Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
Surrey Traditional School (STS) is a K to 7 school in the Central City Zone of Surrey. Our school is surrounded by a mix of single-family established homes and more recent newly built homes. Our physical school campus is among one of the largest elementary schools in the district. STS was re-located onto the site of the former Len Sheppard Junior Secondary school.
Our current enrollment is 336 students placed into 14 divisions. We have students coming from all across the district, as we are a non-catchment school. Our school is attracting more students within walking distance. As the following chart indicates, there is an increase in the number of students attending within our catchment over the last three years:
Over the last four years, our school has undergone transitions with the formation of combined classes, half of the teachers at our school are new to traditional school, new administration and new families entering our school. Each staff member from our support staff, administration, custodial team, Office staff to teachers brings a wealth a knowledge and shared values to our school. Our staff works extremely well together to meet our students’ needs.
As we are moving from traditional tools to more modern tools for learning, our staff recognizes and appreciates the changing roles and significant transitions in the world of education. With the new curriculum, method of communicating student learning (CSL), new digital technology- we recognize the need for updating traditional school philosophy.
Our school community is fortunate to have parents as partners who fund raise and encourage our staff to use technology, as well as involving parents to build a positive school community. Our parents assist in many ways with hot lunches, at in-school events, support in classrooms, fundraising, morning greeters and chaperoning on field studies, As a traditional school, parents play a very active role in our school and their child’s education. With our school goals, parents parents play an integral role and support their children.
Our parent community is very dedicated and all of our families are generous with contributing to our school as evidenced by the new playground and large amounts of technology in our school. Our parent group also gives to the community and supports school fundraisers.
The staff of STS all work together to make our school a special place. All staff take pride and continue to work hard to ensure students are a priority. Teams of teachers work together at each grade level and share similar philosophy to meet students needs. Our success lies in our staff who contribute to making our school a wonderful place to work and learn. Please view the attached sheets generated from staff about the numerous successes at Surrey Traditional School.
What do we know about our learners?
Like many schools in Surrey, we have a diverse group of learners. Our community is a mix of households, with some extended family and first/second generation households. From our school demographics we have a slightly higher portion of male students to female students. From registration data, we also know there is approximately 1/3 of English Language Learners(ELL) in our school. The following chart denotes the many home languages spoken in our students’ homes.
We have a thriving community of diverse learners. Multicultural Day is a colorful display and an annual event. At Surrey Traditional School we value diversity and embrace all learners.
Manners matter at STS and our students are respectful. As a school, we reinforce values of taking care of others, taking care of this place and taking care of oneself. Our students are well-behaved and come from wonderful families who commit to traditional school values. In a district community forum, parents cited the main reason for having their children attend Surrey Traditional school was for the uniforms and a structured environment.
PREAMBLE: Surrey Traditional School (STS) is one of three traditional ‘choice schools’ in the district. STS was the first school established twenty two years ago by parents lobbying the Board for a traditional choice school program. At that time, Surrey Traditional School was a K-12 school in the east zone of Surrey. The basic guidelines for STS were adapted from the Ten Tenets of Traditional, which originated from the first traditional school in Abbotsford, and included: -Teacher as instructor -An emphasis on basic skill building -Regular Skills Assessment to support high academic learning -Accountability for individual learning -Structured learning environment -A school uniform -Parent involvement -Ministry driven curriculum -Systemic, structured learning -Homework policy
Many interpretations of the above ten tenets have been examined and, in 2014, a large parent /staff/student district community forum was held to revise traditional schools for the future. With external presenters Peter Norman and Brad Bauman, some common understandings were put in place as we work to ‘modernize’ traditional schooling. Recommendations from the traditional forum are being updated. As a result, STS has been examining each of the tenets in light of the revised BC Curriculum, district initiatives, new methods of Communicating Student Learning, and with the new reality of our changing needs and hopes for our students.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
In addition to the above data derived from demographic/registration information, we have also drawn upon classroom discussions, ELPATS for Kindergarteners, FSA data, some staff participated in the inquiry project ‘Changing Results for Young Learners’, ‘A Novel Approach’, classroom instructional practices and observations to gain valuable insights of our students. Over the last two years, our school has been assessing students for LST with Fountas and Pinnell.
With regular on-going assessments as part of traditional school philosophy, our fall assessment data sets the direction to improve upon. Using many forms of data for reading, writing and math, we are able to focus on our students and discover areas to develop. In addition, we look for patterns and have discovered our students are not able to explain their thinking and/or make personal connections to stories, as evidenced from written assessments.
From here, we began our inquiry process and identified an area for further growth and development in regards to student learning. We know our students are reading at a range of grade levels through school-wide assessments. In September, our school is able to analyze data and develop strategies for our learners at the beginning of each school year to ensure student success. Our findings have guided our inquiry.
First, our assessment results showed some of our most vulnerable students are reading below grade level. This information is important each year as we examine student progress, skills and supports. From this information, we use a team approach in our school and are able to service our students through various means of instruction. With this in mind, using a lens of inquiry, we questioned tying the new curriculum into traditional teaching. We also see how we, as educators, need to adjust according to our changing students. Our School Plan Committee has worked to narrow our guiding question, ”How can we improve our teaching practices to enhance student comprehension?”.
