The Barbeque for Learning

At the April 2017 meeting of the Learning Partners Advisory Council, it was decided to explore the possibility of organizing a "Learn Day" in the fall of 2017

Another Working Group is responsible to organize an event in the fall, a Learning Day, or L-Day, to bring together LPAC, the Principals Council, the District Advisory Councils, and other partners and stakeholders to consider learning in the broad sense.

Based on positive experiences bringing those involved in learning together in less formal settings that was proposed for "Learn Day," Peter Rukavina, the PEI Home and School Federation representative on the Learning Partners Advisory Council, recommended holding a summer barbeque, and a working group, chaired by Peter, was struck to organize this:

It was further suggested that it would be worthwhile to hold a less formal event between these two processes, in July or August – a summer social, or a barbecue, to bring together the members of the three Council structures and provide an opportunity to get acquainted before L-Day. A further group was struck to organize this.

Under the aegis of his honorary patronage of PEI Home and School Federation, His Honour H. Frank Lewis, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, graciously offered to host the event, and to handle arrangements for invitations, food and logistics, and the “Barbecue for Learning” was held on Thursday, July 27, 2017 from 4:00 p.m. at Government House in Charlottetown.

The event was purposefully informal, beyond subtle encouragements for those attending to broaden those they mingled with to include unfamiliars. There were no speeches. In developing the list of invitees we sought to bring together a broad assortment of those involved in teaching and learning, with particular emphasis on inviting those that are not usually invited.

Invited were:

  • All members of the Learning Partners Advisory Council.
  • All directors of the PEI Home and School Federation (executive and one regional director per family of schools).
  • The Chief of Abegweit First Nation.
  • The Chief of Lennox Island First Nation.
  • Leaders of the political parties represented in the Legislative Assembly.
  • Provincial Ministers of Education, Early Learning & Culture, Workforce & Advanced Learning, Health & Wellness, Agriculture & Fisheries, Family & Human Services.
  • Selected senior staff from Department of Education, Early Learning & Culture.
  • The Director and senior staff from Public Schools Branch.
  • The CEO and Executive Director of Health PEI.
  • Presidents of the University of PEI, UPEI Student Union, and Holland College.
  • Representatives from La Fédération des parents de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard, Rotary Club of Summerside,  Rotary Club of Montague, Rotary Club of Charlottetown Royalty, Community Connections, Young Farmers of PEI, 4H PEI, PEI Fishermen’s Association, Learning Disabilities of PEI, Queens County Residential Services, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Boys and Girls Clubs, Medical Society of PEI, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of PEI, Stars for Life Foundation, Autism Society of PEI.

This list included 20 members of LPAC, 18 members of PEI Home and School Federation, and 44 additional guests. Invitees were asked to RSVP to Government House by July 21, 2017.

After the event, PEI Home and School Federation emailed all those invited and asked them to fill out a survey about their experience at the BBQ, with an eye to deciding how and whether to repeat the event in the future. 18 people responded to the survey (approximately a quarter of those invited) ; below is an anonymous summary of responses received.

Did you attend the BBQ?

  • Yes: 15 (83%)
  • No: 3 (17%)

Those responding “No” were asked why:

  • I had planned to be there but our round baler broke down and we didn't finish our silage till after the BBQ was over:(
  • My apologies. I would have loved to have attended, but have battled a flu this week and did not feel it would be good for me or everyone else for me to attend. I would love to be invited another time.
  • I was planning on going, but unexpectedly got tied up at work.

What do you remember?
Can you tell us why you didn't attend? Busy with something else? On vacation? Missed the invite? Not sure what the BBQ was all about?

