Anna Landry, Registrar & Database Coordinator at Trafalgar School for Girls
2022-2023 has been an exciting year in the development of the CoLab partnership between Trafalgar School for Girls and McGill University’s Faculty of Education. To round off this incredibly constructive school year, I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize and celebrate the numerous accomplishments and milestones we have achieved thanks to the dedication of interested, enthusiastic, and invested collaborators from both institutions. Together, we have collectively enriched and expanded the necessary groundwork for this burgeoning project.
This year’s momentum began last June in 2022 with the formation of the CoLab Steering Committee, a core group of Trafalgar and McGill representatives who worked diligently to prepare for the upcoming school year. Over the summer, the committee mapped out a series of goals for the year, with a focus on identity, relationship-building, and research guidelines.
In August, we hosted our first Trafalgar-McGill CoLab meeting of the school year – a full-morning retreat in Trafalgar’s historic library that brought together a blend of eager and curious Faculty members from both schools. At this inaugural meeting, we set to work building and unifying our collective understanding of the CoLab through its mission and vision statements and its three pillars:
Connect innovative research and practice
Cultivate collaborative practice & research hubs
Create a scalable and sustainable partnership model
Work continued throughout the fall to clarify and refine these statements and core pillars, with an emphasis on including and incorporating input from the varied stakeholders affected by this collaboration. To make sure these diverse voices were heard, we invited and brought Trafalgar staff, McGill faculty, McGill students, and Trafalgar students all to the discussion table in October. After incorporating multiple rounds of feedback, we successfully finalized the statements the following month.
Vision Statement: We imagine a world where students, teachers, and researchers collaborate to enact positive change in education.
Mission Statement: Through an innovative and collaborative school-university partnership, the CoLab fosters dynamic learning environments and action-oriented research that advance educational practice for a rapidly changing world.
Without skipping a beat, we set our sights on establishing a structure and template for research proposals under the new partnership. We formed a task force of four representatives each from Trafalgar and McGill to begin drafting a research application and corresponding evaluation criteria. What type of research do we envision happening under the CoLab? How do we encourage and ensure collaboration? What role does student voice play in research selection? The task force met regularly to address these types of questions and successfully drafted a research proposal template, evaluation process, and timeline for proposal submissions.
While all of this foundational work was going on, the CoLab team also turned its focus to the importance of relationship-building and communication. Just before the December break, we held a “CoLab Coffee” event where Trafalgar and McGill faculty were invited to come grab a coffee and chat with each other about their understanding, ideas, questions, and aspirations for the CoLab. The same event was mirrored in January for the Trafalgar students (except with pizza instead of coffee!). These informal conversations sparked new ideas and connections, and we intend to continue fostering these opportunities for mingling, sharing, and CoLab-oration that underpin the spirit of this cross-institutional partnership.
Last, but certainly not least, we established this CoLab blog as a tool to communicate the exciting breakthroughs and address the diverse contexts that continue to inform the development of the Trafalgar-McGill CoLab. Although this is the last post of the 2022-23 school year, we will be back after the summer as the CoLab paves its way forward into 2023-24.