Part 1: Analysis of Context

1. What do we know about our learners?

Creating Clarity – Getting to Know Our Students

 Guiding belief: We value the voice of every parent, student and staff member in the search for greater clarity around student learning and success. For the past five years North Surrey Secondary had a focus on improving student learning through three areas; literacy, social responsibility, and assessment. These areas of focus are still ongoing, however, it was decided by staff that we engage in Collaborative Inquiry as a means to identify our current students’ needs and to understand these to refresh and realign our priority practices to better support our students. We have modeled our guiding principles of Collaborative Inquiry on the District’s School Planning Process.

  • An inquisitive mindset is central to the inquiry process.
  • Inquiry processes incorporate review, revision, and refocusing on an ongoing basis, while maintaining an instructional focus over time.
  • Key to the focus of inquiry is a deep understanding of the learners in the school.
  • Evidence which informs the focus for inquiry comes in different forms (qualitative and quantitative) incorporating teacher judgement.
  • Celebrating successes along the inquiry path builds a greater sense of community and commitment.

Developing a clear understanding of our student needs at North Surrey has been a priority for us over the last year and a half.  During this time we have worked closely with our student population and have provided them opportunities to share their successes and challenges with our staff.

Scanning Students – Finding their “Why”

The theme of our school  plan for 2015-16 was titled “Scanning” – getting to know our students and their learning needs.  Last year the Students As Allies Committee was formed.  This group consisted of 10 teachers and various students from different departments and groups.  The goal of this group was to engage students in giving them a voice and an opportunity to provide us with their learning needs.  The group met throughout the year and one of the accomplishments was the creation of a student survey that sought student information around Self-Worth, Engagement, and Purpose in learning.  In the Spring of 2015 we surveyed over  (90%) of our grade 8-12 students as part of our collaborative inquiry process. As part of this survey we also asked the students three open-ended questions, these were: 1.    Why do you think learning is important? 2.    How do you know you are learning? 3.    What do you think are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your school? We have analyzed this student data and have found several themes on their learning needs. These are illustrated in the next section under evidence.

Scanning Staff – Finding Our “Why”

As part of our inquiry in understanding where our students are at in their learning and overall needs we surveyed all of our staff in September 2016.  We explored two essential questions: What do we, as a staff and community, know about our students – their successes and challenges? What evidence supports what we know about our students? Creating clarity around these two inquiries  directly impacts our vision, our practices, school decisions and the “why” and “what” we do every day at North Surrey.    We have analyzed our staff data and have found several themes around student learning needs. These are illustrated in the next section under evidence. In getting to know where our students are at in their learning we have used both qualitative and quantitative methods to collect data.  These have included student focus groups, student assessment data, satisfaction survey data, informal and formal teacher group discussion, staff Pro d days, Department leadership days, in class activities and through direct and indirect observations.   Working with our elementary family of schools we have started to collaborate and collect data on how best to support our future students to ensure a successful transition to high school. We have also surveyed our PAC to collect data on what parents think about their own children’s learning needs.  

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

Supporting Clarity

The results of both the student and staff surveys, and ongoing conversations and inquiries have helped us in better understanding how best to support our students at North Surrey.  Our students have lots to say about their learning and after analyzing over three thousand  open responses, significant themes emerged as we sorted through the data (these are illustrated below).   To better understand the information we have organized them into Primary themes (Dark Green) and sub-themes (Light Green).  The primary themes were most common in the student data spanning nearly all of the responses in the three separate questions.

Student Evidence:

Overall there are nine primary themes of what our students are telling us about what is important to them and their learning at North Surrey .  These are illustrated in the three dark green boxes below.  It is clear that students value their FUTURE and how education is APPLICABLE  to them and the broader COMMUNITY.  The have clearly told us that what they learn in class has to be relevant, challenging, and tied to the real world.  Students have also said that we need to ensure that their learning is highly ENGAGING and that they have opportunities to INTERNALIZE  their learning through various ways that matter to them.   Students value and have a sense of RESPECT among themselves, their peers, and the staff at our school.  This is a school goal that we will continue to work on as it is the foundation of creating a safe and inclusive learning environment for all who walk through our doors.    

