School Name: Ballenas Secondary School
School District: SD#69 Qualicum
Inquiry Team Members: Rudy Terpstra: firstname.lastname@example.org, Trish Cathrine: email@example.com, Loanna Clint: firstname.lastname@example.org, Heather Deering: email@example.com, Olivia Hill: firstname.lastname@example.org, Kerri Christie: email@example.com, Kathryn Standing: firstname.lastname@example.org, Francois Provencher: email@example.com, Charlotte Campbell: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mischa Oak: email@example.com, Carrie Quant: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Career Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Science, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Differentiated instruction, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? This year we continued our journey focusing on how increasing Indigenous cultural awareness and understandings at Ballenas contribute to holistic reconciliation and the TRC’s calls to action for education.
Scanning: As a team, and as a result of previous data and conversations with the Indigenous Education department, we asked ourselves how we could promote our allyship as a school community and what our role was in reconciliation. We focused on the education/curricular gaps for our learners, and we reflected on how we could extend Indigenous curricular and physical representation in our school to include cultural awareness and our role in holistic reconciliation. The OECD principles of learning that were a focus during this process were putting learners at the center through mini-lessons and movie viewing, and building horizontal connections through speaking engagements, pro d opportunities, and piloting units with FNESC. The First Peoples Principles of Learning that influenced all of our choices were: learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational; learning recognizes the role of Indigenous knowledge; learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions; and, learning requires exploration of one’s identity.
Focus: Our focus was guided by all learners (staff included) in our school community. Our hope and intention was to improve relationships, increase a sense of belonging, and encourage community awareness. While the broader goal was increasing our school and district’s awareness, our hope was that our Indigenous learners would feel a connection to their school community and feel supported in their learning; hence, increasing transition through grade 10 and onto graduation.
Hunch: As a team, we were concerned about systemic racism and the deficit model of thinking. We knew that the “perfect stranger” ideology was still prevalent with our staff, and we were/are aware of colonial frameworks in the system. It was our hope and intention that further mini-lessons and whole school activities would challenge ongoing forms of colonial narratives in our community.
New Professional Learning: Collaborative learning for our mini-lessons focused on development for all of our learners, including staff.
Book Club- Marie Battiste’s book Decolonizing Education: Nourishing The Learning Spirit: six staff members collaborated and used guiding questions to facilitate learning.
FNESC Conference: several members of the Ballenas staff attended this conference and shared their learning at a staff meeting. The focus was on promoting Indigenous Ways of Knowing & Being and recognizing Indigenization of the curriculum.
BCFP12: Piloting units for Self-Governance and Treaties through FNESC.
EFP10: Piloting units and working with Shelley Moore and FNESC on inclusive assessment strategies and learning maps. Speaking at FNESC workshops and sharing learning with colleagues from around the province and the United States.
Science 10 using FNESC resources to support Indigenization of curriculum
NOIIE Conference: several members of this NOIIE team attended this conference.
Several team members are also SOGI leads for our school and have been attending pro-d focused on inclusivity for all of our learners. In turn, this has reinforced the relationship as an ally for marginalized members of our school.
Taking Action: Ballenas has added an Elder from Snaw-Naw-As First Nation to our team. The intention is to continue building a relationship with local nations and to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the Indigenous learners.
The Indigenous Historical Timeline has finally been installed in our Grand Hallway. Several classes have used this timeline to inform their lessons.
The focus for this year’s Remembrance Day Ceremony was women’s contributions to the war effort; our group ensured that Indigenous women were included in the speech and slideshow.
This year, Ballenas joined in recognizing MMIWG through several activities: mini-lesson created for the REDress Campaign, hanging red dresses throughout our foyer and dimming the lights for the entire week (very powerful), and participating in the Moosehide Campaign through a schoolwide walk-every learner who participated received a moosehide and card explaining the campaign. (Led by drummers from the Indigenous Education Department) We also made it very clear to students that if they would not wear the hide themselves, they needed to pass it on to a member of the Parksville community.
Ballenas had two screenings of the documentary Picking Up The Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket. One viewing was for staff during pro-d, and the other was offered to the Parksville community including Qualicum and Snaw-Naw-As First Nations.
