The approximately 185 educators who work with our learners and families are the backbone of SelfDesign Learning Community, our kindergarten to grade 12 program. These certified teachers, who are licensed by the BC Ministry of Education, advise, guide, mentor and support learners and families through the learning process.
Here is a quick guide to the different kinds of educators our learners and families may work with during their SelfDesign learning journeys.
Every one of our learners and families is matched to a learning consultant at the start of the learning year. The learning consultant advises, provides resource recommendations, and offers guidance to their learners – or if the learners are young, to the children’s parents or guardians – on how these young people can achieve their own personalized learning goals, whatever those happen to be. These educators are consultants to the learner’s process as they support the child’s learning, and may be a child’s learning consultant for many years.
Beginning in September, the learning consultant works with each child and their parent or guardian to develop a learning plan for the learner that is based on the learner’s own interests, passions, skills, abilities and goals. The learning consultant communicates regularly with each learner or family, and helps them understand the expectations they have agreed to when they enrolled their child in SelfDesign.
Learning consultants also support the parent or guardian, or the learner if the child is in grade 10 to 12, during weekly Observing for Learning discussions. The learning consultant uses those weekly conversations to map and evaluate the child’s learning in relation to the goals and objectives stated in the child’s learning plan and to the competencies and learning standards in the B.C. curriculum.
Read more about the role of the learning consultant
“The role of the learning consultant is so much more than that of a teacher in a brick-and-mortar school,” says SelfDesign learning consultant Ruby. “A learning consultant is, in a general sense, like a homeroom teacher, but it’s really so much more. This is somebody who is going to know and may work with the learner for many years and who is going to help the child and family with all the big-picture learning skills as the child learns, grows and develops.”
It’s a level of support that most students at brick-and-mortar schools never get, she says.
Support Services learning consultant (high/low incidence)
If a learner has learning challenges or special needs, the child and family is matched with a learning consultant who has received specialized training to better support the child’s learning.
“We want every child enrolled with SelfDesign to be successful. We want every child to participate fully in their learning,” says Support Services Team Coordinator Corinne Metcalfe. “Our role is to find ways to support and help the learner and the family achieve the child’s learning goals.”
Almost 70 SelfDesign learning consultants trained in special education and in working with learners and families with diverse learning challenges support almost 900 children with special needs, and their parents and guardians.
The role of these specialized learning consultants, Corinne says, is to support the learner to overcome any barriers that they might face and to reduce or eliminate those barriers so the learner can participate as fully as possible in their learning.
“We want learners to have access to that learning, so we develop an individual educational plan that sets out each learner’s own particular learning goals,” she says. “We determine with the family what support is needed, and then we help the family put that in place so that there’s a learning team or support provider to support the learner to realize their learning goals.”
For Evelyne, a learning consultant for learners with more challenging needs, the role is about celebrating the individual successes of each learner and providing support in difficult times.
“An important aspect of the relationship between the learning consultant and the learner with special needs and their family is the sense of teamwork and trust that develops,” she says. “Choosing the right supports and services is key. I think of it like a jigsaw puzzle, and the family and I work together to put the right pieces in place to assist the learner in reaching their goals and dreams. There is no hierarchy, but instead a sense of shared purpose.”
There is nothing more satisfying, she says, than seeing the puzzle come together and the learner thrive.
Read more about Support Services at SelfDesign
Learners in grades 10 to 12 also work with one or more learning specialists each year.
“In a very general sense, if our learning consultants are like homeroom teachers, learning specialists would be like classroom or subject teachers,” says SelfDesign Vice Principal Clarissa Tufts. “Where learning consultants support learners across all of the child’s learning experiences and subjects in kindergarten through grade 9, and often work with the same learners for many years, the educator team grows in grades 10 to 12 with the addition of learning specialists who guide learners as they engage in particular courses that are bundled into interest-based themes in the high school grades.”
Learning specialists, while also being specialists in various subject areas such as science, math, second languages or language arts, advise learners in our grade 10 to 12 themes. Courses at these grade levels at SelfDesign are grouped into themes such as travel and adventure, storytelling, robotics, or entrepreneurship. This allows learners to take part in integrated courses that support the growth of competencies, academic skills, and more through the interest-based lenses of the themes they select.
Each theme is led by a learning specialist who supports the learners and facilitates how they navigate their learning through the theme. The learning specialist moderates weekly real-time meetings and group discussions with learners, and reviews, assesses and provides feedback on what learners submit for their weekly challenges and projects.
Michael, the learning specialist for the grade 10 Life Gamified theme, says, “I’m always surprised by how the learners at the real-time meetings make connections and come up with insights I’m not expecting. We do takeaways at the end of the meetings, and the learners blow my mind every time. They didn’t just hear what I was saying, they were processing and making connections to things that lie outside of the topic we were talking about.”
Learning specialists also meet with each learner’s learning consultant throughout the year to collaboratively assess how the learner is progressing towards their learning goals, personal or capstone projects and the competencies set out by SelfDesign and the BC Ministry of Education.
Read more about grades 10 to 12 at SelfDesign
Support Services learning specialist
For learners who are on the path towards receiving their School Completion (Evergreen) Certificate, SelfDesign offers four themes designed specifically to support their needs. The BC Ministry of Education awards School Completion certificates to B.C. students with a special needs designation who have met their learning goals as set out in their unique Individual Educational Plans (IEPs).
The learning specialists who guide SelfDesign’s MySelf themes bring considerable expertise in special education to their roles and are well equipped to help learners with diverse learning challenges gain the skills they need to meet their IEP goals. Because of our unique, supportive and learner-centred approach, our learners with special needs tend to thrive.
Learners enrolled with SelfDesign Learning Community have many opportunities to connect with peers regularly online and in real time. These activities include Genius Hour for learners in grades 3 to 9, our Minecraft group for learners in kindergarten to grade 9, our Grade 6/7 theme workshops, and our Grade 8/9 Circle discussions and Workshops.
Each activity is facilitated by a SelfDesign educator, many of whom also work with learners as learning consultants or learning specialists.
Read more about the activities learners can take part in at SelfDesign
At SelfDesign Learning Community, we provide services for all learners who need additional support to maximize their learning opportunities.
“These support providers are an integral part of the support services we offer learners,” says Corinne Metcalfe.
The contractors include support education assistants who often work routinely and consistently with a learner on a weekly or near-weekly basis. These para-professionals include educational assistants, behaviour interventionists and academic tutors.
Other support providers are licensed professionals, such as art, music or occupational therapists, counselling psychologists, speech-language pathologists, and other specialists, who may offer consultations and assessments and, in many cases, interact with learners and families occasionally or periodically.
Learners who do not have an individual educational plan but need additional assistance in meeting their learning goals can access the assistance of support providers through the school’s Learning Resources Services. These support providers can be, for example, dance or voice instructors, swim or hockey coaches, or second-language teachers.
Learn more about support providers at SelfDesign
“Strong and caring relationships form the foundation for our learners to grow and progress, no matter what their learning goals are,” says SelfDesign Learning Community Principal Catherine Dinim. “The various educators and educational support providers, along with parents, create an integrated learning team that holds the learner at the centre and supports lifelong, interest-based learning.