Since 1989 Charles Dickens has had a unique program based on its child-centered philosophy and multiage grouping. Multi-age grouping results from a conscious decision to more closely match what we know about learning, growth and development of children and factors related to stability and security with the way the school is organized.
Features of Our School
Multi-age School Organization
Multi-age classes allow for flexible instructional groupings of child with diverse interests, abilities and skill levels. Long term relationships are fostered when students remain with the same teacher for two or three years.
School-wide Team Teaching
Teaming occurs when two or more teachers jointly plan and deliver the educational program of their students. The teaming allows for greater flexibility of instructional groups.
Mentorship and Teacher Training
Charles Dickens has become a center for teacher education. During any school year, Dickens has had a cohort of pre-service teachers on site from various post secondary institutions.
Students with Diverse Needs - English as Second Language Learners and Learners with Special Needs
Classroom teachers take responsibility for meeting the diverse range of student learning needs. The team teaching partnerships enable teachers to work intensively with an individual or a small group of students to better meet the specific needs of these learners within the classroom, and or with Resource Team support.
Assessment for Learning and Reporting Practices
Teachers believe that authentic assessment must include the following premises:
- support the whole child by acknowledging the unique, social, emotional and academic needs of each learner.
- respect continuous progress for each learner,
- enable and encourage student's self assessment enabling them to se personal goals, to take risks, and to move forward in their learning.
- acknowledge individual learning styles
- be planned, purposeful, and flexible, therefore informing what and how we teach and learn
- As well it may include some or all of the following: criteria-based learning, teacher observations, student self-assessment, portfolios, peer or student -teacher conferences, and performance scales
Formal reports communicate to parents and students significant aspects of the students' progress in the areas of intellectual, social / emotional, and human and career development. They are given at the end of each term. Report card formats reflect teacher teams' classroom programs. They include structured written comments using the performance scales. At the Intermediate level, the use of letter grades are not reflected on the report card. Cumulative letter grades are given only on the student's permanent record at the end of each year and are given to parents at their request. Dickens staff share student work samples, student self-evaluation and report cards with parents in student led and three way student-teacher-parent conferences.
Collaboration and School Governance
Collaboration is achieved through team teaching, and consensus decision-making at staff meetings, staff committee meetings, and learning team meetings. Staff work together to recommend school policy directions and school planning goals. School events encourage cross-class and cross-grade collaboration. An active Student council, student-run class meetings and assemblies, and a Parent Advisory Council encourage broad input from students and parents.
Parents are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the school. The Parent Advisory Council (PAC), volunteer activities, fundraising events, parent-student, teacher conferences and special family school events are all avenues for parent involvement.