The Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning (BCCL) began in 2015 and is a private school for children beginning at age 6 who are struggling in the traditional school setting. Most students have been assessed and diagnosed with dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other language-based learning differences. BCCL is currently the only school in Bermuda to enroll students who learn differently.
BCCL's mission is to provide a personalized and flexible learning environment for students who are struggling and need a specialized approach, and to support families who are faced with considerable stress due to the lack of options for their children.
Best Teaching Practices
BCCL continually researches and applies evidence-based ‘best-teaching’ practices. They understand that teacher effectiveness ties directly to student learning. Students work in English and math small groups that focus on their individual skill level. Teachers personalise their learning, continually tracking the concepts they retain, and students can move year levels when they are ready throughout the school year.
BCCL follows the U.K. National Curriculum and incorporates the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and the International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC). The IPC and IMYC integrate core subjects through project-based learning. Read Naturally LIVETM reading intervention program is used, to increase reading fluency and comprehension and Doodle Maths, Doodle Tables and Doodle English are implemented in the curriculum as well.
BCCL teachers are trained in mindfulness and use this technique to teach students self- awareness and how to focus on their breathing when they feel anxious. Kallie Marcus, owner of Kinetix Natural Movement, continued yoga sessions at BCCL once per week.
Morning Meeting, a part of the Responsive Classroom (RC), increases positive relationships and effective communication skills. RC Advisory Meeting, specifically for middle year students, allows students to reflect on their feelings in a Growth Mindset Journal and is an engaging way to begin each day. Exposure to these activities helps to reduce anxiety and increase self-confidence.
BCCL's physical education program includes PE classes at Bernard’s Park, tennis at the National Tennis Stadium, swimming at the National Sports Centre, and Muay Thai training classes at Fight City Gym. The use of these holistic approaches makes a tremendous difference in the behaviours of students, leading to healthy and positive school experiences.
Whole Language vs Phonics
A common way of teaching reading and writing is using the Whole Language approach, which emphasizes learning whole words and phrases to form sentences. While this approach works for some students, there are others who need another method.
One program that has been highly beneficial for children who have dyslexia is the Orton Gillingham (OG) phonics-based method, which is supported by the Reading Clinic (RC). BCCL students benefit from receiving OG from RC tutors in one-on-one sessions at school and their teachers have been trained in OG by the RC and provide small group intervention.
OG has been successful with emergent readers, as well as those who have acquired reading but need additional support with overall comprehension. As students become more confident in their reading, the skills they have learned transfer to their writing ability.
Social and Emotional Learning
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is an important element in a school curriculum and is overlooked in public and private schools on island. Embedded in a school curriculum, SEL increases positive relationships, self-esteem and an overall healthy well-being for everyone.
In 2019, BCCL launched a school-wide Social and Emotional Learning Action Plan. Teachers were involved in a series of professional development workshops that included understanding their personal social and emotional awareness, and how their perception can impact relationships with students and colleagues. Rather than having a one-off weekly social skills lesson for students, the next phase included creating a comprehensive plan for how SEL can be ingrained throughout the school day.
BCCL reviewed numerous documents, curriculum materials and videos, that focused on SEL. One source that was found to be the most comprehensive was Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning, (CASEL). The BCCL team continually reviews CASEL’s latest research and applies these practices into their teaching.