  • Chatting about how we can work together to introduce international travel into the public school curriculum. The Lieutenant Governor behind the BBQ cooking the hamburgers. The excellent dessert. Chatting with people at my table about how we can work to be welcoming to newcomers to PEI.
  • Great to have an informal time to discuss education with others who also care about student learning. It provided an opportunity to connect with others.
  • The lovely atmosphere, how laid back it was and the Lt. Gov barbecueing.
  • I talked with folks from UPEI and the Dept of Education about setting up a day for high school and university physics teachers to get together and discuss what we teach, how we teach, why we teach and ways to help students transition from high school to university physics. I remember the Lt. Governor flipping burgers and cleaning tables. What a guy!
  • Warm welcome, Hon. H. Frank Lewis and his wife serving us – humbling, nice food, beautiful weather, good company.  A nice connection to others in similar field (Autism society and stars for life).
  • A lovely event filled with conversation around education on PEI.
  • I enjoyed meeting and chatting with people, some of whom I have not seen in a very long time.  It was wonderful for the LG to host.   
  • Chatting with a variety of people I knew and some I met for the first time including an intermediate and senior high school student. We're the students there by design or chance? Just wondering. I liked the informal, collegial tone of the gathering and lack of political greetings and speeches.
  • Meeting a few people and enjoying the meal.
  • It was very relaxed – there were not as many people as I thought there would be based on the invitation list. Our hosts were very welcoming and the event was well organized and very enjoyable. I really enjoyed the dessert!
  • Meeting many interesting people currently or previously involved in the organization. Walking through the gardens and talking about many issues not necessarily related to education.
  • Nice opportunity to meet people whom I had heard about in education related meetings. People were friendly and easy to meet and talk to. It was a relaxed environment.
  • I loved seeing the Lieutenant Governor being a true host, cooking the food, cleaning up afterwards. So down to earth. I also got to connect with 3 past provincial presidents.
  • Frank Lewis in his apron cooking at the BBQ; many many opportunities to talk with people that I don't normally get to talk with; hot dog was surprisingly very good!
  • It was a lovely bbq. We enjoyed the venue and the food and chatting and meeting new people.

What could we do better?
Tell us, in a sentence or two, something you remember from the BBQ: someone you met, something you heard, a connection you made, a particularly well-cooked hamburger you ate.

  • Send out paper invitations: email ones are too easy to miss, and are subject to error (which we might not see). Provide more context to invitees about why we're holding the event, so it's not seen as a fundraiser (for example).
  • It would be better to have it an hour or two later in the day. For farmers in the summer there are a lot of afternoon that we are busy doing hay so a 6 is easier to get to that a 4.
  • Name tags! I understand PEI is small and many of us know one another. I think a name tag/title helps initiate conversations with others…and alleviates a potential awkward moment if you cannot recall a person's name. Otherwise, everything was perfect.
  • Name tags with Organisation.
  • I'd suggest the event be more of a stand up meet and greet with 'finger-food'. This would enable better mingling and connectivity.
  • Some more introductions of who was there and the purpose of the event.  Even though was very welcoming – it would have been nice to hear from others.
  • Name tags would be wonderful for those of us who are "new" to the scene!
  • Maybe make some kind of an announcement to share upcoming H&SF events & or engagement opportunities
  • At a subsequent gathering you might consider a general focus for discussion a bit narrower than "education" per se. Perhaps a topic shared ahead of time to provoke and engage participants before they attend.
  • Information sharing or plans for the Fall.  Name tags with name and organization.
  • It would have been nice to have the attendees identified with name tags so we could know what organizations or committees people represented.  That may have encouraged more mingling.
  • I thought it was absolutely lovely.
  • I think we should invite more people – there is always a large number of people who cannot attend.
  • I think that it was a wonderful opportunity for people interested in education to connect informally. Although tables are nice for eating, it would is great when people are more free to walk around and chat with more people. Once seated you are with the same people for the majority of the time (can be good/can be not so good). Not sure how to change that unless more finger foods are served instead of a BBQ.
  • name tags? Sometimes you know a name but not a face

Who did we miss?
If we hold the BBQ again, what could we do better?

  • It would have been good to have younger people involved; we missed this opportunity completely. Someone from Seniors College.
  • I am not sure who was on the "invite" list. Perhaps a few students?
  • I'd have to look at the list.
  • It would be impossible to include all people involved in education, given the invitee limit. I'd recommend the invitation list change from year to year to make sure as many folks as possible get a chance to participate.
  • I think you did an incredible job at not only inviting but ensuring that other agency felt included/welcomed in this event – well done!
  • I am not sure who you missed, but the idea of mixing many of us who work in various areas across the education sector is a really valuable idea.
  • Not sure as I didn't look to see who was all invited
  • It is critical to include students, parents and classroom teachers who are not "representatives" or in positions of power in all gatherings when possible.
  • Since there were no name tags or introductions, not sure who was there other than familiar politicians and the Minister of Education.
  • I was there as a member of LPAC so that is probably why Workplace Learning PEI was not part of the list – I would like to have our organization on the list for future events of this nature.  We are on the invitation list for Learn Day so that is great. Thanks!
  • It might be nice to involve some high school reps (possibly DAC members).
  • Can't think of anyone
  • No one I can think of

Do it again?
Should we hold the BBQ, or similar informal gatherings, again?

  • Yes: 18 (100%)
  • No: 0 (0%)