Dear Parents/ Guardians,
It’s been brought to my attention that there are some concerns about our students and their lunchtime procedures. I understand that some parents / guardians may feel their child has not had enough time to eat lunch before being told they have to go outside. To clear this matter as best I can, I’d like to go over what the expectations are from both our noon hour supervisory staff and our students.
For brevity and clarity, here are the major points in numbered form:
What a start to the year! Is it really November?
I feel like I’m finally able to pick my head up, take a deep breath, and have a look around.
It was a very nice start to the year, but a little complicated with so many students showing up! While it is a great problem to have, it’s never easy having to rearrange the entire school to create a new division. Nevertheless, I was happy to see how smoothly it all went. I was able to have several conversations with parents about grade splits and their worries about kids getting too much or too little learning depending on which split they were in.
I found myself educating parents on the fact that being in a grade means nothing except for being the same age as your peers.
I know that sounds a little weird.
We all came up in the school system where we were led to believe that if we are in a certain grade, everyone in that grade would be operating at the same level. But that is not true at all – it never has been. We know beyond any doubt that a grade simply means that kids are about the same age. Learning is on a continuum – hopefully, (and ideally) it is a lifelong one. In any class, there are ranges in abilities. That means, for example, in a grade 4 class, you can have kids reading at a grade 7 level and other kids reading at a Kindergarten level. We can’t possibly expect them to do the same things. So being in a split grade, multi-grade, or straight grade ends up being pretty much…..meaningless.
It’s about teaching kids where they are at and building them up from there.
In the last decade or so, we have finally turned away from ‘everyone gets the same thing’ and have moved more towards looking at learners as individuals – this is where can address the needs of everyone in the class much, much better. This means we challenge the student that reads at a grade 7 level and bring the Kindergarten reader up to a grade 1 or 2 level by the end of the year. When we give kids what they need at their level, they do much better in school in every way possible. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for that Kindergarten reader coming to school every day and totally struggling or that grade 7 reader being totally bored in class. More often than not they end up with me in the office due to acting out in class – no wonder, they weren’t getting what they needed and got frustrated!
We need to understand that split grades don’t matter much at the end of the day. We need to understand that there isn’t any real advantage or disadvantage if a student is in the lower or higher grade in a split class. Education is going more and more towards individualized and more unique programming for learners than ever before.
If you have comments, questions, or queries about this topic, please feel free to contact me at the school anytime
NEXT TIME: the new BC Curriculum
I’ve been putting some thought towards our school and our community. I wonder what people around the 108 think of us. I don’t necessarily mean our reputation or quality of service. And not that those things are unimportant, but my thinking is formed by questions like:
Do people think of our school as belonging to them (even if they don’t have children attending the school)?
Where does the school fit in this community?
What values do the people of 108 put on this school?
What does the community expect our children to learn?
I spend time thinking about these things because as the lead learner in our building, I want to make sure I understand the significance of the school in the context of our community. Specifically, I want to make sure that as a public good, which our school is, we are actually going to do the public some good. So that means I need both the feedback and involvement of the community in order to ensure that this school serves the community best.
I thought that a simple experiment would perhaps provide clarity for all of these questions rattling around in my brain.
What if we simply started referring to Mile 108 Elementary as ‘our’ school rather than ‘the’ school or ‘your’ school or ‘my’ school or ……..you get the idea.
When it’s our school, things may begin to shift in amazing ways. We’d get away from an “us versus them” mentality to just “us”. Wouldn’t be great if all the stakeholders in the community worked with us to develop a common vision and goal(s) for the school? Imagine what we could do with that. We’d all be speaking the same language and having the same expectations around behaviour, what (and how) our kids learn, and what they can give back to the community.
When we break it all down to simplest forms, it becomes a simple matter. I will also throw in a smattering of truth for good measure. And that is: like it or not, we are in this together. This is our school because we all have such a major stake in it. Teachers are the experts when it comes to teaching, yet their teaching is so much more powerful with the support of the community and understanding the community’s expertise on these same kids. What works well at home or on the hockey rink would very likely work really well at school too! I think we should be helping each other raise and educate these kids together. If we can do that, I think the sky’s the limit as far as what we can do.
My apologies if this comes across as derogatory or negative because that is certainly not my message. Another part of the truth in all of this is that we have a great school full of wonderful kids, taught by talented teachers who are supported by great parents. And we all get to live in a pretty great community. I think if all of these things could come together a little more seamlessly, tremendous results will happen at school. I don’t think we’re there yet, but taking a small step towards it will be referring to this place as ours.
First, let me welcome you to our website! We've heard feedback from our parents and community that sometimes newsletters and updates don't always make it home. You'll find all of those things here, including updates that don't always make it on our newsletters. This site is intended to give you a better look at our school and what we are doing here.
Part of that also allows me to communicate my thoughts and feelings and goals around our school. As the 'new guy', I'm sure many are interested in how I see things in terms of the present and future for our school. I'd like to share a few of those thoughts now.
A long time ago, when I was a student at UBC, I attended a lecture that I will never forget. The professor said that "the public school is the last meeting place of society". If you think about it, that is a very true statement. Nowadays, not everyone can get together in large gatherings. Most of us are priced out of big events like concerts or an NHL game. Not many people attend church anymore. There just aren't many places or opportunities for all members of our society to get together and interact. Except the public school. Here we see people from every kind of background you can think of. Our kids get to experience a great cross section of our society in public schools. Perhaps at no other time in their lives, our students are expected to have a good understanding of other cultures, other points of view, and other people outside of their personal social networks.
So we'd better do a good job of this. Like you, I want to see our youth get older and lead our province and country ahead by building and maintaining those good Canadian values like belonging and understanding and acceptance.
I think about this a lot. None of this is really in the curriculum. There's no "how to get along in society' class. Yet if we think of the big picture, it's probably the most important thing we teach kids.
Next Time: Changing the Culture from "the school" to "our school".