Humans have an intrinsic need to connect and they thrive on healthy relationships.
Healthy, positive and respectful relationships are one of the fundamental ingredients for engagement and motivation to learning. Students need to feel physically, socially, emotionally, and culturally safe in order to take risks with their learning. Fostering a sense of belonging and building supportive, positive, and respectful relationships, as well as holding high expectations for all students, is strongly linked to student learning.
Healthy, positive and respectful relationships (teacher-student, student-student, student-teacher-parent/tutor and student-teacher- community) enable students to feel safe and secure in their learning environments.
Students who feel a strong sense of belonging show more motivation and are more likely to be well adjusted; to perform well; to be more engaged in learning, more self-directed, and more capable of achievement at higher levels. Positive relationships with teachers, with other students, with parents and with community members are important in forming higher levels of self-esteem and greater confidence.
Students, who have the opportunity to get to know each other in a positive and safe learning environment that values healthy and trusting relationships, learn to value and support the similarities and the differences among them. When teachers know their students as individuals who have an interesting and important life outside of school and they value their students’ interests, culture, languages and life experiences, they understand what their students need to succeed. Students, who see their teachers as people who have emotions, opinions, and a life outside of school, realize that teachers are people with successes, failures, dreams, and hopes.
Teachers, who have insight into their own emotional experiences and how these states of being impact the learning of developing students, are in a position to support strong relationship building. When there is positive peer support among colleagues, teachers feel supported as there is a shared responsibility for students’ learning and there is less isolation. All the above elements foster strong relationships that support student learning.
Parents, guardians, and families are crucial to the academic success of children.
Parent/guardian, and family engagement matters and student learning and achievement increase when parents/guardians, and families are actively involved. Students are supported and inspired to learn in a culture of high expectations in which parents/guardians and families:
- are welcomed, respected, and valued by the school community as partners in their children’s learning and development
- have opportunities to be involved, and also a full range of choices about how to be involved, in the educational community to support student success
- are engaged through ongoing communication and dialogue with other educational partners to support a positive learning environment at home and at school
- are supported with the information and tools necessary to participate in school life
(Parents in Partnership: A Parent Engagement Policy for Ontario Schools, p. 7)
Parent/guardian/family engagement goes beyond newsletters and information nights.
Nova Scotia schools are places of partnership and respect, where every parent/guardian/family feels included. The word partnership is used to characterize the collaborative relationship that exists between the school and parents/guardians, and families, as all have shared responsibility to come together to collaborate on behalf of student learning. So vital are parents/guardians/families to the success of their children’s education that their roles and responsibilities for their children’s schooling are specified in the Education Act.
Respectful, effective, and ongoing communication and transparency are essential to developing a partnership between the school community and parents/guardians, and families and are essential to student success. Multiple means of communication should be in place, and all partners should be encouraged to use them. Effective, respectful, ongoing, and transparent communication help develop a common language and a common understanding of student progress.
Every year, families from around the world establish themselves in Nova Scotia. Schools along with community groups and government agencies support the newcomer children and their families with information to help them better understand the educational journey on which the children are about to start. It is important that newcomer families have clear information about the school system. Newcomers who speak neither English nor French can choose to register their children in a school within one of the educational regions or in a Conseil scolaire acadien school.
In the schools, all staff make efforts to better understand the many skills that children and youth who are newcomers bring with them that can enrich a learning environment.
While it is important to offer older immigrant students the assistance they need, particularly language support, it is just as important to support the youngest immigrant children by having them participate in early years programs. This helps them develop linguistic and cultural competencies and a sense of belonging to their new communities. It is important to reach out to newcomer parents to raise their awareness of the learning programs available for their children and how they can enrol their children in them.
Developing partnerships and offering experiences in the community will provide all students with the opportunity to develop relationships with community members. These relationships will support them in their learning and the development of self-respect and confidence. There are many opportunities for experiential learning out in the community surrounding the school. Finding ways to connect the curricula beyond the classroom with community partners enhances learning for our students.
Partnerships with various groups, whether community groups, agencies, government departments, or businesses, add value to the education system, as everyone works together in support of education, workforce development, and community improvement.
When families, community groups, businesses and schools band together to support learning, young people achieve more in school, stay in school longer, and enjoy the experience more.
As well as the educational mandate that all the educational regions have, the CSAP schools have a linguistic and cultural mandate as defined in legislation. The schools work with community partners to contribute to the vitality and sustainability of francophone and Acadian communities. School and community development is a dynamic process that involves students, their families, and all school staff in connection with organizations and community members. The development of initiatives starts by defining the current reality of the school and the community, and then both school and community work together towards a common vision.
School and community development has the following three objectives:
- students contribute to the promotion of cultural activities in the school community and develop their leadership skills to create a dynamic francophone space, open to everyone's participation
- students explore and bring life to the connection between school and community, contributing to the success of all
- students participate in the promotion and enhancement of French-language education and contribute to the vitality and sustainability of Acadian and francophone communities in Nova Scotia