Shauna May Seneca Elementary (2023)

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources
We have built shared understanding and commitment to the PLC at Work process by first establishing our collective 'why'; the reason we exist as an organization is to do whatever it takes to realize high levels of learning for ALL. The 3 Big Ideas have been commonly shared, unpacked, and revisited with interactive initiatives to continually reinforce and deepen our collective understanding.
At the beginning of each school year, we engage as a full staff to unpack and articulate our Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals (what we term Collective Commitments). We present these concepts in the context of where we have come from, our current reality, and the intentional actions we will take to continually improve. New staff have the opportunity to provide input and commit to ownership of these principles that guide our work together.
Our school-wide actions and initiatives are intentionally linked directly to our MVVG's and to our collective 'why'. The Universal Interventions we have collectively committed to and learn together as a team are specific and responsive to our students' needs. They include: developing our Essential Foundations in Math; a prioritized and vertically aligned approach to ensure mastery in the mathematical concepts that matter most, a common approach and ever deepening level of expertise to achieve mastery of the vocabulary terms that matter most, and a common reading acquisition plan that scaffolds learning from Kindergarten through Grade 9 in the areas of decoding, fluency, and comprehension.
Each of the Universal Interventions described form the primary focus of our work in grade level (in Elementary) and subject-specific (in Junior High School) teams. Our intention is to maintain our collective focus on a carefully selected and research-supported few practices that will yield the most significantly positive results for our learners, while insulating staff from other peripheral to our core purpose distractions. Collaborative teams have scheduled weekly, dedicated time to further learning toward mastery in these areas, using the framework of the Four Critial Questions to guide our practices and processes and Norms to clarify how we will best work together to achieve our purposes.
Our Design Team (what we call our Guiding Coalition) is comprised of representatives of each of our Collaborative Teams as well as administrative school staff. We meet regularly to gather feedback on the effectiveness of our team practices and processes, as well as to engage in our own professional learning to better equip Design Team members to lead and support learning in their respective teams. 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

As a first step toward effectively monitoring student learning, staff at Pollard Meadows have engaged in a systematic process to prioritize our Provincial Program of Studies into a guaranteed and viable curriculum. In collaborative teams, we used the criteria of endurance, readiness, and leverage to reach consensus regarding which outcomes were deemed to be essential, and determined a common timeline for implementation. These ongoing professional discussions result in clarity among staff regarding what students must master to be successful, as well as commitment from all staff to provide equity in access to experiences that will lead to mastery of these outcomes.

In order to have timely, ongoing collaborative conversations about student learning, teachers co-created common formative and summative assessments based on the essential learning outcomes they had collectively identified. All students from the respective collaborative teams take part in the same assessment within the same time period, so that teachers can analyze the resulting data together and compare student results in order to come to conclusions about learning needs. The data that emerges from common formative assessments provides rich information in a variety of areas and leads to a number of pertinent questions that refine both teaching and learning:

  • what are the specific strengths and challenges of each student in relation to their demonstration of mastery toward essential learning outcomes (data generated shows individual results of students by name and by need)?

  • what feedback is required to be provided to each student and what practice must they engage in so they can improve toward demonstrating mastery of the learning outcome?

  • how should students be grouped for the provision of additional time and support?

  • what does the data reveal about the effectiveness of our teaching practices (what worked well and for whom), and how will these findings help organize intervention support?

  • how will we measure whether our prescribed intervention has the desired effect and how much additional time and support will be required before students have another opportunity to demonstrate their understanding?

 A strategy that has worked particularly well is our process of intervention where all students from a grade level are distributed among all collaborative team members based on their specific area of need. Students receive additional time and acute support from a teacher who is best suited to provide this support, using the practices that have been determined through data analysis to be the most effective. Students then have an additional opportunity to demonstrate their learning and programming is again refined as determined by the data obtained.   


2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

Shauna May Seneca staff employ a tiered intervention system to provide students with equitable access to the best practices in teaching, and an environment characterized by additional time and support for learning in areas of need. 

Tier I
Our staff have engaged in a process of collective inquiry, including a collaborative study of John Hattie's 'Visible Learning', to help define the conditions and practices that have the most significantly positive effect on student learning. Research of the most effective pratices and responsiveness to the specific needs of our school community have both informed our conclusions. From these conclusions, we committed to providing all students with the following Universal (Tier I) Interventions:

  • Targeted, intentional, and explicit vocabulary Instruction of critical terms Using Bob Marzano’s 6-step process (our very high ELL population requires equity in access to mastery of the terms that matter most)

  • A common approach to Reading Acquisition that incorporates the 5 Pillars of Reading, with an emphasis on developmentally appropriate mastery of decoding, fluency, and comprehension

  • Mastery of what we have collectively determined, prioritized, and vertically aligned to be Essential Foundations in Math

Through our collective commitment to the school wide implementation of these Tier I (Universal) interventions, we are ensuring equity in access to a high quality learning environment for all students. 

Tier II
Staff, together in collaborative teams, engage in regular analysis of student demonstration of learner outcomes deemed to be essential. Results from this analysis determines which students require additional time and support to demonstrate learning targets, which students are proficient in their understanding, knowledge and skills, and also identifies which students require opportunities to deepen, extend, or accellerate their learning. In this way, learning paths for students are determined and refined by name and by need.

Students are grouped according to need and targeted intervention based on the identified need is provided by teachers who, it has been determined through data analysis, are best suited to provide that additional time and support. Following a period of intervention, students engage in an additional common assessment to determine if the intervention provided has resulted in improved learning.

