Sunday, 16 June 2013

Time to Celebrate

June is one of those months full of celebration. Many teachers plan, facilitate and otherwise engineer celebrations of a wide variety and finish the school year exhausted and worn out. I know for myself when I was in the classroom, as the march through June continued, the juggle of progress reports with year-end activities usually left me a prime candidate for a cold the first week of July.

The job of site coordinator gave me a freedom from progress reports and the opportunity to spectate at a myriad of different year-end activities for the classes that had been part of my program. It was always a pure joy to sit back and watch the smiling faces and bear witness to the year of learning that had proceeded. As I let the diversity and creativity wash over me, I often found a little tear of joy in my eye.

This time of year, one type of celebration comes in the form of awards. The Edmonton Inquiring Minds’ site-based program at the Devonian Botanical Gardens called Green School was a winner at the recent Emerald Awards. Spotting the finger prints marking the outstanding programming by Emma Gilbertson, Deb Griener and Antonella Bell (Deb's accepting photo is third at the link) caused my heart to swell as I watched the video clip. I smiled when I saw the coil bound journals and students sketching, not-so-secret signals to those of us who fan the flames of week-long, inquiry based programming.

Friday, June 14 the awesome display at the Citizenship Fair demonstrated a host of connections facilitated by the City Hall School program. I have heard the Energizer Bunny label bestowed recently on others but my money is on Linda Hut, City Hall School coordinator, as the true holder of that title. One of my favorite aspects of the event was hugging a number of the outstanding teachers who use Inquiring Minds sites to create a year’s worth of learning for their students. The Fair was the proof of the difference between projects and project-based learning, which I just received a Tweet about yesterday from Danny Maas.

One of the Edmonton Inquiring Minds' “master teacher” crew is retiring, Christine Zihrul. That is another June rite of passage – retirement functions.  I was unable to attend Christine’s celebration but if it did not include some fascinating photography I would be surprised. The first week I worked with Christine at ICE School she amassed over 1000 photos of her students’ active learning at Rexall Place (maybe back then it was still Skyreach Centre J).

Earlier this year the long-time program facilitator of the School at the Legislature, Diana Panizzon, retired. And at month end, Lorna Zucchet (she would say to kids that it was pronounced Zoo-cat, in a very cool convergence of appropriate things), program coordinator for more than a decade of Zoo School, will close that chapter of her career. Through the years of pioneering work we did, I felt so nurtured in the collaboration we shared.

In one of those Google search moments I fall victim to and cost me many minutes of divergent viewing I did not plan on, I discovered the perfect close for this blog.

Celebrate What’s Right With the World has a great 20 minute film – if you have time it is worth every second.

I echo Dewitt Jones: “I choose to celebrate. Why? Because it imbues me with gratitude, it allows me to see the best in people and situations, because it fills me with energy.”

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