Simon Sinek could define school as a finite game that you choose to play. It has an agreed set of rules that must be followed to win. Do the work. Pass the test. Win with good grades. Graduate. Gordon, Renee and I were taking the win as we traipsed across the stag. However, Life is an infinite game. There is not an agreed upon set of rules. How do you know if you’re winning?
Teachers have a special role in helping students to meet with success at school. Teachers hone a skill set that takes their own personal interests and desire to teach children while focusing on ways to develop the skills for students to win at life. This includes engaging in learning, developing healthy relationships, demonstrating resilience in the face of loss, and the flexibility and thinking skills to cope with change. If the teacher is from British Columbia, they are challenged to consider how content can be used to develop core competencies (thinking, communicating, personal/ social) to succeed in the requirements of daily personal and social life, currently defined jobs and those jobs that will emerge as possibilities in the future.
The most basic premise of self-regulation is the ability to manage your own emotions. Accomplishing this task is the very basis of success in every aspect of life. The flight or fight response is a basic instinct in animals in response to perceived danger. This response is helpful to human beings when faced by a predator. However, this response is not at all helpful in resolving conflicts with peers or persevering to solve a difficult math equation. Teaching children to regulate their emotions, allows them to take control of the response of the reptilian brain to fight or run, and use strategies to calm down. Only when students are calm, are they able to problem solve and learn effectively. Dr Stuart Shanker isolates five domains of self-regulation:
Considering the strengths and areas for development in all of these five domains requires a different approach to writing curriculum, teaching and reporting student learning to parents. The old rules of playing the game included defining a specific body of information to memorize, testing to demonstrate mastery and grades to rank performance. The playing field has broadened and so have the rules and the complexity of the game. The intention of reporting student learning is to provide a teacher perspective about learning at a specific point in time that incorporates student voice.
Areas of strength are presented and often reflect student enthusiasm and focused attention. Areas for further growth may reflect a need for repetition and practice, persistence, or use of strategies to focus attention. Including the ways to support the student in developing the weaker areas or nurture burgeoning talents, keeps us responsible to attending to the specific needs of each child. The ultimate goal is for the teacher, child and families to engage in celebration and goal setting in response to this information.
The British Columbia Ministry of Education mandates a minimum or five reports to parents. The intention is to take into consideration the diverse ways that teachers engage parents in participating in the learning of their child. It capitalizes on the research by John Hattie et al. that emphasizes improved student learning when parents are involved. Conferences, formal report cards, celebrations of learning, phone calls, interim reports, notes home, and student agendas are all possible ways that teachers structure communication to involve parents in the learning of their child. If you still have questions, call the teacher. They undoubtedly will have more to say.
Self-regulation is a term at risk of getting lost in the world of educational buzz words. I believe clarity about this concept is mandatory because it is so foundational to how we function in our homes, our schools, and the world we move in. Simply stated self-regulation is how we manage our emotions, behaviour and thoughts in order to achieve our goals. How we learn and teach self-regulation is an extremely complex endeavour.
The most well-developed conversation around self-regulation is in the arena of social-emotional development. We are seeing too much stress compromising the brain/body regulatory systems that support thinking, emotion regulation, and social engagement in communities of people. Dr. Gabor Mate tells us this is coming from an increasing sense of alienation being experienced in society as a whole. Dr. Stuart Shanker (on Twitter @StuartShanker ) states it is due to the overt stressors causing dysregulation in the behaviour, mood, attention and physical well-being of a child, teen or adult.
One key focus in the school is helping students to manage emotions so that students are able to learn, develop relationships and maintain friendships. If students are going to be included in the social fabric of the school, they need to be able to make good choices around identifying their feelings, developing a bank of calm down strategies to use as needed, to problem solve, repair relationships and come up with a plan for next time.
I particularly like The Zones of Regulation program developed by Leah Kuypers. It provides the materials to instruct our kids how to identify and understand our emotions. Many children over the years have told me that anger is a “bad” emotion. It often takes reteaching that emotions and thoughts do not make you a bad person. Hitting or swearing in the midst of being angry represent poor choices not a statement on your character. It is very liberating for children to learn they have to power to make good choices even if they are tired or sad or angry. I also love the Zone of Regulation chart available at Odin Books on Broadway in Vancouver, that facilitates the development of class banks of possible strategies to cope with being in the four identified colour “zones” that reflect basic emotions commonly experienced. This allows kids to learn in a very tangible way that different people experience a range of emotions throughout any given day and have different ways of coping with the emotions they feel. It also provides a diverse range of options that can be tried to self manage emotions.
