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District Mission, Vision, Core Values: We Want Your Feedback!!

As many of you may already know, the Langley School District has been undertaking the task of creating a new Mission, Vision and Values statement for our district. Through the work of a collaborative steering community, they have been working with all the different stakeholders in our communities to  devise what the purpose of our schools is, what we want for our children in the future and what core principles will guide our everyday behaviours so that these goals can be obtained. This past week, the staff and PAC had an opportunity to see the draft Mission, Vision and Core Values statement the process has created and provide feedback to help us move forward. The process sparked some great conversations about the state of education and how to make it even better.

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It is important that West Langley have a voice in this process. And while we were able to get some feedback at our recent PAC meeting, we appreciate that not everyone can attend. Below is the power point presentation that includes visuals of the draft version of the Langley School District Mission, Vision and Core Values along with some of the questions we used to guide our conversations. The third slide is The Future of Learning in Langley video. You can also find more information along with a video from Superintendent Suzanne Hoffman on the district website.

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I would encourage you to check out the information and then provide your thoughts and feedback by either emailing vision@sd35.bc.ca or commenting below this post. You can also provide your thoughts to Mr. Davids through email or in person. It is important that the Mission, Vision and Core Values that will guide our decisions in the future is a collaborative effort involving all those that it will effect. We look forward to hearing from the West Langley community.

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The Future of Learning in Langley

Last week, the district embarked on a visioning process with the entire community to discuss the future of learning in Langley. Over 300 different stakeholders (parents, teachers, support staff, administrators, trustees, district staff, community partners and students) came to talk about all the things our educational programs are doing well to support success and what we may want to change to ensure success for a world that is changing at a rapid pace. To help kick off the conversation, we watched a short video called The Future of Learning in Langley that outlined the many ways the world is changing and the importance of everyone being part of the conversation as we move forward in preparing our children to experience success in our schools.

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It is important that we engage in the conversation here at West Langley. We have done a lot of work in the past couple years on our vision of “engaging students in authentic learning empowered by technology.” So not only do we have much to contribute to the district conversation, but we would also benefit from the feedback of the collective. The mindset at West Langley is already at the place necessary to have a meaningful conversation about where the world at, where it is heading and how we can best support our students on that journey. As we share and discuss along with the entire district, we will be able to move our mission forward even more.

We would love to hear your reaction to the video link above. Please be sure to check it out and then give us your feedback. You can comment below, send an email to Mr Davids, stop by the school to talk. Also, at our next PAC meeting on November 19th, we will be talking as a group about what it all means.

Moving Into The Future: SD 35 Visioning Process

sd35_formal_logo_squareOver the next few months, the Langley School District will be undergoing a comprehensive process to engage all educational partners in the creation of a new vision for our district. As many of you can imagine, we are at a very unique time in the history of education. At no other point has knowledge been so abundant and accessible and the need to re-define the role of schools so clear. Our goal at West Langley of “engaging students in authentic learning empowered by technology,” is certainly working towards this.

Having the district engage in this collaborative process will serve many purposes, but there are certainly a few key aspects of this re-visioning that I think will really stand out for West Langley.  First of all, I think it will help recognize and celebrate some of the amazing work that has been going on. At West Langley, we have been moving forward in giving our students the new skills and attributes that will allow them to be successful in a world that is not fully known yet. Our work on problem solving, critical thinking, connected learning, global awareness etc, all empowered by technology should be shared with other communities. And so to should there fine work be made know to us. This district-wide process will help spotlight what other educators are doing to successfully support students.

The re-visioning process will also provide a lens for the district as a whole, and West Langley mission-and-vision-your-past-does-not-need-to-be-your-futurespecifically, through which decisions can be made. In examining current practice as well as deciding what changes need to be made, having a clear, purposeful mission to filter our conversations and decisions through is vital. It may be cliche, but beginning with the end in mind helps to make everything we do for our students meaningful and long-lasting. Including all the stakeholders in the process is what makes that lens as authentic as possible.

The final aspect of our district discussing how we move into the future is a new found focus on learning. As I talked about in a previous blog, “Why School?” when we asked students about what they want from their schools, the three words that emerged were “passion, purpose and personal.” As we dialogue with our community, parents, staff and students, we can begin to dissect how to best provide these important concepts in our school settings. And for West Langley, we can continue to work towards engaging students in authentic learning that is empowered by technology.

getinvolved3I would encourage our parent community to be a part of this process both at the school level and with the district consultations. The first meeting is on October 28th from 5:00 – 9:00pm at the Langley Events Centre. We will have a team of staff, admin and parents who will attend. But all of you can also contribute on the District website, Langley Schools Facebook Page, Twitter (#sd35vision) or by leaving a comment below.

We would love to hear from the West Langley community about what vision they have for the students of our school and all of Langley.

We Are All Learners

IMG_5926I am so proud of the amazing staff we have at West Langley. I have said that many times in conversations with colleagues and parents. And while the list is long as to why I am so proud of the educators at our school, one of the biggest reasons is that they truly embrace their role as LEARNERS. This past week, we had an excellent Professional Development Day at West Langley. While students enjoyed a long weekend, all the teachers and support staff were engaged in a variety of activities related to our school goals. The teachers and support staff at West Langley understand that not only do they need to model learning for the students, but that they also need to consistently be reflecting and enhancing their own practice in order to truly provide our students with what they need to be successful.

