DWA teachers design learning environments where social and emotional security are the building blocks of the confidence necessary to take the risks involved to learn, grow and excel. Layered on that are mastery experiences that amplify the curriculum and engage the students. This could be anything from Grade 4 students publishing their own illustrated fairy tales to Grade 11’s conducting interviews with Shakespeare characters for English class to sharing tea with Holocaust survivors in Los Angeles.
In every activity, field trip, task, presentation or project, the ultimate goal is always to provide enough constructive feedback for the student to be able to continue exploring and learning, balanced by the attitude that mistakes are a way to “fail better” until they succeed. At DWA, the balance of supportive feedback and rising to challenges is different for each child yet a process that develops critical thinking, problem-solving and personally successful learning strategies.
The program is a university prepatory experience so enrichment and challenge are naturally built into every class, with the understanding that practice for mastery extends beyond the classroom for the fullest benefit…that means home practice! In class, projects, discussions, presentations, field trips, special events, expert speakers, interactive activities, and a fully wireless network for1:1 student technology use, promote active rather than passive learning. The traditional core academic subjects are expanded to include others as part of the DWA core, from JK to Grade 12: Physical Education, French and Spanish Second Languages, and Drama. These are supplemented by Music, Art, Cooking (Foods) and Complimentary Options starting right in elementary.
In our small classes, teachers can spend time with every student, answer more questions, lead in-depth discussions and activities, and offer a lot of personal encouragement. Students can also do this for each other. In our small classes, movement is an important and intrinsic part of the learning process. It is part of every teacher’s planning made easier by our active learning furniture choices. So, academically, there are immediate learning benefits.
Therefore, when students are engaged and happy, more positive interaction occurs. In small classes, teachers can more easily prevent incidents from happening as they have fewer children to watch. They take the time to facilitate immediate conflict resolution which dramatically reduces social stress, increases self-reflection and re-enforces positive behaviours, especially at the elementary and junior high grades. Every day, students experience healthier social interaction, increase their social intelligence and have a greater appreciation of each other. Students then start to gain greater control of their own interactions. When students feel safe and valued, they build resilience, empathy and a positive outlook.
Both parents and teachers rely on the feedback that only the other is capable of giving about the progress of your child. So, open and constructive communication between parents and DWA is encouraged and highly appreciated. At home, parents are responsible for routines and support so their child can share, practice skills and prepare for the next learning day. At DWA, parents are engaged in volunteering, events, councils and fundraising. It is many hands and hearts working together for one purpose – developing life-long achievers.
We know our approach to instilling the “I can do that ” attitude works because students of varying ability levels, from average to gifted, all achieve Acceptable and Standards of Excellence on provincial Achievement tests, and 100% of our Gr. 12 graduates enjoy being accepted into the universities and programs of their choice. Our alumni keep in touch with us to share their accomplishments and their continued inspired journey