Rossland Secondary looks at personal learning transition

Rossland Secondary is transitioning into a more research and personalized structure approach to learning this year.

Rossland Secondary is transitioning into a more research and personalized structure approach to learning this year.

The new approach will be implemented in the lower grades of the 6-12 school, just the 6-9 for next year.

Principal Terry McDonnell said the move comes as a new direction from the Ministry of Education.

“What we’re doing is stepping back and trying to follow where the ministry is heading now, from the point of view that emphasis on learning outcomes is no longer there as much as it used to be,” McDonnell said.

The ministry is working towards individualized personal learning to try to work more with students’ strengths and interests. They then formulate a plan around that.

McDonnell gives the example of social studies.

“If a student is interested in a particular country then the teacher would work out with the students to decide what the outcomes would deal with in the project,” he said.

“So it’s just a different way. You try to capture their interests and use their interests to get them involved in their learning moreso than ‘here’s the outcome, go into a test.’”

The overall proposal was put together by vice-principal Mike Vanness.

The proposal diverges from the typical high school timetable, into an individual, personalized learning structure, without blocks and bells.

“It’s a more pod-like structure,” McDonnell said. “A pod would be, for example, grades six and seven all together. Let’s say there were 75 students, and we would designate, in this case, because it’s so simple, three teachers who would be responsible for all the instruction time for those students. The way they can get around that and get the kids involved is through the individualized learning.”

McDonnell said they hope to use this school year to develop the project.

“Next year would be the year that we try to implement it for 6 – 9,” he said. “We’d also begin to focus our energies on what can 10 – 12 look like.”

McDonnell said that it’s more difficult because of the teachers strike.

“We initiated it last year, we got them interested in May- June and we were able to meet in August,” he added. “There’s a good chunk of teachers that are rolling with it.”

Vice-principal Vanness said that the changes are already being seen, but the proposal is not final.

“At this point, we’re looking for input from the community at large,” Vanness said, adding that so far the reaction has been positive. “Rossland as a community has demonstrated strong support for this school, but the biggest challenge with any proposal is making it a reality.”