Penticton teachers see students Through A Different Lens
Adopting new classroom strategies that play to students’ unique strengths has earned some local teachers recognition from the Canadian Education Association.
Those teachers for the Okanagan Skaha School District have spent parts of the past three years on a project called Through A Different Lens, which helps them rethink their approach to their work.
“The traditional method of school — which is the teacher standing at the front of the room lecturing, students taking notes and writings tests — that is not the best way for a lot of kids to learn,” explained Naryn Searcy, an English teacher at Princess Margaret Secondary School.
“Traditionally, in English class you might read a novel or study a poem and then you have the option of writing a paragraph or a standard test.
“Now we’ve opened it up so that in an English classroom you respond by performing a song, which shows your understanding of the poem, or making a video or scripting a play.”
Colleague Anita Mosher said Through A Different Lens helped her imagine new ways to engage kids.
“I’m a language teacher and you want to teach vocabulary, so you could have cards with pictures on them and you could play card games, you could throw the words on a board and have kids point to them,” she said.
“There are other ways that you can teach something besides saying, ‘Here’s the list of words, sit here and memorize them.’”
Through A Different Lens program was funded by the Vancouver Foundation, which awarded the district $50,000 in each of the past three years to help offset staffing costs and other expenses.
Although the Vancouver Foundation grants will end this year, Searcy is optimistic teachers will continue to use the program.
Through A Different Lens is in operation at schools throughout the district, although nearly half of the roughly 70 teachers currently on the program are based at Princess Margaret.
That earned the entire staff there an honourable mention for the CEA’s 2014 Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, which will be presented at the school in May.
“It represents a collective effort from our staff, from our district at recognizing the different learners that are out there and addressing their needs,” said principal Terry Grady.
“I think that is the reward more than the award.”