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Blog: Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Inspired Abby Catchment Classrooms
I start every year by visiting the Abby Catchment Schools. This September, I started with Abby Senior and Abby Middle, before fanning out to the feeder elementary schools (Godson, Dormick, Centennial, and Alexander) where with the exception of Jackson, I have now completed. This year the task was a little more involved in part because there are two additions - Upper Sumas and Barrowtown - to the family. For those of you who have been around for a while, you will know that this is more of a “family reunion”, as these two schools were historically Abby catchment schools.
The visits were, as always, quite enjoyable. I spent some time with the principals to discuss the startup, (which by all accounts was much smoother than last year), as well as their long-term and immediate plans for the school. I visited numerous classrooms where I connected with teachers, long-time colleagues, and met some of the new staff who have been hired into the District (making me feel old). Of course, I got a chance to connect with students who were engaged in the excitement of learning. By the way, the most popular answer to the question: “Boys and girls, do you know who this visitor is?” is still “a Police Officer” (Out of the mouths of babes…)
I would like to share my (Top 5) celebrations from my visit to these eight schools:
- Enrolment is up: More families are moving into the centre of the city (from the western part of the District and the Metro area), and so it is great to see increased enrolment in Abby schools. (A key reason as to why we have had to close the catchment to cross boundary requests).
- Great learning spaces: Between school enhancement program (thanks to our Facilities Department) and resource allocation, to things like Learning Commons (see Perry’s piece below), the Abby schools have made commendable use of space to address the learning needs of the diverse student population.
- Self-regulation: The elementary teachers in the Abby catchment have done a wonderful job of embedding self-regulated learning into their classrooms. The evidence is everywhere.
- There is encouraging evidence of teacher collaboration. It is one of the questions that I ask the principals when I visit. It is great to see the innovative ways that “collab” is created in each school.
- Response to Intervention (RTI): This is connected to the item above. Teachers collaborate more meaningfully for the purpose of improving practice and student learning. From flex time to daily reading interventions, Abby schools use some very creative designs to meet student needs.
I start my visit in the Abby catchment because, as you know, it supports some of our most vulnerable learners. I am keenly interested in how we are responding to their needs. Educating these students is the crucible of the fundamental promise of the public education system. Our work is not done (and it never will be), but I am tremendously encouraged by the enthusiasm, commitment, creativity that I have observed here. Well done!