Montrose School, K-6: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child

Uploaded by edpublicschools on 21.09.2012

(Student) Hi. Hello.
♪ ♪
(Raelene Finlayson) I believe we need to start the day with joy.
I believe that we need to be a community
and we need to be a family.
One thing we do as a family is we forgive mistakes
and we look each new moment as a new moment.
(Cory Mactaggart) Everyone belongs here.
This is a very welcoming place.
(Raelene) The emotional needs are huge here at Montrose.
We share our appreciations,
we share why we really love each other.
I appreciate Miss Friesen for being nice to me.
Thank you Miss Friesen.<i> (applause)</i>
I appreciate Scott, Omar and Aiesha for letting me
play soccer with them. From Rachel. Excellent.
(Cory) It has to start from having that vision of
"This is what kind of school we want to create." So I think
once you build that culture, then your work becomes easy.
(Raelene) Montrose is in an area of Edmonton that we have a high
transiency. We have over, I think it's 94% of our kids are
high vulnerability, which means they're at risk for learning
problems because of trauma and uh, poverty. With poverty
comes a high stress level for parents, if you can imagine
not being able to provide for your kids, you're stressed.
And if you're stressed the kids feed off on the stress.
And sometimes they don't have breakfast, the basic needs need
to be met with food and water, so we need to feed them and
hopefully something nutritional and teach them about nutrition
and why that's important. We need to exercise and
teach them about taking care of ourselves,
taking care of the people we love.
We have four beliefs. We show attentive listening.
So that means whoever's talking, whether it's me or another
child, that we choose to listen to them. We show mutual respect.
Give the same respect we expect back. It goes back to Grandma's
adage, treat someone the way you want to be treated.
We show appreciations, no put downs.
And everybody has the right to pass or not be involved.
We want you to all be involved of course, but if you say
"No, I don't want a turn" that that's ok too.
Because we need to provide that risk taking when they're ready.
(Student) I'm feeling a bit sad because my dad was in the hospital.
(Teacher) Yeah, do you want to talk more about that,
or do you just want to keep it to yourself?
Do you want to talk to me about it after? Ok.
Close to half of our population has students who have
special needs. So that could be a learning difficulties,
it could be a physical, medical difficulty.
It could be a behavioural. So most of these students
are included in the regular classroom.
So if you were to walk into a classroom,
you would see a wide range of learners and you would
see teachers meeting the needs of these learners.
We don't teach to one learning, we teach to everyone.
(Raelene) I believe the curriculum is really just the
means in which we learn about the world around us.
And it's not a checklist of to do's.
(Mathieu Labossiere) This morning we get to lead
exercises. Why do you think I put a line underneath exercises?
(Student) To work hard.
(Mathieu) Hum?
Oh, I'm not looking for call outs. Doug.
(Doug) It's our spelling word.
It is one of our spelling words,
one of our challenge words this week. Ok.
(Mathieu) In university you're taught that you're going
to get a classroom with one child with one I.P.P and
everyone else is going to sit in their desk, ready to learn.
And um, that's definitely not the case here.
So, um, and I'm sure it isn't in most classes. Uh, but it was,
yeah it was, it was interesting.
You definitely got to know that um, we have to do things
different at this school in order to make connections,
in order to get the learning across.
(Student) He said my name is Billy.
(Mathieu) Alright.
And so should we put a period at the end of that sentence?
(Student) Yeah, sure.
(Mathieu) I've got 15 children in my class and I've got nine
I.P.P's. Some kids in the class are there because they're
behind developmentally whereas the other kids in the class are
developmentally where they should be, academically where
they should be, but they don't know how to interact positively
with their peers and can't handle certain situations.
We do a variety of lesson plans, it's you know, kinesthetic
learning, visual learning. We use a smart board for
technology. This year we've even acted out certain
things for math. Um, just something where I can touch
on everybody's learning style.
And once we kind of have the basics we'll go from there.
And then if I've got a child that's struggling,
I can work one on one or my aide, Lorraine, can work one
on one with him or her. And then the ones that are
excelling at it, I can move on to a more elaborate concept.
I stress at the beginning of the year, because I knew we
were all different, that we all learn differently.
So, some kids use fusions. Some kids use headphones.
Some kids are working with an adult constantly.
Some kids are working independently.
