I believe that the most effective teachers serve as professional “learning designers” who help guide students towards an experience of “vibrant learning” both in and out of the classroom.
I have been following this philosophy since 1989 when I first started teaching in a French-immersion high school in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. My challenge there was to inspire student learning in mathematics with all instruction taking place in the French language. All my students were second language learners, and this introduced a special complexity to the teaching process. I wanted to inspire an appreciation for the beauty of mathematics and create a vibrant learning environment that would inspire students in their ability to understand mathematics while helping them develop as second language learners, too. What a challenge!
Opportunities to connect, teach and inspire students in their own learning brought me overseas to work in an international school where I had the privilege to not only teach classes, but also serve as the Director of Student Welfare and Activities. This was a new position especially created for me and it allowed me to add a unique social-moral component to school life.
The desire to ground better my teaching and leading with the research base and best practices led me to graduate studies in student affairs. I eventually completed my doctorate in instructional leadership. My research focused on a cross-cultural study that I designed to compare the achievement goal orientations and use of self-regulated learning strategies between a set of rural Canadian and rural Russian high school students. This study revealed some fascinating differences between the groups of students and their orientations to learning.
I had the opportunity to impact pre-service teacher formation and in-service teacher professional development while serving as a professor at a regional university. In this venue I continued to develop and share my philosophy of vibrant learning at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. My decade of university teaching afforded me numerous opportunities to visit a wide range of public and independent schools in the region.
It was during these visits that a grander application of my philosophy and vision for vibrant learning in 21st century teaching and learning began to take shape. I then started this blog to record my research, readings, resources and reflections as I worked to develop a high school along this model.
Henry F. Algera, Ed.D.