could be reviewed.
Trustee Chadwick wondered if presenting this award at a Board meeting would be the best way to recognize students for good citizenship. She said that there are many deserving students, and questioned whether the award should be presented at a Board meeting or at the schools where students receiving this award attend. She commented that graduation ceremonies, there are awards given from the Board at the schools.
Trustee Jackson stated that he agreed with the comments that the June Board meeting might not be the best time to present this award. He suggested that perhaps a Special Board meeting could be held, where all of the awards could be presented at that meeting – Outstanding Service Award, Limestone Student Achievers Award, Barry C. O’Connor Excellence in Support Staff Award, J.C. McLeod Excellence in Teaching Award, etc. He said that the meeting could be public, and advertised on social media.
Trustee Jackson stated that in terms of whether the Terms of Reference should be loose or more prescriptive, one could argue either way. He said that they should not be made too tight, perhaps the criteria for awards should be broader for the kinds of things we are looking for.
Trustee Goodfellow indicated that she liked the idea of a Board meeting dedicated to awards, and perhaps an additional meeting should be held in April or May, to present the awards. She said that she believes this award would be great, but we need to review the criteria.
Trustee Goodfellow suggested that the criteria be expanded to people who are accepting of different lifestyles and ethnicity. Ms. McDonnell summarized that perhaps the group was suggesting the “Open Doors” Award encompass a broader view of equity and inclusion.
Trustee Chadwick stated that she likes the idea of a Board Awards Evening, but that this event could not be held at the Education Centre, and that it would have to be a Special Board meeting opposed to a regular Board meeting.
Ms. McDonnell stated that she would discuss the suggested changes with Senior Administration.
Trustee Goodfellow suggested that the Terms of Reference for the awards presented at Board meetings, be reviewed. Superintendent Labrie indicated that further information regarding the Terms of Reference for the awards presented at Board meetings being reviewed, would be brought to a future meeting.
Trustee Goodfellow withdrew her motion.
Mental Health Initiatives Update
Ms. McDonnell stated that at the Strategic Planning session, Director Hunter had suggested that the further mental health initiatives that have been approved through Executive Committee be brought to the Education/Human Resources Committee for information.
Ms. McDonnell referred to the Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Chart that she distributed, noting that it is the same chart that was distributed to Trustees previously, but that new information has been added under Professional Learning Opportunities.
Ms. McDonnell reported that Pathways for Children and Youth have received funding to work with local school boards and communities in the area of children’s mental health. One of the initiatives is that Pathways for Children and Youth, Limestone DSB and Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic DSB staff will be provided with advanced mental health training. She said that the LDSB staff being trained will include five Principals from the five secondary pilot schools.
Ms. McDonnell stated that four elementary schools, Fairfield Elementary School, Rideau Heights Public School, Prince Charles Public School (Verona) and Perth Road Public School, have been chosen to work with Pathways and Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic DSB sites to learn about mental health assessment tools used across the province. She stated that we want to ensure our early primary teams understand the signs and symptoms of the mental health needs of students and the referral pathway for support. She said that we are excited about the roll out of the mental health initiatives. She also indicated that Pathways would be inviting some early learning providers to participate the day of professional learning.
Ms. McDonnell stated that school teams will be provided with training on May 18th, and that training will involve the participation of administrators, full day kindergarten teachers, early childhood educators, student support teachers, and the early intervention team.
Ms. McDonnell reported that Dr. Stan Kutcher has been working closely with Dr. Roberts from HDH, and he has agreed to provide three days of intensive mental health training – May 23, 24 and 25. She said that curriculum training for teachers will take place on May 23, with the intention of moving forward to expand the secondary pilot in certain secondary schools for the 2012-2013 school year.
Ms. McDonnell reported that on May 24th, “Go To” Educator Training will be provided to select district school board staff and community partners. She said that this training allows us to train secondary school teams, as well as some Grade 7 and 8 school teams, who will take on the role as “Go To” Educators.
In response to a question from Trustee Goodfellow regarding the 144 nurses that are to be hired, Ms. McDonnell stated that we have not heard anything further. She advised that the last we had heard, Community Care Access Centres were to take on the role and hire and facilitate that particular initiative in the province. She said that we have received no further communication from the Ministry, or from Community Care Access Centre.
Chair Brown thanked Supervising Principal McDonnell for providing the above-noted information.
