Our Learning Story
Rutland Middle School (RMS) is an important part of the Rutland community named for John Matthew Rutland, who introduced orchards and irrigation to the surrounding area around 1900. Serving the community for nearly seventy years, our school first opened as a Gr. 7-12 school in 1949. As the community grew, a new senior secondary school was built on adjacent land in 1972, and our school became a Gr. 8-10 junior secondary. In 1993, we became a Gr. 7-9 middle school, and in 2015, transitioned to a Gr. 6-8 middle school. Our history has created a very special place for RMS within our community, and we have had generations of families come through our halls.
Our middle school curriculum is based on age-appropriate, adolescent student needs and balances academic goals with other human development needs. Extensive research on fifty years of effective middle school programs is very clear that students require a(n):
- Flexible Schedule - teachers have the flexibility to responsively adjust planning and integrate subjects to support individualized and differentiated student learning, while not being limited by a rotating block structure (like in high school).
- Mentorship Program - students connect with a supportive teacher advocate that works with them for their years at RMS. Students develop metacognitive skills through engaging work with the Attributes of the SD23 Learner and the BC Ministry of Education's Redesigned Curriculum's Core Competencies.
- Exploratory Program - adolescent students in grades 6-8 need to explore new course areas which will lead them to making informed choices at the grade 9 level when they transition to Rutland Senior. Each year, students will rotate through Foods, Technology Education, Art, and Music as these exploratory courses.
- Teaming - two groups of students will work with two core teachers for the vast majority of their coursework. Teachers get to know their students very well, more responsive teaching happens, more parent communication can occur, and students will be more successful.
Mentorship teachers directly teach to the Attributes of the SD23 Learner and the BC Ministry of Education's Redesigned Curriculum's Core Competencies throughout the school year in Mentorship classes, the goals of which being to develop student metacognition ("thinking about their thinking") around his/her own learning strengths and areas of growth, and to be reflective on their learning process. Our goal is to make this learning applicable to the lives of our students by designing a variety of engaging instructional strategies and experiences, usually focused on school-wide, collaborative, Project-Based Learning experiences.
In addition, RMS offers an engaging program of elective course opportunities called Enrichment. Enrichment taps into both student and teacher passions to provide a learning experience that is quite unique to RMS. Teacher-designed Enrichment courses are locally-developed and include activities such as fishing, robotics, music, drama, foods, and track & field. Enrichment has become a critical component in how we engage students at RMS.
At the end of each school year, parents/guardians/family members will be invited to join us to take part in our annual Presentations of Learning. All students will present on their personalized progress on the Attributes of the SD23 Learner in a style/genre that students choose (ie. PowerPoint presentation, Prezi, poster board, video, speech, etc.) supported with artifacts/evidence from both school and from their personal lives.
Our RMS Vision Statement
Our shared vision, as a community, is that all RMS students will be engaged socially, conventionally, and intellectually in acquiring the attributes of a SD23 learner: thinker, learner, collaborator, contributor, and innovator, for future success as a secondary student and community member.
Our Learning Goals
Over the 2017-18 school year, the entire teaching and support staff have been doing professional learning about the OECD Principles of Learning. This extensive body of research is helping us, as a school, to unpack how our students learn best and how we can positively enrich the day-to-day learning experience of our students. We have been collaborating about how we design learning in our school to empower our students to become more reflective, engaged, and successful learners. Although this work has just begun, this will continue to be a focus to impact our staff's professional learning, and will connect over time more and more deeply with our school inquiry work.
We have been spending time learning about BC's newly redesigned curriculum and how this provincial shift comes to life in our classrooms. A group of teachers has begun to communicate with families evidence of student learning on Core Competencies in more authentic, innovative ways. As a school, we have taken part in the Central Okanagan Public School District's Innovative Learning Environment Project with over a dozen other schools, looking to re-envision what education for our students can look like. Consulting numerous sources of research from Sir Ken Robinson, Will Richardson, David Istance, the OECD, and others, we have collaborated with schools across the district around these ideas.
Rutland Family of Schools Learning Goal/Theory of Action
And lastly, to tie all of this together, the Rutland family of schools (K-12) have developed a learning goal/theory of action to guide all the work happening in schools for the coming 3-5 years. This goal is:
If we empower a collaborative learning culture in our schools guided by evidence-based research about learning, we can co-create the conditions to facilitate a deeper understanding of the pedagogical core that optimizes learning for EACH student and adult in our schools.
This work is very exciting, and the opportunity to have all schools in Rutland, K-12 united around a common goal is a first, and Rutland Middle is excited to be part of this learning journey into the coming years.