A group of teacher candidates from UBC’s Okanagan campus teamed up with elementary school students from Grades 4 to 8 at Willowstone Academy for a unique collaboration incorporating the student voice.
“The benefits of this innovative collaboration are two-fold,” said assistant professor Dr. Stephen Berg, with the Faculty of Education for UBCO. “Teacher candidates gain a greater understanding of comprehensive school programming, and Willowstone Academy students provide a student voice into what constitutes a healthy, thriving school/community.”
Through October, teacher candidates and students formed working groups to explore what it means to “Design a Thriving Community.” During their weekly sessions, students were led through an experience of reflection, inquiry, and assessing their work together in order to create a prototype to present to their community, according to UBCO.
Each creative prototype incorporates the voice of the student in directly informing the health and wellness of the school community. This unique inquiry served as a shared exploration of the competencies of the new B.C. curriculum.
“The trajectory of education is one where teachers and students co-create the curriculum. During the project, the teacher candidates begin to see the students as agents of their own learning. Students sustain inquiry and deep learning. The ground becomes more level and the schooling experience more reciprocal,” said chief learning officer at Willowstone Academy, Karine Veldhoen. “Student voice is heard and teachers understand how capable the students really are. In schools of the future, authentic learning will call on both teachers and students to be designers, actively engaged in creating and learning together.”
The working groups presented their findings to distinguished guests, community leaders and parents at an educational symposium, Designing a Thriving Community, at Willowstone Academy Tuesday morning.