OACS News Service
Hamilton Christian High in exciting times
“One of my big take-aways from the trip
this time is just an affirmation that, as a Christian
school, we need to have a unified learning mission and
be consistent in that learning mission for our community,” the
principal of Hamilton
District Christian High School (HDCH)
tells OACS News.
He was also struck by the fact that High Tech schools aren’t prepping students to ignite these transformations in the future, but now.
Inspired by earlier visits to the U.S. complex of schools, HDCH has been consolidating its own unified learning mission over the past couple years.
The school leadership team has worked hard at “peeling back all the details” of its intentions to come up with a one-page descriptor of “who we are and what do we want unify on,” Siebenga says.
He describes the months-long exercise as “taking something quite complex and making it quite simple and then allowing the autonomy of the teacher to develop this complexity within their own classrooms.”
“These are the things that we’re excited about,” he adds.
“This is what we think is going to accelerate (our impact), to just simplify who we are, to take care of us internally and then let it move outwards from there.”
Paramount in this has been engaging the school’s educators for their take on the school’s vision and how they see themselves owning it, Siebenga notes.
HDCH is also introducing new professional development opportunities for staff, with the intent of growing this unified mission. The school will be hosting an academy for teachers this summer, to develop their skills as educators of project-based learning, a core tool used by High Tech High.
Asked how this new simplicity and focus
at HDCH aligns with other new elements and trends on the
education front, Siebenga notes some new offerings, particularly
in Christian education in Canada, provide a slightly
different slant on “the what,” which is also
“That’s what you see at High Tech High,” he says. “They don’t have reams and reams of paper and binders delivering curriculum.
“They have teachers engaged with students in developing projects together.
“I think that’s an important shift for us in Ontario to make, and at HDCH we’re moving in that direction as well, (that is), away from the idea of curriculum is a binder to curriculum is life and life is about learning.”
He qualifies that it is important to keep a Christian perspective in the project-based learning model, but that’s most ensured with the hiring of teachers who “love the Lord and are Christians and care for kids.”
With regards to the current buzz around 21st century learning skills, Siebenga says he’s made an about-face on that front, from believing that learning these skills has to be a school’s central focus to seeing these skills in support of a larger vision.
“Don’t use (the 21st century learning skills) as the vision,” Siebenga says.
“The vision is not one-to-one computing; the vision is raising a generation of kids to transform the world.”
If anything were possible, the future of his school would include redesigning the architecture to align with the kinds of shifts such as HDCH is undertaking, Siebenga says.
“If we’re thinking about learning in a flexible, adaptable, malleable way, we have to imagine our architecture to actually be that as well,” he notes.
Siebenga also dreams of a time when every Grade 11 student has a chance to visit a developing country for a time, completely paid for by a sponsor, not a tuition-paying parent.
“Our mission is to cultivate kids’ characters through learning for a life of service to God, and I think that (opportunity) links into our mission really easily — a life of service to God — not just here locally, but globally.”
To learn more about HDCH, click this link.You can comment on this story by e-mailing michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.
The OACS News Service is independently written and produced. The stories are researched, written and posted
News Service without prior editorial approval from either
OACS or their members.