Professional Learning Update
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff distributed a one page, double sided document that outlined the variety and scope of professional learning in elementary schools over the course of the school year. She said that the work that they are engaged in over the course of the year is supportive of the Board’s Strategic Plan. She indicated that the work within each professional learning session is articulated in the Strategic Plan document.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that the document outlines the teaching learning cycle through the inquiry model. She indicated that the student needs drive the teacher needs.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff reported that the Teacher Inquiry and Knowledge-Building Cycle to Promote Valued Student Outcomes document involves the following: based on student need, finding out what knowledge and skills teachers need, deepening their professional knowledge and refining skills, engaging students in new learning experiences, finding out the impact of the teachers changed actions, and determining the impact and returning to the new knowledge and skills our students need.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that when professional learning is provided for classroom teachers at the school level, the learning is based on the needs of students in that particular school. She said that the Teacher Inquiry and Knowledge-Building Model is about collaborative inquiry and involves all teachers in our schools.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff indicated that teachers are involved in co-planning and co-teaching practices so that they are learning and growing together. They implement the practices in their classrooms, look for growth in students and the impact on learning. She said that through this model, we find improved instructional practices, and a deepened understanding of literacy and math for students.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that we have networked some schools together for professional learning.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff said that beyond the school level, we have a number of professional learning sessions for classroom teachers at the district level. She reviewed the following professional learning sessions at the district level:
- Early Primary Collaborative Inquiry (Oral Language)
- Schools In The Middle (Mathematics)
- Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership (Literacy and Mathematics)
- Core French Collaborative Inquiry (Oral Language)
- Intermediate Collaborative Inquiry (History – critical thinking)
- Student Work Strategy (Literacy and Mathematics)
- Collaborative Inquiry in Mathematics
- Full-Day Early Learning – Kindergarten program
- Cross-Panel Collaborative Inquiry (Mathematics)
- School to Community and District Learning Centre Collaborative Inquiry (Literacy)
- New Teacher Induction Program
- Primary Core French
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff advised that Early Childhood Educators are now included in our professional learning. She said that as an educator in the classroom, they are part of the full-day kindergarten team, with regard to play-based learning to support children at four and five years of age. She said that Early Childhood Educators also work in Parenting and Family Literacy Centres.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff reported that professional learning is also provided for educational assistants around sound skills (literacy) and reading strategies.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff advised that we Principals and Vice-Principals meet monthly for professional learning meetings, where we work on the goals and strategies identified on the School and Board Improvement Plans. She stated that we have offered differentiated learning sessions based on identified need also.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that as we complete professional learning sessions, we provide learners with a strategy to identify the impact of professional learning on their practices. She said that early data tells us that teachers, Principals, Vice-Principals, Early Childhood Educators, and educational assistants are reporting positively about the impact on the depth of their understanding of teaching strategies and classroom practices.
In response to a question from Trustee Goodfellow regarding professional learning in small schools, Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that some networks that formed worked together based on a common need. She indicated that we have schools in the north that come together as a network to engage in professional learning as well. She said that sometimes staffs work together in their families of schools. She commented on co-planning and co-teaching in some small schools.
Trustee Chadwick asked if there was an opportunity for the individual to drive the professional learning, and was it at the school level.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that there is an opportunity for an individual to drive professional learning at the schools level, and it begins at start of the school year, typically on a Professional Activity Day. She said that in September, staff had a chance for a day to look deeply at data to identify student need, which in turn identified the teacher and school need. She commented on complex inferencing; for example, where an individual would indicate his/her strengths/needs. She said that we ask teachers to be open and honest about where their strengths and needs in that area are. The teacher then can find out about what they need to learn to support their students in the classroom.
Trustee Jackson asked about what we would need to work on further, if there were gaps, and what kind of additional resources we would need to support professional learning.
Superintendent Fraser-Staff stated that we are in a good place in terms of resources. She said that she supports release time for teachers to come together to think and grow and learn. She said that we could absolutely use more. She said that we provide current research practices for teacher, and we provide the latest books based on research and instructional practices. She said that she would say there is not any one specific thing lacking. She commented that she thinks there are still gaps, and that we still have things to learn, but that we are well supported by the Ministry in funding. She said that she feels confident about the way we are going.
In response to comments from Trustee Jackson about changing curriculum, Superintendent Fraser-Still stated that there are regular revisions to the curriculum, but they are not dramatic from year to year. She indicated that the goals of education through the Ministry of Education have been consistent over the last four years. She said that we are staying focused and aligned with the initiatives in the province. She said that each month we are deepening our understanding about effective instructional strategies that support students.
In response to a question from Trustee Goodfellow regarding professional learning through e-learning because of distance, Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that some professional learning happens through web-conferences. She said that we don’t have large groups of teachers come to the Education Centre on a regular basis. She stated that most professional learning happens in schools.
Chair Brown thanked Superintendent Fraser-Stiff for providing the above-noted information.
