Carolyn Cameron, principal of Greystone, Kelly Wilkins, Associate Superintendent, and Katy Rogul, a teacher at Greystone, are heading to New Zealand to speak at the ULearn 2010 Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand. They are one of only three schools in Canada invited.
Greystone’s presentation focuses on teacher work at the school – how they learn and work in a collaborative model.
What Makes Greystone School and Greystone Students Special?
Greystone does things differently – it is “less like school and more like the real world.” Students don’t learn by the book - they don’t learn by memorizing and testing, as they would in traditional schools. Here, students are actively engaged in their learning by using critical thinking skills and exploring topics more deeply to make meaningful connections with the content.
In the classrooms, students are co-creators. They are actively involved in decisions about how they will learn new topics, how they will demonstrate what they have learned, and how they will be graded or assessed.
In addition to the regular curriculum, students also learn how to develop and maintain professional and personal relationships. Instead of moving from teacher to teacher, and class to class, students are organized into 2 loops: grades 5-7, and grades 8 and 9. The same teachers stay with a group throughout the 3-year or 2-year cycle. This format allows students to develop transferrable skills such as project management, collaboration, and communication.
Greystone is also different in its use of time. Greystone runs on a block schedule, rather than the traditional pop-tart timetable in which the bell rings, and the students must move on to the next subject. The block schedule provides flexibility, allowing students and teachers significant control over how their time is spent. Each Learning Community develops their own schedule to best suit their own learning needs.
Greystone students are motivated, unique individuals engaged in real-life, collaborative learning.
What Makes Greystone Teachers Special?
Here, teachers are practicing what their counter-parts in other schools only think, talk, and dream about. Greystone teachers are not only rethinking education, they are pioneering a new, innovative educational approach.
From the beginning, teachers have been engaged in developing this innovative approach to teaching. A group of teachers who had previously taught together in a multi-age kindergarten to grade 3 program, and a team-taught double class of grade 7 students proposed the loops and the expansion of grade levels at Greystone. Teachers also enjoy professional development opportunities like “field trips” to sites and situations that challenge their thinking and inspire them during this ongoing process to build together the “preferred future”.
Teachers are “unlearning” much of what they know about traditional teaching and learning. They are rethinking the traditional roles of student or learner and teacher. They are now sharing responsibilities with their students, such as curriculum delivery, demonstration of learning, and assessment. This new collaborative model is organized into 5 Learning Communities, each with approximately 100 students and 4 teachers. The teaching teams not only ensure a range of subject expertise and teaching experience, but also provide an environment of support and professional learning.
Greystone teachers are pioneers in their field. They’re forward-thinking, motivated, flexible, and versatile.