The most powerful strategy to teach kids to self-calm is to slow down their breathing. It is an accessible strategy that can be used in any context. When students are having a biological fight or flight response to stress in their environment, slow breathing actually triggers the brain to calm down the body. This is why yoga has been popularized as a relaxation exercise. Kids can also be prompted with the good ole’ count to 10 backwards. A tool like opening and closing an expandable sphere from the dollar store or a chime are also frequently used with success.
It is our responsibility to support students with a range of spaces and places to support their ability to self-calm. Classroom teachers have a range of tools and spaces within the classroom to support students. At our school, we have open library times where students can get the support required to self calm if they are struggling with transitioning into the classroom at the beginning or the day or after lunch time. It is a natural addition into the student’s schedule. Students go to the library for a variety of purposes, to self calm, to engage in lifeskills programs, fulfill monitoring duties or check out books. There is no stigma around leaving the classroom and going to another program.
Currently we have an Active Learning Room with mats and tools as a possible option to support students requiring a physical outlet. This space is also a place to develop sensory integration skills and motor skills, as well as kineathetic awareness. We are fortunate to have trained staff in The Ready Bodies Learning Minds program and are hoping to expand this program ,as it is a universal program recommended by physiotherapists.
Students are encouraged to explore physical outlets that may be successful in helping them to manage their emotions in a variety of contexts. It may be as simple as walking to the water fountain or changing activities. Going outdoors invites physical activity. A great playground with swings, sports equipment that can go outside, and a field to run or walk around are all possible ways to self-calm that are accessible to the students at our school. Big deciduous trees with falling leaves and a school garden is another avenue for students to re-direct their attention to assist in self-calming and outdoor learning. We are fortunate to have a school garden with several garden beds, a perimeter of established plants, a little orchard, a Mud Kitchen for digging, and a bench for sitting and watching the garden, bugs and the visiting birds. It is also overlooks the two mountain peaks know as The Lions or The Two Sisters for thousands of years. The legend is of two twin sisters who are immortalized in the mountains as a reward for creating lasting peace between two nations who were traditionally enemies. Not a bad place to learn, self-calm, problem solve and repair relationships.
Educational change is an exciting topic with he promise of many pro-active, positive changes in educational systems around the world. I am working with secondary teachers at Royal Bridge Education Group in Coquitlam today. We will be engaging in learning about educational change and responding to the ideas using strategies and tools to engage learners in other contexts. I will be encouraging participants to set up a Twitter Account and respond to the ideas and the strategies and tools on a Twitterchat @CarrieFroese #edchat #edchange #bcedchat with a corresponding A(nswer)1 if a Q(uestion)1 is asked. It would be great if interested blog readers also participated.
I will be providing front-end loading about educational change, in both global and British Columbia contexts.
Enter provide your feedback in our TwitterChat @CarrieFroese #edchange #edchat
In our discussions of educational change, I will be focusing on the following thinkers and content from a number of sources. The following links provide some extension materials to supplement materials presented in class and to provoke deep thinking.
Inquire2Empower The Indigenous Voice carriefroese.wordpress.com
John Hattie and Helen Timperley
Making learning visible with John Hattie – Know Thy Impact
The Research of John Hattie
In 2009 Professor John Hattie published Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. This groundbreaking book synthesized the findings from 800 meta-analysis of 50,000 research studies involving more than 150 million students and it built a story about the power of teachers and of feedback, and constructed a model of learning and understanding by pointing out what works best in improving student learning outcomes.
Since then, John Hattie has continued to collect and aggregate meta-analyses to the Visible Learning database. His latest dataset synthesizes more than 1,600 meta-analyses of more than 95,000 studies involving more than 300 million students. This is the world’s largest evidence base into what works best in schools to improve learning.
The Power of Feedback – A PowToon explaining the ideas of John Hattie and Helen Timperley with respect to providing feedback to learners.
