Thursday, 07 June 2018 06:22

Chinook School Division making progress with a student engagement initiative

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Coordinator Sharon Mayall and Superintendent of Schools Dan Kerslake present the student engagement status report at a regular Chinook School Division board meeting, May 14. Coordinator Sharon Mayall and Superintendent of Schools Dan Kerslake present the student engagement status report at a regular Chinook School Division board meeting, May 14.

A report on the initial year of a new initiative to increase student engagement in schools was presented at a regular Chinook School Division board meeting, May 14.


This three-year priority initiative is aimed at Grade 9-12 teachers and students in Chinook School Division.
The school division’s goal is to use this initiative to increase student attendance and to improve graduation rates.
“Our graduation rates are very strong and so we looked to research student’s interest in motivation,” Superintendent of Schools Dan Kerslake told the Prairie Post. “We believe it will improve their attendance and we believe improved attendance will lead to higher attainments of credits and increased graduation levels.”
One of the first goals of the initiative was to obtain relevant data to use for the creation of an engagement framework. The school division used the OurSCHOOL secondary school survey program to obtain data specific to Grade 9-12 students.
“We have some assessments and measurements in place now that we can track our students and also we have ways that teachers can get that information right in their classrooms,” Coordinator Sharon Mayall said.
“So as far as that goal we’ve really accomplished what we wanted to. We have developed a framework. We’re working through the six components of our framework and so far we’ve addressed three of them, but we know we need to go deeper. We have two more years to get to the other three components and go deeper with our initiative.”
Three of the six components are related to collaborative culture – authentic relationships, students as partners, and a supportive environment.
The other three components are related to student centred learning – responding to diverse learners, planning for deeper learning, and assessment for learning.
The focus during the past year has been on the three components of collaborative culture. There were professional development sessions for teachers and they were then able to use that information to set collaborative culture goals for their classroom activities.
“I think if you decide to work from that position of students as partners, you’ll find lots of opportunities in any classroom setting,” Kerslake said.
“So choice in how you might want to learn something, choice in how you might want to do a project or submit your learning for assessment. Once you decide to work from that place, then the opportunities really open up to provide students voice and choice in their classroom.”
During the past year there was also one-on-one coaching with a group of seven teachers that focused on the three components of student centred learning.
“One of the things that we’d like to come out of the group is that they become school leaders,” Mayall said. “We brought them in from different schools. So they can go back and impact their schools, their part of the professional learning communities in their buildings. We’re hoping that part connects with what teachers are learning in the school.”
The goals for the student engagement initiative for next year include a continuation of the work on collaborative culture.
“We’re going to have an increased focus or provide professional development around relevance and then we are planning to build supports for our professional learning communities in schools to develop collaborative cultures amongst our teachers,” Kerslake said.
Individual coaching of another seven teachers will also take place, and they will then become leaders in student centred learning in their schools.
“It’s really important that you’re sharing and to keep it going since it’s a three-year initiative,” Mayall noted. “So it’s first sustainability. We want to build a culture amongst our teachers of sharing and trying things and checking with students. So that’s really what we’re hoping for next year – to continue to build that culture.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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