Moving into the new Elementary facility this past January has provided our community of students, educators and families with truly unique opportunities. The professional learning that our faculty embraced during the past years served us well as we transitioned from more traditional classroom spaces to a learning community model of education. Aesthetically, we have been thrilled with the natural light, stunning window views, modern furnishings and brilliant architecture. But from the beginning, we wanted to ensure that the benefits of this expansion ran more than skin-deep.
We are committed to ensuring that learning improves because of our reflective practices and the mindful use of our environment.
As a school, our foundations remain strong in our drive to develop students for a life of purpose, through scholarship, leadership and character. Our understanding and experience with the Alberta Program of Studies delivered within the framework of the International Baccalaureate (IB) keep us grounded in best practice while we recognize current research that contributes to our knowledge of how children learn.
We know this to be true: everyone learns differently. We arrive each day with personal styles, preferences, complexities, experiences and ways of knowing. Herein lies the art of how these new spaces enable inspiring possibilities – we collaborate to equip each of the young citizens in our care with the competencies, understandings and abilities to be successful in each endeavour they encounter.
The Learning Communities we have developed support our goals through the facilitation of three modes of learning: active, collaborative and individual. Our DaVinci Studios, the Renaissance Room and the Workshop have already evolved into dynamic spaces which support our emphasis on STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), design-thinking and the transdisciplinary nature of real world problems. Furnishings allow our students developmentally appropriate choices that allow them to move, focus and nestle in, while break out spaces provide quiet rooms for the individual reflection we all need at times. Through the process of choosing furnishings and working with our local architects, we learned to provide high, medium and low spaces because our bodies and brains need to move, to think and to make connections.
Differentiation has long been an educators’ term used to describe the individual ways we meet students’ needs. With an inclusive universal design in mind, we create experiences that allow students to become intellectually engaged with concepts and learning in multiple ways. With more than one teacher involved, our teams offer abundant ways of uncovering new learning. Flexible groupings of students and teachers within a learning suite, allow us to provide small group support when a concept needs reinforcement or enrichment. Students have more opportunities to choose how to reveal their knowledge and understandings, tapping into multiple intelligences, communication skills, and reflection practices.
Ongoing emphasis on assessment and communication among teachers and students enhances the data we collect about each student, offering more insight into areas of strength, targets for learning and areas for growth. The Primary Years Programme (PYP) reminds us that students are to become agents of their learning, capable in the assessment process, and advocating for themselves within a community. It is this collective action that drives our practices to grow in new ways.
We are inspired by the possibilities that our future holds. We are so fortunate to grow and learn in a community that honours and values our children.