UK Educators Learn From Delta Staff and Students

Category: District

On April 9, the Delta School District welcomed 16 educators, including head teachers, school governors and education advisers from Hackney in London, England, to Gray Elementary and Sands Secondary where staff and students shared valuable leadership best practices relating to diversity and inclusion, and student voice and choice.

First the group visited Gray Elementary where Assistant Superintendent Brad Bauman and former Assistant Superintendent Nancy Gordon described the engagement process used to create the district’s current and previous Visions, and highlighted the importance the district places on the Spiral of Inquiry framework for making improvements to student outcomes through an inquiry-oriented, evidence-based approach to learning and teaching. In addition, Mr. Bauman shared results that indicated the district’s focus on having high expectations for all students has positively impacted graduation rates and helped to reduce the achievement gap for students with Indigenous ancestry or diverse abilities.

Gray Elementary Teacher Carol Silva talked about the importance of the territorial acknowledgment in the district. She explained how she works with students to help them understand what the words mean and encourages them to create personalized territory acknowledgments. Students Alisha and Marcus then shared their personal territory acknowledgements with the Hackney delegation.

John Mann, Principal at Gray Elementary and Niels Nielsen, Principal at nearby McCloskey Elementary, talked about the importance of students having at least one adult in their lives that believes in them and goes out of their way to support them, as that was foundational to their educational journey. They shared that their actions and leadership approach are driven by their desire to make a positive difference to students’ lives every day. They asked the visiting educators to consider how their own educational history and experiences impact their values and practices today. They encouraged them to lead with transparency, build relationships and trust with staff and families, be agile and responsive to changing needs, participate as much as possible with students and create a vision and shared focus for the school.

Following a student-led tour of Gray Elementary, the delegation headed to Sands Secondary for a tour of the school and a presentation by students Trin and Georgia and former Vice Principal Joanna Macintosh who have used the Spiral of Inquiry to address social justice issues. The day ended with the Hackney delegation sharing their stories and learnings with administrators at Sands.

“Although our school systems differ in the way schools are governed – in Hackney, by a Governor and trustees for one school, unlike our system where trustees are responsible for the entire school district of 31 schools, ultimately, everyone is doing their best to make a positive difference in students’ lives. There is much to be learned from each other during valuable interactions such as this!” said Val Windsor, Chair, Delta Board of Education.

The visit was initiated by Dr. Judy Halbert and Dr. Linda Kaser, leaders of the Transformative Educational Leadership Program at the University of British Columbia. Through their work with the Network of Inquiry and Indigenous Education (NOIIE), Dr. Halbert and Dr. Kaser have been supporting Hackney educators on their journey of continuous improvement. As part of this visit, the Hackney delegation also spent time visiting Richmond School District. Both Delta and Richmond School Districts have embraced the Spiral of Inquiry with the aim of continuous improvement and have worked closely with Dr. Halbert and Dr. Kaser in recent years.