Part 1: Analysis of Context

1. What do we know about our learners?

What Do We Know About Our Learners?

Betty Huff Elementary is a large, culturally diverse school located at 13055 Huntley Avenue.  Our current enrollment is 391 students, and our catchment high school is Queen Elizabeth High School.  Our population is culturally diverse, and reflective of Surrey City Centre, with nearly 10% of our population proudly declaring aboriginal status.  The area is presently experiencing a re-gentrification as many of the older homes in the neighborhood are being torn down and rebuilt into large multi-family properties. Our school has close ties to the community and we host an amazing Coordinator from Community Schools Partnership (C-SP) for students and families including a breakfast and lunch program, as well as a referral program called, Check and Connect, for children who struggle with attendance.  Our school hosts a district program, called Social Development, that provides education and emotional support to students who either require intensive behavioural intervention or have a serious mental illness (in accordance with Ministry of Education, BC Criteria).

Betty Huff Elementary offers a myriad of opportunities for students.  We have an amazing group of staff at our school operating under a non-profit group (at-arms-length of the school), called the Betty Huff Theatre Company (BHTC) who volunteer countless hours to support students around development and performance of two live plays per year.  Our many typical extracurricular activities, such as cross country, volleyball, basketball and track and field are well attended.

Our leadership program offers opportunities for students to participate in community work including local and global initiatives, such as “WE Scare Hunger”, organizing and facilitating fundraisers such as “WE Walk for Water,” and participating in “WE DAY” activities.  Our students demonstrate leadership in other areas as well, such as being part of the “Fruit and Veggie” delivery crew, recycling crew, and track attack team.  Our school has close ties to the community, and we offer a wide variety of lunch time and after-school programs, such as STAR Power, Mini Blue, Spark, B.L.A.S.T.  (Bringing Learning to After School Time), and Racing Readers (a partnership with SFU).

The wealth of opportunities provided is reflective of the commitment among Community Schools Program staff and Betty Huff Staff members to provide and support these rich and valuable opportunities for students.  Embedded within the culture of our school is the notion that everyone matters, and that we all can make a difference.  The caring nature of students and staff at Betty Huff have contributed to a community that strives to meet the social and emotional needs and the academic needs of our students as well.  Our children are curious, compassionate, inclusive, respectful, and kind, and are accepting of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and abilities.  Our students work hard to meet our “Three Things” at Betty Huff by Taking Care of Oneself, Taking Care of Others, and Taking Care of our School and Community.

At Betty Huff Elementary we embrace our differences and similarities, and see our distinctions as strengths.

2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?

What will be our Focus?

The staff has dedicated time at staff meetings, and Professional Development days to discuss, and collaborate on school (student) strengths and needs.  After engaging in a process of discussion and prioritization; Betty Huff staff decided to make Social Responsibility (Taking Care of Self, Others and Community) as well as Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and self-regulation, the priority focus, specifically, the areas of self-awareness and self-management/self-regulation.  This comes from noticing an increasing need to help students learn to regulate their emotions, to understand themselves as learners and to see the connection between the two.

We will make use of Stuart Shanker’s work, “Calm, Alert, and Learning” for some of the theoretical implications in our school.  We will work from the common text, “The Zones of Regulation” when working with our students on the practical side.

Our staff has committed to this area of focus and formed a lunch time book club, under the leadership of our Vice-Principal, Ms. Jen Pilchak, engaging as many as 17 staff members, mostly teachers, but also support staff.  Over the past year, we have read, together:

·       Jensen, E. (2009). Teaching with Poverty in Mind.

·       Zacarian, D., Alvarez-Ortiz, L., & Haynes, J.  (2017).  Teaching to Strengths – Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence, and Chronic Stress.

and we are currently reading,

·       Katz, J., & Lamoureux, K. (2018).  Ensouling our Schools – A Universally Designed Framework for Mental Health, Well Being, and Reconciliation.

What is Social Emotional Learning and Why is it Important?

Social Emotional Learning is one of the Surrey Schools’ “Learning by Design” Priority Practices. Social Emotional Learning has a large body of research that supports its importance as a foundational component of successful schools.

To get a better idea of what Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is, watch this video: What is SEL?

CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) explains the areas of SEL.


