Monday, 6 June 2016

The Brooklands Team

How did Brooklands achieve all this? Rex took me out to meet about a dozen of his team who after a weekend of a special “de-pave the playground” project, had just finished the first week of a three-week Outdoor School Challenge. ALL classes were held outdoors every day. They had rain, heat, chill, wind.. all the good stuff. The staff looked tired, but in a great way. Rex introduced me and my assignment, and then said “rather than me tell you what we’ve done, they should. Because they are the ones who’ve done it”.

So began a barrage of things that worked. Not just the projects and programs. But the why’s, how’s and the vision. They talked about Voice in the process, collaboration in setting initial Positive and Possible goals and steps to achieve them. They spoke of buy-in and support from the community who also had a vital place on the Path.

They spoke expansively about the directed PD time. Two teachers, one experienced and the other a newer teacher, had a passion for literacy and volunteered to focus on that. They found a highly regarded and comprehensive two-day workshop in Halifax. Rex secured the funding and sent them off. They left as acquaintance-colleagues and came back close friends and unstoppable champions for the team. 

Three others wanted to direct their efforts on numeracy. Rex found the support/funding and they attended a workshop in Las Vegas (yes, that one..). Rex says “And they came back with incredible ideas, projects and energy. They also came back with matching tattoos, but that’s another story”. Support staff; EAs, clerical and custodial, were likewise involved in all aspects of an emerging culture in the school, with specific and directed PD support.

They spoke of measurable goals, way-points and data tracking; not those set by the division or the Province, but rather by the team.

Brooklands Team Room Fountas & Pinnell Reading Chart
As an example, literacy was a huge issue. The team set a goal that by 2014 all students leaving grade five would be reading at a grade five level. After-school reading programs, grandparent reading circle, special summer programs to offset “summer slide”, and other projects were initiated and invented. They tracked each student, colour coded by grade and implemented a three-tier support structure based upon the students’ individual need. They tried keeping data electronically, but felt that a physical board with post-it notes was more dynamic and organic. Rex secured partnerships with Indigo and others so that every student could pick one new book to keep and take home every month.

His team spent a lot of time talking about Team. There is no staff-room; the sign on the door reads Team Room. There is a special outdoor space for members of the team to meet as well.

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