Some kids work in groups. We all learn differently.
At first it was a tough concept for some of my kids to grab.
The fact that they realize that each other is, yes they might be
stronger in certain areas, they're fine with it,
there's no one judging anybody in the class saying
"Oh well I'm better at math than you." There's none
of that. Obviously it took a lot of work to get there.
And we did hit some speed bumps along the way.
But uh, I think it all comes down to before curriculum you
need to build a sense of community in your classroom
and have a place where they A) feel safe, but
B) feel willing to share and express themselves.
And so that also took a lot of work.
(Mathieu) Well thanks for sharing Jonathon, that was a great share.
For the mustache, uh, I made a deal with my students
that for the month of March I'm going to grow a mustache
but it's a writing competition. So you need
to use your persuasive and descriptive writing.
I took the entries and then I had some friends and my mom
judge the writing. And I didn't want any biases because
certain people that I know wouldn't want me to have
a handlebar mustache or a certain style. So I covered
up the picture, so it was solely on the writing and they came
away with their consensus number one and that Monday he came
to school and he saw me with this fabulous curly mustache.
(Teacher) all these items, that you see, some of them
are kind of new looking, some of them are a little
bit old, are all chemical reactions.
They are all a combination of different chemicals.
(Raelene) Our kids do really well hands on.
So we have some amazing statistics.
95% of our kids in grade six last year in science
met the acceptable standard. 50% of them met excellence.
That's huge because more than half of them had
special learning needs. Some barely knew English.
But they sure knew how to use their hands and do an experiment
because everything was done that way when we teach that way.
(Student) Even though we're mixing chemicals, she teaches us
lots of things in one day even though we have lots of fun and
we hardly realize it. I know I'm learning things when I mix
together different chemicals and they make something new.
And I know that I'm learning things when I try to solve the
problems that are created.
(Julie Davies) Sometimes strategies that worked in the
past maybe don't work anymore. So it's constantly
coming up with new ways of handling situations.
(Kids) HI.
Recess is a bit of a challenge, it's more unstructured.
However, it's improved a lot since the beginning of the years
as the kids have learned more friendship skills and we've
taught them directly how to make friends, how to handle problems,
how to ask someone to play if you're feeling lonely.
(Student) I made three different sized balls.
A big one for the bottom, a medium sized one for the middle
and a small one for the head.
(Laurel Napora) Anxiety is what brought her here.
She was quite difficult for the first three weeks.
She cried every day. She sat on the couch in
Mrs. Finlayson's office for probably three days.
And they had children from the class coming in to
try and talk to her and probably just about every
teacher in the building tried to connect with her.
Finally Mrs. Kay connected with her.
And it was a three week process but slowly but surely they kind
of weaned her from the, the crumpled little
person to going into her grade two classroom.
(Student) I don't think this one does and I don't think this one does.
(Laurel) No, this is Calgary.
(Laurel) We've only had one incident this year and that was
the very first day of school and it only took till first recess
and the goal is that she's not going to miss a day of school.
And she was just rewarded with having no missed days.
I think one of the things too about this school is the leader.
If you have a good leader and everybody works well
under that leader, I see it every day when I come here,
just how they approach kids and kids with troubles.
♪ ♪
(Raeven) My name's Raeven. My father's Scottish,
my mom's Cree. I guess I'm Metis.
I'm going to miss this school when I go to Junior High
because of all the people here that I know.
I made friends with them.
(Student) make sure none of it sticks together.
Some people say I have a behaviour code from when
I was in my other school.
At my other school people wouldn't let me hang out with
them because they said I was a behaviour kid.
Miss Finlayson, the Principal, said she's going to
try and help me wipe that off before I go to
Junior High so I can start off better.
(Cory) Raeven is not a person that will sit in the conform
desk and chair, he needs to learn his own way
and in a space that works best for him.
And it's that teacher understanding that no,
he's not being a behaviour, he's, this is his learning
and this is how she gets him to learn and gets him
to come across and show what he knows through curriculum.
(Raeven) Before I used to do whatever my brain tells
me to do. If someone like yells at me or swears at me,
I would want to like hurt them and throw them to the
ground but I usually don't. I don't like labels.
Labels make me feel like they know it all.
Like if you see an orange and it says orange,
I know it's an orange. I guess it's just at the
point where you're just half way from peeling it off.
