The Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning (BCCL) is moving to a newly designed location at Cedar House in Hamilton. Dedicated to children who learn differently, the school focuses on using research-based educational methods.
“BCCL’s most important strategy is to develop a rapport with students to strengthen their social and emotional skills”, said co-founder Cindy Corday.
BCCL follows the UK National Curriculum as well as the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC).
“The students enjoy the IPC and IMYC because it’s project-based, which allows them to demonstrate their knowledge in creative and age-appropriate ways. For instance, sketching a poster, using technology to create a PowerPoint presentation, a movie, or a short tableau, adds meaning to the concepts learned. Meaningful real-life connections help engage learners”, Corday said.
The school incorporates a model that personalizes student learning. Students often begin at BCCL behind in their year level and quickly become curious about how they can move ahead. The specialists teach how to advocate for their needs as a learner and the strategies that work for them.
Just as in the corporate world, considerable thought has been given to the overall design of the new space. Floor to ceiling windows overlook Victoria Park and provide ample natural lighting. Small group rooms allow quiet spaces for students to collaborate in brief focused lessons, with teachers and specialists. Executive functioning skills are those learned by doing, and a kitchen within the site will allow a space for students to delve into cooking activities.
BCCL’s holistic approach to creating leaders begins with “Morning Meeting”, which is part of the “Responsive Classroom model”. Students learn collaboration skills and respect –– when they are respectful and kind, others will most often respond mutually.
Along with focused lessons in reading, writing and math, daily activities also include mindfulness, social skills focus groups and physical education. A weekly yoga class is also included in the curriculum.
“It is truly amazing to see students’ confidence increase as they learn different poses and concentrate on their breathing. Students who are new to this way of learning soon settle in and thoroughly enjoy these activities”, said Corday.
BCCL’s enrolment process is unique. Once parents and school administrators determine that the school environment is a good fit, the student spends an “Experience Week” at BCCL and is invited to join in lessons with other students.
Noted comments from visiting students include: “I could choose where I wanted to work – it helped me to concentrate, I learned that stretching before lessons and having a snack while I’m working helps my brain to focus”.
Visiting students often ask, “Are people here always this friendly?” According to current research in The State of LD: Understanding Learning and Attention Issues, National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2017, one in five children in the US have learning and attention issues, but only a small subset are formally identified with a learning difference in school. To compare these statistics with Bermuda, 8,711 children were enrolled in preschool through secondary (noted in TheBermuda Digest of Statistics 2017). If 20 percent of that number had learning disabilities, there could be 1,742 children with learning and attention deficits island-wide.
An awareness of the need for non-traditional teaching methods and a holistic approach is growing. Students whose needs are not being met often fall below grade-level and their self-esteem is negatively impacted. BCCL enrolls students beginning at age seven. Together, we can change the conversation about people who learn differently.
This article was originally published in the August 2018 edition of the RG Back-to-School supplement.