2016-17 is off to a great start!

September 17, 2016 - 6 minutes read

Can you believe it? It’s only been 9 days since we started school! I am amazed at how much learning has already occurred at Chartwell in such a short time!

Week 1 was a tremendous opportunity for me to introduce myself to my new community. (And what a warm and friendly welcome I have received!) I had the chance to address the many parents who attended the Welcome Tea hosted by our Chartwell Parent Advisory Council in the library on the very first day of school. Also on Tuesday, September 6th, I introduced myself and the staff to all our students at our first assembly of the year. A second assembly took place on Friday of the first week, to review routines and expectations, and the common language we all share as a Rights Respecting School.

Chartwell Elementary School is a United Nations Rights Respecting School. This initiative promotes the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as a framework on which to build a participatory, inclusive and respectful school culture. And our school is an incredibly diverse community where cultures and differences are embraced and celebrated.

Our code of conduct includes three pillars: Rights, Respect, and Responsibility. Students at Chartwell know that children have rights under the Children’s Charter of Rights of the United Nations. There are 54 articles in the Charter, and they are the basis of our code of conduct which is reviewed annually. Our students also know that all of us have responsibilities associated with those rights. In our first week of school, when students were grouped in grade groups, teachers reviewed the RRS language, and also used a number of resources and strategies to teach students about self-regulation, a district pillar in West Vancouver, along with digital literacy and inquiry learning.

At Chartwell, students are familiar with the Zones of Regulation and MindUp resources and the common language associated with them. They reviewed our core values through various activities. I am a true believer when it comes to self-regulation and social and emotional learning. I know that students perform better when they are in the “green zone”, able to focus, problem-solve, create and collaborate. We are able to use our critical and creative thinking skills more much effectively when we are calm and alert. Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and control our own behaviour, emotions, or thoughts, altering them in accordance with the demands of the situation. The ability to self-regulate is so important in a personalized learning environment, where students work on project-based and inquiry based learning situations, now the focus of our new curriculum.

With our new curriculum fully implemented this year, we are shifting our emphasis from content to competency. This is an exciting time for BC teachers and students. We know that students can find information with one click, but learning how to think and developing skills needed in our fast-changing global world requires a change in our pedagogy. The Ministry of Education language on the Curriculum redesign is clear: “Today we live in a state of constant change. It is a technology-rich world, where communication is instant and information is immediately accessible. The way we interact with each other personally, socially, and at work has changed forever. Knowledge is growing at exponential rates in many domains, creating new information and possibilities. This is the world our students are entering.
British Columbia’s curriculum is being redesigned to respond to this demanding world our students are entering. To develop new models, the Ministry consulted with experts in the field. They suggested that to prepare students for the future, the curriculum must be learner-centred and flexible and maintain a focus on literacy and numeracy, while supporting deeper learning through concept-based and competency-driven approaches.”

No need to fear, students are still learning those all-important foundational skills at Chartwell. Teachers are experts at designing an educational program that promotes inquiry while still teaching students how to read, how to find information, how to develop number sense and use strategies in all subject areas. Students must also have opportunities to create. I have heard many inspiring speakers in West Vancouver over the last several years. I learned so much from Dr. Stuart Shanker about self-regulation a few years ago. Two other speakers that have made a huge impact on me were Dr. Ken Robinson and Dr. Yong Zhao. Both claim that children come to school with creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset, but that schools decrease those abilities. Teachers strive to promote creativity and we have many projects ahead this school year with that goal in mind. Our Capstone Project for Grade 6 and 7 students was a very successful pilot project last year and I am excited to see it grow this year!

I have visited all the classrooms and am excited by the learning that I have witnessed these last two weeks. I am looking forward to sharing more learning with you soon!