Provider Profile:

McGill’s Distinguished Educators Series

The Professional Learning Program now has more than 400 approved providers.Professionally Speaking profiles one provider in each issue. For more information, including a searchable database of over 4,000 courses, go to PLP.

by Brian Jamieson

If you’re thinking about combining professional learning with travel, consider McGill and Montreal. Quebec’s most cosmopolitan city and one of academe’s most prestigious universities provide an inviting context for a stellar professional development series. The Centre for Educational Leadership (CEL) at McGill University is one of many institutions outside Ontario that offer the Professional Learning Program (PLP) opportunities for college members.

This past year, from October to May, the centre’s Distinguished Educators Seminar Series held particular appeal for the College’s Québec-based members but also attracted educators from across Canada and the U.S.

Sylvia Sklar, associate director of the centre, says that most participants came from Québec in the first year. "I don’t think people realized they could get PLP credits for them." But word of mouth has been catching up with Ontario educators and interest and participation increased as the series went on. By the last course offered this past year – Building a Culture of Respect in Your Classroom, School and Community, with presenter Sandra Dean – enrolment had to be cut off when they reached 110.

McGill is a College-approved provider of PLP courses in areas such as curriculum, student assessment, teaching strategies, special education, classroom management or communication with parents via concentrated study in day-long courses. Topics included: The Gift of Reading: Increasing Literacy Through Modeling, Beyond Monet – The Artful Science of Instructional Integration and Early Career Teachers: Meeting the Challenge.

Most courses are offered in English, some in French. Sklar promises that the 2003-2004 series will be a "humdinger." She modeled the seminar series on one she ran at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, seeking top presenters from educational conferences and giving them room to delve deeper into their subject material.

"Participants get to hear recognized conference keynoters from other distant conferences, at a fraction of the cost," Sklar says of the program. "And the format offers a chance to get more than the usual conference info-bite."

"It is an opportunity to think conceptually about something, to see if and how you might want to follow up."

CEL courses run at the McGill Faculty Club and Conference Centre and the Centre Mont Royal Conference Facility and cost $178 on average. Major themes include: differentiated learning, numeracy and literacy, accountability and planning for success and assessment as learning.

For the second straight summer, McGill will also offer Francophonie sans frontières, a summer institute exploring diversity in Francophone culture. The institute runs from August 11 to 15 and is intended for teachers of French as a second or foreign language. College members can earn four credits for attending.

McGill has the most PLP-approved courses of any institution outside of Ontario, providing convenient access for Québec-based College members and within easy reach of the majority of Ontario-based members.

For more information on PLP offerings at the Centre for Educational Leadership, Department of Integrated Studies, McGill University, email or visit
www. Or to learn more about Francophonie sans frontières, visit

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