Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
Berkshire Park School supports the learning of 450 students in the residential community of Fleetwood, which is an established, stable community with a rich and interesting history and an evolving ethnic and socio-economic diversity. Originally constructed in 1989, the school has had two additions. The majority of our students live in the neighbourhood, however we have a Multi-Age Cluster Class for gifted learners who come from other schools in the north east area of Surrey.
Our students come to school with many strengths, interests and abilities. They come from culturally diverse backgrounds; approximately 68% have the advantage of speaking another language other than English in their homes. Our students are enthusiastically involved in many leadership and service activities, including community service, lunch monitoring, crossing guards, library monitors, big buddies, reading buddies, recycling and litter detail. They want to make a positive difference at Berkshire Park and in our larger community. Our students work hard and take risks in their learning. They are particularly enthusiastic to explore areas of interest and passion. Through inquiry-based projects, art activities, school performances, assemblies, try a trade, passion projects, and other classroom activities, students demonstrate their creativity and understanding of their own learning.
Our students enjoy being involved in developing the success criteria required to meet the grade level learning intentions. They are making good progress in being able to reflect on their own progress and provide specific feedback to their peers related to their progress on the learning intentions.
Substitute teachers, student teachers and other guests in our school comment frequently about the well-behaved and kind students at Berkshire Park. Through student self-reflection on their social emotional learning, we realize our students want to continue to develop strategies to self-regulate and self-calm. Our teachers believe that social and emotional learning is inextricably linked to school and life success.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
Through continuing professional conversations, class meetings and student interviews, the following findings have emerged to guide our planning process.
Our staff is cohesive and deeply committed to developing a welcoming and connected school community. Teachers and school-based administration continue to explore current, research-based practices. We are aware that through increasing our own learning we are better able to support students with increasing their learning capacity.
The majority of teachers are involved in monthly Curriculum Chat and Chew sessions, where they share resources and knowledge they have gathered from reading and professional development. They explore and discuss current research related to assessment for learning and instruction. Ten teachers were involved in a school-based book study (Embedding Formative Assessment by Dylan William and Siobhan Leahy). The teachers involved with the Numeracy Project focused on the book Making Number Talks Matter by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker. Those teachers shared their learning with other staff members and as a result several other teachers have implemented number talks as part of their math instruction.
During table talk discussions at staff meetings and other professional discussions, we further defined our understandings regarding our students and the needs within the learning community at Berkshire Park School.
Through class meetings and individual interviews with students, we understand that our students will be more successful in school and in life when they are taught well-designed social emotional curricula. As well, we have an increasing understanding of the impact that childhood trauma has on children and their ability to self-regulate and focus on classroom instruction. We believe that with a systematic implementation of high quality social and emotional learning curriculum, the well being of our students will be enhanced resulting in increases in their overall achievement and positive life outcomes. We have been exploring strategies to help all students understand social and emotional learning, through initiatives such as Minds Up, Second Step and yoga/movement education.
The feedback and active participation of students in collaborative, experiential and inquiry-based forms of learning are important data that guide our future directions. Evidence from Communicating Student Learning and Fresh Grade digital portfolios clearly indicate that students are beginning to shift their learning from a passive waiting-for-teacher direction posture to an attitude of being responsible for their own learning. They are becoming more accountable for and engaged in their own learning process. Students continue to demonstrate that they enjoy and value the opportunity to share their learning and they enthusiastically provide feedback to peers on the stated learning intentions.
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
Though assessing the learning of our students and continued professional conversations, the teachers have determined the following future learning directions at Berkshire Park: We plan to examine:
How can we continue to make learning and assessment a shared, visible process?
How can we enhance social emotional learning (SEL) within our classrooms to improve learning outcomes for students?
4. What professional learning do we need?
Next year, teachers at Berkshire Park are participating in at least two book studies:
The Daily Five (2014) by Gail Boushey
Grand Conversations (2005) by Faye Brownlie, or
Developing Self-Regulating Learners (2016) by Deborah L. Butler, Leyton Schnellert, and Nancy E. Perry
We will continue to be involved with District-Based Professional Development to ensure students have access to diverse learning opportunities and the resources they need to engage successfully with them.
Through continuing professional conversations at monthly Curriculum Chat and Chew sessions and staff meeting table talk, teachers will share their learning and how they are changing their practice to reflect their learning.
Additionally, our school-based professional development committee has planned a session that focuses on Teacher Wellness: Student Wellness. Other professional development is planned to support teachers with the further implementation of the redesigned BC curriculum.
5. What is our plan?
We will explore summative assessment of learning and behavior as it applies to:
Social emotional learning.
This is an area where we are focusing attention during the next school year. We will be conducting research, accessing resources at the District level and seeking direction from District Helping Teachers.