Many education professionals become (and remain) teachers/school administrators for the precious “teaching moments”: the look on a student’s face when they have an “aha” moment, watching students resolve a conflict amongst themselves, seeing a student choose to move away from distracting peers in class, a student who never speaks up in class puts their hand-up to respond to a question, a student who has been struggling in class approaches you on their own to ask for help…..I could – well, I’m sure we all could – go on.
In September, UNICEF Canada Global Classroom staff visited Cape Horn Elementary School, Canada’s first Rights Respecting School to meet the staff and students and to hear about their journey.
Although I am no longer teaching in a classroom, I experienced a feeling very similar to a teaching moment as I engaged with the students at Cape Horn. I was astounded by the maturity of the students, their ability to ask higher-level questions, their problem-solving skills, and their respect for each other, their teacher and their classroom guests.
One of the Grade 5 classes had been in the process of creating their own Classroom Charter ( Classroom Charters – Instructions v1). The front wall held flip-chart papers which demonstrated the editorial process the students had engaged in to come to a consensus on the content and wording of their Charter. The students explained in detail the process they used to draft and edit their Charter and their quest for ‘juicy’ words to get the meaning just right. Clearly the students had engaged in many literacy and co-operative learning skills to bring THEIR Charter to fruition.
The next day we were also able to see some of the students present in a workshop for teachers and school board members at the Encompass Conference. The students confidently led workshop participants through an activity and discussion on identifying the differences between rights, wants and needs. (You can print this activity out here: Rights, Wants and Needs for your own class). The students were then asked to discuss their favourite right. One student shared article 17 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; access to information. This student felt that it was important for students to have access to various forms of information as this is what formed a good education.
These two days with students from Cape Horn was enlightening and rewarding – feelings any teacher enjoys to experience. We look forward to hearing more from Cape Horn Elementary on this blog.
For further reading here is an article recently published in The Tri-City News. This piece is about students from Cape Horn Elementary School speaking at the Champions for Children and Youth Summit about the importance of recognizing children’s rights.