With the arrival of December, our school has just completed our accreditation visit from the association of Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS). Last Sunday afternoon, we welcomed a team of seven experienced independent school professionals from across Canada. The visiting team departed Matthews Hall on Wednesday after reviewing our programs and operations, which were shared openly with them after over a year’s preparation. Anyone familiar with the process of formal accreditation will understand that such a process represents a lot of hard work and collaboration.
On behalf of the entire school community, I would like to thank the many contributors to this process – faculty, staff, governors, students, alumni, administration, and parents (past and present). Capably guided through the preparation by our internal coordinator, Assistant Head Jen McKay, I am pleased to say that our efforts were well-received by the visiting team. In a few months, we will receive a formal report summarizing suggestions and recommendations, along with commendations, all of which will help guide our school improvement process – an essential commitment, if we are to offer an experience to students that is different, better and special!
While such a process can be grueling, it is in sharing your school that valuable insights are gained, as members of the community come together. For a CAIS school, the decisive part of such a community remains the quality and commitment of its teachers. Proper training and experience alone are insufficient to inspire excellence. The qualities that matter most – and which are rarer – are talent and character. Let’s review some of the qualities that were on display this week!
The effective Matthews Hall teacher is a lifelong learner; is able to see the BIG picture; takes every opportunity to review with students; is an expert diagnostician; embraces multisensory education; loves teaching; strives to make a difference; is positive and insightful; is highly organized; is open to change and flexible; embraces “out-of-the-box” thinking; and is a reflective practitioner!
These are more than just teaching competencies, they are learning priorities for any school serious about preparing students for a successful future. If schools are going to prepare the child for the path and not the path for the child, they must be serious about prioritizing critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, communication, collaboration, self-directed learning, global awareness, civic engagement, and information, media, financial and economic literacies.
These are our goals and we are proud to declare them as our teaching priorities.
A few years ago, they were referred to as “21st century learning skills”. Today, they should just be called “school”.
Ric Anderson, Head of School