Our School Story
WHO ARE WE?
Robert J. Tait Elementary is a vibrant Kindergarten to Grade 7 school in the North-central part of Richmond. Our geographic location is one of the things that really sets us apart. We are located between Bridgeport, River, Number 4 and Shell Roads. Highway 99, the Fraser River, and local business and industry also help define the borders of our community. Being 4 Kms from our feeder high school, Cambie Secondary, adds to our unique culture.
What really defines us as a community, are the people. A broad range of ethnicities make up the families/students at Tait. We have families who originate from all over the world, providing us with a rich and diverse student population. This fusion of cultures, provides us with many opportunities to learn from each other and find common values. The wonderful group of educators at Tait endeavor to help our students find their sense of identity and to help our community of learners as a whole find a common sense of identity. Our team of educators believe it is our responsibility to be proactive in aiding our students to develop their personal and cultural identities and social responsibilities.
In the spring of 2016 our staff began the process of collectively asking ourselves:
How do you define the values you would like your students to identify, develop and internalize in a community of such amazing cultural diversity?
OUR JOURNEY BEGINS - 2016-2017
In the Spring of 2016, our staff began to look at our community through a new lens to see if there was something we could be doing better to support our students. In 2016/17 our staff was a mix of established teachers and EA’s who had been at Tait for a number of years, and new staff who had come from other schools around Richmond or were new to their profession. We also had a new school counsellor, who provided a new perspective to how our students were coping socially and emotionally.
During the final professional development days of the 2016/17 school year, we began to wonder if it was a time to make a concerted effort to teach social responsibility skills more directly to our students. At Tait, we have always been proud of the work we have done on integrating aspects of social responsibility into the learning taking place in our classrooms. However, after a scan of the students, we felt the timing was right to set a goal at Tait to re-establish positive values of social responsibility. The time was right. The new BC Curriculum was being introduced, there were several new staff at Tait, and our new counsellor was a part of the Area Counsellor Team (A.C.T.) in Richmond. We decided to focus on the Personal and Social Core Competency in the newly Refreshed Curriculum and connect it with the newly established District Code of Conduct.
We entered into a two-year commitment with the ACT Team to systematically teach the social responsibility “Traffic Light” program in our school. We also decided it was time to create a new Social Responsibility acronym for the school school and create a matrix to help students understand how they can be socially responsible in different areas of the school (classroom, hallways, gym and play areas outside).
We developed the concept of: “At Tait We Are All - T.I.G.E.R.S.”
Each of the letters in tigers would represent a value we wanted to focus on, and we wanted these to connect to the new Personal and Social Core Competencies in the BC Curriculum.
T - Thoughtful represents how our students are prepared for learning. We want them to be thinkers and goals setters. We want to develop young people who take responsibility for their learning.
I - Inclusive speaks to the positive personal and cultural identity and how we need to recognize all people with differences and accept others for who they are.
G - Generous is about how we give back to our family, school, community and society.
E - Eco-friendly recognizes that we all live on this planet together and we have a responsibility to protect it.
R - Responsible is the all-encompassing value that connects to how we carry ourselves and take ownership over our actions.
S - Safe is the part of social responsibility that we owe to ourselves and others.
The next step in our journey was to introduce these concepts to our students. In the first week of the new school year, we decided we would use our Family Teams system to develop some activities to help introduce our new Social Responsibility acronym. Our students were divided into 24 family teams, each made up of students from grades Kindergarten to grade 7. These teams provided us with opportunities to develop positive social interaction between all students in all grade levels.
During the Fall of 2016 our teachers began implementing the ACT program in their classrooms. We met as a staff with Area Counsellors on our Pro-D days to discuss and evaluate how things were progressing with the lessons. It was during this time that we created a Tait Social Responsibility Committee to oversee the progress of implementing our new acronym and our corresponding school matrix. We also created a banner and posters with our new Tait T.I.G.E.R.S acronym.
Once the new acronym was introduced, the visual posters were up and our ACT lessons were ready to go, we worked to develop a plan to introduce each of the TIGERS values in a meaningful way. Our SR committee decided that we would use each of our monthly Family Teams activities in the second half of the year to develop and implement a lesson to reinforce each word: January became Thoughtful the first month of a new year and perfect for goal setting; February was Inclusive which connected to Pink Day; March was Generous; April was Eco-Friendly which coincided with Earth Day; May was Responsible; and June was Safe which enabled us to talk about safety over the summer. Our staff organized themselves into six teams, each responsible for developing and implementing one of the lessons.
2017 - 2018 - Year Two - Our Journey Continues
Keeping in mind our Tait values and our ACT lessons, our focus continued with the social/emotional development of our students. Throughout the year the students read stories that demonstrated many skills and strategies they could use when they felt the need. We also continued with Family Teams activities to provide a consistent reminder and focus for our TIGERS acronym. In Family Team events, students worked cooperatively and were expected to explain which value their team was focusing on. The students were also provided with opportunities to self-evaluate afterwards and to express their learning through a variety of written and oral communications.
Below is a description of each of our Family Teams activities that we feel were incredibly successful:
Self-Regulation: This was our first activity of the year. We felt that it would be a great way to begin our school year by speaking about various negative feelings and how to deal with these in a positive way. Many strategies were shared and it was incredible how the students came up with some wonderful and useful ideas. After a short video and sharing of ideas, the students were asked to answer the question: ‘What helps you self-regulate or be calm?’ Each student then prepared a half page poster that was then hung around the school hallways for all to see and make connections.