Staff Evidence:

On our 2016  staff Professional Development day we engaged in an activity that asked two essential questions: What do we, as a staff and community, know about our students – their successes and challenges? What evidence supports what we know about our students? After collating over 85 staff responses and analyzing the data, four main themes emerged.  These were:

Engagement

Staff clearly identified that student engagement is an area of focus for our school. In particular we have identified the need to increase student engage in all aspects of learning and instruction.  Staff understand the importance of engagement and its alignment with student success

Student Diversity

Staff celebrate the diverse student population at our school and are looking at ways to better support all of our students’ social, emotional, and academic needs.  Our school is inclusive where all students from all walks of life are respected.

Positive Relationships

Developing positive relations between staff and students and within students themselves is another focus at our school.  One of the most important indicators of student success is having a positive relationship and connection with each other and staff.

Digital Citizenship / Technology

This forth theme as identified by staff is another important focus for our school.  As students navigate the complex world of social media, learning tools, and other technologies we want to ensure that they are accessing and utilizing these responsibly.

After considering a large amount of student and staff  data on what we should focus on, our primary focus for our school plan will be centered on student engagement.  We will also keep the other identified themes as school wide priorities moving forward.

 

Our School

 When we asked students “why do you think learning is important” and “What do you think are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your school” , ENGAGEMENT came up twice as a primary theme.  After reading over 3000 responses to these two questions it is clear that students do not want learning made easy, they want it to mean something.  They want to feel something, to be moved by what they learn.  They want to connect deeply with things that matter to the world and matter to them.  They want a chance to make a difference for themselves, their families and to the rest of society.  It is our job as educators to provide these learning experiences and to fuel individual passions through engagement.  

Our staff have spent a considerate amount of time reflecting on what our school focus should be, of the four themes identified above.  After analyzing much data, both quantitative and qualitative, it was  decided that our school plan be focused on STUDENT ENGAGEMENT over the next few years.  We as a staff are particularly interested in how the redesigned curriculum and the Know – Do – Understand planning model will influence over all student engagement and improved student success at North Surrey Secondary.  

2017 Satisfaction Survey – to gather more data on what students, staff, and parents think about student engagement we decided to survey grades 8-12 this year and have added additional questions around engagement to help us develop a better sense of this topic for a school focus.  Data is yet to be reviewed.

 

 

Part 2: Focus and Planning

3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?

Our School

When we asked students “why do you think learning is important” and “What do you think are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your school” , ENGAGEMENT came up twice as a primary theme.  After reading over 3000 responses to these two questions it is clear that students do not want learning made easy, they want it to mean something.  They want to feel something, to be moved by what they learn.  They want to connect deeply with things that matter to the world and matter to them.  They want a chance to make a difference for themselves, their families and to the rest of society.  It is our job as educators to provide these learning experiences and to fuel individual passions through engagement.  

Our staff have spent a considerate amount of time reflecting on what our school focus should be, of the four themes identified above.  After analyzing much data, both quantitative and qualitative, it was  decided that our school plan be focused on STUDENT ENGAGEMENT over the next few years.  We as a staff are particularly interested in how the redesigned curriculum and the Know – Do – Understand planning model will influence over all student engagement and improved student success at North Surrey Secondary.  

4. What professional learning do we need?

Learning Together

To move forward on a school focus of student engagement we as a staff need to develop a common understanding of what we mean by engagement.  To facilitate this process we spent a full staff meeting in early 2017 reflecting on the following question:  Students who are engaged in their learning at North Surrey Secondary are…  We are in the process of reviewing the responses and plan to ask students the same question to gain a better understanding of engagement.  We need to refine our focus before moving forward.

In  August of 2017 we have a  professional development day planned with Dr Gilian Judson from the Faculty of Education from SFU.  One of her research focuses is around student engagement and we plan to use this day to refine and develop a common understanding of student engagement. We will also explore how the redesigned curriculum and the Know-Do-Understand planning model applies to student engagement.  The goal for that day is to develop our inquiry question with these focuses in mind.

5. What is our plan?

Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate

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

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