Principal's Message

The online learning world can be seen as a place where students and teachers are distant, and education is only a means to an end. Over the past year, school divisions all around our nation have started or expanded their online schools. I wonder how many have sought to create a school with a culture characterized by caring, connection, and innovation. I suspect not many. Online schools are traditionally designed for either course completion or for students who want to complete their education with little connection to those who teach it or their peers. Course structure in these cases is highly self-directed, has a high literacy component and requires student skill in self-learning. While these attributes have value, they served a singular purpose - completion.

The new Rocky View Online School has an opportunity to change the way we look at online learning. What if the culture of online learning had a blend of in-person pedagogy, classroom cohesion, mental wellness, and school supports while utilizing the technologies of our day? The creation of an authentic community would be a game-changer. The foundational principles of Connect, Achieve and Network could guide us to a Rocky View Online school that doesn't just exist out of necessity but thrives.

Connect, Achieve and Navigate

Students require connection to learning to bring about an inner motivation for their goals, their learning. For this to occur, teachers must create experiences with a Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction mindset. Student Connection to their peers and teachers does not need to be diminished due to the online interface. It will look different but can feel the same to the student. For success to occur, for students to succeed in the course's challenging work, they need to know they are supported and seen.

As students connect with their learning and feel confident, their capacity for achievement increases and potential growth. We have an opportunity to take traditional methods of learning online and make it magical. There are few places in our society where we are not required to navigate the digital realm. Within this realm, students will need even more guidance and a sense of belonging to be successful. We have the exciting opportunity to model a healthy online community in the context of learning. I believe students who engage in connections with their peers and teachers online while navigating the "trickiness" of life as it relates to mental health, wellness, complex learning difficulties, and personal struggles can become more ready to face the challenges of the world ahead of them.

The school will not be static, it will continue to grow and evolve using the community as the guide. Welcome to the journey!

 

David Smith

Principal

 

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