Read about more…Encore Lab
My thesis was about community and how teacher communities are important in learning and professional growth. I believe in creating community in my classes as it helps students become confident in who they are as individuals. I realized that I also believe in community as a ‘collective’. This means that as a collective they actively participate in shaping new knowledge. I find that I am continually drawn to community.
This is a story of Alex and his community – After Alex was taken away from us…his class constructed their own feelings and understandings about this experience.
This video was taken by his class in their active participation of healing and love.
#We miss you Alex
Here is what I wrote in June 2013…
Andrew Reynolds is a master teacher at Runnymede Public School. He exemplifies a true hero with a huge heart as he enabled his students to experience the world in an authentic and profound way.
My son, Alex Shapiro was diagnosed with undifferentiated sarcoma in July 2012. Alex was nervous about going to school in September because of the side effects of chemotherapy. How would his peers treat him? What would people say? How would he learn? This is where a master teacher excels. Andrew Reynolds created not only a safe and nurturing environment for Alex. Andrew was sensitive to Alex throughout the year, paying attention to his learning and personal needs. Alex lost his hair due to treatment and Andrew made Alex feel comfortable wearing a hat in class. He gave Alex one-on-one lessons about long division or the planets. Andrew made Alex feel like he was a normal child, which under the circumstance had some challenging moments. He created a classroom environment where Alex could threw up in class and then continued on as if nothing happened. Andrew came to the hospital to talk to Alex and he was not afraid to reach out to our family. But Andrew was equally sensitive to the needs of all his students.
Andrew addressed students’ questions about Alex’s health and comforted students when they were worried. Andrew navigated through all the days that Alex was absent undergoing treatment, and made sure that the students were always welcoming when Alex came back to class. Andrew was able to balance the learning of curriculum and life with expertise.
Alex loved grade 6 and all his friends this year because of Andrew Reynolds. It was Alex’s best year and also his last year in school. Alex passed away April 12th, 2013. Andrew Reynolds continued to be leader in the school community. He helped 11 and 12 year-old students understand about death and friendship. He organized a memorial book where every student wrote a commentary about Alex. He organized a tree to be planted in Runnymede’s Nature Garden on behalf of Alex. He helped students adjust to one of life’s greatest challenges, death, and facilitate students’ organization of donations on behalf of Alex. The grade 6 students of Runnymede Public School will never forget this year because of their teacher who taught them one of life’s best lessons, the lesson of friendship.
Andrew Reynolds is an exemplar elementary teacher and inspired many students to be the best that they can be throughout the years. But this year his class experienced more than just math and science. They experienced the beauty of life. The children were able to contribute to their community in the most meaningful way in supporting, in being a friend to, and in remembering Alex. Muhammad Ali said “Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” Mr. Reynolds accomplished this impossible task. He taught the children about friendship.
Here is the Toronto Star Article – Mr. Reynolds won teacher of the year award.
Andrew Reynolds Teacher of the Year Award
James Duthie does an amazing job capturing Alex and his spirit.
Alex Shapiro The Fighting Eagle
I have two sons. Charlie and Alex. This section is written to honour them and how they have shaped my life.
Although the end result could be the same – the process and the intent is not. The students are more involved from the beginning…and this will guide your lesson. The next steps are often investigation based and process oriented. The biggest difficulty is the uncertainty of how the lesson will be directed, however the protocol focuses on simple elements that are strung together to help the students develop their own understanding about the concepts.]]>
In a community of practice, the knowledge is embedded in the performance and the organizational culture in which it occurs (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Each person (learner) has their own contribution.
In professional or in-field organizations, such as teaching, there is a practice-based learning community that develops. Within this community there are roles for the members, and there is a strong notion of purpose and activities, although the individuals have different expertise (Riel & Polin, 2004).
In the following Ted Talk, the community of practice develops locally and out of necessity. The talk is inspirational and speaks to me about how teacher professional development should occur. The teacher community of practice arises out of a necessity to create the best learning environment for the unique student learner.
Community of Practice]]>