Ballenas also offered a viewing for all of our learners of the IMAX film The Great Bear Rainforest. The executive producer’s son attends Ballenas, and he was available to answer questions and offer commentary after each viewing. The intention for the viewings was focusing on Indigenous world view and ecological literacy.
Over 100 Ballenas students viewed The Grizzlies movie at a local theatre. We have recently purchased the movie for our library.
Ballenas is continuously adding authentic Indigenous resources to both our teacher and student resources.
Several field trips to the Victoria Museum included the EAGLE Tour guided by local Elder Lesley McGarry.
Skype session with a lawyer regarding the pipeline controversy for three senior classes. The focus was assessing consent vs. consultation.
The music department was gifted a song by a member of the Snaw-naw-as First Nations. Performed during year-end concert and for our year-end assembly: Celebrate Ballenas.
Our French Immersion program has been working to increase Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being into their curriculum through the following manners: focusing on the FPPL to inform planning and practice; finding and incorporating French resources that challenge the colonial narrative; adding an Indigenous lens to their social studies curriculum; and, one member has been attending NOIIE/AESN conferences and become a member of this Transition study.
Working with SOGI to promote inclusion for all of our learners-Ally posters distributed to classrooms and banners in the front foyer.
This year we wanted to make a concerted effort to look at how our common/socialization spaces were being used by students. Banners and displays focusing on Indigenous history and allyship were hung in these areas. Much more needs to be done in this area.
Horizontal connections: Lummi Canoe Journey workshop July 26th-asked to speak on teacher panel or create a workshop for “Learning on the Water: Place-based and Indigenous Education in your school” at UVIC
BCFP12-piloting units for Self-Governance and Treaties-presentation at FNESC Conference August 19th.
EFP10 presentations for FNESC throughout the year. Helping to promote awareness of the course and assist teachers in implementing the curriculum. EFP10 is offered for all grade 10 learners next year, and EFP12 is offered as a choice.
A proposal is being submitted to the FNESC annual conference for 2019: a workshop regarding our journey and role in holistic reconciliation. This will also focus on how EFP10 and 12 curricula were introduced to our school and district, and mention the inclusive work guided by Shelley Moore and Jo Chrona. The intention is to share the trials and tribulations and the celebrations and successes from both a teacher and an administrator’s point of view/perspective.
Speaking at TELA with Jo Chrona, Penny Carnrite, and Lesley Gunning on Shelley Moore’s inclusion work (learning maps and assessment for EFP10) and piloting BCFP12 Self-governance and Treaties units.
Checking: Although an official survey was not completed, a general conversation with students in the BCFP12 and EFP10 courses did occur. The general opinion is that Ballenas has increased Indigenous awareness and physical representation in our school community. The students also recognize the importance of being an ally and appreciate that this is one way that they can be a part of the reconciliation process. An informal survey of our Indigenous students in these classes also suggests that they appreciate the effort that the school is doing, they see a difference in “common” knowledge with their friends, and they feel a connection to at least two teachers/staff in the school. Our intention is to have more conversations with our Indigenous learners in September to identify gaps in academic and social and emotional learning. Hopefully we will be able to include Elders from the community and our Indigenous Education Department.
Completing this stage highlights that we have had a decline in graduation rates; however, we are trying to identify where this is coming from. We may need to shift our focus to include more on mental health next year. A conversation needs to happen with the Indigenous Ed team and local nations focused on strategies and action plans for success for Indigenous learners. One thing that is unique about our district is that there is a lack of connection to local bands since most of our learners are otherwise affiliated.
Another issue that has come to light is that we need to be having conversations amongst teachers to identify what they are hearing regarding non-Indigenous learners and their apathy. (Is this real, or just coming from a particular group of students?) IHow can we involve students in the planning and implementation of mini-lessons? Ultimately, Ballenas needs to look at the scope and sequence of lessons and content.
Reflections/Advice: What we learned: As a non-Indigenous school, it is imperative to acknowledge when the colonial narrative is creeping into conversations or initiatives. Authenticity and working with Indigenous representation is key to our role in holistic reconciliation.
Next steps-working harder to build a relationship with local nations.
Continue developing a definition of ally for all of our learners (tall and small). