Updated January 2021

Over the past three years, we have been collecting data to best formulate what our school stakeholders believe should be the plans moving forward.  Staff were provided formal and informal opportunities (directly and indirectly) through meetings and anonymous surveys to provide feedback identifying areas for school growth.  Student voice was a very important part of this process. We have had Student focus groups, grade 12 exit surveys (sent to our most recent graduates a few months after graduation) and at a Professional Development Day, we held a "World Cafe," where we invited over 50 students to participate in our professional learning by being a part of many open-ended discussions about teaching, learning and our school.  Both the surveys and the World Cafe revealed some areas that will serve as a focus for our school improvement. Since the Framework for Enhancing Student Learning (FESL) will emphasize “school-wide” areas, some of these other areas for growth will become the focus of smaller groups or departments within our school.

Like all good schools, we believe there are many areas in which we can improve.  Last year we began to focus our School Story around the formation, implementation, and development of our Career Education Program as well as our work to support the more overt implementation of Core Competence instruction and assessment.  Though it is fair to say that we experienced a significant disruption due to COVID 19 and the pandemic protocols we have returned to, these areas will still be our areas of foci (with some slight alterations).

 

Why are we focusing on Career Education (beyond the fact that we have to)? 

Career Education focuses on the development of the whole individual, supporting students in their life journey as they identify and explore personal interests, passions and competencies, striving to develop into educated and successful citizens. The Career Education curriculum helps guide students to effectively navigate and manage this life journey as they make their way through elementary school, high school and beyond,  as they look toward their future goals and career aspirations. Career Education provides the opportunity for students to engage in self-discovery and exploration that they can apply to personally meaningful experiential learning in volunteer and work experience opportunities.

 

How will our students benefit?

We are into the third year of our Career Education Delivery Model.  Though we have made some changes based on student feedback and our current context, the core of our model has not significantly changed.  The biggest change to our implementation was the loss of face-to-face instructional time due to the loss of our LET Days.  LET Days, (8 times throughout the year), were to be used to deliver instruction, create the multi-aged classroom support from student to student, and allow the development leading towards Capstone completion.  

 

To provide background and context, below is some information about LET that we hope to bring back in the 2021-22 school year.

LET (Life Education) Time is a structure which provides McRoberts student placement in a multi-grade LET Group, that meets eight times during the school year for a one hour LET session. LET Time provides the time for invaluable conversation and interaction between students in grades 8 through 12, and allows the opportunity for older students to mentor and help guide the younger learners in their LET Group. LET Time also allows for grade specific assemblies, such as our recent Grade 11 LET Time assembly that provided an opportunity for a team of our staff to inform these students about the Capstone project that they will be creating in their Grade 12 year as part of Career Life Connections. We are also coordinating a Volunteer Fair for our Grade 9 and 10 students on our November LET Day to help link these students to many potential volunteer opportunities in our local community.  In addition to the LET Days, Career Education curricular competencies are also being taught and assessed in each of the subject areas, where teachers have embedded some of the curricular competencies and the assessment of these competencies into the learning that is already occurring.

 

Our Actions

 

2020-2021

The return to school this current year saw significant changes to the structure of our Career Education (CE) Program.  While our plans included the use of a portion of our ER time to supplement LET Days for grade 12s, the change in timetable and the significant reduction in hours of instruction for students in grades 10-12 forced our CE Team to re-create their model.  Unfortunately, the program moved to full-remote teaching and support for all students (with the exception of Career Life Education 10). The remote instruction included Career Life Connections 12 with limited face-to-face time between CE staff and grade 12 students, which has been a difficult adjustment for both students and staff.  

As we continue to progress through this year, our CE Team's goal has been to maintain a level of integrity to the program that we wish to continue to support, but implemented in a way that fits within our current challenging context. Though the Team continues to "adjust on the fly," we have engaged in purposeful conversation with grade 12s and listened to feedback from students and parents, leading to ongoing adjustments to the program requirements that we hope will help provide the highest level of support and success within our present learning context. 

The present focus for our CE Team is to continue to support grade 12s to a successful culmination of their CLC/Capstone journey through the completion of quality Capstone projects in May, while also effectively initiating Capstone with our present grade 11 students. 

Our next steps include reviewing our process this year, celebrating the successes and addressing the challenges. We will continue to gather feedback from our students, parents and staff, while we also review the proposed structure for the 2021-22 school year. Our hope is that we will be able to begin to implement some or all of our proposed structural plans next year as we look forward to the development of Capstone projects from our grade 12s next year.

 

2019-2020

During our first year of implementation of LET, our Career Education (CE) Team, along with trained student mentors spent time working through many of the Career Education Curricular Competencies.  Though our CE Team felt satisfied overall with the progress of the first year of implementation, based on student and staff feedback, there were clearly aspects of this program that the Team planned to change for the following year. 

Key planned changes for the 2020-21 Career Education program focused on greater support for our grade 12 students as they worked through the Career Life Connections (CLC) competencies and as they worked towards completion of their Capstone project. These changes included the addition of two structural updates:

  • Engaged Reading – Two times per week, during our ER time, grade 12s would work independently on CLC/Capstone instead of participating in Engaged Reading.
  • LET Days – Eight times per year all students would continue to participate in LET Days, however, grade 12s would have this time available to specifically focus on their Capstone journey, including individual work time, assemblies, one-on-one meetings with staff and smaller group meetings.

