«

»

Mar 10

Chris Smeaton

From the Desk of the Superintendent- My AISI Eulogy

On Thursday, the provincial government released the budget for 2013-14. As part of the education budget, one of the most successful grants to instill innovation for learning, the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) was eliminated. It would be easy to simply blame the government in making that decision, but not necessarily fair. While I’m a great proponent of AISI for our school division, I understand there is always a bigger picture. Alberta is facing a significant fiscal challenge that must be addressed. Whether you want to categorize it as a revenue issue or a spending problem is almost irrelevant. We, as a province are not as flush as we once were and therefore we are required to tighten our belts.

Education Minister, Jeff Johnson has always been about putting as many dollars at the classroom level as possible. Unfortunately, AISI in many ways is not seen to be an impact that directly affects the classroom and therefore when looking through those lenses, it can be a fairly easy target. In addition (and I’m very sad to say), some divisions did not leverage the potential of AISI as they should by either making it a top down affair or ensuring it was another initiative as opposed to part of the development of the professional teacher. There were also some teachers around the province who did not see the benefits of AISI either as mentioned by former Education Minister Dave Hancock.

Where AISI was utilized to its fullest potential, like in Holy Spirit, it made a great impact at the classroom level. During the last four years of AISI, our teachers have been immersed in 21st century learning with a focus on competencies to meet the needs of an educated Albertan.  Teachers are provided time (this costs money which AISI supports) to collaborate and share expert practices. Through grade or subject level meetings, teachers have the ability to work together building capacity. A great sense of trust amongst the professionals has been established which provides a safe environment for innovation and creativity to be born.

We have developed a collaborative culture that has encouraged both teacher and student engagement and autonomy. This autonomy is allowing our staff to co-create our preferred future. It is unfair to ask our teachers to enhance their own practice without some sort of support in their professional learning. AISI, in Holy Spirit, provided that support! If we truly want to move our learners from compliant to committed, our structurse and practices must align differently. AISI was the driving force of that realignment.

The amount of funding received for AISI equates to approximately 3 additional teachers in our division. That is 3 teachers spread over 13 schools and 4500 students. And while it is always desirable to reduce class size, three teachers will have little overall impact. But, the funding used as we have in Holy Spirit would continue to promote innovation, support creativity, augment engagement and build teacher capacity. So in the end I ask you, “What will impact the classroom more?” My fierce conviction is that AISI will have the greatest impact on creating an engaged thinker, an ethical citizen with an entrepreneurial spirit…which just happens to be the goal of Inspiring Education!

2 comments

2 pings

  1. Don Flaig

    Sad to see AISI go. It has been a channel of the best PD in my career, largely because of the collaborative aspect. I liked the “forward thinking” attitude that it brought to our groups in my school.

  2. Connie Gross

    Well put, Chris. I enjoyed hearing about all the success experienced in our division, thanks to AISI. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make AISI such a success.

  1. AISI Update | Holy Spirit AISI

    […] As you have heard by now, after more than 12 years of research, innovation and professional collaboration, the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement will no longer be funded as of the end of March. For Holy Spirit Catholic Schools, AISI funding has provided staff with many excellent opportunities to continue to learn and grow. Most importantly, learning through AISI has translated into improvements in teaching and learning for students. AISI has been a vehicle that helped us in our journey to transform our own and our students’ learning. During this first year of action research into Intellectual Learner Engagement, we have seen staff members take advantage of the many opportunities available to us. Through our division professional development day, grade level and subject area sessions, lead teacher groups and our Collaborative Peer Mentor group, teachers are collaborating with and learning from one another. A growing number of teachers are visiting one another’s classrooms, providing honest feedback, asking hard questions and taking new perspectives back to their own students. We have embraced the 5 pillars of Intellectual Engagement identified in our literature review and are working together to find even better ways to engage our learners through autonomy, goal setting, critical thinking, collaboration and assessment for learning. In his keynote address at the Annual AISI Conference in February, Dr. Andy Hargreaves commended us for the fine work done in AISI over the past 12 years and reminded us that we will continue to experience the positive effects for years to come. Charmaine Brooks, Alberta Education School Research and Improvement Branch, talks eloquently about resiliency in her blog post, Learning Through Change: Tending the AISI Garden. Our very own, Holy Spirit Catholic Schools Superintendent, Chris Smeaton shared his thoughts on the positive influence AISI has had in our school division in his “AISI Eulogy.” […]

  2. AISI Update | Holy Spirit Learning

    […] As you have heard by now, after more than 12 years of research, innovation and professional collaboration, the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement will no longer be funded as of the end of March. For Holy Spirit Catholic Schools, AISI funding has provided staff with many excellent opportunities to continue to learn and grow. Most importantly, learning through AISI has translated into improvements in teaching and learning for students. AISI has been a vehicle that helped us in our journey to transform our own and our students’ learning. During this first year of action research into Intellectual Learner Engagement, we have seen staff members take advantage of the many opportunities available to us. Through our division professional development day, grade level and subject area sessions, lead teacher groups and our Collaborative Peer Mentor group, teachers are collaborating with and learning from one another. A growing number of teachers are visiting one another’s classrooms, providing honest feedback, asking hard questions and taking new perspectives back to their own students. We have embraced the 5 pillars of Intellectual Engagement identified in our literature review and are working together to find even better ways to engage our learners through autonomy, goal setting, critical thinking, collaboration and assessment for learning. In his keynote address at the Annual AISI Conference in February, Dr. Andy Hargreaves commended us for the fine work done in AISI over the past 12 years and reminded us that we will continue to experience the positive effects for years to come. Charmaine Brooks, Alberta Education School Research and Improvement Branch, talks eloquently about resiliency in her blog post, Learning Through Change: Tending the AISI Garden. Our very own, Holy Spirit Catholic Schools Superintendent, Chris Smeaton shared his thoughts on the positive influence AISI has had in our school division in his “AISI Eulogy.” […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>