Learning Without Limits
As a new school and a new staff, we met this year to create our Vision Statement. Early in the process of naming the Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning (SAIL), we asked ourselves what would be our “tagline” under our logo. We do not have a mascot, so we could not be “Home of the?”
As a staff we felt we were creating a school that had little or no limitations. With the ongoing support of our Superintendent, Jordan Tinney and the whole senior management of the Surrey School District we feel we are free to create. Senior Management support is a critical piece of the educational change process puzzle.
I have said in earlier blogs that teachers need to know that the principal will support them with their learning (professional development) and when things do not go “according to plan.” The same support is needed from our superintendents to our principals.
Creating and trying something new in education is a stressful undertaking. Knowing that you have the support of your senior management team and teachers knowing that they have support from their principal makes the creative process a little less unnerving.
For myself, the stressful part has been sharing the Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning’s journey. I am a true introvert, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That cannot Stop Talking – Jan 29, 2013 By Susan Cain is an outstanding book on introversion that sheds light on how “sharing” and introversion are not always mutually exclusive. Sharing in this blog format is very stressful as I do not consider myself a writer nor, like most principals, have the time. However, I know, based on feedback, sharing of our school’s journey is helping other educators across the world.
All of our staff members have come from traditional brick and mortar schools. As a staff, we constantly have in the back of our minds how we are going to bring our blended, interdisciplinary, inquiry/project based, formally assessed, model of instruction in a Makerspace environment to the large secondary schools. We know we currently do not have the same limitations/barriers that our colleagues in the secondary schools have.
We, at SAIL, are now feeling comfortable with our program offerings and the students we serve. We meet with each full-time student and offer them a program that meets their needs. We teach the student “where they are at” and allow them to progress at their pace. We do not put limitations on them, but structure their program, so they feel engaged and challenged.
At SAIL, we do not have a timetable, bell schedule, individual classrooms, or students transitioning from class to class based on their age and subject grade level. If our students need more time to complete a task, they get the time. If they want to advance faster, we allow it. All within the safety of caring teachers that advise them and guide them along in the student’s learning journey.
So far SAIL has been successful (based on first semester results). Our course completion rates and success rates for full-time students have increased, and subject academic averages have gone up from previous years.
Parents in the elementary (K – 7) program are extremely pleased and enrollment for next year currently has a waiting list. After flying under the radar for a year as we develop our programs, word of what we are doing is getting out.
So this brings me back to “Learning Without Limits”. We sat as a staff looking to create a vision statement for our school. We started the visioning process with the typical critical questions, discussion, and after three meetings we determined that we do not want a long winded statement that no one would remember. Then someone said “Learning Without Limits,” it sums up our vision for the school in those three words. After more discussion, and a couple more meetings, it was unanimously felt by our staff that Learning Without Limits was our vision statement.
To carry on our journey at SAIL and to continue to keep our vision statement alive, we will need our staff members to continue to work in a constant state of beta, along with the ongoing support of our Superintendent Jordan Tinney and his senior management team. Jordan’s continued support of SAIL is an integral part of our continual development and striving towards our vision of Learning Without Limits.
I would like to offer a massive thank you all of all the teachers that helped created our province’s curriculum. As well as all of those teachers that have helped us unpack the new curriculum and guide us in the curriculum’s implementation. The joint efforts of the province’s Ministry of Education and the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation have authored a curriculum that is in alignment with our school’s mission statement and excites our staff and students.
Many people and school district departments are responsible for the early success of Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning. Our staff will continue to innovate their practice and to Learn Without Limitations, and continue to design courses for our students so that they can “Learn without Limits.”
If you have any further questions or would like to find out more about our school, please comment below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org