Philosophy of Teaching
Equal in importance to what we teach as a school, is how we teach it. That philosophy, or “how we teach,” is rooted in the very best practices in modern global education, and in particular reflects the emphasis shared by other IB schools around the world.
Some of the foundational approaches to learning that we as a school community practice, include:
- Emphasis on 21st Century Skills
- Interdisciplinary Learning
- Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning
- Teaching in Context
- Service Learning
- Individual Project
- Learning in and Through Nature
Emphasis on 21st century skills
The jobs of the future will likely require skills that cannot be easily replaced by technology, such as advanced communication skills, critical thinking, collaboration and media literacy. So our academic program focuses on developing skills and competencies rather than simply having students memorize content for tests.
In the real world subjects like Math, English and Science are typically far more integrated than how they’ve been presented in traditional learning models. As a school we take every opportunity to break down learning silos and integrate different subjects into a single learning journey.
Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning
Curiosity is intricately linked to learning – the greater the curiosity towards a concept, the higher the engagement. So SJA students are encouraged to independently research topics of interest to share with their peers; develop their own research questions; question the material they encounter; and connect their learning to other content that interests them.
Teaching in Context
Engagement increases when students understand why they are learning certain topics, skills or content. To that end, all teachers at St. John’s Academy Shawnigan Lake aim to make their instruction relevant to students’ lives and is taught within the context of the real world. Students will specifically focus on global and social issues and identity formation in the connection between life and the classroom.
SJA students will undertake service activities that help expand on their classroom learning experiences and that aim to better the world through direct action. These activities will be varied and many will be initiated by the students themselves as being a responsible and engaged global citizen requires initiation and action.
As a school we prioritize students understanding the level they are currently performing at, rather that reducing the learning experience to subjective percentages. The goal in our approach to assessment is to help students identify learning gaps and develop strategies to improve those areas.
Students in all grades are encouraged to pursue subjects that interest them. As a capstone of that emphasis, all Grade 10 students will undertake a substantial project of their own choosing. This project will ultimately be connected to a career or research interest of the students and will further allow students to develop project management skills and to showcase their own curiosity about a subject or issue of their choice.
Learning in and Through Nature
Taking advantage of the natural beauty surrounding our campus, students will have regular opportunities to hike, kayak, sail, and golf in their spare time and they will also be taken outside of the classroom to explore subject content in their academic classes as well. Nature provides an ideal classroom where students will learn not just important academic lessons, but they will discover who they are.