One of the great joys of my work is being around our elementary schools during the week of school start-up. The energy, excitement and air of possibility is positively palpable. Many of our schools use re-connect or transition days where students begin their week with the previous year’s teacher while new registrations and transfers out are processed and new classes built. Other schools use multi-age community activities which draw students of a variety of ages together in groups to do common learning activities that foster belonging, inclusiveness and collaboration.

Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited out to Nanoose Bay Elementary to observe a whole school ‘geo-caching’ activity. It wasn’t true geo-caching, but it saw each of the eleven divisions develop a series of clues that would lead each of the other divisions to find hidden treasures at a variety of spots on the school grounds and neighbouring Jack Begley Field. The activity involved critical thinking, problem-solving, physical stamina and teamwork. It was also a wee bit like splitting an atom…there were people of all shapes and sizes moving on intersecting trajectories in a relatively confined area. It was magic! The learning was visible and the engagement of the participants at a zenith.

What was particularly exciting for me was seeing a large cohort group of Vancouver Island University Education Program students participating in the activity. What an amazing first peek into the window of the profession they are preparing to enter. What incredible modeling of what it means to be an effective teacher by each committed and compassionate member of the Nanoose Bay Elementary staff who had a hand in guiding students through this innovative learning activity.

I would have traded all seven of my ‘What did you do this summer?’ week one writing assignments from the KB Woodward Elementary of my growing-up for one crack at finding the hidden treasure.

Rollie Koop