One great example of this commitment to learning can be seen in the number of staff who actively use social media IMG_5927tools such as Twitter and Pinterest as a tool for learning. Many of our teachers dip into this sea of professional development on a regular basis to see what the latest research and the world’s best educators are saying about how best to support children in their learning. Some of our staff are even sharing their own learning with the global community through these networked websites. It is encouraging to see many of our staff members embracing the importance of a professional learning network in the world of education.

Another great thing some of our West Langley teachers have began doing to contributing to professional reflective blogs. This connected forum allows them to not only share their thought processes as they continue their journey to become better educators, but also allows them to interact with other teachers, administrators and education think tanks about what is happening right at West Langley. The ability to tap into the vast expertise out there is truly priceless.

IMG_5930At West Langley, we have a mission statement of “engaging students in authentic learning empowered by technology.” It gives us great confidence that we will meet that vision with our students when the adults in the building are modelling the same thing.

I would encourage you to go to our school website and check out the different West Langley class websites, Twitter accounts and professional blogs our staff are engaged in. And by way of a comment below, we would be interested in knowing what other learning tools you feel educators could benefit from.

Split Classes: What Does That Mean?

Today we put students at West Langley into their classes for the year. There was a lot of excitement as students and teachers began that important relationship that helps guide learning throughout the year. As you can imagine, many of our students are in split classes (70%) and this often creates a bit of a concern for some of our parents.

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Last year, Chris Wejr from Kent Elementary wrote a great blog about this topic entitled Split Classes: Will My Child Be Okay? It is a great resource for parents who have concerns about their child being in a split class. He very eloquently outlines many of the same research and philosophies we have here at West Langley when it comes to class composition and putting students in the best learning environment possible. I would encourage you to give it a read.

At West Langley, relationships and learning are what drives us to do what we do everyday. In moving towards our vision of “engaging students in authentic learning empowered by technology” we know that class placement can play a vital role in the success of a student. And when we talk about class placement, what we really mean is the relationship between teacher and student, not necessarily the grade make-up of the room. Students are individual learners and we need to be sure to work towards that end, whether we have a split class or a straight class.

As always, we welcome your comments regarding this topic, or anything related to your child’s learning at West Langley.

Why School?

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Over the summer, one of the professional books I enjoyed re-reading on the beach was Why School by Will Why-SchoolRichardson. I highly recommend this book to any one with a child in education as it outlines the need to look at the role of schools in a world where knowledge is truly every where and abundant. Schools play a vital role in preparing children for “the real world” but instead of mastering content, we need to help students with the mastery of learning.

As we get ready to begin another school year at West Langley, the staff here will be continuing to work towards engaging students in authentic learning empowered by technology. In April of this past year, the six Fraser Valley school districts (Mission, Maple Ridge, Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Fraser-Cascade) brought together a group of students to discuss what they want to see in their schools in an ever-changing world. And the themes that came out of this amazing conversation revolved around Passion, Purpose and Personal. You can watch a video summary of these conversations by clicking here.

As a staff, we will be talking about what schools (and specifically West Langley) need to be for students in a world where knowledge is truly every where. And as always, our parent community need to be a big part of that conversation. So after watching the videos, consider the following questions and feel free to share your thoughts:

1. What would your child say they want from their school?

2. What are the best ways to engage children in authentic learning?

3. What does the ideal learning environment look like to you?

Inquiry Fair A Huge Success

DSC_0521Last week West Langley had its first ever Inquiry Fair Open House. As an entire school, we delved into the concept of inquiry-based learning as a way to construct information and knowledge for kids. As a staff, we agreed that we were all at different places when it comes to understanding how to use inquiry in the classroom but we also agreed that it was not okay to stay where we were. The world is changing and the role of schools needs to change with it. And a huge credit to our staff for their willingness to model professional risk-taking. For the past few weeks, every class worked through the inquiry process and all that hard work culminated in our Inquiry Fair Open House.

The energy on that day was truly palpable! Students were so proud to be sharing with other students, staff and DSC_0493parents what they had learned by asking questions, doing research, asking more questions and then synthesizing all their new found knowledge into some form of presentation. There were many different topics covered by the classes, but the one constant was that students were absolutely engaged in the learning process. They were excited to be learning in the classroom and were even more excited to be sharing their learning with others.

DSC_0475 2We shared many pictures through our weekly 5 Things To ROAR About: May 17th however we also put together a short video that showcases this great event. Please click here to check it out. And as we continue to reflect and grow as a staff, we want your feedback as parents, family and the community on how the inquiry fair and the weeks leading up to it worked for students but also, ways we could improve on it for next year. Please give consideration to the following questions and offer your thoughts by leaving a comment:

1. What was your overall opinion of the Inquiry Fair Open House and the learning that was shared there?

2. How would you recommend we build off the success of this school-wide project as we continue to work towards “engaging students in authentic learning empowered by technology?”

 It is important that we all work together to ensure our students are successful so your opinions and feedback are greatly appreciated. If you do not want to share your thoughts through this public blog, you can always email Mr. Davids at sdavids@sd35.bc.ca