The CANVAS Trailblazers

Last week, a committed and talented group of teachers established, ‘The CANVAS trailblazers’. The group is charged with advancing the ideas and skills of others using this Learning Management and Communication system that the school introduced this year. Another sub-group, led by our new Leader of Learning and the Curriculum, Ramon Bartholomeusz, and our new Leader of Professional Learning and Development, Catherine Emmerson, will focus on how effectively we are using CANVAS, where the strengths and positives exist, where improvements can be made and what more can we do to tap into the functionality of this excellent reporting platform. The two groups will work together.

How are you, our parents, going with the use of CANVAS?

We are moving away from traditional reporting at the end of the term for any student, having most assignments submitted and then assessed online through CANVAS. A significant portion of general Middle and Senior School learning and teaching communication will use CANVAS as the preferred medium.

One of our challenges next year is to ensure our parents have all the information they need to be effective CANVAS users. With this, there is a change of thinking about school reporting and communication that perhaps is required by our parents.

CANVAS allows every parent to experience the educational journeys of their children. You can get daily or weekly updates of all the tasks set, including homework, an ongoing update on every assessment given and parents are included in all the regular announcements and reminders sent by teachers. This means that every parent knows exactly how their child is progressing, and what needs maintaining and what needs improving. The detail in the assessment is comprehensive and it makes those general and brief end-of-term subject comments almost obsolete. Gone are the days when parents and students have to wait until the end of the term to ‘see how things are going’. It’s almost too late then if change is needed. End of term reporting like this means there is a pre-occupation with the final grade, not a rich reflection of the learning process that occurs when regular, high quality assessments are provided.

When School and home work in partnership in the education of young people, young people thrive. The School is constantly thinking about best practice here. We deliberately have an open door policy when it comes to parents engaging with the School. Every week there are many parent meetings and hundreds of emails and phone calls. We continually look for ways to allow parents to witness the brilliant work that our kids do and there will be an even greater focus on exposing that next year. Our commitment to this makes some of our practices like the Parent-Teacher nights and the daily bulletin, even the paper diary seem inadequate and perhaps unnecessary.

The message to our parents is simple. Embrace the stream of quality information about your child’s learning. However be aware that CANVAS is not just about parents being more aware and up to date with progress, it now presents an opportunity for you to effectively plan and map out improvements with your child, synchronising with the work done by teachers at School. That has to be a brilliant outcome!

Richard Anderson
Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School