The Answers Are Just a Click Away
I am a leader that advocates for student voice and choice in their own learning. As adults, we often make decisions about students without students. Its is important that we include children in decisions about how our school can best meet their needs, rather than always coming at things from an adult angle. In essence, I truly believe that the most valuable information we can gain about how we are doing as a school comes from the "mouths of babes."
This year our District began using the Tell Them From Me Surveys at the Elementary level, which directly focuses on student input in Grades 4, 5 and 6 and even allows schools to design some of their own questions, providing true information about our school.
Essentially, the data we are examining comes from our very own students...your children.
So, what do our students have to say about our school?
I tried something a little different with the data, placing many of the prominent pieces in the Infographic below. Hopefully, it gives you a clear snap shot of what our students have to say.
When we look at the various pieces of the chart, we can see that our students report that they are engaged at school, with a high percentage (85%) of them being interested and motivated.
This is encouraging, as we see teachers doing a wonderful job of stretching into innovative new realms, with a focus on Project Based Learning, technology and Fine Arts integration. Our students are being challenged and they value the learning outcomes that are presented to them. This means that education seems relevant to our students and, as we continue to connect with the community in creative new ways, we are opening up opportunities for authentic learning to them.
From another standpoint, students are experiencing anxiety around some interesting areas, with less of it being on peer interactions than anticipated and more of it centring on performing and test taking. Overall, students seem to be content with their relationships at school and more anxious when being asked to perform or present information.
In terms of addressing student anxiety, we continue to strive to support our students by offering diverse ways to demonstrate their knowledge through the Fine Arts and inquiry learning. The "cookie cutter" approach to learning does not suit everyone's needs. We also offer social-emotional support through Mrs. Parker-Wycislik, our School Support Worker, who works one-on-one with students and in specialized groups.
Our Community of Caring also serves to provide support for students through Big Family Groups, Service Projects, our Faith Theme ("Walk Humbly With God") and Spirit Days. These are all ways to bring about a sense of belonging and promote a culture of acceptance in our school community.
We celebrate our students through videos sent home, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, I.C.E. Time (formerly Hymn Sing) and more. Positive messaging around the school, like those on our stairs, serves to tell students that they matter to us and that they are all unique and special. We will continue to foster a sense of warmth in our school so that anxiety is decreased as acceptance is increased.
Students were also given a chance to express how they best learned using the Fine Arts and they told us that they enjoy fun and creative ways to present their learning. Fine Arts integration suits the bill for this type of learning quite fine, as we continue to open the door to new opportunities for students to express themselves.
Many of the written responses about why they liked our school centred around the staff and their positive experiences in the school environment. It is definitely a warm, friendly staff, who strive to support the students.
Here are just some of the things that students had to say about their experiences at St. Dominic:
- "I really like that when we do projects like book reports we are allowed to be creative. The teachers aren't really strict but bring challenges to push us forwards."
- "It's an awesome school. It's fun and has nice teachers."
- "I like that our school has a lot of responsibility and creativity and fine arts."
- "I really like this school because the teachers here are the best teachers that I have ever had. Actually, to be super duper honest with you, I have absolutely nothing that I think could change."
- "I like everything about this school, I wish it went up to a higher grade so I can stay here longer."
- "I like that the teachers are helpful, the students are kind, and that we celebrate fine arts."
Overall, when given the opportunity to use 3 words to describe our school, ("Feelings About Our School" Wordle) they resoundingly tell us that our school is a fun, safe, happy... and downright COOL place to be. I couldn't agree more!
Here's hoping that with a simple click of a mouse, our students were able to give you a glimpse of how they view our wonderful little school.