Field Logs – Week Two: School and Community
Core Questions: What is the physical and human context in which the school operates? What does the school and community look like? What is the link between school and community?
Jack Mackenzie Elementary School is located in Arcola East, in Windsor Park area, and serves approximately 500 students. The school is English speaking and the majority of students live in this area. In the past, they had ESL programs, which have now been discontinued due to lack of funding. Still, the reputation the school has gained for its success with ESL students has influenced many parents from other areas to transport their children to school, creating a more diverse atmosphere. Besides teachers, there are two educational assistants, librarians, janitorial staff, the school social worker, and an ESL teacher, whom are mostly Caucasian, but seem to be able to relate to the ethnic groups. This community is affluent, and one can recognize this based on the sizes of homes and the types of vehicles in this neighbourhood.
The school tries to interact with the community, which is done in partial by parental involvement. Some parents volunteer in the classroom, or come in when asked to present about their role in the community. Currently, the school is helping to fundraise for splash park in their area. The children are obviously the link between school and community in this area. The parents and community want to ensure that students are being taught meaningful lessons besides the basics, while the school tries to help meet needs of students. The school helps to make sure students get enough healthy food to eat and enough rest. They also offer basic sports teams and before or after school programs, but because the majority of parents are affluent, the children are placed in extracurricular activities outside of the school.
Critical Triad Questions – Week Two: School and Community
- Do you think the diversity in the classroom changes what is being taught?
I do not think the diversity changes the material, but it may have an effect on how it is presented. Some of the students come from families where English is not the first language, and these students need teaching that is easy to follow and helps to improve language skills. The teacher uses “teachable moments” to teach about the differences in her class. These include discussing diet, and teaching about the “patka” (or turban) that one student wears while readjusting its tightness.
- Does there seem to be any problems between the students in regards to diversity?
There does not appear to be any bullying or racism towards the students with ethnic backgrounds. The students share a common interest in learning, and having fun in the process. I have seen students of different cultures ask each other to play together at recess. There is a lot of paired or group work in this class, and Mrs. Gilroy-Beck is very good at making sure the groups are diverse. I think because of these types of interaction students do not have negative associations with their ethnic backgrounds.