David Istance /The OECD – The 7 Principles of Learning
OECD – Centre for Educational Research and Innovation – The Nature of Learning (2010) – Using Research to Inspire Practice, Edited by Hanna Dumont, David Istance and Francisco Benavides / Practitioner’s Guide (2012)
A variety of strategies, processes and tools will be used to prompt learner engagement with the materials and support collaborative practices in class. They may include the following. We will be discussing the possible teaching applications for these strategies, tools, and processes. All ideas are welcomed @CarrieFroese #edchat #edchange
I grew up living, learning and playing in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the ancestral and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. I saw Indigenous people but I did not hear their voices. In school we learned about a culture that was part of our past. Not our present. Definitely not our future. Yesterday on National Indigenous Peoples Day, the first day of summer on June 21, 2019, that had changed. And to quote an expert on joy, Chief Dan George, ”And my heart soars”.
In the Summer 2019 edition of the Montecristo magazine, Robert Davidson talks about when he erected a totem in Masset in 1969. It was the first one that had been raised since the 1880’s. “…it opened the door for the elders to pass the incredible knowledge that was muted…Before the totem pole was raised we had no idea of their knowledge. I had no idea that art was so important.” I think Vancouver educators are hopeful that the poles raised at the VSB this week to advance reconciliation with Indigenous people and celebrated on National Indigenous Peoples Day with 1000 plus people to bear witness to the event, will be part of many positive and productive learning conversations. I am deeply grateful that Akemi Eddy took her Grade 1 students to see the carvers in process and brought back wood shavings. Angie Goetz was able to support students in transforming the shavings into their own beautiful art. Akemi also took three of our students with Indigenous heritage down to the VSB ceremony with our ever-supportive PAC parent, Kathleen Leung- Delorme. These students were able to bear witness to the smudge at the beginning of the day in the presence of Judy Wilson-Raybould and Joyce Perrault.
I was fortunate to meet Joyce Perrault when I was the vice-principal at Norma Rose Point K-8 school in Vancouver. It was one of the many schools that she was working as an Indigenous Education Enhancement Worker. Not only was she able to establish a strong rapport with students in the relatively short weekly assignment at the school, but she was a sweet and gentle soul with a plethora of ideas to empower Indigenous students in finding their own voices, and to support non-Indigenous students in applying Indigenous teachings to explore their own pathways. The hallway displays were inspired, interactive and collaborative ventures created with the Indigenous students she was working with. She had put together a flipbook of the Medicine Wheel Teachings from her Anishinaabe/ Ojibwe heritage that she had implemented with students over the years. She was looking for a publisher. I had no doubt it would be published. She thought the publisher would use her text and drawings. I thought that the publisher would use the text and assign an artist to market it as a hardcopy version that could be used in libraries and on coffee tables, as well as a soft cover for use by individual kids.
The publisher smart enough to pick up the book was Peppermint Toast Publishing. It is a small publisher in New Westminster that publishes one book per year. They made a wise choice. Joyce Perrault’s first book, All Creation Represented: A Child’s Guide to the Medicine Wheel, was published in 2017 with Terra Mar’s amazing illustrations. The Vancouver School Board alone has purchased 250 copies. Her second publication is in process to support educators in teaching Indigenous ways of knowing through Medicine Wheel teachings.
This year, as principal of University Hill Elementary School, I did not have the number of Indigenous students, to warrant the assignment of an Indigenous Education Enhancement worker. However in Vancouver, it is mandatory for all public schools to have an Indigenous goal to support the quest to decolonize education. At University Hill Elementary, our Indigenous goal is: To increase knowledge, acceptance, empathy, awareness and appreciation of Indigenous histories, traditions, cultures and contributions among all students in an authentic way.
Our teachers took on this goal with enthusiasm. When I arrived at the school, Melody Ludski, had already taken the lead in having a spindal whorl commissioned by Musqueam carver, Richard Campbell. He came to unveil his amazing carving with his daughter shortly after the Truth and Reconciliation walk in 2017. I was talking about how impressed I had been with the fluency of the young woman speaking Musqueam on the stage at the end of the Truth and Reconciliation Walk, only to discover that she was Richard Campbell’s daughter. And she was standing in front of me. Bonus! We had amazing teaching that day and our students were able to hear the welcome in the Musqueam language from Richard’s daughter, Vanessa Campbell . Richard Campbell also shared the process of his carving, from the inspiration in the selection of wood to the finished product. He also shared that he was a survivor of the residential school system. Students, educators and parents in the audience witnessed first-hand the pain of the experience and the incredible support in the father-daughter relationship.
Many of our teachers have been engaged in personal, professional development around Indigenous teachings via VSB supported inquiry studies, school based professional development, book clubs and university coursework. Our students have been the winners. Delta authored materials published by Strong Nation Publishing have been implemented by primary teachers to teach core competencies. Ideas have been implemented from Jennifer Katz book, Ensouling Our Schools – A Universally designed framework for mental health, well-being, and reconciliation.
