It is hard to believe that CAfLN is four years old and five years since Damian, Ken and I first met to talk about a cross-Canada network that connected educators who believe in assessment for learning. Our enthusiasm for CAfLN was fueled by the powerful practices that we were seeing and hearing about in classrooms and schools in small towns, cities, on the Prairies, on our coastlines, in kindergartens, art classes and calculus classes, in initial teacher education, and on and on. But we realized that we had a unique vantage point because we worked in all of these places. Although we saw the amazing assessment practices that people like you are engaged in, we were aware that you didn’t know one another and often heard about how lonely it was for individuals and groups as they carried on each day trying to make AfL work.
At this point, we are delighted with the progress and influence of CAfLN. We have met in central Canada (Winnipeg), the far west (Nanaimo), eastern Ontario (Kingston) and the Prairies (Saskatoon) so far. In May, we are coming together again, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. People are connecting and sharing practices and insights about policy, practices, resources and strategies.
CAfLN is a not-for-profit organization. All of the Board members are volunteers, and many of them fund their own travel to attend CAfLN events. We do not pay speakers. The presenters are generally CAfLN members whose travel and accommodation are covered for the conference. Even more importantly, any funds generated by CAfLN are used to support CAfLN members attendance at annual conferences and to facilitate networking among CAfLN members across the country.
So, start planning now for our 5th Conference and Symposium Sailing Forward with Assessment for Learning in Dartmouth on May 4th-5th, 2018. Registration will open on November 1st. Apply for a travel scholarship and join us there. It should be a great event, with an emphasis on stories and presentations from your colleagues around the country, talking about the challenges and the innovative practices that are transforming assessment in Canadian schools.
But you don’t need to wait until May. CAfLN is a network, not a club or an organization or an institute. Why? Because we know from research that:
networks can create the conditions to support individual and collective learning through intentionally fostering and developing the opportunities for members to examine their existing beliefs, and to challenge what they do – against new ideas, new knowledge, new skills, and even new dispositions (Stoll, Fink and Earl, 2003).
This is what we aspire to in CAfLN. Networks of educators across the country who are focused on learning and on how assessment can be the catalyst and provide the support mechanisms to enhance learning for all students. Educators who are committed to AfL are always learning, always intentionally seeking out and/or supporting activities, people and opportunities that push beyond the status quo. Think about it. Do you have an idea (or many ideas) to enhance CAfLN networks? Share it. Suggest it. Start it. CAFLN, as a network, is us. Together, we can make the difference.