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Small Teams with Big Impact: Connecting Theory and Practice

Joanne Myers

In the spring of 2005, I read  Teaching for DeeUnderstanding: Towards the  Ontario Curriculum thatWe Need1. By the time I had finished the book, I was inspired to write and facilitate a professional book study for the Junior staff at Armitage Village Public School in Newmarket, where I am the divisional lead teacher and literacy special education resource teacher. My major goal was to develop a strong foundation for professional collegiality, and I thought this was the book to do it.

Teaching for Deep Understanding is the result of a collaboration between faculty at OISE/UT and provincial  ETFO staff members. This professional research partnership excited me for a variety of reasons. I have been a  part-time Primary/Junior instructor at OISE/UT for 16 years and an active Presenter on the Road and course writer for ETFO for 12 years. I love it when the two worlds of practical strategies and theoretical research unite. I was keenly interested in the recommendations  about delivering the Ontario curriculum to students in more meaningful and more passionate ways.

To be honest, my excitement was challenged somewhat as I dove into the first of the book’s five parts. It became obvious that this was not a poolside book that I could put down casually as I went to get Popsicles for the kids. But I was  encouraged  to  read  and  reread because each writer was validating theories and philosophies that  I  have believed in for a long time. They were reminding us all that our task as professionals is not to “plough  through the skill expectations of the curriculum,” but rather to take creative and thoughtful time to help our students make meaningful connections between their daily classroom learning and their life experiences.

My  principal,  Nancy  Lester,  supported  and encouraged the idea of  this book  study, which would be the first for the Junior staff at our school. I also had the support of staff at ETFO provincial office. I ordered 14 copies of the book for September and my principal wrote the cheque.

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