Our Learning in 2018-19
This year Homma staff worked on another Vancouver Biennale BIG IDEAS Education Program application involving six of our primary French Immersion classes. Classes worked in pairs to write, perform, and record French songs with the Big Idea of 'Connecting and Expressing Through Music'. Songs focused on recognizing student identity, bi-/pluriculturalism and bi-/plurilingualism. The final projects were once again performed on stage at our Homma Heritage Fair in Moay 2019.
We also began a Collaborative Inquiry project with many of our staff members working with the Core Competencies to further 'Build our Community and Sense of Place'. The staff involved carried out a variety of activities with the students (some of which can be seen in our blog) to identify and determine if students were feeling a part of the community and developing a sense of place at Homma. To culminate this, students were asked the following questions to provide feedback on how we, as a staff, were doing in this process.
Can you name two adults in this school who believe that you can be a success in life?
What is one thing that has helped to build a sense of community in your classroom? or What is one thing that happens in your class that makes you feel like you belong?
Do you feel like you belong to the school community at Homma? Why or why not? If you answered no, What would help and/or how can we help change that feeling?
And finally, we spent a good deal of time focusing on our student leaders and the strengths they bring to our school. We determined, with them, that we wanted Homma to be a place that always felt welcoming and one way to ensure everyone feels welcome, is to have a open door policy, literally. Each morning and afternoon student leaders would volunteer to hold the front doors of the school open and greet everyone as they entered or exited the building. This small act was met with a huge outpouring of support! As we go into the 2019/2020 school year, we will continue to build on the positive support and look forward to working together again!
Our Learning in 2017-18
During the school year staff and students focused on 'Building Community and Sense of Place' at Tomekichi Homma Elementary. To accomplish this, we focused on learning about our community, the history, and the different cultures that make up our school. We collectively reached out to our Steveston Community to develop care and appreciation for the space and the people who live here. Through walking tours of Steveson and getting to know our neighbours via interactions in our outdoor classroom and community garden, students developed a better understanding of the Steveston Community. Two of our classes were even fortunate enough to play a role in the Steveston Community Center consultation process of the redesigning of that space.
Fine Arts work has always been valued here at Homma and this year was no different. Four of our classes were fortunate to participate in the Vancouver Biennale BIG IDEAS Education Program. In this project, students inquired into how individuals and their words and actions impact other individuals, their communities, and the world. On a personal level, students looked at themselves, how they connect with others, and how others connect with them. Widening the lens, students explored human interactions at a community level, and at a national and global level, both in contemporary and historical times, including First Peoples and minority groups in Canada to understand how people's decisions, words and actions can have significant consequences. Students worked with artist Ndidi Cascade to express their learning through a performance of spoken word and dance that was then showcased at the Homma Heritage Fair.
This year we also began Phase 1 of the Development of our Courtyard Learning Space with the goal of revisiting mindfulness and providing equal access to natural learning spaces for our entire student population. With the help of artist Amy-Claire Huestis, an old-growth forest mural was painted on the walls of our courtyard as it transforms into an environment for self-regulated learning, resiliency, and risk taking in our students' learning. Seating logs were also brought into the space and gardening work was done to complete the natural look. Phase 2 will see the creation of flexible workspaces and student based inquiry projects.
Perhaps one of the most exciting components of community building at Tomekichi Homma was the annual Homma Heritage Fair that was planned and executed by Homma PAC members. This incredible three day affair is comprised of a Community Garden Sale and Book Swap on Day 1, a demo from the Steveston Judo Association and the Homma Pinewood Derby on Day 2, and the much loved Homma Spring Fair on Day 3 complete with Food Trucks, Carnival Games, a Cake Walk, Band Performances, and a Silent Auction. This amazing community event hosts, not only Homma Community members but, members of the wider Steveston and Richmond communities. The support and enjoyment of this event is like nothing you have experienced before!
At the end of the year, our staff engaged in a reflection process to identity: 1) What makes Homma special?, 2) What do we believe about learning?, 3) What does it mean to be an inquirer?, 4) What do we value about teaching and learning?, and 5) What have your students taught you about this process?. The discussion that came out of this process was one of value and validation for the work done throughout the year. As a staff, we are extremely pleased with the work we engaged in this school year and look forward to the next stage of our learning in 2018/2019.