This week I have been in Vancouver attending our annual Canadian Accredited Independent Schools Heads and Chairs conference, and two events yesterday have left me feeling proud of our students and the work that our faculty are doing with them.
The first event was a visit to Quest University in Squamish- an independent Liberal Arts and Sciences University- where the focus is placed on guiding its students to learn how to ask insightful questions rather than on knowing the ‘right’ answer. While I was very impressed with the university and their approach, it was my confidence in St. Clement’s and how our girls are prepared for their lives beyond our school that was affirmed.
I had the great fortune of attending a second year Biodiversity class at Quest taught by alumna Marjorie Wonham ’88. Watching Marjorie as she facilitated her students’ conversations, questions and observations and not only nurtured but demonstrated curiosity and evidence of a passion for learning was wonderful. I also was able to catch up with alumna Celine Allen ’11. It was a pleasure listening to her excitement about learning, her participation in student government, peer tutoring and the admission ambassador program to name but a few of her activities. During our lunch, her Chemistry professor stopped by to thank St. Clement’s for sending Celine his way. I take no credit for Celine’s obvious strengths in this subject; however, his comments made me very proud of the hard work and commitment of our St. Clement’s faculty. I left my visit with confidence in our work.
Confidence is important, but as schools we must always be looking for ways to improve our students’ learning experiences. Yesterday’s second event reminded me of this important consideration.
At the end of the day, we heard from Dr. Yong Zhao, author of World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, who spoke about the need to ensure that we are adapting our educational institutions such that individual learners are nurtured for their strengths and guided to develop a growth mindset rather than simply leaving our schools with employable skills and compliant tendencies. Students’ creativity must be ensured throughout their time at school and there needs to be a focus on process rather than simly product.
I reflected on my visit with our alumnae and the tremendous amount of ongoing work our faculty are doing. With their focus on instructional practice, assessment and evaluation, and nurturing growth mindsets in our girls from Grades 1-12, St. Clement’s endeavours to send our girls off into their next stage of life with learning that reflects passion, courage and curiosity.
Yesterday, I had evidence of our ongoing dedication to excellence in teaching and learning. It was a great day, to be sure!