I have already spoken to you about the growth of our school, how happy we are to know that more and more people are interested in what we are doing, and the pleasure we take in sharing our work with an increasing number of families. I wrote here about one of the risks we will run if we don’t pay attention: the loss of our identity and the dilution of our values. Such concerns may seem abstract but we can see their traces in our pedagogical practices. The growth of The École means first more children in our classes, secondly more families discovering our school culture, and finally, a school culture that continuously adapts, sometimes in reaction, and sometimes—fortunately!—thanks to the influence of our team.
More children in our classrooms does not mean we are heading for 22 or 24 kids per class. In fact, we are examining our 20 students per class cap and considering fixing it instead at 18 from Pre-K up to 8th Grade*—although there may be some exceptions next year. Ours is a robust, healthy school whose seats are being filled; we already have a waiting list in place for 5 grade levels next year. In that context, it is crucial that we continue to offer personalized, differentiated education that allows every child to blossom and learn effectively. This year we increased threefold the number of support hours available in both English and in French. We will continue to build on that next year with the creation of a number of key positions and the reorientation of existing resources so that they will be tailored to meet the needs of our students. We have already invested in and will continue to invest in our library, IT material, and pedagogical software that uses AI for students’ benefit—adapting content to their levels of ability (such as Lalilio, which our 2nd and 3rd Grade students are currently discovering). I will be writing to you with more specific details about each of these topics in the near future but for now, I need to leave a little room for suspense because some fine points remain to be finalized.
A consequence of our growth that mustn’t be overlooked is that while it is good to put initiatives in place, it is also important to talk about them. All too often, we realize that families are struggling to grasp our expectations and objectives and understand how they are connected to each child’s progress. Seesaw, Google Classroom, and Je valide are part of the solution but I am well aware that we need to provide more workshops for parents so you can get a clearer picture of how we work so that you can support your children in their learning. Now that the pandemic is coming to an end (fingers crossed), I hope that we will be able to invite you to attend workshops on different topics in a similar vein to the ‘Counselor Chats’ that our EST team do so well on Zoom.
By connecting these two elements—teaching tools that take student needs as their starting points and regular feedback about our expertise and expectations —we will continue to weave and incarnate the culture of The École, which we hold dear today and will hold dear tomorrow. There is a third element in the mix that is difficult to define – a certain je ne sais quoi that makes us who we are and what we will continue to be. One thing is certain; our students can count on their teachers and all of the adults of The École to offer them their utmost. I am privileged to witness it on a daily basis.
*12 in Pre-Nursery and 16 in Nursery