School Name: Departure Bay Elementary Eco School
School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith
Inquiry Team Members: Liz McCaw. email@example.com
Alex King. Alex.King@sd68.bc.ca
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Mathematics / Numeracy
Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, Experiential learning, Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Self-regulation
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? On the staff, to reflect upon their program and transition towards an experiential program which promotes growth mindset. We also wanted to support the staff.
Scanning: We noticed two years ago that the learners were weak in their numeracy, especially fluency in the intermediate grades. There were a high number of students disengaged with math. We suspected that the learners were not part of the process, and therefore were not being given opportunities to be reflective, ask questions and have a growth mindset. We wanted to know, what were the barriers? Were they program, practice and/or resources? We began our learning journey by first asking the staff if they would be interested in math inservice, and an inquiry on the ways that we were teaching math.
Focus: In year one, our goal was to create a safe and caring work environment, where staff could feel safe to take risks, share and support each other. We established a constant support system by asking staff what they wanted, how we could help, and what directions would they like to see our inservice take. Would they value collaborative time? We believe that this was achieved. It was very evident that even with new teachers in the second year, the culture of the school continued to reflect a collaborative, supportive professional environment. This was commented on by many TTOC and our new staff.
We wanted our teachers to be collaborators, risk takers, to learn current methods and to focus on the process of learning, which included sparking curiosity, playful learning and various learning paths. We believed that shift in practice would engage the children, enable them to take risks and ask questions, and develop a growth mindset.
Hunch: Many intermediate and some primary staff were focused on the product, swiftly progressing through math units, and using pencil and paper. Playful learning, investigations and the use of manipulative were not reflected in many programs.
New Professional Learning: This was an exciting year. Our staff were open to regular math inquiry through collaborate groups. They grew together, taking risks, and sharing failures and successes.
We encouraged collaboration through our structured focus groups, and professional inservice through math webinars with time to share and plan. This encouraged a growth mindset with our teachers, as well as learning partnerships. Throughout all of this, our administrator was truly supportive and interested in our plans.
We purchased requested teaching resources, as well as math read aloud books and hands-on resources for students as requested by teachers to help with the transition in their programs. We provided a list of math sites where they could continue their professional learning, as well as access free resources like 3 act tasks, and included a fall inservice day for them to explore the sites.
Taking Action: We chose three strategies, 1) Structured math focus groups, 2) Responsive teacher inservice, and 3) Growing our resources for students, so that each classroom had everything that they needed for experiential learning.
Checking: We are really excited about the changes to our school. The staff are open, collaborative and regularly share their new learning. There is a kind, welcoming culture in our school.
We used end of year data provided by the intermediate teachers as our baseline, as well as a teacher survey at the beginning and end of the year. We found that all but one staff made changes to their math program, including math play, all the way to grade seven.
We had planned to ask teachers to survey a few students in each of their classes for us during the spring, however COVID-19 voided that opportunity.
Reflections/Advice: It’s exciting to be part of a staff that is close, supportive and collaborative. After two years, we have seen tremendous growth among our staff and many are using current methodology and still learning. Some have continued their learning outside of school, such as signing up for online math courses, watching webinars, etc…
We would certainly recommend this approach to other schools. Because of COVID-19 we hope to focus on art next year. We have organized the art room, created a wish list inventory and will survey the staff in the fall to see if they are interested in this new direction.