Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
Recently a staff survey was sent out to find out where our school needs are in relation to the District Priority practices. Our staff members come from a variety of experiences in the community. Some have been here for many years and some have just recently arrived. It was important to get a perspective from a variety of enrolling and non-enrolling staff members as well. The first steps were to find out, “What do we know about our learners?” Many additional questions were raised. How do our students work, What challenges do our students face? What positives do our students come in with? What factors impact their education positively and negatively. The results have been summarized and will form a framework for were we can focus as a school moving forward. In the near future, the student and parent perspective will also be generated through a survey so we can get a good grasp of opinions and viewpoints of the school community.
It has been noted that many of our students come to school with smiles on their faces and happy to be at WE Kinvig. Many our students have a willingness to learn and are excited with the opportunity to share or explain what they know or learned in activities. Our students come with a wide range of abilities, cultural back grounds and beliefs. It is a very diverse community of learners that come to the school to be safe and learn.
WE Kinvig is a community that celebrates its diversity. Our school and community population is what makes this school a special place. Our students come together from many countries, cultures and backgrounds. This gives our students an opportunity to embrace their own sense of self-worth as well as celebrate the ethnicities of others. Each student has a rich background and knowledge base that can be accessed to help each other understand concepts. In addition, working with others, in this environment, fosters a collaborative learning environment where students can learn how others solve academic questions and utilize different strategies they learn from other to solve problems.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
Although our students come to the school with the hopes of learning in a safe, caring environment, we do have situations that occur at times that have compromised the learning environment and ability of other learners to concentrate and achieve academically. Students at our school perform best when there are healthy relationships focused on compassion and empathy towards others. There are times when students at Kinvig need to be reminded to treat others the way they would want to be treated, show respect and responsibility.
Through our classroom / support staff assessments, observations, office visits of students for behaviours, and teacher student discussions we have strong evidence suggesting we need to embrace the principles of social emotional learning and introduce a variety of SEL strategies. Our students are coming from different backgrounds, have different levels of language proficiency, learn differently, have differing social and cultural viewpoints and differing supports levels at home. The combination of these factors have made it difficult for some students to cope well in a class or non-structured environment. The unique diversity and personalities at the school can also lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
One of the important concepts that is critical for a strong culture in a school is to have an effective Social Emotional Learning (SEL) framework. There is such importance and value in having a school community learn, grow and succeed together. The goal of this type of environment is to build strong connections between students, staff, parents, and the community as a whole. SEL is a process for helping all these parties develop the fundamental skills for life. SEL teaches skills we all need to handle ourselves, our relationships, and our work effectively and ethically. The goals would be to work together to promote children’s social, emotional and academic success.
Current research suggests that promoting Social Emotional Learning has significant positive impacts on schools. The benefits include: increased positive self-esteem, a rise in test scores and a decrease in behavioural issues. Recently we met as a staff and recognized that SEL would be an important area to move to as a school goal. Through SEL, our goal is to empower student to build on their social emotional skillsets so they can deal with difficult situations in a positive manner.
4. What professional learning do we need?
We have now had discussions at our staff meetings and a recent professional development day about the benefits of a SEL program. We are looking at having experts in the field of Mindfulness guide us through the training modules. We will be starting a book club at the school to promote SEL for student and staff. We have recognized that we need look at our routines, rules and code of conduct closely and make revisions that align with the SEL principles. We are planning to explore programs that are offered by the District such as the Second Step program, Mind Up and Roots of Empathy to support the SEL goal. We are also looking at putting money towards books and resources for staff to use such as Mind up, and Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness.
5. What is our plan?
One size does not always fit for each learner. There is not one program that will work for each staff member or child. We have been exploring our options moving forward to implement programs at the school that have a SEL focus. Mindfulness, Second Step, Mind Up and Roots of Empathy are all programs that the staff have discussed as possible ways to promote SEL in our school. The hope is that these programs are used with our students and become embedded in practice on a daily basis. We want students to be able to recognize and use the language for mindfulness and start to show empathy, kindness and compassion towards others.
We have taken some strides this year in promoting Leaders for Change at the school. The students work through the Me to We organization to promote random acts of kindness. Building on these type of programs will facilitate a culture of SEL growth among our students.
In the future, we will track our student safety satisfaction at the school to see how we are doing. We suspect there will be a strong correlation with increased satisfaction/safety and academic progress. This excites the staff and they are willing to work together to enhance the learning environment for our students.
We will provide ongoing professional learning opportunities focused on the topic of SEL, add reading materials, book chats, and providing collaborative time to our team of teachers to learn and grow together.
We look forward to having students come home and promote what they are learning at the school. Through parental support, we can continue to make strides in the school setting. The SEL model works well if there is a strong family and community partnership and we look forward to having students, staff, parents and the community work together to instill a culture at the school that will help students feel safe, well respected and promote good citizenship.
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
As the plan continues to unfold, we will be able to see if our plan is making a difference for our learners.
7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?
As the plan unfolds, we will be able to provide information on adjustments that may be needed to our plan.