Gavin Bowers: Students are active learners—in more ways than one

Year: 2018 – Province: British Columbia

Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Gavin Bowers

Glenlyon Norfolk School
1701 Beach Drive
Victoria, BC V8R 6H9

School telephone: 250-370-6854
School website:


Subjects and grades taught: Physical and Health Education, Junior Kindergarten to Grade 5

Over 32 years, Gavin Bowers has instilled in thousands of students the importance of doing what they love and making a healthy and active lifestyle integral to their life journey. He empowers his students to live up to the school motto, "Do your best through truth and courage," in learning and in life.

Teaching approach

Gavin creates situations to encourage his students to think, question, explore and evaluate. He also uses careful reflection assessments to help his students develop a sense of their own progress, while taking responsibility for their learning.

In the Classroom

  • Uses technology to bring learning full circle; Grade 2 students explored and photographed urban landscapes, created a dance to music to accompany them, and then shared the dance and photos, which Gavin had turned into a movie, along with reflections on the experience, with their parents
  • Connects physical education with every class in the Junior School: Kindergarten students explore dances from students' countries of heritage; Grade 3 students create an orienteering course for others follow; Grade 4 students hike in nearby parks to learn about nature and about protecting it
  • Models compassion and humility through the Golden Rule: for example, Grade 2 students spend a large part of a day in wheelchairs, and experience having limited vision or hearing; the next day they adapt a favourite physical education game so it is more inclusive of persons with disabilities
  • Teaches games to allow students to develop their conceptual understanding of how games are played rather than simply memorizing rules and skills; "invasion games" prepare students for basketball by teaching strategy, placement and teamwork, for example

Outstanding achievements

  • Initiated paperless classroom for grades 3–5, using Google Classroom and, as children get comfortable working on iPads, Google Apps for Education; eliminated the problem of lost permission slips by having parents use Google Forms to sign children up for extracurricular activities
  • Developed progressive approach to digital student portfolios: he builds these records of student growth and achievement until Grade 3, when the students take over; he presented on this approach at a large conference for International Baccalaureate schools with a junior program
  • Created "Heart Hero," a costumed character who leaps out of closets, climbs through windows, rappels down gym walls and chooses healthy foods—all to inspire children to develop healthy habits and to promote Jump Rope for Heart; the school has raised more than $120,000 in 10 years

Rave reviews

"The throttle is always set to GO in Mr. Bower's classroom. GO for learning. GO for doing. GO for ... it! Whatever 'it' may be, students know that they'll be stirred up, spurred on and super safe."