OUR JOURNEY BEGINS
In the Spring of 2016 our staff began to look at our school and students through a new lens to see if there was something we could be doing better through our teaching or putting extra emphasis on as a community. That year our staff was a mix of established teachers and EA’s who had been at Tait for a number of years, mixed with new staff who had come from other schools around Richmond or were new to their profession. We also had a new counsellor join our ranks who provided a new perspective to how our students were coping socially and emotionally.
During the last few professional development days of last year, we began as a staff to wonder whether it was a time to make a concerted effort to teach social responsibility as a part of the curriculum. We have always prided ourselves at Tait of the job we do on a daily basis of integrating aspects of social responsibility into the learning taking place in our classrooms and that our students behavior reflected these practice. However, after a scan of the students in all aspects of their school experience from a new perspective, we felt that the timing was right to set a goal for Tait to re-establish positive values of social responsibility.
The time was right. The new BC Curriculum was being introduced, there had been some turnover in our staff, and our new counsellor was also a part of our A.C.T. Team here in Richmond. We decided to introduce two new initiatives to address social responsibility and connect what we would do with the new curriculum and the District Code of Conduct.
First, we entered into a two-year commitment with the ACT Team to systematically teach the social responsibility “Traffic Light” program in our school. Second, we decided as a staff that it was time to re-work our school acronym and school matrix to better reflect the values we wanted to impart on our students and connect to the new social responsibility components of the new curriculum.
During our final staff meetings and our last Pro-D day of the year 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 would or values that we wanted to focus on, and we wanted these to connect to the new Core Competencies in the BC Curriculum, especially the Personal and Social components. 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. Inclusive speaks to the positive personal and cultural identity and how we need to recognize all people with differences and accept each other for who we are. Generous is about how we give back to our family, school, community and society. Eco-friendly recognizes that we all live on this planet together and we have a responsibility to protect it. Responsible is the all-encompassing value that connects to how we carry ourselves and take ownership over our actions. Safe is that 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. At the beginning of the 2016 -2017 school year we have a couple of days, the Wednesday and the Thursday, when students have not moved into their new classes for the year and are temporarily with their previous year’s teacher. We decided that we would use our Family Teams system to develop some activities during those days to introduce the new acronym. Our students are divided into 24 family teams each made up of students from grades Kindergarten to grade 7. These teams already provide us with opportunities to develop positive social interaction with our older students acting as team leaders, our younger students a chance to connect with older students and all students the ability to work cooperatively.
During the Fall of 2016 our teachers began implementing the ACT program in their classrooms. We would meet as a staff, and in conjunction with the 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 also created a Tait Social Responsibility Committee to oversee the progress on implementing the new acronym and develop the corresponding school matrix. We also hired Creative Insignia, a graphic design company we have worked with in the past, to develop 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 the ACT lessons were fully underway, we wanted to find the time and develop a plan to introduce each of the words/concepts in a more meaningful way. Our SR committee decoded 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 to developing and implementing one of the lessons.