Part 1: Analysis of Context

1. What do we know about our learners?

Strawberry Hill Elementary is attended by 485 students who come from diverse backgrounds.  Our students demonstrate pride and ownership of their school on  a regular basis; it is a place where they proudly share their cultural pride with each other and are open and eager to learn about one another.   Most of the students are confident in skilfully using more than one language for learning and communicating with their community members.  When provided with school opportunities outside of the classroom, Strawberry Hill students  participate enthusiastically.

Teachers regularly report that, as classroom learners, students are genuinely interested and eager to expand their current knowledge as well as experience new learning.  We often hear how Strawberry Hill students regularly demonstrate respectfulness, kindness, and a willingness to lend a helping hand to others. On many occasions guests to our school have shared how impressed they are by the kindness and politeness of our students by acts such as offering to help carry items or open doors.  One visiting teacher stated, “There is nothing for me to gain by saying this to you, but I wanted to let you know that this is the very best school I have ever been in. I have been continually impressed by how kind and friendly the students are, and how welcoming the staff members are. When I walk down the hallway, people smile and say hello.”

Both staff members and parents play a huge role in creating our sense of community at Strawberry Hill.  The learning that happens in the classroom and around the school provide opportunities for learners to grow in all three of the core competencies.  In classrooms, students are engaged in many different learning activities to develop their critical and creative thinking skills and are proudly sharing and understanding their learning by using effective communication skills.

Just a few examples of the wide range of opportunities that are available to our students outside of the classroom are a chess club, many sports teams, a robotics club, a student leadership team, a choir, and a social responsibility club.  Activities throughout the school year are well thought through and organized by staff members who have a solid understanding of not only their own students, but the school community at large, recognizing cultural and social factors play a significant role in students’ lives.  Parents and grandparents are actively welcomed in our students’ school lives and have a strong presence in our school.  Along with having a dedicated Parent Advisory Council (PAC), many parents passionately support our students and school by volunteering their personal time.  As well, the parent community of Strawberry Hill views the school as a support system in not only their children’s lives, but in their own as well.  Parents see themselves as partners in their child’s education, and therefore support the school and staff members as much as possible in order to further their child’s learning.

With  a dedicated staff and a supportive parent community, our students are set up for a rewarding and successful school journey.  Although we continuously celebrate our students’ strengths as learners, we are committed to seeking ways to provide our students with skills that they can use as lifelong learners.   As teachers continue to learn more about our students,  a theme that has emerged is that many of our students many benefit from  developing strategies to regulate their behaviour so that they can optimize their learning.

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

We believe that the success of our learners is created by many factors, including their cultural diversity, their willingness to be active participants in their own learning , and their appreciation of what is offered to them by the greater community.   As highlighted in the two charts, our learners speak many languages in their homes and were born in many different nations.  This cultural diversity is a huge strength and source of pride in our school.  As can be seen in the first chart, most of our students were born to new immigrants, who look towards the school as a support to their entire family.  The second shows that more than half of our students speak Punjabi in their homes; however, in recent years, this percentage has greatly decreased with the growth of Urdu, Hindi, and English speaking families.  Our school welcomes this diversity and has made it a priority to create a safe and accepting culture where all students, parents, and other visitors proudly display their cultural identity.  Walking through our hallways, you will see many students proudly wearing hijabs and  turbans.  Not only do they display their cultural identity, they are excited to share it as well.  Whether it is through dance, food, reading, presenting, all members of our school are regularly exposed to one another’s cultural pride.  Earlier this year, two of our grade seven Syrian refugee students courageously shared their personal journeys to Canada at a school-wide assembly.  The amount of bravery and risk that they demonstrated could only have been fostered by a supportive and welcoming environment.  Shortly after their presentation, many students want to share their own stories now as well.  The cultural diversity that is a huge part of Strawberry Hill binds us together rather than separates us; interactions between students of different cultural backgrounds are common and natural throughout the school.   In our classrooms  students are engaged in thoughtful and meaningful activities planned by their teachers and have the opportunity to stretch their individual learning and push it outside of their comfort zone.  Teachers keep the three core competencies in the focus of their daily lessons.  An example of students being encouraged to expand their creative and critical thinking skills was recently demonstrated by classroom teachers and our Applied Design and Skills Technology teacher,  who introduced the L.A.U.N.C.H. cycle as a means to show students how to cooperatively focus on the process, rather than the product, when solving a problem.  Another example that highlights that the core competencies, sharing and understanding their learning, are at the centre of daily activities was our grade seven Punjabi learning class reading a Punjabi picture book in both Punjabi and English at a school-wide assembly; this was a wonderful opportunity for the entire school population to see that learning can occur in every language.  The third core competency, using effective communication skills, was recently demonstrated in an intermediate  classroom where students were challenged to compose and ask powerful questions to a special guest speaker via Skype; a simple lesson on Random Acts of Kindness became a reality for the students who were able to communicate their questions to a real-life hero.  These three examples represent the incredible learning that our students can not only participate in, but take to places that highlight their individual abilities.   Our students eagerly take advantage of all opportunities provided by school staff and by the larger Surrey community.  At Strawberry Hill, students are provided with choice, depending on their strengths and interests, to become involved in activities that promote their academic, social, and physical growth.  As can be seen in the list below over 30 clubs, teams, or activities were organized and offered to our students before, during, and after school hours just in this school year alone.  Staff who offer these opportunities report an overwhelming participation response, with higher than anticipated numbers.  One specific program that emphasizes the dedication and eagerness of our students to learn outside of their regular classroom is our school’s Early Risers Reading Club.  Students participate in this club every Monday to Thursday, beginning at 7:45 am in our library.  Originally this program was created to support our grade 3 and 4 learners, but it has quickly grown to celebrate the joy of reading for all ages.  Younger readers are paired up with grade 6 and 7 leaders, who monitor and encourage reading comprehension and decoding  skills.  Membership in this club often exceeds 30 students on a daily basis!  As in all programs, the club is supported by a large number of willing staff members.  Community members have also shared that attendance in their programs is outstanding.  Both the YMCA and RCMP run weekly programs in our gym for our students and have higher than capacity participation rates.  All of these numerous activities are provided by a staff and community that recognize what a huge role our school provides for our students, who may not get these opportunities otherwise.

Part 2: Focus and Planning

3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?

With a dedicated staff and a supportive parent community, our students are set up for a rewarding and successful school journey. Although we continuously celebrate our students’ strengths as learners, we are committed to seeking ways to provide our students with skills that they can use as lifelong learners. As teachers continue to learn more about our students, a theme that has emerged is that many of our students many benefit from developing strategies to regulate their behaviour so that they can optimize their learning.

4. What professional learning do we need?

Once our focus is solidified, the professional learning needs will emerge.

5. What is our plan?

Once our focus is solidified, the planning needs will emerge.

Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate

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

Once staff has had an opportunity to implement our plan, the evidence and success criteria will be reported on.

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

Once staff has had an opportunity to implement our plan, any needed adjustments can be reported on.