 

Unfortunately the implementation was significantly disrupted by the pandemic which closed schools and moved students to remote learning.  The end of the year came with no more LET Days after Spring Break.  Though the loss of time was significant, the loss of momentum created some challenges to this three year progressive implementation.  

 

 

Why are we focusing on Core Competencies?  Specifically, how will our students benefit?

The Core Competencies are intellectual, social, emotional and personal proficiencies that are essential to help develop the whole student.  The Core Competencies are strategies, skills and attitudes that encourage and develop citizens who are life-long learners.

 

Student Learning Focus:

This year we continue our focus on the Personal and Social Core Competency.  The Personal and Social competency is described as embodying “what students need to thrive as individuals, to understand and care about themselves and others, and to find and achieve their purposes in the world.”  Within the Personal and Social Core Competency, The Personal Awareness and Responsibility sub-competency involves comprehending connections between one’s well being and personal and social behaviour, while the Social Awareness and Responsibility sub-competency focuses on the “awareness, understanding and appreciation of connections among people.”

 

How we Arrived at our Focus:

This year’s context, with the health and safety protocols and structures that are in place due to COVID-19, the need to focus on our care of ourselves and others and connections among our school community area all the more important. All students were surveyed earlier this fall to determine how they were coping this year, in order to discover their successes and struggles.  Not surprisingly, yet with sadness, we found that many students were finding a loss of connectedness within the community.  Structures that are in place to keep our students and staff safe have also led to some loss of a feeling of community- the need to physically distance, the cohort system which restricts with whom students regularly connect, the part-time structure for our senior students – these have all worked well to keep our community safe, but have also distanced our community members from one another not just physically, but socially and emotionally.

 

 

Our Actions: 

 

2020-2021

This year we continue our focus on the Personal and Social Core Competency.  The Personal and Social competency is described as embodying “what students need to thrive as individuals, to understand and care about themselves and others, and to find and achieve their purposes in the world.”  Within the Personal and Social Core Competency, The Personal Awareness and Responsibility sub-competency involves comprehending connections between one’s well being and personal and social behaviour, while the Social Awareness and Responsibility sub-competency focuses on the “awareness, understanding and appreciation of connections among people.”  

 

This year’s context, with the health and safety protocols and structures that are in place due to COVID-19, the need to focus on our care of ourselves and others and connections among our school community area all the more important. All students were surveyed earlier this fall to determine how they were coping this year, in order to discover their successes and struggles.  Not surprisingly, yet with sadness, we found that many students were finding a loss of connectedness within the community.  Structures that are in place to keep our students and staff safe have also led to some loss of a feeling of community- the need to physically distance, the cohort system which restricts with whom students regularly connect, the part-time structure for our senior students – these have all worked well to keep our community safe, but have also distanced our community members from one another not just physically, but socially and emotionally.

 

Since learning of the struggles our students are facing, a staff committee has been working on exploring the issues more deeply, looking for ways to re-create the community of learners that McRoberts has always prided itself on. 

 

A follow-up open-ended survey was conducted with some of our classes to explore the issues further, and from the insight gleaned from that survey, our staff committee embarked upon a journey focussing on the inquiry question, “How can improving a feeling of community and connectedness help to improve student learning?”

 

This past Professional Day (January 29, 2021), we held a virtual World Café, where over 80 staff and students came together to explore our feelings of wellness and connection with the school community, brainstorming ways to improve our sense of community and build connections with our current context in mind.  Since then, our committee has refined their inquiry question and are now exploring the question “What can we do to improve the feeling of community at McRoberts to support student learning?”

 

Next steps include working with staff to find ways to work on the school community to develop the Personal and Social competency, as well as creating a student committee to do the same.  Our hope is that working with staff and students together, we can create connections that help our entire school community thrive.

 

Since learning of the struggles our students are facing, a staff committee has been working on exploring the issues more deeply, looking for ways to re-create the community of learners that McRoberts has always prided itself on. 

 

The evidence we will use to determine if our actions are making a difference will be from data we collect directly from our students:

  • Pre-survey/questionnaire of a range of classes to collect baseline data with respect to student sense of community and connectedness

 

 

2019-2020

While some teachers chose to be explicit in their teaching of the CC, all teachers worked on developing the core competencies within the structure of their curriculum and teaching strategies. 

Our working group of teachers met regularly to discuss Core Competencies at the school and through district initiatives.  Our Student Council students also completed a video around Personal Awareness and Responsibility. Our Grade 8 Mentors worked with our Grade 8s around Core Competencies around reporting time, with reflections with reflections that went out with winter report cards. 

 

A dedicated student committee also worked through the student perspective on exploring how Core Competencies are developed in the school.  In the words of one student,  “Core Competencies are a better reflection of students’ overall capabilities and strengths than course marks.” The student committee developed a monthly focus around the CC, with each month highlighting one of the CC through school announcements, posters, and posts on the school website and Instagram.  The main focus for the year was around the Personal and Social Core Competency.  Our committee was hard at work organizing a Core Competencies Week with a specific focus on Social Awareness and Responsibility that involved daily foci and activities, culminating in grade-level activities to contribute to the school and community.  Unfortunately, this was cut short once school did not resume post-spring break in 2020.  However, McRoberts students completed their final reflections online at the end of the school year in June.