Learning is Personal

Helen Pereira-Raso, Deputy Head
An excerpt from the Fall 2016 Corridors Magazine.
Shaped by Experience is our covenant with the future. Through it, our purpose is to develop confident learners with the skills, wisdom and courage to seize the opportunities that lie ahead, as well as the agility to embrace the profound changes that will surely confront them. We are preparing our students to thrive and excel in a world that is yet to be known by creating diverse pathways to authentic, inspiring and indelible learning experiences.

People don’t look alike or think alike, so why should we expect them to learn in the same way? At HTS, we don’t. However, while we favour personalized learning over the one-style-suits-all teaching method, what that means can vary greatly. For some, the term includes everything from more choice in course selection to virtual classrooms and student-regulated schooling. At HTS, personalized learning means gaining deep knowledge of the learner. The power of personalized learning lies not in what we teach or even how we teach, but in deeply understanding who we teach. In our classrooms, knowing our students – recognizing, supporting, challenging and valuing their cognitive and character differences – enables us to provide the resources that will make learning rich and meaningful for every student.

Every student deserves to learn in the way he or she learns best. As a result, we continue to invest in developing the professional skills of our faculty and by implementing strategies to support diverse learning needs.

CREATING A NETWORK OF LEARNING
However rich and diverse our program though, we believe a vital part of helping our students attain their full potential is exposing them to voices, perspectives and experiences from beyond the walls of our school. To do this, we have created a learning network that spans borders, bridges cultures and grants entry to a bigger, broader world of opportunity.

At the heart of this network are the alliances we have forged with partners who can help us deepen and broaden our commitment to support all learners. An exciting example is our recent partnership with One Schoolhouse, a fully accredited online school offering Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

Students wishing to augment their academic portfolio, particularly those seeking admission to American colleges, are now able to earn College Board–approved AP credits online.

Through our partnership with Sheridan College, we are able to advance faculty training as well as offer specialized English language proficiency programs for students who wish to expand their command of the language. Additionally, in affiliation with STEM MINDS and digital innovation hub, NewMakeIt, we provide our learners with certification programs in engineering and design software.

Our learning network enables our students to take advantage of enriching personal connections. It connects them with their peers across Canada and around the world so they can share and compare learning and life experiences. It gives them access to professionals with deep and diverse skill sets, whose advice and encouragement gives a boost to their burgeoning interests. It also exposes them to gifted speakers, including our alumni, who enlighten, inspire and exemplify a wellness of body, mind and spirit.

Recent research indicates that students who have established strong networks early in their school years have a competitive advantage so we now intend to expand our learning network to include internships. Apart from the social and professional skills acquired, internships give students a chance to “test drive” different career choices. Identifying early on in life what they enjoy doing the most can allow students to focus their pathway.

COMMUNITY OF CHARACTER

Learning is a relational endeavour, one that is predicated on healthy, open interactions among and between students, teachers, parents and the broader school community. In order to equip our learners for success, school leaders must maintain an environment that is safe, inclusive, caring and equitable for all. To facilitate this our school is, and will remain, committed to the principles of respect, integrity, confidence and leadership.

Putting principle into practice, HTS students are championing human rights for all through their coursework, and through initiatives such as our Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and the Amnesty International club. We also continue to ensure that physical and mental wellbeing are at the heart of our work, and we are proud to be launching our own chapter of Jack.org this year.

We are very proud of our graduates. Our alumni are making exceptional contributions to their communities, and as such, are a testament to the HTS experience. By being intentional in the ways we teach our students, by being responsive to their needs, and by being fully committed to developing their character, we intend that every student who graduates will be equipped to thrive and do great things in the world.


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