Demonstrating Responsive Schools and Visible Learning in our District

Having a few focused priorities is a great way to make learning as successful as possible for our students.  I am thankful for the excellent work of our learning support staff, school administration, and all staff working within our schools, who have supported and moved forward two important priorities across the District.

Our promise to deliver excellence in education is continually evolving. This includes having learning environments that are responsive to community interest and making improvement priorities visible in the classroom — so visible in fact, that teachers, their colleagues, and students can talk about them, demonstrate them in practice, and illustrate examples that can used in other learning situations.   In moving the second priority forward, a growing emphasis of our schools is to participate in demonstrating, recording, archiving, and sharing aspects of student engagement in learning that will have the biggest effect on student success based on instructional practice research.  For a complete explanation of this, I would encourage any reader of this post to visit the following link, which provides an in-depth view and examples of our “practice progressions” which are making a significant difference in the education of our students. 

Our journey to build responsive schools will continue this month with the launch of our annual community engagement ThoughtExchange.  When we ask our students, parents, and staff to respond to two important questions facing our District, we want everyone to remember, that we are asking these questions as an extension of what we learned in our previous exchange with you.  Last year, when you provided us with a clearer picture on what “academic learning” looked like for our schools, we were told that relevant and rigorous learning is important.  We were also told that real life applications in the classroom that engage students is a priority and that a variety of learning opportunities and flexible environments to support these are helpful to students.  In many unique ways, at each of our schools, our classes have responded to your local interests.  The expansion of our Recreation Academies and Dynamic Options programming are just two examples of how we have responded to our communities to provide new opportunities and engage students. 

The feedback generated also left our Board wondering about how communicating success in learning can be addressed to maximize student learning and how witnessing and modeling the life of Jesus through learning is best realized. Therefore, we hope that you respond to our 2018 - 2019 ThoughtExchange, and share ideas that matter most to you, so that our schools can continually evolve, achieve excellence, and meet the learning needs of our students.

In closing, our journey to make “learning visible” has received significant attention provincially.  Last Fall, our senior administrative team and principals from two of our schools presented at the College of Alberta School Superintendents’ Annual General Meeting.  In May, the same team will present at the provincial uLead Educational Conference coordinated by the Alberta Teachers’ Association.  uLead is recognized as one of Alberta’s leading international research conferences for education.  We feel blessed that we have the opportunity to take our story from the classrooms of our children to the provincial stage and beyond! We know that sharing this story about our practice with others, is making bigger and bigger differences for our students.  Simply put, in order to effectively “walk the talk,” it is equally important to be able to “talk the walk.”

Thanks for taking the opportunity to learn about how community responsiveness and visible learning are two basic hallmarks of our continuous improvement journey.

Best wishes to you this February as we move into the final quarter of this exciting and productive school year!

Posted: February 19, 2019

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