Second, as we looked at School Planning as an Inquiry Process in staff meetings, we noticed through anecdotal observations and student input/feedback our staff had questions around the social and emotional aspects of our students. Questions arose as how do we support and foster social responsibility in a traditional school environment. At a staff meeting, through discussion and collaborative activities, input was given for an additional inquiry question, “How do we teach social responsibility at Surrey Traditional School?”.
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
We know some of our students struggle with reading comprehension as evidenced by their performance on classroom and standard assessments. We also discovered there is a need for social emotional learning from staff feedback/observations. Therefore, we formulated questions around improving teaching practices to enhance student comprehension and how to teach social responsibility.
First, we examined our assessment results which showed some of our most vulnerable students are reading below grade level. This information is important, as each year as we examine student progress, skills and supports. We then use a team approach in our school and are able to service our students through various means of instruction. With this in mind, using a lens of inquiry, we question tying the new curriculum into traditional teaching. We see how we as educators need to adjust according to our changing students. Our School Plan Committee has worked on our guiding question,”How can we improve our teaching practices to enhance student comprehension?”.
We also as we looked at School Planning as an Inquiry Process in staff meetings, we noticed through anecdotal observations and student input/feedback our staff had questions around the social and emotional aspects of our students. Questions kept coming up as to how do we support and foster social responsibility in a traditional school environment. At a staff meeting, input sought and we came up with the overall question, “How do we teach social responsibility?”. Our observations and assessments of students shows a need for explicit instruction in the following areas: empathy, self-regulation, problem-solving, and motivation. In other words, our future school direction is forming in the area of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). In regards to staff out of their comfort zone and provided some of the following visual examples which include developing students as leaders, using technology, sharing personal stories and team work :
Our observations and assessments of students shows a need for explicit instruction in the following areas: empathy, self-regulation, problem-solving, and motivation. In other words, our future school direction is forming in the area of Social Emotional Learning (SEL).
4. What professional learning do we need?
We will require on-going professional learning experiences for our staff and students. We also need to look at our current practices and collaborate more, as well as incorporate new technology. Some suggestions that have come up include:
-Grade group teachers need to share what is best practice in classrooms with each other. Future considerations may include peer observations in classes to support one another.
-Continue with formative assessment and inquiry projects. We are a traditional school, and with the ministry changes, aligning with the new curriculum requires change. We as a staff will keep our traditional values and, through an open mind, explore options for best practice.
-We should share big ideas, address specific learning intentions and criteria before teaching a lesson. Lessons can also be personalized for the students’ needs.
-To assist us, we can turn to district helping teachers for support and attend district in-services, as well as use of Professional Development days.
-Digital media and online learning is an area we can explore in teams, groups, at staff meetings and for our own awareness.
-Continue team teaching with our Teacher Librarian to enhance student learning.
-With our Social Emotional Learning, we are in the early stages and will rely on Taunya Shaw for initial guidance, then staff may choose to follow up with further Professional Development.
5. What is our plan?
Our plan is to continue to learn inquiry-based development. We seek to achieve best practices to enhance student learning with a focus on reading comprehension. We will seek professional research, professional discussion, shared experience, critical reflection to assist with our focus to improve student reading comprehension.
Some strategies recently started that we will continue with include continue to assess students and analyze data. As a school, we continue to develop our capacity to apply formative assessment practices is important evidence. Some grades may have guided reading groups for focused instruction with students requiring support. Some teachers may differentiate learning in their classroom on their own. With our Teacher Librarian, we will also use collaboration time. In addition, resources for high interest leveled reading material so students can build on a love of reading is a part of our plan.
Our plan for incorporating Social Emotional Learning begins with helping teacher Taunya Shaw . Folowing her presentation to staff, we have begun to learn about SEL on our own. As a staff, we will Social Emotional Learning within a school-wide context. Our school is in the initial phase of learning about SEL.
As we build SEL into our school culture, we will ask what needs to be changed and what further steps are to be taken.
Look at above (professional learning pic). This will take time, training and embracing new learning methods that are not necessarily traditional.
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
For reading we will know our plan is making a difference through improved assessments, student and teacher reflections, classroom observations, and engaged learners. We want our students learning to move from what they are doing to what are they learning. reading at grade level and know we need to improve our practices and transition to new curriculum and new ways of teaching to get there.
If we were to survey students at the beginning and end of the year to determine their social emotional awareness, there should be a marked difference at the end of the year. As our staff commits to developing a welcoming and connected school community, we should see more students engaged and with a sense of belonging to increase the likelihood of motivation.
It is our hope that we can continue to explore reading strategies, with more reflective learning for students and staff. Through our reflection, there should be an improvement with SEL and, in turn, observations of teaching practices with peers.
7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?
As this was our first year of working on an inquiry, it has taken time at staff meetings to narrow our focus. We also examined what a modern traditional school could look like. With new curriculum and project based learning, students no longer sit in straight rows. With students reflecting and sharing their learning some methods of conferencing have changed. As we shift into a modern context, our parents were also brought on board with these shifts. The tools we use change as we prepare our students for the future.
As we move from traditional tools to embracing technology, we hope to grow along with our students. Reading