Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
Old Yale Road Elementary is located in Surrey’s City Centre, nestled within an urban green space that students and staff utilized for learning, play and physical fitness. Old Yale Road has seen much growth since it was established in 1964 and today the school houses almost 450 students. Our school’s cultural mosaic paints a diverse portrait as we are made up of student who know and/or speak 47 different languages, students who have originated from 76 different countries and 50 indigenous families (60 individual students) who add to its diversity and unique make up.
The students at Old Yale Road feel supported by the staff and believe they are surrounded by people who believe that they will be successful. Students enjoy their relationships with grade level peers along with their multi-age connections. Most importantly, students enjoy being at school, taking part in school activities and feel connected to the adults that are around them.
“Ms. Chow never gives up on people”
“Ms. Minto always tells me I have the ability to do great things”
“Ms. S believes in me because she always helps me with things that are hard or and always makes me smile and stay positive”
“Ms. Jamieson …thinks everyone in this school has the ability to do great things in this world”
“Ms. Nordhoj is always pushing me to better and greater things…always supporting me”
“Mrs. Smith because when I was in grade 1, I didn’t speak English, only Chinese. She always encouraged me to keep practicing.”
Many Old Yale Road students practice kindness in a variety of ways and within various spaces throughout the school. Kindness has been a theme supported in many classrooms and everyday students are being recognize for the incredible ways they help one another and “fill each other’s bucket”.
“I offer people to play because they will have some friends to play with and they are not alone”
“I show kindness by being nice to people and helping them when there sad by making them laugh.”
“When someone is sad I take care of them”
Many students are empathetic and compassionate towards their peers and are making gains in many areas in relation to kindness. However, there is still room to transform student ideas into actions that could be making a greater impact by extending beyond simply helping students when the need arises. There is the potential to develop a deeper sense of kindness that extends to foster the well-being of the school community and the betterment of all students. A deeper sense of kindness that could also make an impact on the surrounding community, creating passionate, active citizens who have the capability of making a difference.
Our students are also seeing kindness practiced regularly in the classroom, library, gym and for the most part outside. However, kindness isn’t always transferring into places when the situations are unstructured, there is less direct adult support and where students are provided with more freedom to choose to be kind when an adult isn’t watching.
“Most people are kind in the classroom and they are unkind outside.”
“(A) girl gives me looks in the hallways and probably sometimes outside. I have a feeling she’s judging me and I don’t fit in.”
“I think Im kind to others unless I get mad or annoyed I storm off. I think my goals are to be more kind.”
Our students see themselves as having a variety of strength. They are artistic, good friends, hardworking, good at bug collecting and have the capacity to be creative and critical thinkers. Many students are very athletic and enjoy a wide range of physical activities such as soccer, badminton, dance, basketball and track and field. Students thoroughly enjoy the spaces that Old Yale Road has available (indoor and outdoor) to be able to grow in their physical abilities.
“I’m good at soccer and basket ball and I’m a good runner.”
“I’m a good listener by listening how to do work or plays and I try my hardest in math, science and writing”
“I’m helpful because I help my class matts (classmates) read”
“I am good at being myself and not being someone alse (else)”
When students were surveyed on what they felt could be a distraction from their learning many brought up thoughts connected to anxiety and worry, the death of a grandparent, sports they enjoyed, field trips they were going to be going on, outside of school activities that would be happening, and video games, YouTube clips and TV programs they enjoyed.
“My mind likes to make me worry or make me think of other things”
“I also think about death a lot, where to we go, will we be remembered?”
“There are some personal things happening in my life and I keep thinking about that and not paying attention.”
“I listen to what the teacher says but I can’t focus on anything”
Our community of learners are friendly, respectful, caring, and diverse. Old Yale Road celebrates the diversity in our learners and sees value in providing the same diversity of teaching through a differentiated, student-centered, strength-based approach in order to provide opportunities for all students to succeed. In order to maintain this passion for individual and collective student needs, the teachers at Old Yale Road have decided to use and teach a growth mindset approach as part of our school inquiry.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
Supportive evidence for our growth plan has been collected through a variety of ways. This evidence has helped to provide a clearer picture of the strengths and stretches/needs of our learners at Old Yale Road. Reviewing this data and encompassing student voice in our planning process helps us to have a better understanding of the gap between where our school currently is and where we would like to be in the coming year. Understanding this gap helps us to systematically plan our steps towards our goal; targeting our areas of needs and providing our students with the encouragement and support needed to create an environment that is safe for them to take risks, discover who they are, and become creative and unique individuals who have the ability to make an impact.
