Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Inquiring Minds of Edmonton

Wed. March 7 was the information meeting for applications to the 10 week-long, site based programs in the Edmonton area. I went with my new blog (one post-worth) to show off, see old friends and to talk about inquiry learning. Of course, the teachers who show up are generally the “converted”. Gillian Kydd, godmother to this learning movement, and I have often joked about all the times I use “religious” metaphors when I talk about this experience that we here in Alberta call site-based programming, but I just can’t help it.

Anyone: program coordinator, teacher, parent volunteer or presenter, who has ever witnessed the power of these week long field experiences NOT FIELD TRIPS (I owe this phrase to my Wed chat with master teacher, Maxine Sprague) knows that they become “believers” in the simple but hard to explain magic.

A blank journal to fill with observations, reflections, sketches, diagrams and jot notes is the basic tool of the week. To many this journal becomes a life long treasure. Time to sit or stand and watch, listen, smell and feel proves to be unstoppable as a student engagement technique. Opportunities to pose questions of all kinds to the site experts are primary research tools beyond compare.

I promised those who stopped by that a few TIPS to the art of applications in the quest of a precious week would be in this blog. Thanks to the work of Lorna Zucchet (Zoo School program coordinator) over the years, the application form seems to be very self-explanatory.

The first tip is APPLY – it is impossible to get a week if you don’t submit an application. And don’t be late; the deadline is April 13 at 4 pm. Find a form at the Inquiring Minds site. 

If you have made a successful application before (I know you master teachers are worriers)
RELAX, read through the form and answer with your heart. 

If you have never done this before (all sites seriously consider first timers, sites share a missionary zeal about spreading around the opportunities)
READ through the whole form – nothing kills a program coordinator’s interest in your application faster than blanks or 7 page applications when the form says the proposal should not exceed 3 pages.

Consider visiting the site with a mindset of using it as a classroom, not a field trip.

Although you are applying for a week, this experience will become a touchstone for you and your class’s whole year. Think about that and comment on it. It is the answer to the first question of proposal and a key concept.

Contact the coordinator by email early if you have questions, but don’t become a pest.

Absolutely consider saying yes to the waiting list and listing second choices. 

Treat the program coordinator with open honesty. The application process is the hardest part of the job. Give as much information as you can and follow-up several days after you submit, to be sure it was received.

If things do not work out this year, please try again next year. That is why there is a question that asks if you have applied and NOT been accepted. If at first, you don’t succeed, TRY, TRY again.

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