Staff got together to plan an outdoor learning space once the portables were removed from our site. A large circle of twelve large rocks that were big enough to seat 30 students were installed to facilitate outdoor learning. Some teachers wanted twelve rocks to teach time. Many agreed one needed to be placed to indicate true north and all of the compass directions. Some of us were excited with the possibilities for use as a talking / listening circle, as practiced in many of our classrooms, as well as integration of other Indigenous teachings. The Musqueam have gifted the VSB with the word, Nə́ caʔmat ct, which means “We Are One”, as part of our move towards reconciliation. I personally love thinking about it that way and calling it that as a way of honouring that our school is on Musqueam ancestral lands and demonstrating our openness to learning.
The intermediate curriculum benfited with the success of The Human Rights Internet Grant (www.hri.ca) for $1900.00 to implement new curriculum with Grade 4/5 students with a human rights lens on our Indigenous people. Students learned about the United Nations Declaration of Rights and Freedoms which was adopted by Canada in 1959 and the implications of these rights for our Indigenous people. It allowed us to show honour and respect by inviting Indigenous speakers to share Indigenous teachings with our students. Intermediate students had inspirational drumming and storytelling sessions with Alec Dan and teachings about indigenous plants by Martin Sparrow in the Pacific Spirit Park. This Human Rights Internet Grant also enabled UHill Elementary students to share their outdoor learning with students from Norma Rose Point during the Wild About Vancouver Celebration in April. It also allowed us to invite Indigenous speakers to share their teachings with the entire school including: Debra Sparrow to talk about the replica of one of the MOA (Museum of Anthropology) weavings by her and her sister Robyn Sparrow that we recently purchased and display in our foyer; Shyama Priya to share her Powwow dancing, including participatory opportunities for our students; Martin Sparrow doing the Indigenous Acknowledgement and sharing his teachings at the 2nd Annual University Hill Elementary Multi-cultural Fair; Martin Sparrow sharing bannock and salmon pate at our Earth Day BBQ. Joyce Perrault was also willing and able to request some of her teaching time allotment to come and share her book with our Grade 3 students and her process of writing it with our aspiring UHill Elementary authors.
Vincente Regis, a new PAC member, came forward with an idea for a school community Arts Festival at a PAC Meeting this Spring. He spoke passionately about the Arts Festivals he had implemented in Brazil as an educator. With enthusiastic support from PAC, we started meeting shortly after the PAC meeting to begin the planning for the first UHill Elementary Arts Festival. He very much wanted it to unfold before the end of the school year while momentum was high. When we decided on the date when we weren’t building the playground, and when I could access staging and tables for the event, Vincente immediately understood the significance of the Arts Festival taking place on Indigenous Peoples Day and the opportunity to honour the Indigenous voice and the contribution to Indigenous people in all aspects of the arts. He promptly began planning to incorporate an Indigenous song from Brazil with our students. I went to work to find an Indigenous artist willing and available to open with the Indigenous acknowledgement and put a spotlight on the Indigenous contribution in the arts.
The British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association (BCLCILA) is currently going through a period of revitalization and relocation to Vancouver, British Columbia. Due to the BCLCILA / International Literacy Association membership of two UHill Elementary staff members and the support of BCLCILA, we were able to invite Joyce Perrault to not only facilitate an after-school session with educators in May, but also participate in the school community event on Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, 2019 from 3:30 – 6:30 pm. She graciously accepted even though her morning started with her participation in the VSB ceremony to honour the raising of the 13-metre pole carved by James Harry of the Squamish Nation, and his father Xwalack-tun, a master carver with 50 years’ experience, as well as the male and female welcome poles by Musqueam carvers, William Dan and his family and his siblings Chrystal and Chris Sparrow. Big day!
Laura Tait, respected Indigenous educator, and current Assistant Superintendent at Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools (SD 68) has been cited to have said “If you want to know about Indigenous culture, make an Indigenous friend.” That has been the basis of trying to provide opportunities for developing community with our Indigenous neighbours. I have now participated with Joyce as she has engaged in learning conversations with students, educators, and parents. Her pride in her Ojibwe / Metis heritage has remained constant. Her voice has grown along with the number of people wanting to hear her story …”And my heart soars.” And more importantly, so does hers. Our path to reconciliation needs to include more of these spaces for the development of Indigenous voice and friendships.
