Report to the Board of Education – October 13, 2015

Report to the Board of Education – October 13, 2015

1.    Students

a.     Reading: The District Reading Committee has supported the implementation of the District Assessment of Reading Team (DART) assessment and the Early Primary Reading Assessment  (EPRA) for our teachers. Considerable training has taken place in the past year to ensure common understanding. The standard approach allows teachers to communicate student learning with each other in order to have a common vocabulary for dialogue. This is a direct, positive impact for students as they learn to read.

b.     On October 21st students from almost every school in the district will be attending WeDay in Vancouver. The district is a partner with the Free the Children organization for WeDay.

c.      Students of the Musical Theatre Club have begun rehearsing on Fridays after school with teachers Sara Douglas and Tom Kellough. Their presentation of Steven Sondheim’s Into the Woods takes place on March 4th and 5th at Chatelech Secondary School.

2.    Staff

a.     Curriculum In-servicesessions are well underway in all schools during September and October and will continue throughout the year. The Ministry of Education has informed districts that 10 hours of non-instructional time will need to be incorporated into the balance of the school year to ensure all teachers have a strong grasp of the new curriculum. The curriculum is required to be formally utilized in September 2016 for kindergarten to grade nine and September 2017 for grades ten to twelve. The Education Implementation Committee (SCTA and Management) will consider options for this time and bring appropriate recommendations to the Board later this fall.

b.    Glucagon training took place in September in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health. Each school with a diabetic student has two fully trained staff members.

c.     The Circles philosophy ensures that all students have an opportunity to hear and to be heard. As a part of district efforts to develop Social and Emotional Learning competencies in our culture, Circles training has taken place for representatives from all schools in the district. Gibsons Elementary and Langdale Elementary have adopted a whole staff approach to using the Circles philosophy.

3.    Community

a.     The district is very pleased to partner with Simon Fraser University in offering the Graduate Diploma in Nature Based Experiential Learning beginning in January.

b.     Educational Assistant students from Capilano University are placed in many of our schools for their practicum assignments.

c.     Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)is one of our key partners in supporting our students’ safety, health and education. Following a Health Promoting Schools Committee the district understands, due to our collective efforts, there have been an increased percentage of our students being properly immunized. Improvement is still necessary, however. District staff will meet in October with VCH to continue and deepen these efforts.

 

Strategic Plan Report

 1 g. Students will experience, respect and enhance the natural world by actively PARTICIPATING IN SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES AND OUTDOOR EDUCATION.

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. John Muir

 

Background:

Research indicates that environmental education can result in the following:

•       Enthusiastic Students and Innovative Teacher Leadership through rich, hands-on, real world and relevant learning across the curriculum.

•       Critical Thinking, and Relationship Skills through an emphasis on specific critical thinking skills central to “good science.”

•       Leadership Qualities through cooperative learning (i.e. working in teams or with partners), critical thinking and discussion, hands-on activities and a focus on action strategies with real-world applications.

•       Self Control/ Self Discipline Benefits for some children who benefit from more exposure to nature because for those students, the greener their everyday environment, the more manageable can be their behavioural management.

•       Increased Focus/Improved Cognition through proximity to nature, access to views of nature, and daily exposure to natural settings increases the ability of children to focus and improves their cognitive abilities.

•       Health Benefits for children who experience school grounds or play areas with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of good nutrition, more creative, and more civil to one another.

https://www.plt.org/why-environmental-education-is-important

 

Discussion:

The Environmental Education Action Committee has developed a number of recommendations to inform the Implementation Plan. Key amongst these are to:

·      Develop increased awareness of students, staff and the community to the importance of the role of nature in our lives and our futures through dialogue, sharing successes and promotion of outdoor and sustainable activities.

·      Provide opportunities and a framework to consider simple, sustainability projects (composting, school and/or community gardens) at the classroom or school level.

·      Celebrate natural learning in our schools through social media and other communication strategies.

·      Provide information and resources to facilitate students accessing the outdoors with their educators through educational opportunities for teaching staff about how to ensure that outdoor adventures are successful for safety and effective for learning.

·      Minimize the administrative challenges involved with moving beyond the school yards with students. (Review Regulation 2550 – Extended Experience).

Opportunity

·      Simon Fraser University is offering, in partnership with our District, a Graduate Diploma in Education. This two-year program allows teachers to delve deeply into Nature Based Experiential Learning in a focused, collaborative structure. The program begins in January 2016.

Next Steps:

·      Consolidate plans as indicated above.

·      Support the NBEL partnership as required.

Strategic Plan Report

2(d) Our staff will interact with our students’ PARENTS positively and with full information freely shared using EFFICIENT AND RESPONSIVE strategies.

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others. – Tony Robbins

Background:

Parents make a difference to student learning in many ways, but research into student success reveals that the four factors that make the biggest difference in terms of parent’s actual influence on student success have are:

·      Letting your child know you have high expectations for him or her

·      Talking with your child about school

·      Focusing on students’ attitudes, more than their marks

·      Reading to and/or with your child

Peopleforeducation.ca

Discussion:

The District’s active District Parent Advisory Council continues to develop deeper connections amongst PACs and with trustees and district staff. The outcome is frank discussions related to parent engagement and student success. The District Parent-Teacher Communication Committee examines effective communication and develops strategies to ensure the school/home partnership is well developed.

Many schools are considering more effective ways to communicate student learning with students themselves as well as with parents. Davis Bay Elementary School NEST program piloted FreshGrade in the 2014 – 2015 school year.  FreshGrade is an online portfolio and communication program that enhances teacher, student and parent understanding of student learning in a very current manner. Reports on this pilot are positive from teachers, students and parents.  Other schools have begun utilizing the program informally.

The Ministry of Education plans to reveal new reporting guidelines this fall that will further inform future strategies to communicate student learning with parents.

Next Steps:

·      Interpret Ministry of Education reporting guidelines in School District No. 46 when available.

·      Develop plans to support and enhance the use of FreshGrade to more effectively communicate with parents and students.

·      Develop a parent version of the staff newsletter, EduCoaster, to keep parents current on District activities and initiatives.

·      Effectively utilize Facebook, Twitter, www.sd46.bc.ca, and Synrevoice.

·      Consider information and sharing sessions for parents regarding their children’s education.

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