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 Rd (to the South), the Fraser River (to the North) , Number 4 Road (to the West) and Shell Road (to the East). Highway 99, the Fraser River, and local business/industry also help define the borders of our community. The Tait Neighbourhood really is a secluded gem with no other neighbourhoods close to us.
In the 2021/22 school year, Robert J. Tait has 210 students in 9 divisions. We believe our smaller student population is an asset. Our staff know our students and our students feel connected to all of our staff. Members of the Tait Community work hard together to create and maintain a school where everyone feels they belong because they are connected to and cared for by others.
What also defines us as a community, are the people. A broad range of cultures 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. 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.
2021-2022 - Numeracy Year 2 (A Positive Math Mindset)
In the 2021-2022 school year, Numeracy continued to be the focus of our school story. We aimed to support each student's understanding of numeracy concepts by improving their ability to use different mental math strategies and computational fluency skills. In classrooms from Kindergarten to Grade 7 students learned and understood many ways to show their numeracy thinking. Students learned how to show their understanding of numeracy skills beyond using only traditional math algorithms - they displayed their understanding in many forms: including through hand-on activities; visual examples; diagrams; and partner or group discussion. Students and teachers worked together to understand there are many more ways to 'show what you know' in mathematics in addition to recording numbers on paper. Generally, students showed and noted their understanding of numeracy increased and that 'learning math' became more fun when they had multiple ways to show their understanding. Teachers noted, knowing more than one or two ways to teach students numeracy concepts offered them the opportunity to help a greater number of students understand numeracy skills and concepts.
Also this school year, collectively across all grades, teachers had a hunch that as students moved through the Kindergarten to Grade 7 years, students lost confidence in themselves as a math learner. This loss of confidence in students can be seen in the forms of students showing a general apathy towards learning numeracy skills, being less willing to take the risk of sharing their thinking with others for fear of being wrong, and not being open to asking for help when they do not understand a concept. Generally, teachers have noticed a greater number of students with a negative fixed mindset in students from early Primary grades to Intermediate grades. Teachers have noticed the large majority of students in Primary grades have a like and love for mathematics and they believe they are mathematicians, whereas a significant portion of Intermediate students have a fixed mindset about their ability to be a mathematician and do not believe they can continue to learn and grow as a math learner. To determine if this is hunch is correct, the Tait Staff created a survey for students in all grades to be taken early in the school year in October and again later in the school year in May. Our hunch was confirmed. The survey data in the October survey showed a lower percentage of Intermediate students liking and enjoying learning math and believing themselves to be capable math learners.
Following the October 2021 Student Numeracy Surveys we decided to take action by implementing new ways to instruct math lessons across all grades that included more ways for our students to learn math concepts. We wanted to see if we could change the way students see themselves as math learners by decreasing the percentage of learners who had a fixed mindset, and shifting them towards a growth mindset. We could determine if our actions had positive impact by comparing the student survey data from October 2021 to the student data from May 2022.
Our actions towards shifting the math mindset of students included implementing lessons and strategies from educator resources like Carole Fullerton's series of Elementary math books and from an additional resource titled High Yield Routines for Grades K-8. Additionally in the 2021-2022 school year, all RJ Tait students and staff had the opportunity to work in their classrooms with Janice Novakowski, our Richmond School District Numeracy Teacher Consultant. Janice Novakowski was able to plan and co-teach Numeracy lessons in classrooms that helped students build number sense and computational fluency skills.
2020-2021 - A New Focus and Journey - Numeracy
In the 2020-2021 School Year, we have decided upon a new School Focus, Numeracy. Although having 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.