A View from the Small Office

Prior to Spring Break, Elementary Vice Principals in the West Vancouver School District met to share what was happening in our schools. Although we are a small district and speak frequently, it was a great opportunity to gain insight into current initiatives and learning. Our dialogues enable us to be savvy about what is happening in other schools and idea share as we embark on our individual journeys in educational leadership.

The Ridgeview Elementary presentation focussed in on 3 areas we have been working on: inquiry, collaboration, and technology.

Moving the school towards an inquiry-based model of learning has been an engaging one for our staff. Through professional development days we have had the opportunity for reflection on current practice and open discussions about how we might shape a common dialogue around learning throughout the school. We began building our knowledge by encouraging school visits*. Teachers were provided the time, as a professional learning community to visit a number of schools engaged in inquiry-based teaching. From these visits, a strong interest took hold as conversations began to percolate in the staffroom and gathered momentum in our workshops where we collectively began to build the framework for inquiry at Ridgeview.

This year, the staff have had the opportunity for collaboration with colleagues at least twice per month. The purpose was for teachers to connect, share, further deepen and coordinate the learning taking place in their classrooms. We made this collaboration time possible through assembly presentations and TOC relief. It has been very successful with teachers reporting positively about the usefulness of this time. As we move forward with inquiry, teachers will build on this experience and a model of collaborative time will be developed that is both useful and meaningful to student learning.

The final area I presented was technology in our classrooms at Ridgeview. The hardware we possess as a school includes:

  • a netbook cart shared amongst the primary classes
  • a laptop cart utilized by the grade 4-6 students
  • a class set of laptops shared between two grade 7 classes
  • a set of iPods are used for students who are photo documenting the learning process, creating iMovies and performing research.
  • iPads that are being implemented into the learning taking place with our learning resource classes.
  • finally, our students have also begun to bring in their own devices. This has been especially prevalent in our grades 5 and 7 classes.

With all of these tools, we want to ensure that teachers have the knowledge and skills to effectively integrate technology with student learning. As such, with the help of our District Digitial Literacy Leader, Cari Wilson and keen staff members, we have begun to expose teachers to the programs available that will engage their students in the use of technology and provide the opportunity to go deeper in their learning. We will continue to build capacity amongst our staff with the goal of making our learning with technology seamless.

I feel that we created a movement this year. As educational leaders, we have been fortunate to have an open, supportive and participatory staff as we began this journey towards further solidifying inquiry learning at Ridgeview. Without this, we’d just be lone nuts with an idea, as exemplified in the video below.

*Schools we visited: West Bay Elementary, Cypress Park, Caulfeild Elementary, Capilano Elementary, Southridge, Calgary Science School

Thanks to Greg Meldrum, Amy Rice and Cari Wilson for the use of their images.

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