The evidence that we are currently using to support what we know about our learners has come from:
- Ongoing review of FreshGrade portfolios
- Staff observations and staff surveys
- Collaborative discussions at staff meetings and professional development days
- Student self-reflections and student surveys
- Office data
- Parent conversations with staff
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
In order for us to be successful in meeting the needs of Old Yale Road students it is extremely important for our focus to be on creating a learning environment that will impact our students on a deeper, more sustainable level. The projected achievements will be sought through a lens that maintains a holistic approach. This approach will consider all areas needed in order for a student to maximize development and sustain what they have learned.
Old Yale Road values and respects the level of care and concern that is provided by parents and caregivers. We recognize the importance of providing a collective approach to help foster student development. Our plan is to focus on staff/parent connections and provide a deeper level of support for Old Yale Road families. Our staff value and see the importance of maintaining ongoing, open and respectful communication. They see parents and caregivers as an integral part of maintaining student growth and development.
This parent-school relationship will be fostered through district supports along with the establishment of key partnerships within our community. In fostering these relationships, Old Yale Road could collectively offer our families some much needed family-centered support to maximize growth, development and opportunity for all students.
After reviewing our data, the following questions have emerged. These questions will lead our inquiry for our 2019-2020 School Growth Plan:
- If Old Yale Road actively pursues building connections between parents, community and school/district supports will we see increased in student core competency development?
- If Old Yale Road, through reframing perspectives to support a growth mindset, focuses on developing a culture of resilience, will we see an increase in the areas of kindness, school unity, respect and a sense of ownership towards the school?
4. What professional learning do we need?
- Information, professional development and resources around pursing a growth mindset
- Focus on building basic skills for students who need it while still providing enrichment opportunities using an UDL planning format
- Professional Development around differentiation of instruction to meet the needs of all students.
- Strategies for fostering resiliency
- Incorporating a First People’s Principles of Learning perspective in all areas of student development
- District support around whole school social-emotional learning practices
- Information around community partners and programs available to students and families
- Ways to maximize learning environments and flexible learning spaces within an older school
- How to utilized Maker Space and STEM/STEAM programs within a collaborative model
- Different collaboration techniques: classroom teacher to classroom teacher, multi-grade collaboration, classroom teacher with LST/IST
- Effectively utilizing an EA as part of a whole class support model
5. What is our plan?
- Monthly lunch and learns, pro-d’s and staff meetings that contain the following topics: resiliency, responding to challenging behaviour, self-regulation strategies and reframing our thinking (growth mindset)
Activities that connect with the community and help to bridge relationships between parents/caregivers and the school:
- Connections with pre-K parents and helping to recognize and establish support for students before they begin Kindergarten
- Monthly parenting talks/education around a variety of topics connected to parent needs
- Vendor fair for Community Partners – September, 2019
- Celebrating the schools 55th birthday and inviting families to attend – September, 2019
- Inviting strong start parents to attend parent sessions/themes
- Inviting parents into the school to take part in various school programs including Family Literacy, Bannock & Books, Science Nights, Fine Arts Afternoons, etc.
- Bridging connections with community partners and inviting them into the school for meetings, discussions with staff and planning sessions.
Collaborative time amongst teachers:
- Professional development around establishing co-teaching/co-planning norms as well as helping with various models of how to create collaboration time within the school time table
- Look at coordinating prep times to help deepen relationships with teachers who have already established collaboration
- Looking at models of support that would effectively allow our IST and LST teachers to support students within the classroom and function within a co-teaching, co-planning model.
Creating innovative learning environments within the classroom to provide access to students who are struggling in their Social-Emotional Learning:
- Connections with other schools to who have utilized this practice to discuss topic
- Purchasing classroom resources that connect to student need
- District support around utilizing a whole school, social-emotional program
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
- Students are feeling more self-regulated, calm and connected to their peers while functioning within the classroom. Counsellor and CCW time will be spent proactively and not reactively.
- Parents will feel more comfortable with their connection to the school and we will see an increase in parent participation in all areas
- LST/IST will be functioning within a more co-teaching/co-planning role in the classroom to varying degrees.. LST will focus on intermediate and IST will be in all grade levels
- Classrooms spaces will be able to connect to a variety of different learners
- Teachers feel comfortable collaborating and planning together at an effective level and it is taking place on a regular basis
This will be evaluated through:
- Survey staff and students
- Track numbers of parents coming to school functions
- Tracking number of students who are connecting with the office and their reason
- Video of student stories connected to changes