Specific to Junior High (Grades 7-9), we have scheduled daily intervention (what we refer to as Whatever I Need 'WIN') time that amounts to 1 hour 45 minutes weekly (15 minutes per day Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and 30 minutes Tuesday, Thursday). 

During these targeted intervention times, the focus is on reinforcement of already learned concepts that have been deemed to be essential. No introduction to new concepts occurs during this time as we are mindful that we will not provide additional time and support at the expense of access to essential grade level instruction.

 Tier III
A higher tier of intervention is provided for students whom, despite the implementation of our universal interventions as well as additional time and varying forms of support, struggle to demonstrating success in mastery of learning outcomes. Tier III intervention caters to the specific needs of the individual student. Types of intervention include acute support to build foundational skills, specialized assessment to determine additional information for programming purposes, and social support in partnership with external agencies.

An example of Tier III Intervention is the implementation of our 'Empower' program. 3 staff members have been trained in the Empower program (researched, developed, and supported by the Toronto Hospital for Sick Kids), an intensive reading acquisition plan focusing on empowering readers with skills and strategies that they inreasingly employ independently to read successfully. This highly oral, scripted strategy system has been implemented with great success for our most struggling readers. Time has been built into the master schedule for a group of students to receive this Tier III intervention daily in each of Division I (Grade 1-3), II (Grades 4-6), and III (Grades 7-9).

Daily intervention, planned and implemented by supportive grade level teams, is designed to meet the needs of all learners. This school wide response to intervention ensures that all students receive what we refer to as the 3 T's: Timely, Targeted, and Tracked support.


3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

Our journey toward becoming a Professional Learning Community began with the establishment of collaborative professional learning teams. Each team has developed and implemented norms that guide our professional interactions, including norms to ensure all voices are heard as well as norms to reach consensus.

Members of collaborative teams meet for at least an hour each week to engage in a process of collective inquiry, responding to four fundamental questions:

1. What do we want all students to know?

2. How will we know if they have learned it?

3. How will we respond if students don't learn what we have intended?

4. How will we deepen, extend, or accelerate learning when students already know what we have intended for them to learn?

As collaborative team members, we hold ourselves mutually accountable to focus solely on these four questions during collaborative time, thereby ensuring we are focused on the right things, and as educators, committed to being the biggest learners in the building.

To respond to question number one, grade level teams collaboratively identified essential learner outcomes. By using the criteria of endurance, assessment, readiness, and leverage (EARL), they established a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Guaranteed meaning ensuring equity in access to mastery of what matters most, and Viable meaning collective commitment to implementing what we have agreed is doable.

To support mastery of essential learner outcomes, teams also established critical term vocabulary lists. They engaged in professional conversations, using the same criteria of endurance, assessment, readiness and leverage to create critical term lists for every grade and subject. As collaborative learning teams applied Bob Marzano's six step process for effective vocabulary acquisition to guide their teaching, they addressed the issue of equity by building background knowledge for terms that matter most; leveling the playing field for all learners. Lists of essential learner outcomes and associated critical term vocabulary lists are revisited and reflected on by teams, revised as necessary so that they continually facilitate the most relevant learning experiences for students.

To effectively respond to question two, teaching teams engage in the development of common formative assessments. These assessments are created collaboratively before the process of teaching has begun, so that both staff and students have a clear conception of the intended learning targets, and to provide equity in access to opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery of essential learner outcomes. As teaching teams meet weekly, they use the Learning Cycle (Instructional Cyle) as the common template to gauge student growth toward being able to successfully demonstrate mastery of their learning.  

Following the implementation of common formative assessments, collaborative teams engage in a process of collective data analysis. This process is intended not only to identify the specific strengths and challenges of students, but also to identify effective teaching practices, to capitalize on the strengths of the teaching team, and to shore up identified deficits in teaching practices, including identifying new questions of inquiry for collaborative learning teams.

To address questions three and four, professional learning teams cooperatively plan their responses to intervention. This intervention provides additional time and support for all students in the particular areas of need. For students who have already demonstrated proficiency related to learning outcomes, opportunities are presented for them to deepen, extend, or accelerate their learning. Through identification of professional strengths and through collaborative inquiry into researched best practices, teams use the expertise of members and of other practitioners to delivery the best intervention strategies for students.

Professional learning teams at Shauna May Seneca demonstrate a level of interdependence that reflects a high level of collaboration and co-creation of new, shared knowledge. Through practices such as the redistribution of students among team members to facilitate targeted intervention, through engaging in reflective processes to collectively assess, refine and improve teaching practices, and through engaging in collective inquiry to identify, implement, and reflect on quality teaching practices, staff at Shauna May Seneca exemplify a culture of continuous improvement.


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

We are a Kindergarten through Grade 9 school. As such, students have access to 10 years of continuous programming and preparation with us for High School and beyond. The templates provided do not fit well for our K-9 environment, and three years of consecutive data in comparison to the Division and the Province has been challenging to accumulate as there were significant interruptions to data collection during the pandemic. We have provided cumulative data collected and available that compares our performance to that of the school Division, Province, and Country.

Neither our school Division nor Province recognizes specific schools through awards and recognition. Our school does however, as indicated by our data, regularly perform above and beyond Divisional and Provincial norms and standards.

Functioning as a Professional Learning Community is a primary reason for our continued improvement and success as a learning environment. Our unwavering focus on high levels of learning for All students through a collaborative response to the individual needs of our learners has helped us to thrive, despite challenges such as significant enrolment growth, high numbers of English Language Learners, high transiency rates and the lasting implications of a worldwide pandemic.