Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
The diverse community at Peace Arch Elementary reflects the diversity of our community – in interests, cultural backgrounds, languages, family composition, and social and economic factors. Our learners are capable and curious, and demonstrate daily that they want to do well in their learning. We have two parallel programs in our school, an early French immersion program and neighbourhood mainstream program, which increases our diversity as students come from all over the Surrey School District and beyond. Our students generally participate actively both in school and extra-curricular activities in the community. Our families are very supportive of the school and there is increasing ongoing communication between home and school about student learning through the use of digital documentation of learning.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
During the 2017-18 school year we began to notice some specific gaps in the knowing-doing connection in our students. During the summer of 2018, our staff wanted to know more about who our learners are, and what strengths and needs exist among our students. We looked at data from a wide variety of sources, including data collected directly from students, as well as demographic data. Teachers looked at results from the Middle Years Development Instrument (a Grade 4 student survey of wellness factors), the Student Learning Survey (of Grade 4 and 7 students, parents and staff, measuring a number of attitudes and activities related to academic, social and wellness factors), the Foundation Skills Assessment (academic measure of grade 4 and 7 students), demographics including home language, special education designations, Indigenous students, and citizenship, and our own school-based reading assessment data from the previous June. For each data set, we asked, what patterns do we see? What is the data not telling us? What are we wondering about?
From there, we decided to gather more information from students. Teachers developed survey instruments in grade groups/clusters in order to probe more deeply the following questions:
- Who are the adults in this school who care about you and your learning?
- What are you learning and why is it important?
- What do you do when you have a problem?
- What are your next steps?
During the first month of school, teachers gathered information from their students and brought it to a planning day at the end of September.
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
In October our teachers reviewed their student surveys, discussed how the results connected to our school practices and culture, and some themes emerged:
We summarized the areas of focus into:
- Students would benefit from CHOICE – in how to learn and how to show their learning.
- Students would benefit from DIRECT TEACHING of self-regulation and problem-solving strategies.
- Students would benefit from TIME and FACILITATION to solve problems that affect them and their classroom.
These three themes interconnect in that students feel a sense of control over what happens at school – over their own thoughts, feelings and actions, over their relationships with others, and over their own learning.
4. What professional learning do we need?
Our professional learning is targeted at two areas:
- Learning how to narrow our objectives to specific, measurable, short-term actions (Learning Sprints)
- Learning about different ways to teach specific self-regulation, social, and conflict resolution skills.
This learning takes place in various contexts:
- Collaborative, structured conversations and activities at monthly staff meetings