Torch - Fall 2016

Education Today

How the Strategic Plan Influences Teaching & Learning at Havergal By Seonaid Davis, Vice Principal, Teaching & Learning

L ast fall, Principal Helen-Kay Davy proudly introduced to the Havergal community the school’s new strategic plan Havergal 2020: Our Vision is Limitless . One of the goals of this plan is to continue to strengthen the educational program in the Upper and Junior Schools. Our vision of this is to create an inspiring and connected student experience, develop a philosophy of the student as a lifelong learner and create authentic learning experiences. In alignment with our strategic plan, our faculty teams are working with students on interdisciplinary projects, strengthening foundational skills in literacy and numeracy, and connecting students to issues and ideas from the world beyond the ivy walls of Havergal. Part of the development of the strategic plan is a focus on the unique developmental needs of our students at different ages. Using research about childhood development in the classroom, we were able to divide the student body into three groups: 1. Breaking the Marble Spell (Junior Kindergarten to Grade 4); 2. Minds Set Free (Grades 5 to 8); and 3. Exploring the Brink of the Known (Grades 9 to 12). The names of these three divisions reflect our belief that girls increase their understanding of themselves as learners and improve their ability to move beyond what is known into the unknown as they grow and mature. This year, parents may not notice a big change in the content of our courses or the learning in our classrooms as a result of our new strategies. However, what has changed is how our students are expected to engage with the content introduced to them at school. People today are no longer rewarded for what they know (we have Google for that). What matters is how we apply knowledge in our lives. The focus at Havergal is maintaining a balance between the acquisition of specific knowledge and skills, and the development of thinking and understanding, with the end goal of having students who can do something with what they are learning in an integrated way.

That doesn’t mean that knowledge and skills are not important— they are and students are expected to be able to spell, write clearly, know their number facts, name the provinces and capitals and have a lot of other information at their fingertips. But, the reason why they need to know those things is to be able to use that knowledge to solve a problem or consider an issue. During the next three years, we will continue to work hard to develop and implement other Havergal 2020 initiatives in the Junior and Upper Schools. These include developing integrated and multidisciplinary projects (teachers using a common theme or topic across different subject areas) and encouraging our students to learn as they connect with people beyond the classroom. As these initiatives roll out, we will continue to research and examine our practices as a way to ensure that all of our students have enriching educational experiences at Havergal.

Grade 6 students participate in a class discussion.


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