How Might Toronto Schools Better Serve The Needs of Twenty-first Century Students?

Each year, many schools within the Toronto District School Board try to find ways to serve their students as best they can. I believe that over the years many of Toronto’s schools have done a great job of addressing this issue, though there are still certain areas in need of improvement. For Toronto schools to better serve the needs of 21st Century students the Toronto District School Board has to focus on making changes with the plant, the curriculum and the logistics.

By making certain vital alterations to the plant of the Toronto School System, the environment of the schools can be drastically improved. Firstly, windows can be installed in classrooms without any, and likewise classrooms with windows can have more installed or have them replaced with larger ones. More light, as well as natural light being added to the classroom, makes the environment more stimulating and enjoyable to be in. The extra light would also help keep students alert, and less tired, especially during morning classes. Secondly, by providing a larger variety of food, as well as healthier food choices, people’s minds will be more nourished, making it easier for students to focus. Also, being presented with healthy food choices from a young age will teach children to live a healthy lifestyle. Lastly, smartboards should be added to all classrooms to improve the learning environment. Smartboards can make learning more interesting and interactive. They can also be used to quickly retreive information to questions that may arise or material that may be relevant or helpful to lessons. These are all improvements which can make the school environment more condusive to learning.

To improve the Toronto District School System changes need to be made to various aspects of the curriculum. Firstly, class lessons should have a variety of teaching means, such as audio, visual, written etc. People learn in different ways and by teaching lessons in multiple ways it ensures that all students understand the material. This also ensures that lessons do not become monotonous and tedious, as they are constantly being taught in new and interesting way, making students more engaged and interested. Secondly, by providing students with a variety of assignments and less heavily weighted exams they are given more opportunities to learn and succeed in courses. Students excel in different types of testing and by providing a variety of assignment types it helps ensure that all students will be tested fairly. Lastly, to engage students the curriculum should be altered to offer more current issues courses and practical courses related to life. These courses would help teach students life skills and give them knowledge about the world they live in. These alterations to the curriculum would make school more enjoyable and more condusive to the learning and success of all students.

Logistical changes need to be made to the Toronto School System to help accomodate students in the 21st century. Firstly, the time that schools start needs to be pushed back at least an hour, to around 10 in the morning. Students are usually sleeply in their first and second period classes, as most commence at eight or nine in the morning. By starting school later students will be more alert and focused thoughout the day, and not simply in their afternoon classes. This will also reduce the amount of students skipping morning classes to sleep in. Secondly, class sizes should be reduced to increase interation between students, and the teacher and individual students. Students who are shy or are not confident in their skills and knowledge are more willing to interact in a smaller class environment because they are less intimidated by the size. Smaller class sizes also allow for teachers to become more familiar with their students and their learning styles, which would allow them to provide more tailored lessons. Lastly, there should be student evaluations for all teachers. Although most teachers are competent, some are not, and the only way to truly become aware of this is if all students evaluate all their teachers on a yearly basis. This would allow the Toronto District School Board to see which teachers consistently rate poorly and for what reasons, making it easier to evaluate which teachers should receive raises and which should be laid off. Logistical changes can provide the needed change that could improve the environment of the school and the general mood and willingness to learn.

Overall, by making many small changes and a few larger ones TDSB can create a school environment which is optimal to learning. Changes to the plant can create a friendly and positive environment which stimulates students want to learn. Alterations to the curriculum can provide students with material more relevant and with teaching methods more tailored to different learning styles. Logistical changes can create an environment more engaging and interactive, increasing student participation. Together these changes can leave students interested in attending school, as opposed to being bored with the daily monotony.