David Suzuki Secondary School (www.dsssarts.com)
2011 – Present: Head of the Arts 2016 – Present, Acting Curriculum Head of the Arts 2014-2016, teacher of Visual & Media Arts
Stephen Lewis Secondary School
2007 – 2011: Teacher of Visual Art, Non-Traditional Media Art, Yearbook and General Learning Strategies
Harold M. Brathwaite Secondary School
2005 – 2007: Teacher of Visual Art and Non-Traditional Media Art
Mountain Ash Public School
2004 – 2005: Core Teacher (language arts and math), Rotary Visual Art
2006: Honours Specialist, Visual Art – Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
2004: Bachelor of Education – Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (Visual Art I/S, Politics I/S)
2003: Honours Bachelor of Art – University of Toronto Mississauga (Art & Art History Specialist, Political Science Minor)
Professional Learning Communities
2018 to Present – Empowering Modern Learners Lead Teacher: Lead teacher for David Suzuki Secondary School. Roles and responsibility include supporting staff with learning culture, learning environment, informative assessment, 21st century competencies, access to technology and models of learning.
2017 to Present – Changeleaders.Community: An online forum in which ideas of modern learning, progressive pedagogy and learning is shared to help improve the quality of learning. Members of Changeleaders.Community come from around the globe, providing a unique international perspective on the needs of education.
2017 to Present – PDSB Secondary Assessment Leadership Team: I work with staff from across the board to co-ordinate and facilitate the development and refinement of assessment practices in school locations, focusing on how to create effective final evaluations following the requirements and success criteria as outlined in Growing Success.
2017 to 2018 – (un)Settled: Walk the Art: This is a collaborative inquiry opportunity in which students and teachers are learning side by side about the rise of settler colonialism in Canada and the affects of settler colonialist practices and policy have had on the relationship with Indigenous peoples of Canada. Students and teachers will represent their learning through the creation of an artwork that will be exhibited in the regional arts exhibition Walk the Art in conjunction with the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives.
2016 to Present – DSSS Empowering Modern Learning (Chair): I coordinate with staff from departments across the school to facilitate professional learning around assessment, evaluation, reporting and instruction. We also facilitate teacher learning of a variety of digital technologies (hard ware and software to improve the learning experience of our students).
2016 to Present – DSSS Contact for Peel District School Board “Leadership Link”: I assist with a board wide initiative to promote leadership opportunities within my school and across the school board by connecting with other leaders within the system.
2014 to 2016 – DSSS 21st Century Teaching & Learning Committee: Collaborate with school staff on the implementation of teaching strategies that integrate technology in support of the PDSB 21st Century teaching and learning goals. Assist with the maintenance of school technology. Developing school teaching and learning infrastructure through pedagogy and technology.
2014 to 2015 – DSSS Numeracy Committee: Collaborate with school staff on the implementation of teaching strategies that support cross-curricular numeracy.
2005 to Present – Peel Society for Education Through Art:
Assist in the organization of professional development opportunities for visual and media art teachers within our board. Advocate for Visual Art Education. (Co-chair 2009-2016. Communications 2006-2009. Member since 2005.)
2005 to Present – School Instruction, Assessment & Evaluation Committees: At DSSS I have participated in formulating basic assessment and evaluation practices for teachers and guidelines for students for academic honesty. Assisting in professional development opportunities for staff on late start dates (i.e. differentiation, “Thinking”, common assessments, etc.) for SLSS (2007-present). Team member assisting with the development of the assessment and evaluation policy for HMBSS (2005-2007).
2005 to Present – Art Department Teams: Department team member working on development of arts programming. Head of Arts (2016- Present). Acting Department Head (2014-2015). Lead teacher on the development of the visual arts program at DSSS and the media / non-traditional media arts curriculum at SLSS and HMBSS. Organized Action Research in 2010. Worked on promoting the art program through interdisciplinary exhibitions and performances.
2004 to 2016 – Ontario Art Education Association: Member since 2004. Membership Secretary & Webmaster 2011-2014. Work with teachers from across the province of Ontario for professional development and advocacy for Visual Art education.
Teacher Candidate Advisor: Advising student teachers in visual arts placements. I have worked with students from York University’s concurrent education program, OISE/UT, University of Ottawa, Brock University and from Trent University.
