Bridging the Gap – My Reflection of Our #TLLP Project #OntEd

Bridging the Gap - My Reflection of Our #TLLP Project #OntEd

Here we are. I hardly believe I am writing this at our last group TLLP session. It seems like just yesterday when we were applying. I still remember when my colleague, and now good friend, Nicole (@BeuckelareNic) approached me to be a part of this project.

If you are new to TLLP – the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program is an annual project-based professional learning opportunity for experienced classroom teachers in Ontario.

Our goal one year ago when we applied was to bridge the gap. Align our practices. Seek feedback. Discuss pedagogy. We submitted an application to release area intermediate school teachers as well as some of those at the secondary level. It made sense since we all feed to the same high school. Let’s build a parallel team.

Nicole and I spent a few days brainstorming what our sessions would look like. We made rough outlines and timeframes with goals to accomplish for each meeting. It became apparent in our first session that we had to change our plan. Our new plan was to not have a plan. The structure free days for us to share ideas, stories, apps, assessment practices, pedagogy as well as visit each others’ schools were priceless. Think edcamp model. Participant driven PD.

My biggest takeaway from our project is completely contradictory to what we had initially planned. Bridging the gap and aligning practices is impossible from a technical standpoint. What works at my school, doesn’t necessarily work at the next school. What works in my classroom may not even work next door. That’s a good thing.

There isn’t a single teacher on our team that doesn’t want what’s best for kids. As such, it would be a disservice to think we could all teach the same way. Demographics, socio-economic, diversity etc. are all variables I didn’t much consider. For example, initially we were all going to get on Google Classroom, just because it was newly available to us. We didn’t consider the “why”. This was a new shift in thinking.

As I continue to reflect on this year and think about next, I wonder how we can continue this project without the regular face to face meetings. Have we created something so concrete and sustainable that it will naturally filter to other avenues of our schools. Afterall, that is the goal.

I think so.

I think our pedagogical beliefs are so similar, not just in this group, but across the Province. We acknowledge that change is necessary. We acknowledge that nobody knows how or what explicitly to change in education. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe we as educators can model this process of change. Model the risk-taking. Model the failure. Create classrooms where students are free to fail safely and collaborate.

I think now this is how we have aligned our practices. It’s not about the apps or devices. It’s a shift in thinking. As we laugh and joke with each other today, it is apparent the relationships we have fostered. I’m not just talking about the relationships with each other, but with our students.

It’s not about the apps or devices. It’s a shift in thinking.

I’m proud of our TLLP group. We argued, we laughed, we shared, we collaborated and we brainstormed. We searched for ways to engage and inspire our students. That alone is sustainable. As we begin to wrap up today, it’s quiet for the first time. We are in the midst of a self-reflection. Some are posting publicly to blogs, some are writing in Word. Either way, we are blogging a self-reflection and reflection is crucial to learning.

I encourage everyone to apply for next year’s TLLP program. The experience is invaluable.

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2 Responses for this post

  1. Aviva
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    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Brian! I love how you acknowledge the differences between schools and teachers, and the focus on kids and pedagogy. I’d love to hear about some of the changes that you made and why. What impact did these changes have on your students? I think that sharing these specific examples is a great way to get others to look at changes that they can make … and why these changes may be best.


  2. Enzo Ciardelli
    Enzo Ciardelli
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    Thanks for sharing. It has been on my mind very much lately how to bring collaboration to a whole new level. We are often bogged down by job demands and our individual contribution is seemingly stifled. I understand that the Ministry and Board have objectives. We, as teachers, have to find the opportunity to collaborate and remove barriers. No accomplishment in teaching is achievable on its own. I’d be interested in knowing how we can facilitate this level of collaboration and your blog addresses many of my ideas. We do have to establish a common ground. We have to provide that opportunity. You have given me much to think about my friend. A pleasure to read!


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