Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
Diversity Is Our Strength
Georges Vanier is a Community School located in the Newton neighbourhood of Surrey, within walking distance of the Newton Recreation Centre and surrounded on two sides by forested Hazelnut park. Our students come from diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and family backgrounds. This diversity contributes to the richness of our school community.
We celebrate, honour and value our differences. Children enter our school with an eagerness to engage with each other, to learn and to connect with caring and understanding staff members. Our students are individuals who possess a unique set of interests; they learn best at their own pace and preferred learning style.
Full and meaningful inclusion of children with Special Needs is the norm at our school. Our learners develop greater empathy through their engagement with diverse others. Students are often seen learning in collaborative pairs and small groups. They really enjoy learning with each other in experiences which are hands-on, meaningful, connected to the real world and inquiry based.
Our students deeply understand the importance of active learning. They have a clear sense of where they are at with their learning, where they are going, and how to get there. Students are reflective in their learning, open to descriptive feedback and often communicate and share their learning in digital ways. Our learners are less motivated by extrinsic rewards and marks, and more interested in actively engaging in the learning journey.
Another element of our diversity is that students possess a wide variety of social and emotional needs. Our students learn best when social and emotional skills are a focus alongside academics.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
This is what a group of student leaders appreciate about GV:
- caring teachers and staff
- many different cultures
- helpful friends
- extra curricular opportunities
- #KindnessCounts at GV
- students are friendly, open and welcoming
This is what students are saying about Social Emotional Learning at GV:
- keeping calm helps us to learn
- it’s important to know, understand and welcome each other
- learning about how the brain works help us with our learning and focus
- SEL can help us to build a healthy community and relationships
- good communication is important
- it’s important to understand your feelings and the feelings of others
Staff notice that our students:
- display a wide range of literacy, numeracy, social / emotional and other skills and abilities
- need Social Emotional Learning tools to help them manage and recognize emotions
- some need help unpacking their “emotional backpacks”, which at times can feel weighty and confusing
- are developing self-regulation skills and are encouraged to use self-reg. tools
- are developing active listening, empathy, conflict resolution, positive relationships skills
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
In 2015 staff engaged in a collaborative process and determined that undertaking a school-wide focus on Social Emotional Learning will improve students self-determination, self-regulation, overall well-being and ability to engage in learning.
Emerging School Wide Inquiry Question:
How does consistently scheduling one or more specific SEL strategies (nature walks, morning meetings, exploration time), improve students’ self-determination, self-regulation and overall well-being and their ability to engage in learning?
Personal awareness and responsibility 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. Students who demonstrate personal awareness and responsibility demonstrate self-respect and express a sense of personal well-being.
Personal awareness and responsibility is one of three interrelated competencies that relate to the broad area of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL):
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- I can show a sense of accomplishment and joy.
- I can celebrate my efforts and accomplishments.
- I can advocate for myself and my ideas.
- I can imagine and work toward change in myself and the world.
- I take the initiative to inform myself about controversial issues.
- I can sometimes recognize emotions.
- I can use strategies that help me manage my feelings and emotions.
- I can persevere with challenging tasks.
- I can implement, monitor, and adjust a plan and assess the results.
- I can take ownership of my goals, learning, and behaviour.
- I can participate in activities that support my well-being, and tell/show how they help me.
- I can take some responsibility for my physical and emotional well-being.
- I can make choices that benefit my well-being and keep me safe in my community, including my online interactions.
- I can use strategies to find peace in stressful times.
- I can sustain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which young people acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions; set and achieve goals; demonstrate empathy for others; establish and maintain positive relationships; and, make effective decisions. It includes a number of competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.
“Social and Emotional Learning is inextricably linked to school and life success. Empirical research indicates that well-designed, well-implemented, teacher-taught SEL curricula can achieve multiple benefits that include significant improvement in students’ social-emotional development, behaviour and academic performance.” Durlak
4. What professional learning do we need?
Georges Vanier staff are currently engaged in the following professional learning:
- ongoing collaborative learning with SEL Helping Teacher, Taunya Shaw
- drawing upon release time provided by Priority Practices SEL Grant
- accessing Inquiry Grant to purchase SEL resources and collaborative release time
- School Based SEL team is working and learning together
- we are participating in ongoing professional development focussed on Social Emotional Learning and Mind-Up
- staff have attended District LGBTQ in-service
- we are beginning a staff book study: One Without The Other: Stories of Unity Through Diversity and Inclusion, by Shelley Moore
- teachers are participating actively in 3 Learning Lunches this school year with a focus on Outdoor Learning, Classroom Meetings and Exploration Time
The following professional learning would help us move forward:
- release time to observe and collaborate with colleagues within the key strategies: classroom meetings, outdoor learning, exploration time
- further professional development in the key strategies
- professional develop provided by inclusion “expert” Shelley Moore
5. What is our plan?
We continue to focus our attention on Social Emotional Learning at Georges Vanier as our primary goal area.
Staff commit to implementing and learning more about:
- staff led learning lunches with a focus on SEL strategies
- staff action research and inquiry learning
- First Peoples’ Principles of Learning embedded into teaching
- Maker Space well developed and actively in use
- all staff committed to CSL through FreshGrade
- #Kindness Counts 2 week theme – and throughout year with trophies
- recognition of student successes and learning during assemblies i.e. Primary Stars
- school wide events linked to 3 strategies
- parent / community events linked to 3 key strategies
- school wide multicultural events
- buddy classes
- including classroom meetings, outdoor learning, exploration time within weekly classroom schedules
- imbedded SEL into school teaching / learning / culture
- circular belly breathing
- morning check-ins
- engaging MakerSpace learning
- exploring social justice and equity issues
- family diversity, LGBTQ concepts honoured
- hands-on minds-on learning which is student-centred
- digital citizenship promoted and taught
- developing positive relationships with learners – really get to know the whole child and their personal challenges
- we understand diverse learning needs – teaching / learning is differentiated
- Caring School Communities, Second Step and Mind Up curriculum
- Zones of Regulation language shared school wide
- WITS – school wide program
During the 2016/17 school year staff engaged in the collaborative development of a vision statement. This statement is currently in draft form and open to further feedback from staff, students and parents. This vision statement will be used to guide our work and learning at Georges Vanier school.
Georges Vanier School is envisioned as:
A thoughtful, collaborative and diverse community who creatively engages in learning, embraces challenges and honours growth.
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
We are developing a digital form to help track a small sample of students in our school as a way of observing change over time. We will also collect holistic class perspectives from teachers. This tool will reflect students’ growth within the BC Curriculum Personal and Social Competency. Please see a sample of the Google form below:
Click here to access the assessment tool.
7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?
We are continuing to work through our plan and will be adjusting accordingly, as we have further evidence of students’ Personal Awareness and Responsibility learning.
We may be collecting data samples three times next school year in October, January and May.