between students, teachers and provincial curriculum changes when parents decide to send their children to
independent institutions. Here, educators modify their programs to expand on core concepts and deepen the
breadth of the knowledge they offer to their young students. At Calgary’s Green Learning Academy, students
and teachers are embracing a new dynamic that has become the buzzword in education.
The key word here is “student-directed.” At Green Learning, students from kindergarten to Grade 9 work with their teachers to determine their own unique approaches to learning the required material. This cutting-edge approach to the classroom stems from the knowledge of longtime education gurus Don and Anne Green, and was originally designed for gifted students through the University of Calgary.
“Student-Directed Teaching encompasses five Teaching Styles that students can choose from,” explains Bonnie Young-Senecal, chief executive officer and principal team leader. “These include: Command, Task, Peer Partner, Student-Teacher Contract and Self-Directed. The five Teaching Styles incorporate the individual learning styles of students. It becomes the responsibility of each student to choose the Teaching Style that works best for them. If the student is unable to make a good choice for themselves, the teacher will lead them to a better and more productive Teaching Style.”
When adopting Student-Directed Teaching, students make choices about how they learn best; the teacher’s role is to hold them accountable for those choices. The paths to learning chosen by the students are diverse, even with class sizes being so small. Students rely on their peers, conduct library research, consult their teachers, and browse online to gain insight and complete classroom tasks. Once learned, students demonstrate their knowledge by writing a report, filming a video project, or taking the artistic routes of creating pictures, poems or plays.
The significance of the change is twofold. The system begins by changing the role of the teacher from director to mentor. In granting the students the reins to their education, Green Learning instills a sense of equality between child and teacher-mentor. Green scholars respond to this new independence with heightened confidence and increased willingness to approach their teachers for guidance.
“Students that move from GLA to a traditional classroom benefit immensely as they learn to think for themselves and learn to find and utilize resources that are required. As in the real world, answers are not given to you; you must learn to be creative and resourceful,” explains Young-Senecal.
Not surprisingly, students of Green Learning are more self-reliant than students who depend on a standardized learning structure. In determining their own approaches to learning, students recognize their competencies and weaknesses, and are able to adjust accordingly. Students are provided with the opportunity to work at their own pace and level of complexity depending on the subject, the topic within that subject and the strength area of the student. This allows the students to have choices in how they are going to learn the objectives required by Alberta Learning curriculum.
“At Green Learning Academy the students, parents and teachers set the child’s benchmark in each subject based on their abilities and raise the bar accordingly to ensure that the student is always being challenged. GLA uses the enhanced Alberta Learning curriculum and our students tend to soar over and above other schools because we allow the students to learn ‘their’ way, not the teacher’s, school’s or textbooks’ way,” Young-Senecal explains.
Green Learning Academy accepts new student registration throughout the year. For more info visit greenlearning.com