Crown Plaza, Niagara Falls.
The theme of ‘Moving Forward: Great to Excellent’ was clearly evident at the spring Learning Forward Ontario conference in Niagara Falls on May 1st and 2nd. Over 120 educators from across Ontario joined together for learning directly related to the work they are doing in their school districts. The focus on adult learning brought together superintendents, school administrators, provincial leads, consultants and classroom teachers for a common purpose; improving learning outcomes for all students.
The conference included a few firsts for Learning Forward Ontario. It was our first conference in Niagara Falls, our first use of twitter (#LFO2014) and it was the first keynote address in Ontario for Dr. Judith Warren Little. Dr. Little is known for her work in support of creating conditions for teacher leadership and learning in schools. This focus was timely for the Learning Forward Ontario audience who pursue this goal in their own work.
Day two of the conference started with our president, Amy Lin and OMCA president, Cam McDonald moderating a panel discussion with mathematics leaders from across Canada. The panel consisted of David Martin (Alberta), Annie Savard (McGill U., Quebec), Dr. Marian Small (Ontario), and Jan Crofoot (Principal, Peel DSB). This question and answer session left participants with a clear national perspective on the current thinking on mathematics learning and teaching in Canada. Here are a few thoughts and comments that came out of the discussion:
Teacher training in teaching mathematics is importance but even more important is the culture in the school around professional learning
Teachers need to have a clear understanding of not only what but why they are teaching what they are teaching
Inquiry has to be more than just the thing that you want to do. We have to move beyond surface learning
Understanding needs to be the focus, not speed.
Value divergence not convergence in math.
Value thinking –have the students had to ‘think’ each day?
Student learning in mathematics continues to be a significant concern across Canada. This panel confirmed that that teachers and districts have the ability to improve math learning outcomes for students. We need to take the time to intentionally take the time to apply what we know in order to see the results students deserve.