Since 1989, Charles Dickens Elementary has had a unique alternative program based on a child-centred philosophy and multi-age grouping. These groupings result from a conscious decision to more closely match what we know about the learning, growth and development of children. Key features include:
- School organization allows for flexible instructional groupings of children with similar interests, abilities and skill levels. Long term "familial" relationships are fostered when students remain with the same teacher for two or three years.
- School-wide team teaching occurs when two or more teachers jointly plan and deliver the educational program for their students. This teaming allow for greater flexibility of instructional groups.
- Mentoring and teacher training is an important element of Dickens professional life as we host pre-service teachers each year.
- Diverse learning needs are met by the classroom teacher and resource teacher who work collaboratively to provide the support required.
- Assessment and reporting at Dickens has not included letter grades for many years. Communicating student learning happens through progress reports that reflect classroom programs. These include structured written comments with strengths based language and student perspectives. Families are also invited to share in this process through conference opportunities that are provided during the school year. We currently follow the VSB's reporting system to communicate student learning to families.
- Collaboration and school governance is achieved through team teaching and consensus decision-making in staff and SAC (Staff Advisory Committee) meetings.
- School events are designed to encourage cross-class and cross-grade collaboration.