Exploring Learning Communities with WAB's Grade 3

The term "learning community" can be understood differently in different contexts.

In Grade 3 at WAB, faculty have shifted away from the traditional structure of one teacher in one homeroom with one group of students. They have been functioning as a learning community for four years, in which the entire grade level of students and teachers functions as a cohesive, flexible unit. You can take a virtual tour of the Grade 3 Learning Community by tuning into the video above or the episode of The WAB Podcast linked here.

"This means all home-base teachers, all Learning Support, and all EAL teachers have a vested interest in every student's success and development," teacher Angela Langlands said.

On any given day, students can work with any or all of the teachers in Grade 3 and a wide variety group of students.

"Every teacher knows every child," teacher Marta Smith said. "I know what kind of After-School Activities they're in. I can have conversations with them. It's a much more cohesive group."

The spaces are adapted to facilitate individual, small group, and full community learning activities, including doorways between each classroom to connect them all. While there are still "home base" check-ins with a single teacher at the start, middle, and end of the day, the learning community structure creates more opportunities to build relationships, access new types of learning, and collaborate for growth.

"In our community, I would say our learning is de-privatized. We plan as a community. We learn as a community. We have the same weekly focus as a community. I think the students see the learning happening that is really similar across the space."

Since moving into a learning community format four years ago, the team has continued to adjust their approaches, methods, activities, and team planning strategies. It is a continuous learning journey for both the teachers and the students. As they continue to work together, the team of teachers finds it easier to make efforts to evolve the learning experience and have increasingly found success and joy in the process.

"We have really had to be intentional about (how we use our time). We have designated times to talk about differentiation, of course, with our EAL and learning support teachers, as well. We have designated times to talk about students," said teacher Kim Gregory, "Working together daily in this way is uplifting. It's energizing."

To find more stories like this, head over to The WAB Podcast page and tune in!