We want to help students develop the knowledge, skills and character they need to lead fulfilling lives and reach their full potential - and that means focusing on more than just content.
As the National Research Council explains, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills are critical pieces of the puzzle. How do students interact with each other? How do they play on a team? Can they reflect on their work, self-manage and effectively organize their time? It is these skills that will help students to succeed in the future.
We strive to help students develop this deeper learning using the “three Cs”: customization and technology, choice and challenge, and community in the classroom. This approach ensures that every student is challenged at exactly the right level -- and in exactly the right way -- to encourage continued academic growth.
Customization and Technology
Customization starts with our curriculum. We offer courses at a variety of levels; when students take courses at the right level of challenge, they have a firm foundation from which to build their understanding. We also offer a number of special interest courses at the high school level, including courses that take learning outside of the classroom. Our experience is that when students find one or more courses in which they are very interested, their motivation and engagement increase in all of their courses.
Greenwood uses technology-rich resources to not only support learning, but to personalize it. Technology allows students to choose the mode for a lesson based on their needs (e.g. learning independently, with the teacher or with a group of students). Teachers also apply technology to customize lesson pacing and timing. After working with students to assess their understanding, teachers can direct students who are ready for additional challenge to move ahead or dive more deeply into the material, while students who need support can spend more time mastering concepts.
"I really enjoy the academics here because I think that the emphasis on individualized learning allows me to "choose my own adventure" when it comes to challenge level and different ways that I want to learn."
Anna de Pencier ('21)
Choice and Challenge
When students are given the freedom and opportunity to self-direct a project at the right level of challenge, they thrive. Material that is too easy can lead to boredom and disconnection; on the flipside, material that is too hard can cause stress and anxiety. At Greenwood, teachers use assessment to understand exactly where students are, ensuring that learning starts from a place of readiness and interest.
We use several approaches to help students develop a range of skills that support managing emotions, coping with challenges, and learning new information, including:
Coaching conversations: Teachers use coaching conversations to help students identify and reflect on their areas of strength and areas for development. Coaching guides students towards growth while reinforcing independent thinking and problem solving.
Conferencing: By the time they graduate, we want students to be able to confidently set their next steps in learning. Teachers model this skill, helping students unpack and understand the decisions they are making so that students can start making those decisions as well.
Co-Teaching: In co-taught classrooms, there is more than one teacher helping to manage students and their experience. A great deal of differentiation takes place in these classes. Co-teaching also allows both students who have understood a topic very quickly and students who need a little more support to have their individual needs supported; these groupings often change from lesson to lesson or topic to topic.
Teachers support the development of interpersonal skills by ensuring that every classroom is truly a community of learners. We give students frequent opportunities to discuss concepts with their peers, helping them to develop their understanding, critical thinking skills and appreciation for others’ perspectives.
We acknowledge with gratitude the Ancestral lands upon which our main campus is situated. These lands are the Ancestral territories of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Anishinabek and the Wendake. The shared responsibility of this land is honoured in the Dish with One Spoon Treaty and as settlers, we strive to care for the land, the waters, and all creatures in the spirit of peace. We are responsible for respecting and supporting the enduring presence of all First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. When away from this campus we vow to be respectful to the land by protecting and honouring it. We will create relationships with the people and the land we may visit by understanding the territories we enter and the nations who inhabit them.