In times of change, the Board plays a critical role to support the many programs and people that contribute to the learning success story in West Vancouver. While adminstrators, support staff and teachers all play a part in helping children achieve their unique potential, it is the teaching group that creates the magic in the classroom.
As author and educator Ken Robinson has said, “Teaching is a creative profession, not a delivery system. Great teachers mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage.” These principles help guide our decisions around which tools and resources we need in our classrooms to ensure our teachers are supported in the new ways of learning.
For the past three years, the Board of Education has set aside funds to invest in learning innovation through a grant set up specifically to support teaching research. The idea has sparked something unique and highly valued in our district that directly supports the evolution of learning in our classrooms. The word has spread beyond West Vancouver, and this initiative continues to help us not only further develop the talents of existing staff, but also attract some of the best educators in any jurisdiction.
Innovation grants allow teachers to focus on a specific area of teaching by providing funds that release teachers from the classroom to conduct research, collaborate with one another and share the results of that research within the district. This is part of a move towards greater connection within our schools – what works is picked up, applied in one area, and often expanded for implementation in other classrooms and/or locations.
Projects are vetted by an innovation grant committee which, following its first year, received more applications and great research proposals than it was able to fund.
Some examples of innovative ideas that have gained traction include:
- Digital Documentation, led by Jody Billingsley and Cary Wilson
- Integrating Life Skills, led by Kelly Skehill
- Garden Project, led by Arlene Anderson
- Report Card for Intermediate Students, led by Brooke Moore and Cari Wilson
- Inquiry – School-wide Implementation Models, let by Doni Gratton and Teacher Librarians
As everyone knows, the tools we use in day to day life have changed over the last few decades, and the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in our work has also shifted dramatically.
In West Vancouver, we have been stepping up to this challenge for many years now with the adoption of a digital strategy to address the needs of learners. From Grades 4 through 7, children across our district have had access to their own secure learning platform, to share ideas, reflect on their work and build the skills they need to effectively participate in today’s changing world.
When we started this journey several years ago, one of the most critical pieces of that strategy was to ensure that teachers had access to the tools, understanding and technical support they needed to build digital literacy and learning into the classroom at the elementary level. With that piece securely in place, we have now been able to expand our use of technology in the classroom at two of our three high schools, with the last one coming on board next fall. “Bring Your Own Device” will be common at most grades, across all of our schools, as of next fall.
Governance requires a series of considered steps in a strategic direction. Just as learning takes place in unique ways for each child, but is inevitably connected to personal and community goals, we measure our success against a lofty goal – to provide the finest educational experience in the country. At the public Board meeting next week, we will take a closer look at these initiatives, which have been keeping the district at the top of the class.
Carolyn Broady, Chair
West Vancouver Board of Education