Principal Fred Woods’ and VicePrincipal Debra Sorensen-Valette’s presentation highlighted the value and impact of student voice. Students suggested a “comic book” theme to share the school’s goals, resulting in an eight-minute video and accompanying cartoon-style handout:
- To create and sustain a safe and caring, inclusive culture and learning environment: Blackie students see themselves as members of a big family. Strategies aimed at sustaining a positive learning culture include lots of opportunities for students to interact, support and mentor one another, use of a common language to foster students’ social/emotional skills and well-being, and effective communication with parents to promote healthy partnerships in learning. Blackie also empowers students to question and try new things – as evidenced by the grade 3/4 math class’s experiment with coloured tiles on the hallway floors to see how they would impact student movement patterns throughout the school.
- To create and sustain an environment and culture of critical thinking to intellectually engage learners: The school has had great success with its Reading Intervention Program (RIP), and is now placing greater emphasis on the numeracy side as well. The school has incorporated the book, Making Thinking Visible, to supplement numerous data sources as part of its focus on intentional design of instructional strategies to improve student learning.
- To improve teacher practice and improve student achievement through well designed staff growth plans and professional development: With the understanding that individual teacher growth benefits student learning, Blackie places a strong emphasis on teacher self-reflection, professional growth planning and collaborative work to examine results and improve learning at all levels.