Professional Learning & Development
- Data Driven Decision Making for the Secondary Assessment Leadership Team, PDSB
- Assessment Camp, PDSB
- Empowering Modern Learning Professional Learning Cycles, PDSB
- ChangeLeaders.Community, ModernLearners.com
- Secondary Assessment Leadership Team, PDSB
- Empowering Modern Learning, PDSB
- Strategic Action Plan Spirit Point Retreat, PDSB
- Cascading Curriculum Design, DSSS
- Overarching Learning Goals Facilitation, DSSS
- Working with Groups Training with Bruce Wellman, PDSB
- Critical Thinking, DSSS
- Curriculum Leader Learning Network, PDSB
- Curriculum Leader Learning Network, PDSB
- Arts Assessment Network, PDSB
- Introduction to Data Wise, HarvardX on edX.org
- Collaborative Inquiry “Arts & The ELL Learner for Creative and Critical Analysis”, PDSB
- Building Your Leadership Capacity, PDSB
- Creating Value through Blending & Contrast (presenter), PSEA
- Visual Art & Numeracy, PSEA
- Integrating Technology into the Art Program, PSEA
- Visual Arts AQ Revisions Team, OCT
- 3 Part First Nations, Metis & Inuit Education, PDSB
- Associate Teacher, OISE Internship
- Visual Arts AQ Revisions Team, OCT
- School Safe Etching Process, PSEA
- Side by Side Mentor, PDSB
- Teacher in Charge Training, PDSB
- Professional Learning Cycle, PDSB
- WHIMS (Workplace Hazardous Material Information System) Re-Certification
- Ignite Creativity Conference, Ottawa Ontario
- Writing the Curriculum for the Media Arts AQ, Ontario College of Teachers
- Action Rsearch “Asssessment for Learning – Authentic Experiences”, PDSB
- OSEA Conference, “Art/Inter/Face”, OCAD University
- PSEA Workshops (presenter on Thematic Curriculum Design and Teaching the Creative / Critical Analysis Process), PDSB
- Course Profile Writing Team for Digital Media (AWS) in support of the 2010 Revised Arts Curriculum, OSEA
- Sample Unit and Lesson Writing for Grade 10 Media Art (ASM2O), Curriculum and Assessment Branch of the Ministry of Education
- Associate Teacher – York University Concurrent Program
- New Teacher Induction Program – Mentor, PDSB
- Assessment for Learning Workshop, PDSB
- Photo Educators Forum, Sheridan College
- PSEA Workshops, PDSB
- Yearbook Development, Jostens Inc.
- Arts Curriculum Review Committee, PDSB
- PSEA Workshops, PDSB
- Yearbook Development, Jostens Inc.
2007 & Prior
- WHIMS (Workplace Hazardous Material Information System) Training
- Stepping Out, PDSB
- PSEA Workshops (Presenter on Digital Imaging), PDSB
- Lesson Study, PDSB
- TIPS (Numeracy & Manipulative Training), PDSB
Brampton Minor Baseball Incorporated, 2017: Coach of a squirt division co-ed baseball team, ages 8 to 10.
DSSS Budget Committee, 2015 to Present: As a sub-committee of the School Leadership Team we make decisions to financially best support student learning. This committee sets and reviews co-efficients for determining the dollar amount required to run meaningful and engaging classroom learning activities. Active communication with the Leadership Team is essential, as we establish open and transparent processes for handling the funds allocated to student learning.
DSSS Integrated Arts Council, 2011 to Present: Teacher facilitator of a small group of arts students (dance, drama, media art, music and dance) that work together to provide arts leadership within the school by organizing and promoting arts events in the school, feeder schools and the community.
DSSS 21st Century Teaching & Learning Committee, 2014 to 2017: With a new focus on the skills necessary for graduates of the 21st century, focusing specifically on the findings and recommendations of the Fullen Report, I work with a team of dedicated teachers investigating ways in which we can better support our students in developing character, citizenship, communication skills, critical thinking and problem solving skills, collaboration skills and creativity & imagination. We also look at how to best deploy technology within the school to support these objectives, and support staff with best practices.
DSSS Assessment & Evaluation Committee, 2011-2013 & 2015 to 2017: Working with colleagues to develop a school wide assessment and evaluation plan (e.g. moving from calculation to determination of final grades), provide supports for teachers in gathering evidence (e.g. strategies for triangulating data and assisting in developing tracking tools), and developing policy for assessment and evaluation (e.g. anchor marks).
DSSS Outdoor Classroom Grant Team, 2014 to 2015: With the focus of ensuring that students at David Suzuki Secondary School have a base education in environmental education, a team of teachers and I have been working with a small group of students to write the Majesta Outdoor Classroom Grant. I was specifically responsible for assisting three students who are developing portfolios for Architecture and / or Environmental Design to create the design of the outdoor classroom space. As a finalist school, I worked with staff and students on promoting the design.
