Blog Posts Tagged: collaboration
by Kathy Cassels
One would think there was little to no relationship between daily physical activity and teacher collaboration time; however, you might want to think again. Several schools in the Coast Mountain School District have found a unique way to bring the two together. Last week, I met Principal Mark Newberry from John Field Elementary School in Hazelton, BC. He told me the story of how his whole student population starts each day, led by student leaders in the gym dancing and moving for 30 minutes of daily physical activity. While students get active, teachers take time to collaborate on their three school goals, literacy, culture and social responsibility. He said “It’s a win win all around for the whole school.”
Some benefits of the approach include allowing late arrivals join in with welcome nods and hellos from friends rather than queries from teachers, and where last year there was little opportunity for staff collaboration, the consistency of 30 minutes each morning for working together has improved relationships among school staff and improved school culture overall.
The approach was not without some resistance expressed initially. At first teachers were concerned about loss of teaching time and worried about overstimulated students returning to class. However, intentional support and mindfulness strategies integrated into the beginning of class time, supported all learners to be ready to learn and any resistance quickly vanished.
Meeting Mark was part of a planned discussion between educators and North West health authority representatives to explore “What could physical and mental well-being look like for learners in our K-7 schools?” and “How can the Northern Health Authority representatives contribute to our efforts?” These two questions reference the work at DASH in Healthy Schools BC where we aim for BC students to learn, play and thrive in healthy school communities.
I’m looking forward to staying in touch with John Field Elementary School to learn more about their efforts to address literacy, culture and social responsibility through a unique approach of daily physical activity and teacher collaboration. Stay tuned!
by Alicia Yip
You may have noticed a decrease in early morning traffic on your way to work from October 7th to 11th. That’s most likely due to International Walk to School Week (iWalk), which had 191 schools and over 60,000 students skip their morning car rides for a nice walk instead.
As the coordinator for the iWalk school visits, I was able to see schools in action during their iWalk week. It was amazing to see what each of the schools had planned and how excited all the students were so early in the morning.
Although all the schools were amazing, there was one particular experience that really embodied all of DASH’s values; fun, learning, balance, collaboration, and contribution. As we were saying our goodbyes at Trafalgar Elementary, we noted that it was great to see so many children walking to school so enthusiastically. One PAC member then mentioned that it’s not easy getting them to walk, especially at her son’s school, St. John’s School. She told us of the difficulties her son faced trying to cycle to school with all the traffic and idling cars and about the staff’s efforts in encouraging students to walk to school.
We visited St. John’s the very next day and discovered that they were not registered for iWalk; I was immensely impressed with the staff’s initiative to get students walking. Because St. John’s is an independent school, their students come from all over the lower mainland, making walking a nearly impossible option. However, nothing is impossible, so St. John’s set up a tent a few blocks away from the school that would provide a safe drop-off site for parents that have to drive. The tent had older students ready and waiting to walk the younger students to school. I think my heart actually melted watching the big tall seniors and the tiny little elementary students walking to school hand-in-hand. St. John’s saw an increase in students walking and decrease in traffic as the week went on and will encourage their students to continue.
I learned that there are many schools out there doing amazing things and how important it is to make connections for without the Trafalgar parent’s contribution, we would not have known about St. John’s School’s efforts. It really is incredible to see such community and school connectedness, watching the students and teachers collaborating at the walking tent was great. Of course, getting to go out and visit the schools was a lot of fun and helped to create balance between work, play, and learning in my day.
Did your school participate in iWalk? Do you have a story to share? DASH would love to learn from you too! Submit your story on the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map.