It’s hard to believe we have almost completed our first year in our new space. While our community began the year with great excitement, there were also real questions about how our new building would alter the school and the quality of the student experience. Would our larger physical space detract from Greenwood’s strong sense of community? Would new different classroom structures hamper personalized learning, or enable it?
Over the past several weeks we have conducted two separate student surveys that shed positive light on questions like these. When asked on the student engagement survey, conducted by researchers at the University of New Brunswick, to list some of the things they liked about Greenwood, students overwhelmingly cited their teachers and our school’s strong sense of community. This result was echoed in another student survey, conducted by Panorama Education which focused on students’ perception of their teachers and classes. Student relationship with teachers, which looks at how well they think their teachers know them, ranked in the 90th percentile.
On the student engagement survey, we posted modest gains from last year in our students’ sense of belonging and their development of positive friendships. Both scores also exceeded Canadian school norms, as did student involvement in athletics and clubs. Gains were also noted in interest and motivation, as well as being challenged at the appropriate level. This latter result was close to 30% higher than the Canadian norm. Our biggest gains over the December Panorama survey were in students being able to explain their thinking and trying different strategies when they get stuck. Both gains, as well as the strong result in being appropriately challenged, speak to a growing ability to self-direct one’s learning, which is a key outcome of personalized learning.
We also took a close look at the results from students who were in co-taught classes, as there have been many questions about this approach throughout this year. Survey results in co-taught classes showed improvement in learning how to direct your learning and understanding content. These improved results were equal to those of a traditional classroom. Survey results also indicted that engaging all students consistently and managing the learning environment effectively are two areas to continue to work on next year with the co-teaching model.
These surveys, as well as other feedback gained throughout this year, will inform our planning for next year. We are going to be more intentional about how we schedule co-taught classes. Many of the teachers participating in our Summer Teacher Institute will focus on further developing our use of co-teaching. Students also indicated they would like greater access to the gym, the fitness centre and the theatre, so we are going to see what can be done to accommodate this need.
I am really pleased with these results and by how hard our teachers and staff have worked to achieve them. Though there is still plenty to work on next year, these results emphasize that the changes we have made are meeting the needs of our students.