“We've given students a voice in their education” – about school in Canada with Brandy Yee

“We've given students a voice in their education” – about school in Canada with Brandy Yee

"We need to ensure that our students cannot just regurgitate content."
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Brandy Yee is the Assistant Professor and Director of Liberal
Studies in Education Program at the California Lutheran University.
She is from Canada where she worked as a teacher and principal. In
addition, she has also worked as a professor in Germany and
Finland, which gave her an insight into the educational systems
there. In the podcast “School must go on” Brandy Yee talks about
the huge shift in the Canadian education system during the last
years. – PISA scores vs. intellectual engagement – A study in
Canada (“What did you do in school today?”) found out a few years
ago that students do not enjoy being students. And this in spite of
the consistently good results in PISA. “We need to ensure that our
students cannot just regurgitate content. But they have the skills
and abilities necessary to engage in lifelong learning to be agile
and to be able to pivot when times change”, Brandy Yee explains.
She describes intellectual engagement as a deep investment in
learning through which the kids come to school because they're so
excited about what they're learning. So, the PISA scores are
important, Brandy says, but you need to also ask yourself “Are the
kids engaged?” Can they not only do well on standardized tests of
achievement? Is there an environment where the kids want to be
continuous learners? “The Canadian study really forced us to
reconsider the things that we were doing.” – A system for every
student – In the past, if you weren’t a kid who did very well in
the core subjects, Brandy explains, there was really no place for
you in the Canadian education system. “It was hard for us to come
to terms with that – that we had created structures within our
system that only served some of our students well.” For a long time
there were students that believed that they could never make it at
a university or post secondary setting – so they didn’t even try
and apply. “We started to create opportunities within our high
schools where they could start to take some of those preliminary
University courses”, the Professor says. There are also
partnerships with some trades, technical schools and art schools
and the students even have the possibility to go to other high
schools for specific courses. In addition to this, Canada started
to bring mentors from the industry into education. “So we're
supporting the students as they transition from high school into
post-secondary, and then we're supporting them with those key
connections as they transition from post-secondary into the
workforce.” – Progress reports instead of classic report cards –
“We also started to look at formative assessment”, Brandy Yee sums
up. For a long time summative assessment was the main form of
assessment used in Canada – and in many other educational systems
around the world. “That was something that we just accepted as the
acceptable practice. But when you actually start to unpack, it runs
quite counterintuitive to teaching and the learning process,” the
former principal explains. “So, if we only test students at the end
of a unit by a test and it shows that either, they get an 82 or 94
and so they've sort of met the learning outcome, or they get a 60
or a 50 or 40, which means that they maybe haven't quite met the
learning outcome. What happens the next day? Will we move on to the
next unit?”, Brandy wonders. “We started to shift and integrated
three important concepts into the progress report: Student growth,
progress, and achievement.” All in all, Brandy Yee says, they have
given students a voice in their education. Brandy Yee also talks
about the role and self-concept of teachers, how to move from ideas
to implementation, and the importance of middle school to

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