Student population: 2080; Grades: 9–12; Principal: Renata Gonzalves
Earl Haig Secondary School is located in the north-central part of Toronto, the area that was formerly the City of North York. The community is extremely diverse, and over 25% of the students report that they speak another language other than English at home. The school reports that 95% of all graduates gain admittance to the post-secondary institution of their choice.
"Not only was [co-teaching] beneficial for the students, but it was really beneficial for teachers as well."
— Phillip Im – Curriculum Leader of Mathematics
To be considered, schools had to have
EQAO data are very important among the information Earl Haig uses. Teachers and administrators examine all facets of the EQAO data to get a better understanding of the students in every class. Data are used not only to improve Grade 9 results, but to inform practices for Grade 10 teachers and beyond.
Two teachers teach each applied mathematics class at Earl Haig, an arrangement accomplished by timetabling two classes simultaneously and providing space to combine them. The results benefit both the students and the teachers, as everyone learns from one another and develops together.
Transcript Speaker — Phillip Im, Curriculum Leader of Math
Here at Earl Haig, we are a full-year school. We run a Day 1–Day 2 program, and so we essentially see our kids every other day, which means it could be two times a week or as much as three times a week on a given week. We’ve tried a different model of teaching called a co-teaching model. In the co-teaching model—we took the phrase to the literal level, where it was … the co-teaching model was where we take two sections of applied 9s, and we would schedule them and timetable them so they would be running exactly the same time on the same day. Essentially we had two teachers assigned to two different sections, but because they were running at the same time, we were able to put then into one physical room. That would effectively put two adults, or two teachers, teaching one group of kids. The section would be as much as maybe 24 to—it could be potentially maybe as much as 30 students in the room.
Having two teachers inside the classroom was really, really productive, and very effective. Because the students ultimately get a lot of support: when one teacher is teaching up at the board, another teacher could be circulating and making their rounds amongst the students, just checking to see if they are getting it or not. And they are really able to get that, and receive that live-time feedback and are able to ask questions without having to interrupt or even single themselves out in the lesson saying, “I don’t get it. Can you go over it again?” There’s another teacher going around saying, “Hey, are you OK? Do you need any help? Do you have any questions?” while the lesson is going on.
Not only was it beneficial for the students, but it was really beneficial for teachers as well. For us to be able to collaboratively put lessons together, to be able to bounce ideas off of each other, and say, “Look, what do you think about the lesson? Do you think the lesson went OK? How would you improve it? Any feedback? How do you think the students responded to it?” We were able to take the time to reflect about the lesson and to be able to co-plan lessons for the future together. It really gave us more confidence and the confidence to even take risks in our classroom, to be able to try new things. Because we know there is another professional in the room as well. And we are able to try different types of lessons as well, differentiated instruction, where one type of teacher might have a different style of teaching, whereas the other co-planner, or the co-teacher, has a different take on a similar lesson. Students are able to get a taste for different styles of teaching as well, which was really beneficial. And even for the teachers, for us to be able to observe other professionals at work as well. So that’s the co-teaching model at Earl Haig.
The use of data doesn’t stop after the EQAO assessments. Data about mathematics are used extensively from year to year to ensure that all students are improving regardless of their grade. Teachers track student progress right through Grade 12.
Transcript Speaker — Andrea Lill, Assistant Curriculum Leader of Numeracy
At Earl Haig, we’ve been pretty fortunate because we’ve been able to create a leadership position devoted purely to numeracy. This has allowed us the time and the focus to be able to dive deeper into the data.
Some ways that we use the data that EQAO provides is by creating the passwords where multiple teachers can have access. I’m not sure that every school is aware of that and doing that. The other thing is some of the updates that the system has have made it very easy for us to be able to track and create subgroups. So when you are looking online at the data, if you float over the percentages, it converts into a fraction of the number of students and then, from there, EQAO has already organized it so you can see the names of the specific students that fall in that category. That’s been really helpful in making this more efficient for us in creating subgroups and tracking students as they leave Grade 9 and enter into the next phase of their math career.
Some of the quick fixes that we have been able to do as a result of the data we have seen, is that we started by providing each teacher within our math department our overall school achievement and we looked at that, and then also their specific class data, so that they can look at that where specific kids were achieving and what some of their barriers and needs might be. From there, we developed improvements in renewing our practices in the class, and we were able to create resources to support some of the areas of need that we have identified.
After that, we started building this and taking a little bit of a deeper look at improvement, and we use a transitional plan. We use the data that we gathered from EQAO to track our Grade 9 applied students as they move into Grade 10. Some of the data we use in that is the Attitudes and Behaviour. We can see how students perceive their ability and their feeling towards math and can continue to try and build them up and to change that confidence.
The next thing we did is we took it school-wide. Now we create specific focused data for different departments to examine so that they too can create some goals within their own curriculums to help meet our numeracy needs at the school. This starts with Grade 9s, but it builds beyond that. So we’ve really taken a cross-curricular approach to trying to help our students make connections with numeracy and math.
Earl Haig is working diligently to point out all the forms of numeracy in the various curricula in the school. Working with the Assistant Curriculum Lead in Numeracy, all departments examine their curricula and recognize their connections to numeracy. By understanding that all teachers play a role in numeracy, they are able to move all students toward higher levels of achievement.
Transcript Speaker — Lianne Wun, Assistant Curriculum Leader of Math
I think one of the biggest challenges that math teachers face is that their students often say things like “I hate math” or “I am not comfortable with math,” and as teachers we are always trying to overcome that barrier. At Earl Haig we are taking a two-prong strategy. One is towards our students, and one is towards our staff.
With our students, one of the things that has been really helpful is our co-teaching model, because it gives us double the chance for the teachers to connect with their students. It allows us to have opportunities to give the students the chance to boost their confidence by either having their teacher behind them and guiding them through or even taking some more risks and having individual whiteboards—being able to write their answer, and if they are not confident about it, they can erase it and it’s gone. But having the two teachers there makes that kind of activity a lot more feasible than just having the one teacher.
With our teachers, our staff, we’ve actually got our ACL of numeracy. Having that position has been really unique, and she’s been able to present to the staff as a whole and has also talked to our staff individually or in departments. One of the things she has been able to do is actually sit with the departments and go through their curriculum and maybe help them identify pieces of numeracy within their own curriculum. For example, in geography they have got maps and they have a scale on the map. Being able to connect that: “that’s a ratio!” We have fractions and ratios in culinary arts. We’ve got trends in data management and business, and we have trends in social sciences, and these are things that people don’t really realize. We hope that they can help emphasize that numeracy within their own course. We have been able to do a lot with our ELLs, our English language learners. We found through the EQAO data that one of the things that they are not as strong in is graphical text. This happens in the Literacy Test as well. So we were able to sit down with the department, figure out in their own units and topics where these might occur. And our teachers in the ESL department are starting to emphasize those ideas as well. So we don’t really want to make more work for our other teachers; we just want to enhance the work that is already being done.
School Profile and Results