Visual Art Club, 2005 to 2017:
At all of the schools that I have bought at I have worked with students extracurricularly to further develop and explore processes and media that would otherwise not be able to be investigated in the classroom. At DSSS we have created an installation artwork commemorating the opening of the school and commitment to environmental stewardship. At SLSS students honoured Stephen Lewis through creating a sculpted portrait. At HMBSS students created a large format canvas painting honouring the pathways that students can take to be successful post high school graduation.
OSSLT Preparation Committee, 2011 to 2013: I have been part of a literacy team that has planned and co-ordinated the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test by preparing activities to assist students in preparing for this mandatory test, assessing student performance and recommending students for additional assistance to meet this graduation requirement.
Revised 2010 Arts Curriculum Implementation Team, 2008 to 2010: I was asked to assist in implementing the revised Arts Curriculum, by presenting at the board roll out, and guiding teachers through curriculum expectation gap analysis, assessment for learning in the arts, and the construction of thematic curriculum design.
Critical Thinking Through the Arts, 2007 to 2013: The CTTA symposium is designed to allow students to develop their creative and critical thinking skills in the context of social justice. I have been a presenter since its inception, delivering workshops on digital imaging, and a steering committee member from 2008 to 2009.
Walk the Art Exhibition (www.walktheart.ca)- Exhibition Organizer 2014 to Present, Participant 2005 to Present: I have worked with students on developing artworks for the annual exhibit to communicate youth views on social justice issues and to raise environmental stewardship.
Professional Awards & Recognition
- OAEA Art Educator of the Year Nomination
- Award of Distinction, PDSB
- Award of Distinction, PDSB
- Award of Distinction, PDSB
- Canadian Society for Education through Art Ontario Affiliate Award
- Award of Distinction, PDSB
Leadership in Education
Description of Leadership Experience
Leadership is about mobilizing the people around you to do their best and to foster in others the skills necessary for leadership. A leader is a person who knows the people with whom they work, and is able to form lasting professional relationships to increase a network of support and action towards a shared vision. My vision for the Art Department at David Suzuki Secondary School has been to create a unified approach to Assessment, Evaluation, Instruction and Reporting that adheres to the policies of Growing Success, Policy 14 and a wide range of contemporary research that supports progressive pedagogy. I have modeled and guided the Arts Department in developing and using Overarching Learning Goals (OLGs) as a foundation for driving our assessment and evaluation practices. This approach allows the department to teach, assess and evaluate the overall curricular expectations as well as other important life long learning skills that are aligned with the mission, vision and values of the school (e.g. an environmental stewardship; competency in the essential skills of the 21st century). The assessment of the students achievement of the OLGs is directly informed by learning activities that are organized using the Curriculum Assessment Plans, streamlined evaluation tools, and tools that have been developed to track observations and conversations to allow for informed determination of student grades. The result is a holistic, and accurate understanding of the students in the art program and their abilities. The team has learned by my example to be comfortable in asking questions about their practice and sharing resources, and we now have a repository of the teaching and learning resources for each discipline within the department, allowing each member to improve their practice by looking to colleagues as exemplars of teaching excellence.
To begin the process of establishing defined learning goals for each discipline in the arts, I began familiarizing myself with research that supports identifying OLGs that are specifically connected to big picture outcomes and meeting the immediate needs of students. I discussed this research with experienced teachers in the department and together we were able to identify how this approach would improve student learning. When undertaking a significant change in department procedures and policy, it is necessary to ensure that each member has a sense of agency and that they are contributing to the growth mindset I am fostering. Next I contacted our Instructional Coach and asked her to help our department connect professional learning from the previous year to the creation of OLGs in order to determine if this would work pragmatically and theoretically with our co-constructed philosophy of Arts education. When everyone agreed that this was an avenue that we wanted to pursue, I coordinated for 3 days of intense professional learning for discipline leaders within the department through the Arts Coordinator and the Assessment and Evaluation Coordinator. During this professional learning, we wrote comprehensive OLGs with student friendly success criteria. Simultaneously I was investigating a variety of tools that could be used to facilitate the documentation and gathering of product, conversation and observational data.[iii] Throughout this year I have been working with the Assessment and Evaluation Committee to share our learning and progress, and to assist in informing others about innovative assessment and evaluation pedagogy. Currently, I am challenging my department to use descriptive feedback in new and timely ways to help students achieve the OLGs, and I am providing resources to the whole school for points of discussion around assessment and evaluation practices at DSSS.
