I’m feeling so inspired after visiting with Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt yesterday in her kindergarten classroom at George Jay Elementary School. Unlike other in-school visits, class wasn’t in session so my peers and I were fortunate enough to have Rebecca’s full attention. Her slides and narration not only emphasized the importance of honouring learners’ questions, but how one can do this in the classroom. Most of us in the BEd degree program didn’t grow up with inquiry-based learning in our classrooms, so we’re still in the process of familiarizing ourselves with this new concept. For me, it was extremely refreshing to learn from an elementary school teacher who proves that it’s possible and practical to put these ideas into action.
I look up to Rebecca and greatly appreciate all the knowledge she shared with us. Her ongoing dedication to support student learning beyond her own classroom is truly astounding. It was also reassuring to hear her say that it’s okay if it takes us a little while to fully adopt inquiry into our own practice as new teachers. I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders when she made that clear. Rebecca encouraged us to ease into this process by building strong relationships with our students and asking them questions like “what do you see/know/wonder?” during our lessons. These expectations are much less intimidating and totally doable during our upcoming 3-week practicum.
Thank you for your invaluable time and resources Rebecca. I wish you all the best and look forward to staying in touch.
On Tuesday, my class visited the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry downtown Victoria. As I progress in the BEd program and learn how and why our current schooling system is failing students across BC, I become more interested in alternative options. I have been excited about checking out PSII ever since Founder and Principal, Jeff Hopkins visited on orientation day in September 2018. I was in awe of his passion for education. After attaining the rank of Superintendent (Gulf Islands), he gave everything up to follow his passion by working full-time on PSII.
Jeff gave us a brief overview of the school before setting us loose to roam as we pleased. Everything about this school just made sense. It was obvious that PSII really took current research into consideration when developing the curriculum and learning environment design. Research shows that students don’t get enough sleep, so the school doesn’t open until 9:30am. Research shows that students require flexible workspaces for optimal learning, so the school is divided into micro-environments (collaborative, silent, etc.).
Now right about now you might be thinking that this place sounds too good to be true, but the proof is in the pudding. I couldn’t believe how impressive these students are. One student was discovering how to refurbish broken solar panels. Another was an aspiring Art Curator. How does this student even know what an Art Curator is you ask? Well, they organized a line-out-the-door art exhibit as an inquiry project. I’m talking everything from website creation to hiring a band. These students graduate high school with real accomplishments, and more importantly, a solid idea of what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
Jeff told us that it actually costs less to operate a school like PSII than a traditional school in BC!!! I sure hope BC’s Ministry of Education (and schools worldwide for that matter) start taking notes and follow suit. Thanks for the wicked opportunity Jeff! Keep up the good work!