Dreaming Destreaming: an Mpact with Melanie White by Noa Daniel and Dr. Teri Rubinoff

Melanie White is a humble and committed leader and learner. Many of the participants were drawn in when they saw her name next to the Dreaming Destreaming title for this Mpact. When we first began developing this Mpact with Melanie, she wanted to call it Dreaming Destreaming because she equates dreaming with activism. She referred to the definition of activism outlined in the Lightmakers Manifesto by Karen Walrund. This definition includes creating experiences of meaning, taking on the responsibility for finding answers, dedicating yourself to a cause greater than your own interests, and celebrating in the joy that follows. Melanie’s facilitation style was open and reflective which allowed her to be responsive to a group of educators taking on something new.

We acknowledge that often, when confronted by educational change, we default to wanting someone to tell us what to do. We may hope for a roadmap or step-by-step advice. Ultimately, if, as Dr. Susan Hopkins says, “You are the strategy,” then the answers can be found in each of us when we think about, and can articulate, our why. As Melanie shared:

  • Destreaming is the action of teachers radically reimagining teaching and learning.

  • [Destreamed classrooms are] student-centred and strengths-based spaces of learning facilitated by teachers who focus on relationships developed through empathetic listening and sharing of power.

  • English teachers in a destreamed classroom are experts in learning who facilitate the goals and interests of students selecting relevant content. They facilitate consumption and expression using modes of communication suited to the learner.” Thinking about the why ultimately gives us greater flexibility when it comes to the how.

As educators, we also have to get comfortable with trying new things in the classroom that may not go as planned; to be researchers in our learning spaces; always asking, “How does learning happen?”

Having a strong foundation of relationships with students, and being explicit with them about the why, can support the co-construction of learning experiences and assessment practices. The goal of the 3-part learning experience, outlined in a proposed agenda and evolving to meet the expressed needs of participants, was about shifting our mindsets to support destreaming a high school English program. As educators across Ontario prepare for the next school year, we wanted to support them as they make the shift necessary to effectively implement destreaming while recognizing that although not everyone is at the same point in the journey, we can still support each other in moving forward.

We are committed to a responsive and respectful learning experience so we welcome feedback from participants throughout each step of an Mpact, and this was no exception. Some of the things participants appreciated about this experience included:

  • Feeling a sense of community/safety in the group

  • Responsive facilitation

  • Having their thinking challenged

  • Highlighting the equity issues related to destreaming

  • Broadening thinking about assessment (e.g., process over product; what counts as assessment, etc.)

  • Focus on the change process itself (e.g., emotional component) in addition to the content related to destreaming

  • Opportunity to try new approaches in the classroom and come back together to debrief and reflect

  • Build on each other’s ideas

  • Share questions for continued learning

We have other Mpacts on the horizon.

Join Usha KelleyMaharaj for Destreaming Science and stay tuned for:

Honouring Play in the Early Years with Klara Redford and Michelle McKay

Inquire → Investigate → Innovate: Exploring with Pattern Blocks from K-6 with Jordan Rappaport

Listen to this episode of our month feature of The Mentoree Lounge on OnEdMentors: Doubting Destreaming

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Thank you, Melanie, for your hard work and commitment to your own professional growth as well as others'!