The Expert in the Classroom

By Ivy Waite

It is so amazing to come to work and know that you have a team of people ready to support you. While I do still have days where I feel overwhelmed, I know that I will pull through alright. How can you drown in a pool full of life preservers?

This term I am so thrilled to be able to collaborate with an expert in my drama elective. Caroline Murray is an amazing arts educator, and has joined the CSS team to work with me regularly to ensure that I am delivering the best possible fine arts education to my students in a drama elective. On our first day working together she walked in ten minutes before class, and together we brainstormed a lesson that had students focused on using their bodies as tools with which they can powerfully communicate.
Next we extended the activity through a silent characterization lesson… After several successful lessons together, including one which saw 48 students in grades 7, 8 and 9 improvise silently for over an hour, and a couple more planning sessions, I am amazed at what is happening in the class! (Watch for my future post on student engagement for more details on the project: Getting Dramatically Engaged).

Similarly, Jaime and I, and our students, had the opportunity to collaborate with experts in our immigration unit. The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) provided our students with an authentic connection to people going through the process of immigrating to Canada. Students conducted two interviews with English students from CCIS and created digital stories to share the journey that each person had taken to get to Canada. The results were moving and emotional to view, and truly demonstrated exemplary learning. They were able to understand the curriculum on a much more human level, and the understanding that they gained of the content was human, deep, and authentic. Watch for a future post outlining the project!

Working with experts allows both teachers and students to gain a more complete understanding of curricular outcomes and more. I look forward to having Shannon Mitchell-Flek, our school-counsellor, in to work with my class in health; exploring the idea of working with the Learning Through the Arts program; and beginning work on a sustainability forum idea with Jaime, the rest of our grade 9 team, and Erin Couillard.

I love this place!

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