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Best Practices in Balsam Academy

Our vision for Balsam is to be a high-performing school. We understand that there is no silver bullet - no single thing that we can do to ensure high student performance. Every aspect of the teaching and learning process must be attended to and empowered. Following are the Best Practices that need to be adopted:

  • ¥ Clear Vision and Mission - School-wide
  • ¥ Effective processes
  • ¥ Effective leadership
  • ¥ Quality instruction, grading practices, and monitoring
  • ¥ Professional learning community
  • ¥ Cultural competence and culturally responsive teaching
  • ¥ Family and community engagement in school
The key characteristics to make a difference in schooling are:

Clear Vision and Mission - School-wide

The focus is on achieving a shared vision, and all understand their role in achieving the vision. The focus and vision are developed from common beliefs and values, creating a consistent direction for all involved.

  • 5-year Strategic Plan
  • School Improvement Plan
  • Leadership and Organizational vitality
  • Action research to improve education for first generation learners.

Effective processes

High levels of collaboration and communication

Strong teamwork among teachers across all grades and other staff is required. Everybody is involved and connected to each other, including parents and members of the community, to identify problems and work on solutions.

  • Addressing the Challenges
  • Constructing Professional Learning Community
  • Establish clear roles and responsibilities

Effective leadership

Effective instructional and administrative leadership is required to implement processes. Effective leaders are proactive and seek help that is needed. They nurture an instructional program and school culture conducive to learning and professional growth. Effective leaders have different styles and roles -- teachers and other staff, including
those in the office, often have a leadership role.

  • Leading Learning Community
  • Leadership and Change Process
  • Build effective team
  • Establish seamless communication across the organization
  • Ensure No Tolerance policy is strictly adhered to

Quality instruction, grading practices, and monitoring

Curriculum, instruction and assessments aligned with national standards
The planned and actual curricula are aligned with the essential academic learning requirements. Research-based teaching strategies and materials are used. Staff understands the role of classroom and national assessments, what the assessments measure, and how student work is evaluated.

  • Constructivist Teaching to improve Student Achievement
  • Identifying the Standards that matter the most
  • Unwrapping the standards to make the standards simple and manageable

High standards and expectations for all students
Teachers and staff believe that all students can learn and meet high standards. While recognizing that some students must overcome significant barriers, these obstacles are not seen as insurmountable. Students are offered an ambitious and rigorous course of study.

  • Special Learning programs
  • Raising the Achievement of Low Performing Students
  • Extended scholastic and co-scholastic programs

Frequent monitoring of learning and teaching
A steady cycle of different assessments identifies students who need help. More support and instructional time are provided, either during the school day or outside normal school hours, to students who need more help. Teaching is adjusted based on frequent monitoring of student progress and needs. Assessment results are used to focus and improve instructional programs.

  • Designing sustainable standards based assessment system
  • Data analysis for comprehensive school wide improvement
  • Shared responsibility for stunted learning

Supportive learning environment
The school has a safe, healthy and stimulating learning environment. Students feel respected and connected with the staff and are engaged in learning. Instruction is varied and learning environments are experiential.

  • Safe and supportive learning environment
  • Instructional practice and student behaviour
  • Lessons learned from experience

Professional learning community

A strong emphasis is placed on training staff in areas of most need. Feedback from learning and teaching focuses extensive and ongoing professional development. The support is also aligned with the school vision and objectives.

  • Schedule time for professional development
  • Evaluating professional growth and development

Cultural competence and culturally responsive teaching

Education without culture is no education at all. Children must know their heritage, culture and their roots. With firm foundation, they can grow high and stand tall.

  • Beyond academic activities must be meaningful and value based
  • Ensure every child has opportunity to exhibit their inherent talent and to explore their interests

Family and community engagement in school

There is a sense that all have a responsibility to educate students, not just teachers and staff in Balsam Academy. Families, as well as organisations, social service agencies, and local colleges/universities, all play a vital role in this effort.

  • Family, school and community involvement
  • Creating a positive school culture by partnering to reform school