Reflecting on the 2016 Literacy & Learning Symposium

Posted:13 October 2016

Author: Val Rathjen, Community Learning Network

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So here I am, sitting at my desk and thinking back over the last week of September – the Literacy and Learning Symposium of 2016 is now a memory. I’ve decided to take the advice of Friday’s keynote speaker, Tracy Defoe, and spend a moment reflecting.

LLS2016 registrationI always look forward to the Symposium as it provides an opportunity to connect with people from across the province. It’s a chance to share our joys and challenges with people who understand where we’re coming from, and an opportunity to meet new people while also sharing a laugh or two with old friends. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a system that is as supportive and invested in each other’s success.

Our CALP professional development logic model identifies the importance of “the community of practice” and “collaborative learning”. Both of these outcomes were achieved over and over again all through the Symposium. Whether it was through the huge response of staff from small rural communities as they met around a table during the cracker barrel session, or in smaller conversations happening through the halls and meeting rooms, people wanted to share ideas and pool their knowledge and experience. Ours is not a system that hoards success; we are about sharing the journey and lightening the load.

Highlights for me included the following:

  • Watching new and old friends laugh together
  • New staff who came feeling overwhelmed and isolated commenting that they left feeling connected and supported
  • Seeing people leave with practical tools they can use right away
  • Listening to Darcie Taylor at the banquet share her journey of moving from a grade 5 education to completing a college business program
  • And finally, the chance to honour and acknowledge the amazing work being done across the province and the people that make it happen:
    • The team from Bow Valley College’s Centre for Excellence in Foundational Learning), Karen Plourde from Slave Lake Adult Education Committee, and Bonnie Caron from P.A.L.S. in Edmonton all receiving Outstanding Contribution to Community Adult Learning Awards
    • Wendy Peverett receiving the Ruth Hayden Memorial Family Literacy Practitioner Award

Minister Schmidt and President SteinhauerBut if I had to pick a moment that made my heart sing, it would have to be when the Honorable Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education, presented the Council of the Federation Literacy Award to the Literacy Centre at University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills. Vincent Steinhauer, University President, spoke about the importance and impact this program has had and how much he appreciates the hard work of his staff - Val Cardinal and Gale Nahnepowisk. Watching as they heard how much they are appreciated made it a night to remember.

So many great things have come out of our time together. Wisdom was shared, new ideas and possibilities were ignited, and endless notes were written to reflect back on later.

There’s an old African Proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” I for one am glad to be a part of a community that would rather go far than fast. Thanks everyone, for making this year’s Symposium so great!

 

Val Rathjen
Regional Support Staff
East-Central Alberta

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