A Best-Practice Reflection by: Sandra Landers, Riverview Middle School
I truly enjoyed participating and learning about the innovative learning in the NB school system. The learning included experiential, personalized, entrepreneurial, problem and project-based learning methods, and the relationship these have with Global Competencies and authentic Engagement.
My visit took place on December 11, 2019 at Riverview High School. I was able to learn about the Essential Skills Achievement Pathway (ESAP) program. I was also able to visit a few classes where teachers were thinking outside the box on how curriculum was presented, as well as personalizing outcomes.
The ESAP program was interesting with 9 participants (6 boys & 3 girls). I took the opportunity to interview students asking how they heard about the program and their experience in the middle school. This provided valuable information that we can use at Riverview Middle School. Some students indicated that they have trouble learning and achieving success in a regular classroom environment/setting. We already know that students have different learning styles, which can certainly be a challenge for a classroom teacher. This program removes some of the barriers to learning and allows to achieve curriculum outcomes at their own pace. The goal is to achieve 600 outcomes from grade 10-12. Outcomes can come from a variety of skills including cooking, co-op work terms etc. It is self-directed, so some student who work well independently are able to complete the program in less than two years.
Students who graduate from this program will have the opportunity to continue their post-secondary education at NBCC. They do have to write an entrance exam before they are accepted into the program.
I interviewed students about middle school. They felt that the proper supports were not put into place or they were unaware of them. They recommended that a simplified version of the essential skills program would have helped them to be more successful and happier in middle school. They also felt that the essential skills program should be talked about in grade 8, as a potential option in high school. They felt it was not communicated properly and they were unaware of the program. In talking with the teacher I discovered that the program is not for all students, especially those who require more structure. In the future, the program would include mini lessons in math and English, as many students do not have these basic skills and would be reduced from 3 hours to 2 hours a day.
This is a pilot program that will be implemented in all the Anglophone East high schools by January, 2021.