Beginning in 2017, we began to work with students, staff and parents to develop and define the attributes, competencies or ‘learner profile’ of all RHS students. That is, what are the skills and competencies we want to develop in all learners, across all curricular areas, that will best prepare students for success in school and in life? This can also be framed by wondering what is the purpose of school? What do we want for all students?
We are an incredibly diverse school and our students are on different pathways; however, we believe that discussing, defining and exploring the attributes, competencies or ‘learner profile’ of all of our students is a worthy endeavour. That is, what are the characteristics and competencies of an “educated citizen” in the 21st century we want all our students to know and develop? In a rapidly changing world, rather than preparing students for 'something', perhaps we need to prepare students for 'anything'?
Once this significant task is completed with students, staff and parents, we may choose to concentrate our efforts on strengthening specific attributes as necessary, for example, focusing on critical thinking strategies or communication skills or resiliency, as needed each year. It seems to us that the latter cannot be done effectively until we all agree on what we want for our students. It should be noted that this work will connect very well with the new creative and critical thinking, communication and personal and social Core Competencies in the revised B.C. curriculum as well as with the International Baccalaureate Programme’s Learner Profile. Similarly, many educational jurisdictions are grappling with identifying 21st Century Competencies, including Ontario and noted experts like Michael Fullan and the Six Cs. This focus also helps answer the important questions all students and teachers should reflect on regularly: ‘‘What is our purpose?” and “Are we being successful?” and “How do we know?”
Our revised guiding inquiry question:
Will 'competency-based' teaching and the regular use of common language across all curricular areas help students frame and describe their learning journey, regardless of their passions, interests or post-secondary pathways?