Superintendent Marsh distributed a graphic of professional learning at the secondary level. She indicated that professional learning at the district level includes: Procedures into Practice, Collaborative Backward Design in select subject areas, Aboriginal Perspectives and Content in the Classroom and Engaging Every Student. She advised that a more detailed descriptive of each session is outlined in the Learning Update publication, which she also distributed.
Superintendent Marsh stated that in August, teachers and administrators are brought together to get input on what is most highly needed from their perspective.
Superintendent Marsh reported that at the school level, professional learning includes the following sessions: Collaborative Inquiry, Co-planning and co-teaching with coaches, and Learning Teams.
Superintendent Marsh reviewed the professional learning activities that take place over the course of the year. She said that we are working with teachers and Principals to provide a system of excellence, noting that we do not want schools working in isolation. She said that people are coming together to examine what has worked successfully. She indicated that instructional coaches play a key part.
Superintendent Marsh said that we have used Adobe Connect to meet the needs of some teachers in the North. She commented that the curriculum questions from Trustee Jackson are interesting. She said that at the secondary level, curriculum is becoming much more aligned with what we know it should be like. She said that we have extra resources to support professional learning.
Superintendent Marsh indicated that the last sheet she distributed provides a sense of the work the Board is doing with specific schools, as well as facilitators from each school. She indicated that one of the highlights from this year was that many teacher took advantage to see Daniel Pink talk about critical thinking.
Superintendent Marsh stated that we are fortunate to have a highly skilled consultant team providing professional learning as well.
In response to Trustee Goodfellow’s question, Superintendent Marsh commented on the school visits being done twice each year, in addition to the school support visits which focus on classroom visits and student learning. She said that by doing this, the schools are provided with feedback from the Superintendent/Supervising Principal’s observations on the school’s strengths and next steps.
Chair Brown thanked Superintendent Marsh for providing the above-noted information.
New Teacher Induction Program Update
Superintendent Marsh stated that we have a steering committee comprised of federation representations, Queen’s University staff, new teachers, mentors, administrators, Human Resources staff and Program staff, that meet twice a year to review the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP). She indicated that she would provide an update on this program.
Superintendent Marsh indicated that this year we saw fewer teachers being hired – 14 contract teachers at the elementary panel, and seven long term occasional teachers in the fall and eight in the winter. She reported that 17 new teachers were hired at the secondary level.
Superintendent Marsh stated that one of the things we have examined through the NTIP is combining that learning and now we are looking at a major focus from professional learning to see what their needs are, through surveys of new teachers.
Superintendent Marsh stated that some time was dedicated to talking about challenges because of declining enrolment, and about how to support teachers in small learning groups. She remarked that in addition to the professional learning from which all teachers benefit (e.g. assessment and evaluation, classroom management, etc.), how might new teacher with highly specialized teaching assignments be supported?
Superintendent Marsh stated that we are moving forward positively. Our feedback is very positive around learning that occurs for them. She said that having representatives from Queen’s and the federations on the steering committee is important. She said that we tried to assist them with any gaps they feel there might be.
Typing and Cursive Writing
Superintendent Fraser-Staff reported that the matter of typing and cursive writing came forward at the last Education/Human Resources Committee meeting. She said that neither typing or cursive writing are articulated in curriculum documents at elementary or secondary. She indicated, however, that it is a common practice around grade 3 for teachers to provide instruction and practice for students in cursive writing. She said that teachers would spend some time in the classroom showing what cursive writing looks like, indicating how letters are formulated and providing opportunities for practice.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that many students are arriving at schools at four years old, and indicated that they have some typing skills because of computer, laptops at home. She said that there are no home room typing classes.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that in elementary schools, some programs that children might use in computer classes are based on typing skills. However, this is not part of the curriculum. She commented that children get very good at typing at an early age. She remarked that children with fine motor difficulties at a young age may have difficulty in holding a pencil or pen. She said that these children may be referred to community agencies for support through Community Care Access Centres.
Superintendent Marsh reported that typing used to be part of the high school curriculum, folded into the business curriculum. She said that 17 years ago, schools tested students when they arrived and the found that they already had typing skills. She said that there is no formal instruction around typing.
Future Agenda Items
Chair Brown reviewed the agenda items for the future meetings of this school year, noting that the list can be added to if Trustees have other items they would like to bring forward.
Trustee Goodfellow indicated that she would like a demonstration of Assistive Technology provided at a future meeting.
The future agenda items are as follows:
May 23, 2012 Outdoor Education
Healthy Schools Update
Full-Day Kindergarten Update
Next Meeting Date
The next meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at 4:30 p.m
MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, that the meeting adjourn at 6:00~p.m.–Carried