All material for courses is assembled into self-study packages known as Learning Guides. These guides tell students exactly what they must learn, show them how to learn it and prepare them for testing and evaluation. Some activities that are included as part of the Learning Guides are: reading books, viewing videos, responding to questions and assignments, completing self-tests, conducting experiments and various other educational activities depending on the subject.
The Learning Guides also provide many opportunities for students to collaborate with each other by directing them to engage in team work, seminars and group presentations which are aimed at enhancing the student’s learning.
Independent learning is supported through one-to-one consultations with teachers that are subject area specialists. They are always available and willing to meet with students to help them achieve their learning guide objectives. Programming is therefore individualized, but individualization does not mean that students work alone.
The ultimate goal of independent study is to foster a sense of ownership of the knowledge learned. If successful, the student will understand how to learn, which is an important skill for post-secondary education.
Teacher Advisor (TA) Role
In Bishop Carroll’s unique learning environment students must exercise a considerable amount of responsibility in order to be successful. However, students are not alone in this responsibility. Their success is supported by their Teacher Advisor who works with them to develop an academic plan which reflects the student’s unique needs and goals.
Each of our students are assigned a TA who they will remain with until graduation. Students will meet with Teacher Advisors twice daily and for a longer individual period weekly. It is the TA’s role to motivate, help the student set goals, and make sure they are on track with their learning program. The TA will also record learning progress monthly and will then issue reports to parents monthly so parents can stay informed about the amount and quality of their child’s work.
Fostering a strong and productive working relationship is a goal of the TA.
A TA will not only motivate and support your child, but they will also become a mentor and someone who genuinely cares about your child’s education and future.
Students set their own individual pace for learning which allows for continuous progress. This means they are not wasting time waiting for other classmates to catch up, or writing tests before they have mastered a concept because they are trying to keep up with the teacher’s pace.
Continuous progress also allows your child to begin and finish courses at any time during the school year. At our school, we recognize that no two students will take the same amount of time to complete their course objectives. We remove time restraints and instead put the student in control of their education. As well, a student’s learning does not suffer due to extended absences or illness, they simply continue their lessons where they left off.
This approach provides the opportunity for students to take the time they need to master course objectives. Through continuous progress, students get a true sense of their own strengths and weaknesses and are given the power to tailor their learning programs with these in mind.
At Bishop Carroll, there is no master schedule, there are no regular classes or school bells. Students move freely to Resource Centres accessing subject area support, choose to attend seminars or tutorials for additional direct instruction and may sign up for structured sequenced activity sessions (Music, Drama, Health Fitness and Recreation, Math) and take exams when they are ready for them. While this system provides them with more flexibility and freedom, it also demands greater responsibility and dedication. The outcome is a personalized education program that is fun and rewarding.
Students’ needs change as they progress through their education, and their schedule is able to change as well to meet these needs. However, changes in course selections are not at the sole discretion of the student. The Teacher Advisor is consulted at every step to ensure the student remains accountable for each decision and stays on the path to meet their course objectives.
The flexibility of individualized scheduling also allows students to pursue other opportunities and interests off-campus, providing a well-rounded education. For example they are able to participate in mentoring programs, co-operative education and field placements all without having to miss a class or test.
Your child will have support resources available to help them succeed throughout their high school career at Bishop Carroll. Along with Teacher Advisors, there are teachers and school assistants who are subject experts as well as clerical assistants available to answer questions.
Individual help is always available to students and additional staff allow teachers to spend more quality time assisting students.