We are proud of our school and happy to welcome visitors into the conversation about learning.
As a member of the VSB, I would like to acknowledge that we live, work and play on the unceded and traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil Waututh) andsḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Coast Salish peoples.
We are delighted to be able to show you around and encourage you to ask lots of questions. The following challenges are to help you engage with our students and staff and understand some of the priorities at our school. The staff and students touring you around the school will be able to give you some understanding of the history, our peer helpers program, Indigenous ways of knowing and breaking down the barrier between learning outdoors and learning indoors.
The OECD has pointed out that the rapid advances in ICT have resulted in a global shift to economies based on knowledge, and an emphasis on the skills required to thrive in them. At the same time empirical research on how people learn, how the mind and brain develop, how interests form, and how people differ has expanded the sciences of learning. The result is that the educational community is now “rethinking what is taught, how it is taught and how learning is assessed”.
The OECD’s work on innovative learning environments was led byHanna Dumont, David Istance and Francisco Benavides. Their 2010 report “The Nature of Learning” identified seven principles of learning:
Learners at the centre
The social nature of learning
Emotions are central to learning
Recognizing individual differences
Stretching all students
Assessment for learning
Building horizontal connections
Challenge 2 – Engage in a conversation surrounding the Spirals questions.
The Spirals of Inquiry by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser lists three questions that will find helpful in engaging with students and staff. Students are encouraged to look closely, notice details and ask questions to encourage learning in all aspects of their lives. Many staff are involved in inquiry projects to explore their professional questions. Vice principals and principals in the VSB are using these questions to guide their professional growth plans.
What are you learning and why is it important?
How is it going with your learning?
What are your next steps?
Challenge 3: Note the development of core competencies in the classroom.The New Curriculum: You will note that competencies and concept-based curriculum are intertwined with learning standards in B.C.’s New Curriculum. Core Competencies have become the focus of learning and they use content to develop the three main areas:
Creative and Critical Thinking Skills
Personal and Social skills
Challenge 4: Find examples of Student Voice and Competency Based Assessment The new curriculum has shifted the focus from summative assessment to formative assessment. Students are encouraged to identify their starting point and formulate a plan for growth. The focus has shifted from a deficit model to “I Can” statements. Students are invited to be active participants in determining how they learn and planning for growth in skills, strategies, and collaborative practices.
Challenge 5: The Canadian Experience – Note examples in the school of how students are being introduced to the role of Indigenous populations played in the development of Canada and our perceptions of Canadian identity.
Wab Kinew, hip hop artist, author, broadcaster, politician, Ojibwe activist, and leader of the NDP Party in Manitoba, has said “Reconciliation is realized when two people come together and understand what they share unites them and what is different about them needs to be respected.” Authentic reconciliation happens when people develop relationships with one another.
Challenge 5: Identify several different types of learning spaces and the types of competencies being developed in those spaces.
We have several options for student learning at UHill Elementary School. Supervision is required in all spaces. Classroom teachers work with SSA’s (Education Assistants), Resource teachers, the principal and students to explore possibilities to maximize student learning in a variety of spaces and places.
The Classroom – indoor and outdoor spaces
Outside Learning Spaces
The Readers Writing Garden (outside)
The We Are One Rock Circle (outside)
The Soccer Fields or basketball court (outside)
The Buddy Bench (outside)
Collaboration Spaces outside classrooms
Foyer in the main entrance
The Starry Night Room / Room painted yellow
The Garden Room – currently the in residence program, Project Chef, is in this room
The Main Foyer
The Learning Lab / Maker Space Room
Active Learning Room (ALR) / room painted white
Ready Bodies Learning Minds
Peer helpers Program, a Grade 5 Leadership Program, at 11:45 am facilitated by The Community School Team
Places to Self Calm, work quietly independently, with a partner or small group
Peace Pod / room painted blue and decorated with saris
The Think Space – in the Office area
Challenge 6: Breaking Down the Barriers: Identify examples where learning outdoors is brought into the classroom and where indoor learning is brought outdoors.
The places where we live and grow impact our experiences and our perceptions. Living in a temperate rainforest, attending school in the Pacific Spirit Park, and walking down to Acadia Beach impacts the knowledge our students are developing but also how they self regulate.
I am a big fan of Twitter to keep parents informed about what is happening at the school by posting updates and pertinent information @UHillElementary and to further my own professional learning @CarrieFroese