STEM Activity: This activity was created for students to focus on team building, cooperation and problem-solving challenges. This was a hit! Each team was provided with a small amount of materials such as plastecine, toothpicks and a planning page. Their goal was to create the tallest tower that could hold a tennis ball for at least 5 seconds. WOW! Did they ever meet this challenge with fervour! Our students demonstrated incredible collaboration between all grades, they were engaged and inclusive of all abilities. They couldn't wait to share at the end.
Inclusive: The focus during this event was on multiculturalism and diversity and overall, being inclusive. Our students were read a story, Hello, My Name is Octicorn, which was to be the basis of the group discussions. Students answered questions about how they were alike, how they were different from each other. The task afterwards was to create a puzzle piece that depicted each of their differences. Each team created a puzzle piece that was then glued onto a large T-shirt template and was later unvailed at our Anti-Bully assembly the following week.
Neigbourhood Clean-up: Our final event was one that would include the student body as well as Parent Volunteers. We wanted our students to be actively involved in caring for our community, which is linked to our TIGERS values (Generous and Ecofriendly). Our endeavour was to do a walk-about in the neighbourhood and to pick up garbage as we strolled through the community. Student leaders took photos along the way on the various routes around the school community which were to be made into a picture story. All of us were amazed at how much garbage was left on our roads and walkways. This was a true eye-opener for the students. Great job everyone and thank you for doing your part!
2018-2019 -Year 3 - Social Responsibility Focus: Ourselves, Our Community
Having firmly established our school acronym of T.I.G.E.R.S. we wanted to our students to build on their sense of personal identitly, cultural identity and social responsibilty, but this year our focus was on connecting students to their community. What is a community? What kinds of communities do Tait students belong to?
We began our first Family Teams activity of the year iidentifying and investigating the various types of communites important to our students:
• Our Classroom Community
• Our School (Tait) Community
• Our Neighborhood Community
• Our Richmond Community
The focus this year was looking from how we can make sure that we, ourselves, are healthy to how can we help a larger community improve, thrive, and prosper. Students and staff identified ways members of the Tait community can have a positive impact on the school community. As a school community, we asked, 'What can students contribute individually and collectively to improve our school'? Identifiying ways individuals can help our school community by using the Tait T.I.G.E.R.S. acronym was a clear focus for us. Later in the 2018-2019 school year students and staff worked together in Family Teams to identify ways members of the school could have a positive impact on the community of Richmond and the the collective area of Greater Vancouver.
2019-2020 - Year 4 - Social Responsibilty Focus: Impact on Our World
Over our 3 year journey, we focused on how we could be Tait 'T.I.G.E.R.S.' in several ways:
1. Focusing on how we can care for ourselves and develop Values that will help us produce positive experiences for ourselves and others
2. Focusing on how we can care for ourselves and how we can care for others in our school and our families (2017/18)
3. Focusing on how we care for others and positively impact our larger community: Tait School, Tait Neighbourhood, The City of Richmond and the Greater Vancouver Area (2018/2019)
In our final year of our School Story Social Responsibility Focus (2019-2020), students and staff in our school focused on how each of us could have a positive impact in our country and/or our world. At the start of the year, students met in Family Teams and reviewed our T.I.G.E.R.S. acronym, focusing on the values each letter represented. Teams addressed how each member of our school could apply each value within our school and in our community. Our Social Responsiobility Committee made up of members of our staff met with our Richmond School District Social Responsibility Team and designed three different Family Teams days to help all students and staff at Tait refresh our understanding of our T.I.G.E.R.S acronym, review the accomplishments we had achieved in our school and the community of Richmond, and to set a focus for the Spring of 2020. In classrooms in the January, February and March of 2020, students and teachers worked together to think of ways they could have a positive impact on our country and the world. The hard work over these months was to culminate with a Family evening on March 12th, 2020. All families were invited to our 'Open House' on March 12th and the turnout was tremendous. Students projects were displayed throughout the school. Each Student presented their work for 30 minutes to other students, guests and their family. Students took time to answer questions and listen to thoughtful comments and questions. After students finished their own presentation, they had a chance to move about the school and see the work created by their peers. This evening was a huge success as it gave students an opportunity to share their ideas and it brought students, parents and staff together as a community of learners.
2020-2021 - A New Focus and Journey - Numeracy
In the 2020-2021 School Year, we have decided upon a new School Focus, Numeracy. Although we have a new 'Main' School Focus, we have not stopped working on our previous goal of Social Responsibility. We know the last 4 years of hard work in the area of Social Responsibility is now an integral part of who we are as a school community - and we will continue to build upon the bedrock we have created.
So we now turn to a new focus - Numeracy. In Professional Development Day discussions in the 2019-2020 school year, the Robert J. Tait Staff wondered how we can help strengthen our students' Numeracy skills: more specifically mental math strategies and computational fluency skills.
In Year 1 of our new Numeracy Focus, the Robert J. Tait Staff used the 'Spirals of Inquiry' Framework. In each classroom and at each grade level, staff used the steps in the Spirals of Inquiry Framework, of: Scanning; Focusing; Developing a Hunch; Learning; Taking Action; and Checking/Reviewing. We wanted to know more about what were strengths in Numeracy for our students and what were 'stretches' or challenges for our students. We wondered why we saw some results and what we could do to support and stengthen some areas. Our ultimate goal is to help our students feel more confident about learning mathematics and have a Growth Mindset towards developing Numeracy skills.