Our School Story

This is a work in progress

Framework for Enhancing Student Learning (FESL)

May 2017 - Present

 

Our Context:

Established in 1961 as an annex to another school, Tomsett is a school that, despite its three phases of development over the past 58 years, has maintained its status as a smaller school.  However, large scale housing development consisting of townhouses and condos within the catchment has caused this quiet little community to experience major growth both in size and cultural mix.

The Tomsett School community prides itself in being a safe, respectful, responsible and welcoming community, with very caring staff, well behaved and polite students and supportive parents.  All members of the community look out for one another and work together in making our school a great place to learn and grow.

Like the thunderbird that represents our school, Tomsett is many things to many different groups of people.  We are a place of learning, working, gathering, socializing and growing.  We provide social/emotional support and guidance, opportunities and experiences for growth and knowledge and in most cases a sense of identity and stability within a very heterogeneous community. 

Despite the many differences in people’s cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs and educational experiences, we are able to come together and create a unified spirit that holds us all together.  One way in which we do that is by tapping into the generous nature of our community members.  People within our community have assisted us, with their time and spirit of giving, in raising thousands of dollars over the past few years for organizations such as the Terry Fox Foundation, Richmond Food Bank, BC Children’s Hospital, The Heart and Stroke Foundation and Canuck Place.  Our Parent Advisory Council has also embarked upon many fundraising endeavors to help support our programs and services for our students.  Together, we have learned we can make a difference.

As a changing community, we need to be ready to respond to those changes, to adapt to the needs of a diverse learning community, to find innovative ways to engage our learners and instill upon them a sense of inquiry, strong work ethic, perseverance and passion.  Our dedicated staff are confident that the following plan will help guide us as we move forward in our pursuit of improving our ability to connect students to their learning in an effective way.

 

Our Focus:

Over the past several months, we have surveyed students, parents and staff about what makes Tomsett a great school and what we can do to enhance the educational experiences of our students.  From that data we discovered a number of different things, some that we already knew about and others that made us pause and reflect on our practice.

First we re-affirmed what a kind, caring, hard-working staff we have and in turn what a kind, caring and hard working group of students we have.  We also discovered that our parent group appreciates our efforts and believes in our ability to providing a safe, orderly and caring school for their children.

We also discovered that our students are not as well connected to their learning as we would like them to be.  They seem to know what they are good at or what challenges them, but do not always know how they know.  Many students have also indicated that although they are somewhat familiar with where they have been in their learning, they do not have a strong sense for where they are going.

As a result, our staff has chosen to focus on Assessment for Learning as our school goal and more specifically, focus on the strand of Student Self-Assessment to help students better connect to their learning experience and overall improved performance.

 

Our Learning & Actions for 2017/18:

Our FESL Committee has met on a few occasions and with the support of the entire staff has developed a 4 step approach to enhancing student learning through self-assessment.

  1. Start with a base-line survey of teachers to ask the questions, “Are we providing opportunities for our students to engage in self-assessment?” and “Can you imagine what self-assessment might look like in your classroom?”.
  2. Staff will teach the concept of self-assessment, including using common language so that students will improve their ability to self-assess.
  • Break down the process of reflection and criteria for improvement
  • Establish common language
  • Create child friendly rubrics
  1. We will measure whether or not self-assessment is helping to improve student learning.

Evidence will include the following:

  • Report Card Data
  • Staff/Student/Parent Surveys
  • Assessment of improved discussions at school and at home
  1. Teachers will take part in professional development to improve own ability to teach self- assessment.
  • Invite assessment experts to come and present to staff
  • Staff discussion, collaboration and practice creating language and rubrics
  • Ongoing reflection and assessment of effectiveness
  • Dedicate at least 3 prod sessions for next year towards our school focus

 

Our Evidence:

            After collection of baseline data in the fall of 2017, we will begin to compare further data collected in the form of student work, testimonies, surveys, report cards and artifacts of student self-assessments collected throughout the year.  Our hope is that all forms of evidence will show signs of improved knowledge and skills and overall connectedness to their learning.  At the same time, we hope that the same may be said for our own ability to teach and support the concept of self-assessment and that our overall ability to effectively assess student progress will also improve.