From the Director

Dear Staff:

As the holiday season approaches, we would like to thank you for making the Thames Valley District School Board a dynamic place to learn and work and for the dedication that you bring to your role each day. We are very grateful for all of the students who have chosen to learn in Thames Valley schools. Our enrolment has increased more than 1,800 students over the past year which is another indicator of the dedicated work of our staff.

Over the next few weeks, please take a moment to reflect on the positive difference you have made in the lives of our students and your colleagues, as well as your many personal and professional accomplishments.

We hope you find comfort this season in time-honoured traditions and the simple joy of time with family and friends. In this spirit, we wish you an enjoyable and safe holiday season.

Laura Elliott
Director of Education

Matt Reid
Chair

 

Previous letters from the Director:

An Open Letter to our Thames Valley District School Board Community

Today's economy is supported by an increasingly complex set of skills and knowledge. Predictable, routine tasks of today are becoming more and more automated. Non-routine, unpredictable tasks will increasingly become the jobs of the future. As such, mathematical skills and knowledge are increasingly becoming critical components of success.

Over the past three years, EQAO Mathematics scores for students in grades 3, 6 and 9 in the Thames Valley District School Board and across the province have declined. This issue is of paramount importance to our students, parents, teachers, administration, trustees and the Ministry of Education and I am writing to describe how we, at Thames Valley are taking action, and to enlist your support.

In April 2016, the Ministry of Education made a commitment to help students gain the mathematics knowledge and
skills they need by creating the Renewed Math Strategy. Mathematics achievement is a key priority for the Ministry, and is being supported through dedicated funding to school boards. This Renewed Mathematics Strategy supports Thames Valley's continued focus on Mathematics grades 1 to 12.

The Thames Valley Math Strategic Plan provides the framework for support to our students, parents, teachers and principals. Our goal is to enhance and support leadership and instructional capacity in mathematics so all students
are successful. We will focus on the following priorities:

  • Increase achievement in mathematics for all students,
  • Build mathematical leadership capacity throughout the system,
  • Increase content knowledge, skills and instructional capacity of educators in mathematics; and,
  • Involve parents in their children's learning of mathematics.

I am deeply concerned about this issue and I believe that we can make the necessary changes for all students to be successful in mathematics. It is critical that we work together to solve this challenge. I encourage you to discuss this important issue at home and with your school. This dialogue will support a renewed focus on ensuring our students' success in mathematics.

We sincerely thank our students, parents, employees and community partners for their continued support in
helping our students achieve their potential.

Laura Elliott
Director of Education

Update: An Open Letter to our Community 

In November 2016, an open letter (above) to our community was posted on our website to provide information on
our Renewed Mathematics Strategy and our progress in addressing our District mathematics results. We asked students, parents, staff and community members for their support and I would like to thank those who answered the call. At this time, an update on our progress is provided below.

Supporting Instructional Leadership at All Levels

Improving math results in our Thames Valley classrooms involves the commitment of all staff throughout the organization. It requires staff to be knowledgeable about the mathematics curriculum, as well as utilize instructional strategies which engage students in their learning to make meaning of mathematics.

Within our district, we remain committed to building staff capacity in mathematics. Initiatives which target professional learning through networking and coaching opportunities have been met with enthusiasm and success among Thames Valley staff. Designated mathematics leads in every elementary school, as well as our system Instructional Coaches and Learning Facilitators are part of the team ensuring that mathematics is the focus in all schools. If you visit an elementary school you will see and hear evidence of mathematics learning with all staff and students.

We have also required our Thames Valley secondary schools to work on improving mathematics instruction to make greater achievement gains for our grade 9 and 10 students. Additional networking and coaching opportunities for secondary mathematics teachers supports the use of a variety of instructional strategies. The use of innovative math software by our students and teachers is being monitored and tracked by our research department. Other mathematics tools and resources are also used to engage our students in their learning.

Principals and Vice-Principals also have access to principal mentor-coaches to improve their knowledge and understanding of math pedagogy to better support their teachers. Thames Valley has gained attention from system and provincial leaders in our approach to improving math leadership with our school and system leaders.

Support at Home

The research is clear that achievement is also impacted by the involvement of parents/guardians in their children's learning. Many of our schools have offered Mathematics Nights for parents to come together with educators to learn more about how to support their children's mathematics learning.

 Dr. Marion Small, an international mathematics expert, was hosted by our Thames Valley Parent Involvement Committee, in a 'sold out' event. Dr. Small spoke to the audience about new versus traditional teaching methodologies. While the debate has continued about the teaching of traditional mathematics skills versus problem solving, it is important to note that it is not an 'either/or' debate. Both are essential and appropriate at specific points in math instruction.

Parents and students are also accessing a variety of supports including Homework Help, which is free and available to all Ontario students in grade 7-10. Additionally, our math department regularly communicates math tips for parents in school newsletters.

I am proud of the Thames Valley learning community for their commitment to this renewed mathematics strategy. As the Mathematics department reminds us, we are on the right path to achieving excellence for all students.

Thank you to students, staff, parents and our school communities for working together in partnership. Together, we will achieve our goal of high achievement in mathematics.

Laura Elliott
Director of Education

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