In an effort to promote a stronger connection between local high schools and Vancouver Island University, a Grade 8-12 Classroom Visit Initiative was created and piloted in October and November 2018. The idea arose out of conversations with university faculty keen to observe the learning environments from which their students came. The idea was supported by superintendents, principals and leaders in local school districts who shared invitations with their teachers, along with the teaching and learning centre at VIU. The intent was to help build a more seamless learning journey for students from high school to post-secondary.

Thirteen grade 8-12 teachers from The High School at VIU, Wellington Secondary School (Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools), Ballenas and Kwalikum Secondary Schools (Qualicum School District) participated through offering over 200 open spots for university visitors.

VIU faculty members and support staff visited classrooms from October 11 to November 8.

All VIU participants attended a brief orientation session and had the option to attend a debriefing session.

Debriefing sessions highlighted these key themes:

  • Positive value of observing a high school classroom of today (many participants had not been in a high school classroom since their own education) – what students are capable of, where are their challenges/successes etc.
  • Greater awareness of how learning is designed for high school students (classroom lesson design, student engagement, assignments, learning activities)
  • Appreciated opportunity to communicate with the high school teacher to hear perceptions, challenges, successes, experiences in teaching grade/subject, make connections etc.
  • Experienced variety of learning technology uses within the classroom (management of cell phones, use of mobile technology, systems and processes for use, activity etc.)
  • Impact on university teaching practice (what perceptions were challenged, what might faculty do to change own practice, etc.)
  • Interest in reciprocating (willingness of VIU faculty members to host a visit to their classroom – students and teacher!)
  • Interest in visiting more high school classrooms (experience was positive, would like to see other grades, subjects, classes as see value in the experience!)

A staff member from VIU’s teaching and learning centre (Michael Paskevicius) experienced a couple of classroom visits and his blog about the experience is here.

The Grade 8 -12 Classroom Visit Initiative was a success! Thank you to all thirteen of the high school teachers who opened your classrooms! Stay tuned for future offerings of this experience organized by the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning at VIU.