|Today was our fifth day in Calgary, Canada, and we were given the opportunity to visit Robert Thirsk High School. Robert Thirsk is my favorite school that we have visited while on this trip. I feel like the school had all of the good parts of Nelson Mandela High School, and it has a lot more structure. Robert Thirsk is the school that Nelson Mandela modeled itself after, so it also has a lot of the same things that Nelson Mandela has. For example, Robert Thirsk has times set aside for Focus, where students can get extra help, and Connect, where students can personally connect with their teacher. I like both of these, and I believe that the Focus time is something that can be easily integrated to my classroom in Mississippi. It might be difficult for this to happen immediately on a school wide scale, but if I'm on block schedule with 90 minute classes, I think that I could personally carve out 20 minutes of my class time to let students ask questions and work on things they need help with.
Robert Thirsk is a great high school, but there are also a few things that I did not necessarily like very much. I did not like the "essentials packet" very much. The "essentials packet" is a packet of assignments that a teacher deems to be the minimum a student should have to learn to pass. I think that it is useful in the case of an emergency situation in which a student is forced to miss a great deal of school, but I do not like this because it seems to be a way out for students who do not put forth effort. I believe that failure builds character and helps one become a better person, and giving students this "Option B" as a chance to avoid failure handicaps them for the future because there is not always going to be a second option for these students. I am open to the idea, but I think that I would have to see the process of the packet before I can change my mind and agree with it.
One thing that I'm very neutral about is the grading system. I like that they grade the students growth, but I need more clarity because I did not really understand the explanations fully. I hope to speak with my peers in the coming days about all of these issues, so I can hear about their feelings. I'm also hoping they can clarify the grading system for me because it is something that I'm very interested in.