At Albert Community School there are a range of students who attend classes. Some are only there for short periods of time, others grow and thrive in the surrounding community, and some are not proficient in the English language. In my time at school I noticed a common theme, no child is neglected because of their individual strengths and weaknesses. A sense of love and family flows through each staff and student, making the classroom an exciting place to learn.
As any school in Saskatchewan, there are specific curriculum requirements that each student is required to learn. How that knowledge is taught to students is at the discretion of the teachers. After weeks of observing different teaching styles among a range of grades I noticed that teachers catered to different learning methods. Each child learns their best differently, and the teachers create multiple activities to promote learning.
A common practice among teachers was ‘BRAIN’ groups. Students were divided into five different groups and rotated between five activities that each stimulated a different type of learner. There were typically flashcard stations, digital stations, visual and hands on stations, paper practice stations, and new concept stations. These different stations interested the children and allowed the teacher to work with a small number of students when teaching new topics.
After speaking with the staff I gathered new information regarding the types of learners. At Albert Community School teachers must adapt a specific teaching philosophy that emphasizes engagement over curriculum teaching. I noticed many times that teachers would ask children topics that interested them, rather than following the curriculum to a ‘T’. Teachers addressed internet trends and world news regularly in order to promote digital consumer awareness as well as positive citizenship.
The importance of student engagement stems from alarming facts announced by Bronwyn Eyre, “the overall graduation rate had increased about one percentage point to 76.5 per cent over the previous year.” in contrast to, “[t]he graduation rate for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students also increased to 43.2 per cent in 2016-17, from 41.9 per cent in 2015-16.” Albert School is home to a large population of Indigenous students, and with such a large gap in graduation teachers are trying their best to keep students in school in order to create future opportunities for them in their adult careers.
The students may not be reaching all criteria outcomes, but their enthusiasm and appreciation for classroom learning is the most important.