Monday 17 November: An inspiring day at White Oaks Secondary School!

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White Oaks Secondary School: What have you learned today?

A very inspiring and interesting day with so many impressions that it was quite overwhelming.

We’ll try to share them with you:

Today we have acquired new and inspiring ideas about how the Dutch education system could be made more effective. One central point, probably the main point, is the difference between Canada and The Netherlands: in Canada the system tends to be more student-driven, whilst the Dutch system is more teacher-driven. There is so much to win for us when it comes to this. Apart from that, Canadian learners seem to be more motivated and ‘on-task’ than we see in The Netherlands.

We have started to find answers to some of our questions / learning goals:

–     Skills in the field of differentiating and adjusting our teaching methods to the specific needs of our learners. We want to learn from our Canadian colleagues how they approach differentiating in the classroom.

–> Because of the student-driven education, teachers can adapt more to students’ needs. Lessons don’t have to be design wonders, but just have to be aimed at motivating the students to be really on-task. With the use of own devices differentiating is extended since students can work on their own level and in their own pace.

–        How have teachers adjusted their teaching methods since they have been working in a predominantly digital environment?

–> Some teachers have, some have not and others try to. An example was a teacher who used a web-based environment in which students were doing tasks and provided peer-feedback. A probable disadvantage is the other things students can do, like playing games, on their devices so teachers have to monitor that. Some teachers were providing blended learning via methods like flipping the classroom. Students could learn at home watching lectures or listening podcasts. By using on-line courses, students can learn on their own speed and their own place. Moreover, by using a device, students can do extra tasks to go in-dept with their learning process.

–        A life long learning; how does the school stimulate a learning culture amongst teachers?

–> White Oaks has the same difficulties that we are facing in The Netherlands, but the Canadian culture seems to be slightly more open for improvement and adapting to innovation. Even when facilities are minimal, anyone who has a good idea is encouraged to bring it into practice.

–        Would White Oaks be interested in partaking in an exchanges program with Comenius College Hilversum and would White Oaks be interested in partaking in Learning Circles?

–> Some encouraging outcomes: plans where made today for an exchange program between Comenius and White Oaks. White Oaks is also interested in participating in Learning Circles 2015 Children’s rights, in which students from various parts of the world work together online!

The concept of peer assessment of learning but also assessment for learning and assessment as learning have been implemented in every classroom at White Oaks, resulting in great learning outcomes. We were surprised and impressed by the enthusiasm shown by students during the review of each other’s work. This is definitely something we want to bring back and use at our school.

It was an inspiring day, made possible by the great efforts of John, Paul, their colleagues and of course the students of White Oaks.

Thank you for your great hospitality and sharing your valuable insights and time with us!

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