Changing a classroom to reflect new ways to learn and grow is one thing. And changing a district can be even more challenging.
But if the energy and initiatives are based on sound practice, amazing things can happen, says Margo Nygard, the Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator for Chinook’s Edge School Division in Innisfail, Alberta. She says it’s all about the connecting.

The Connections

“I like how Sheryl Nussbaum Beach says it: None of us is as smart as all of us,” Margo said. Margo used to teach in a small, rural school, which was rather isolated. “We tried to connect with each other, but now we are trying to do it with “shared purpose and not just in our school.”
The district’s project, AISI (Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) is asking the question “How do we engage students in a connected age.”
Margo explains that their PLP team is working to connect all teachers and administrators, “sharing our learnings from PLP to our AISI leaders and schools.”
PLP has helped, she said, because the team has learned to model their own work for the teachers by using Google Docs, wikis, and Skype to connect everyone around the district. And by not talking about but using the tools, they model “how we do business.”

PLP Passion

Margo’s own shift has been occurring gradually since she heard PLP’s founders speak about the passion they had for their work:
“What drew me was the passion in the words Sheryl and Will used to describe the work they were doing. I had never heard of anything like this before, but it totally intrigued me as it felt part of that missing link in the work we are trying to do in education and professional development,” said Margo
From there, the PLP team was formed, and Margo’s own PLN grew. She says the hardest part of her work is keeping a lid on her enthusiasm.
“I get so energized, whether it’s Skype or Elluminate. I am so jazzed at the end. I say, ‘YES, let’s go do it all right now!! Sheryl says we can, so lets do it…!’ PLP is so supportive, it’s awesome,” she said.

Jazz playersphoto © 2006 Pedro Ribeiro Simões | more info (via: Wylio)

For now, Margo keeps plugging along, working to take the big picture “changing the world” concept for the district and helping each teacher look at ways to do something specific to impact change in each classroom.
And for Margo herself, “the possibilities already seem endless.”
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Susan Carter Morgan

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