Feels like I'm getting better but it's not all the way.
(Teacher) Do you remember why?
(Raeven) Yeah.
(Teacher) Why?
(Raeven) Because you're so awesome.
(Teacher)<i> (laughs)</i> Ok, the other reason why.
(Laurel) When kids feel welcome and they feel safe, that's when
we start getting to know them better and then we can start
really seeing those strengths and those interests.
(Raeven) I'm Alice from<i> The Honeymooners.</i>
(Teacher)<i> (laughs)</i> Do you watch that show?
I love that show.
There's different ways that we do that.
Um, for example we do a daily community circle.
So that started on the first day of school.
We've done it every morning and it's a chance for the kids to
share how they're feeling and why they're feeling that way.
(Laurel) Rain, how are you feeling today?
(Rain) I feel scared,
because I'm not sure if Frances goes to school.
(Laurel) Why does that scare you?
(Rain) Because if people don't go to school
they'll might just stay home and not know much.
(Laurel) They're learning about emotions to help
deal with issues that arise.
I feel excited because I'm writing a letter for Frances.
(Laurel) Oh, you're going to write to him? That's nice.
And then you can find out what's going on.
(Laurel) It's the small part of many social skills that
we try to develop and just learning to treat each
other with respect and learning how to get along in a group
is very important and a huge part about being in a classroom.
What agreements are you showing?
(Student) Attentive listening, personal best,
appreciations, the golden rule.
Oh, good choices. And how are you showing
attentive listening on your first comic frame?
(Laurel) Building the relationships and building the
community in the classroom, it's number one.
It's, I think, the most important thing.
And once you've established that, you can do anything
because that relationship and that community is what
kids needs to feel safe. And they need to feel loved.
They need to feel like they can take risks because learning is
taking risks, it's making mistakes and learning from them.
(Laurel) You did a great job on that comic.
(Student) Yeah.
(Raelene) I wanted to talk about Jack because there's
been some concerns and thank you Bill, for coming
from the Family Centre. Um, I asked him to helps us as well.
He's been missing school, which isn't a typical Jack
behaviour until the last little bit.
So I phoned home and mom broke down on the phone, she is
struggling to make ends meet and is at wits' end.
I've got kids that have been abused and beaten and they're
not getting breakfast and now I've got them in a foster home
and now we've got some good things happening but I need a
therapist. And these families are not going to drive across
town or get on six busses to get them to the therapist's office.
We need it here.
So I need someone who's willing to take the lead,
who's going to be this family's real connector so that we
can move to the next steps.
(Teacher) You know maybe if I can have a rapport with
Mom and see what does she have for resources.
And a big piece of it is if you're hungry and you know,
poverty, how can you get some of these other things done.
So If we can help with that little piece, then, you know,
and everybody needs a good night sleep. So...
(Laurel) What we could possibly do is put him in a
high school team mentoring program.
So he could see a mentor every week and it would be in a group
setting and keep him on the wait list and keep tabs for an
individual mentor that could come every week.
(Teacher) We're starting our soccer program,
maybe he could join that after school.
(Teacher) Yeah, absolutely. So that could be
something positive that we could do as well.
(Cory) Rae and myself, we spend times working and
talking to outside agencies to ensure, number one, that
they're a good fit for our school and then number two,
that they're providing the supports needed.
For example Big Brothers/Big Sisters does a fabulous job in
getting high school mentors, medical doctor mentors um,
business mentors at Enbridge. There's so much.
And our students need those positive mentors in their lives.
(Elder) Like the Sweet Grass, we join hands to become one mind,
one body and one spirit.
(Raelene) Schools need those partners or else we can't do this work.
(Elder) Pray for respect, we're going to pray for strength to
uh, care for each other and also to pray for this school that we
come in each day, that there will be happiness and love and
good teachings here each day.
It takes community to raise a child.
(Singing)<i> OH Canada.</i>
(Raelene) None of the kids here belong to anybody but
all of us. And we kind of have a little saying here
where we all belong to us.
(Singing)<i> OH Canada.</i>
(Raelene) I think we're successful.
When I came we had 130 kids registered at Montrose,
we're close to 200 now.
There's no more space in the Inn.
(Singing)<i> OH Canada.</i>