Our School Focus 2021-2022
As we prepared for school start-up in September this year, it became clear that we would need to focus on the Social and Emotional well-being of our students (and staff) after a very different year of learning in 2020-2021. It was the first time everyone was together again in our building and yet we were also beginning our Seismic Upgrade Project and welcoming many new staff members. We had a large group of students who had engaged in Transitional Learning for a full year and who were now back with us. Without being able to hold large in-person events and activities, we added this focus of care and wellness to our September Start-up Activities, morning announcements, staff meeting agendas, Health and Safety meetings, PAC meetings, Week at a Glance Newsletters (WAAG), Library Learning Commons activities and professional development learning days, as well as in our classrooms. We worked with our School Based Team, our School Counselor and the Inclusive Support Team to find ways to revive joy in our community. Being a school that traditionally organizes many extra-curricular events to make learning interesting, authentic and fun, it was important for us to find ways to do this as we waited for health restrictions to open up while learning and teaching in temporary spaces during the first phases of our construction.
#kindness #JEDI #digitalcitizenship
We also noticed during the fall that some of our students were using technology in inappropriate ways and that this was affecting their learning and social/emotional well-being both in-school and at home. We discussed this at our staff meetings, with our senior students, with our PAC, and with our School Counselor. We also shared our concerns with the community with phone calls home and through our weekly newsletters
In order to work towards our focus and help improve the Social and Emotional well-being of our students (and staff), and to monitor our progress, we will employ the following actions:
- Continue to use an additive approach by embracing and learning about celebrations, languages, equity, diversity and inclusion through direct teaching, school-wide activities, morning announcements, and student leadership activities.
- Learn more about the EASE Program with the help of our School Counsellor and “pilot” some of the activities and lessons in one targeted classroom before focussing school-wide on this initiative during the 2022-2023 school year
- Re-introduce as many extra-curricular activities as possible when health and safety restrictions allow so that students have the opportunity to practice being kind, using appropriate language and being good role models
- Create school guidelines for cell phone and personal device use to share with students, staff and families
The evidence we will use to determine if our actions are making a difference include:
- Scanning/Interviewing students in the spring
- Asking for feedback from staff and families about improvements to students’ social and emotional well-being and if this is having a positive effect on student learning
- Analyzing the results of our Student Learning Survey
Our School Focus is on developing the Core Competency of:
1) We are focused on improving our students’ abilities to effectively and descriptively communicate their thinking and learning
- Specifically, we want our students to be proficient at:
- Reflecting upon themselves as learners – their strengths, stretches, and next steps or goals moving forward
- Reflecting upon and assessing their own progress – on assignments, learning experiences and activities, and in all areas of the curricula
- Communicating and sharing their thoughts, opinions, perspectives, ideas and suggestions about improving their own learning but also to improving life and learning throughout the school.
- We believe that students must be encouraged and empowered to:
- Have a voice and input in the planning, setting of criteria for, and assessment of their learning
- Understand what they are learning and why it is important
- Understand what they are doing well, and what their next steps are
- Set goals and objectives (next steps) for their future learning
- Co-author, with the teacher, an action plan for achieving their learning goal
- Provide feedback and input to help us enhance learning throughout the school
- Make suggestions and explore ways to improve the collective experiences of our students
2) We are also focused on improving our ability to effectively and descriptively assess and communicate student learning.
- British Columbia has a redesigned curriculum, which means that we are also redesigning how we assess and report on student progress. The goal of communicating student progress is to ensure that families are well informed about their children’s progress. As a result, we are working to support new practices for communicating student learning.
- All of our teachers are committed to learning more about effective assessment strategies that are aligned with the redesigned curriculum, including:
- Increasing the opportunities for student reflections and self-assessments; thus deepening the partnership between students and teachers in the assessment of learning and reporting of progress
- Developing common language and common understandings of the core competencies, big ideas and the proficiency scales, which are some of the hallmarks of the redesigned provincial curriculum
- This year, nine of our classroom teachers are part of the district's Innovation Grant Team to communicate student learning in a variety of innovative ways, including:
- Proficiency Scales (emerging, developing, proficient, extending)
- Digital portfolio posts (ongoing)
- Learning conferences (fall and spring)
- Student Reflections of the Core Competencies (ongoing)
- Mid-Year Summaries
- Year End Summary of Progress & Self-Assessment of the Core Competencies
- All Bridge staff use student e-portfolios to communicate core competency reflections and to document student learning
Background – the Development of the School Focus for 2019 - 2020
In 2018 – 2019, our team of educators were involved in a variety of professional development, as well as innovation projects and explorations within the following areas:
- First People’s Principles of Learning
- Outdoor Learning, Outdoor Gardening and Alternative Learning Environments
- Healthy Choices – Social Responsibility, Physical Literacy and Nutrition
- Differentiated Instruction and Transformational Learning
- Playful Inquiry/Storytelling, Loose Parts and Reggio-inspired teaching and learning
- Use of technology to enhance learning:
- Using technology, and especially E-Portfolios, to effectively communicate one’s thinking and learning
Although the exploration of these areas of learning and innovation is exciting and progressive, they were largely staff driven initiatives without input or feedback from our student learners. We realized at that point that we needed to involve our students in the development of a school focus. We wanted to hear more often from them in order to help them to become even stronger learners.
To that end, in October of 2018, the staff at Bridge began developing our school focus by asking our students four key "Spirals Of Inquiry" questions that Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert propose educators should ask their students:
1) Do you believe you will be successful in life?
- 80% of our students answered "yes" - they believe they will be successful.
2) Can you name two adults who believe you will be successful?
- 100% of those students asked answered "yes" - they were able to name two adults who believed in them.
3) What are you learning about the First People's Perspective? And Why?
- Students could identify concepts related to First People's Perspectives but did not seem to know why it was important to learn about this.
4) How are you doing with your learning?
- Responses were varied but tended to be quite general or simple (eg. "I did good" or "I tried hard") rather than specific and detailed or descriptive in nature.
These four questions were intended to bring forward our students’ views, opinions, and reflections on their own learning at Bridge. We discovered that our students felt very safe and secure at Bridge, and they felt well supported by the adults in the Bridge community. We found, however, that our students could not tell us effectively why what they were learning was important, nor could they describe or reflect in specific detail about their thinking and learning or how they were doing with their learning.
This led to the identification of communication as the core competency of focus. While we maintained our professional interest on the areas of learning and innovation listed above, we shifted our emphasis toward our students’ perceptions and reflections of their learning and toward improving their ability to communicate their thinking and learning while participating in learning experiences across the curriculum.
In May of 2019, we expanded our scanning of our learners to look at student perceptions of learning and life throughout our school. This time, we surveyed all of the students in grades 1 to 7 again, asking them these nine important questions:
1) What were your favorite and/ or most fun things you learned this year?
2) Why were they your favorite and/or so much fun?
3) What were the most important things you learned this year?
4) Why were they important things to learn?
5) What other things do you want to learn about?
6) What things did you do well and / or are most proud of as a learner this year?
7) What are your next steps? What do you want to do better next year?
8) What makes Bridge a great school?
9) How can we make Bridge even better?