With the dawn of a new calendar year, reflection, contemplation and goal setting seem to be occupying the thoughts of many, including myself. As the school year is well underway, what an opportune time to identify key areas of focus for the six month stretch ahead. Here are my top three areas … yes, I admit I am copying Superintendent Kennedy and thank him for his “Top Three” format!
Just before the holidays, we typically see a return of our graduates who roam the hallways connecting with teachers and students, reminiscing about their high school years. Having been out of the K-12 education system for a mere six months, these students are a valuable source of information and I was determined to tap into their recent experiences and newly acquired wisdom. Thus I asked them, “What could Rockridge have done better to prepare you for your post-secondary experiences?”
In response, these students did not mention a particular area of knowledge they were lacking but rather how they struggled with time-management. They wished they had FIT (Flexible Instructional Time) last year as they were hearing how the current students are benefiting from this time built into the daily schedule to review course material, access teachers for support and to learn more about career opportunities.
Our school goal focuses on the core competency of Personal Awareness and Responsibility, specifically, self-regulation and well-being. FIT has proven to be an excellent strategy to support development of responsible learners who are able to set goals and manage their time. My goal is to ensure FIT continues to meet the diverse needs of our learners.
Our Digital Support Teachers (Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Trask) and I will continue to explore ways to enhance students’ educational experiences using Virtual Reality (VR). Last year students used Google Cardboard headsets to practise public speaking in front of large virtual audiences. At the beginning of this school year Rockridge transitioned to a more advanced VR technology, the Oculus Go. With these devices there are a plethora of new applications that educators can use to support experiential learning. Since September, for example, teachers have used VR to provide stimulating creative writing prompts and students have used VR to explore and report on the ecology of our national parks.
Our Counsellors and Learning Support Teachers have been learning how the use of relaxation apps can be a strategy for mitigating levels of stress and anxiety. This is an exciting area that we will be exploring further.
As nothing stands still in the area of technology, the new Oculus Quest might provide another area to explore as we look to provide all students with authentic ways to engage with their learning. Stay tuned!
I am fortunate to be working in a progressive school where a positive school culture is valued. In athletics, I have seen an upsurge in the interest and excitement in many sports, most notably basketball and rugby. Our basketball coaches are busy planning a Seniors’ Night to recognize the contributions of our graduating players. Successful games and tournaments prior to the holiday break have generated a level of excitement not previously experienced by our players.
After reaching the provincials last year, our Rugby Team is looking forward to another successful season. With a Rugby Tour to Argentina planned over spring break our players have been donning their cleats in all kinds of weather to practice and prepare for this amazing experience.
In summary, my Top Three areas of focus for the remainder of the school year are:
- to continue to seek and respond to feedback to ensure FIT supports students’ needs,
- to continue to find ways to leverage VR technology to enhance student learning and well-being, and
- to build on the palpable enthusiasm in all areas of school life that are contributing to a positive school culture.
Happy New Year, everyone. Looking forward to a great 2020 and a productive, exciting six months at Rockridge.