The core competencies, along with literacy and numeracy foundations and essential content/concepts are at the centre of BC’s redesigned curriculum.  Core Competencies are sets of intellectual, personal, and social and emotional proficiencies that all students need to develop in order to engage in both deep learning and life-long learning.  Linking closely to our work in social-emotional learning is the Personal and Social Core Competency.  This is the set of abilities that relate to students’ identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society.

Personal and social competency encompasses the abilities students need to thrive as individuals, to understand and care about themselves and others, and to find and achieve their purposes in the world.  Specifically linked to our work in SEL is Personal Awareness and Responsibility.  This includes the skills, strategies, and dispositions that help students to stay healthy and active, set goals, monitor progress, regulate emotions, respect their own rights and the rights of others, manage stress, and persevere in difficult situations.  Our Community Schools Partnership, particularly in the SPARK program, support this target group specifically.

Students who demonstrate personal awareness and responsibility demonstrate self-respect and express a sense of personal well-being.  Also closely linked to SEL, is the area of Social Responsibility.  Social Responsibility involves the ability and disposition to consider the interdependence of people with each other and the natural environment; to contribute positively to one’s family, community, society, and the environment; to resolve problems peacefully; to empathize with others and appreciate their perspectives, and to create and maintain healthy relationships.  Betty Huff believes in Taking Care of Yourself, Taking Care of Others and Taking Care of Our Place/Community.  We do some this with some leadership guidance through an organization called “We Schools“.  This organization helps our students to find and maintain a focus for the world beyond our local school/community.

Part 2: Focus and Planning

3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?

What Do We Want to Learn?

Student office referrals have declined from 2018/2019 school year (126) to (22) in January 2019/2020.  We believe this may be related to several factors such as:

The Group of Students Involved – attrition
Increased Focus on Ancestry/Roots and Respective Cultural Pride
Targeted After School Programs (Student age / Program type)
A highly collegial group of teachers, working closely with a Master Teacher in our Social Development program.

This begins to form the Inquiry Question:

What must we do to decrease referrals further?  If what we have been doing is working, will maintaining existing programs and increasing others support a continuing decline in student office referrals (Oops Slips)?

4. What professional learning do we need?

What Professional Learning Do We Need?

We currently have a two ticket system.  We have “Harley’s Heroes” given to students exemplifying or supporting one of the Three Things at Betty Huff (Taking Care of Self, Others, This Place) and we have Oops Tickets, which are when students have made a mistake.  The number of Oops Tickets (for minor infractions) received determines what the consequence will be.

Students can still be referred to the office usually related to something outside of the classroom or of a serious nature beyond the typical handling of the classroom teacher.  We will continue to maintain those information slips as well.

During the balance of the 2019/2020 school year, staff will look at the SEL competency document created by our school district and begin to collect data on students’ understanding and level of competence in the areas.

Staff will engage in professional development on the May non-instructional day to learn more about the 5 domains of Self Regulation (based on the work of Dr. Stuart Shanker). We will then develop whole school and grade group lessons and focus based on determined need.

Teachers will share resources, participate in webinars and may review some of the commercially available products for purchase other than the ones currently in use at our school:

Theory:  Calm, Alert and Learning, by Stuart Shanker
Practical:  Zones of Regulation, by Leah Kuypers
Mental Health Work (Gr 6/7):  Open Parachute by Dr. Hayley Watson

5. What is our plan?

What is Our Plan?
Our plan is to gain a better understanding of Social Emotional Learning and how it impacts students.  Through use of developed tools and rubrics, we will gain a better insight into student needs (both individual and as a cohort).

Teachers will then work together with the support of the District Helping teachers, Principal, Counsellor, Child Youth Care Worker and Education Assistants to provide explicit instruction in the area of Self-regulation (Self-awareness and self-management).  Over time, teachers will review, reflect, and reassess to determine the impact of this instruction.

Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate

6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)

How Will We Know Our Plan is Making a Difference?  (Evidence / Success Criteria)
School Culture and Climate Success Indicators:

No. of Suspensions, and reasons behind them
Incident Reports / Office Referrals
Truancy (Absences / Lates)
Teacher Attrition may even be a partial indicator – perhaps exit slips?
Harley’s Heroes ticket counts
Oops Ticket counts

7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?

Based on the Evidence, Does Our Inquiry Require Adjustment?
Please check back in the future – this question to be evaluated and updated later.