This work has been integral in supporting the school success goals for David Suzuki Secondary School. One of the primary goals at DSSS is to “provide timely feedback…. to promote self-reflection so as to become better learners.” Having clear learning objectives for our students gives students achievable learning targets, and the means to be successful. The feedback that teachers provide give students a specific focus, and provide students with encouragement to move themselves forward in their learning. Using various technological tools, such Sesame and Google Classroom, I have been able to assist teachers in providing feedback to students in a more efficient and timely manner so that students can make immediate use of the suggestions. I have promoted the staff in the Arts Department to use feedback to drive assessment as learning. Using this model students are able to self-assess their “greatest area of need” and self identify strengths, weaknesses and areas for next steps. Students who do this have increased confidence as learners and this transfers to increased success on EQAO, literacy, and numeracy tests. In addition, students who are confident in their learning have a positive self-image and attachment to the school. An added benefit of equipping students with the skills they need to be effective learners is that they competently handle the stresses and pressures they face inside and outside of school as they become better critical thinkers.
Explanation of Leadership Experience
In 2015 I took a MOOC entitled “Datawise” through HarvardX on edX.org that reiterated the importance of using data (both experiential based on the classes we teach and contemporary research) as the foundation for making pedagogical changes. In so doing so I challenged my department to look at their data to determine the greatest area of need. Using this greatest area of need we were able to set specific shared goals based upon analyzing where our students were at and where we ultimately wanted them to be after spending four years in our program. Having the shared vision for student improvement made all of us accountable, not just to our students, but to each other.
Through this experience I have been able to apply cognitive, social and psychological leadership skills. First, I identified that there was correlation between student achievement and current practices in the use of assessments for and as learning. Recognizing that we needed a way to focus and direct our learning to engage students defined a problem that needed to be reconciled. My ability to identify this challenge comes from my intimate knowledge of the students in the school and the effort I have made to foster positive relationships with all members of the department. By fostering trust, an open dialogue about individual teaching practices followed, and each member of the department felt safe to share their practice with everyone else. We trusted that no one was judging, but that we were all working together towards a common goal: a sense of community within the department and improved student learning. This project has been ambitious, and required tremendous resilience when challenges and uncertainties were met, such as when students did not understand the overarching learning goals and we needed to go back and revise to ensure that they were in student friendly language. I consistently demonstrated optimism to the team throughout the entire process, affirming for new and veteran teachers alike that we were on a learning journey together, and that with assistance we would be able to work towards a sustainable and highly effective method of student assessment and evaluation. My optimism was grounded upon my understanding of the PDSB system and how to access assistance and resources (e.g. books to support team learning, time release through Code 23 days, accessing human resources such as the Arts Coordinator, Assessment and Evaluation Coordinator, Instructional Coaches, ITRT, etc.).
The success of this effort has been primarily based upon my ability to establish a positive climate for learning and working within the department. Each member of the team was valued through their contributions to the overall end products that we were able to produce, whether it be in terms of the ideas, wordsmithing, and even the formatting of the documents in order to ensure that they were accessible to others outside our department (both for within DSSS and for our network of fellow arts educators across the PDSB). The value of everyone’s contributions stemmed from their own professional learning interests, and acknowledged that each of us were coming with different experiences and states of readiness. Because we were all coming at this project from different points of view, the end product became much richer. As a leader, I was able to synthesize each person’s learning, as I bring ideas forward to the Assessment and Evaluation Committee for wider distribution throughout the school. Leading the members of my department has equipped me with the skills that I need to assist others within the school community to begin this process in various areas.
Much of this work has been done with the focus on improving the instructional program within the Arts at DSSS. After the first semester we have seen positive gains that are based on data – significantly fewer students at risk, less failures, increased student engagement, etc. The assessment tools and practices fully acknowledge the diversity of the students in our classrooms. Students with different abilities, interests and skills all have access points to their learning. We are also able to accommodate a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, as our tools are refined enough to target specific learning out comes but are not so prescriptive in requiring each student to produce the same results to be successful. What students have experienced, what they are interested in, and their own career pathways serve as the starting point of their learning, and are the means by which students are engaging with our program.
While we have had tremendous success in developing these tools, I also recognize that this project is not yet finished. Although I have developed this within the Arts context, I recognize this to be of value across the entire school. Now that I have a firm foundation in the theory and practice of Overarching Learning Goals, I am fully equipped to take the next step and foster conversations to promote these ideas with colleagues outside of my department.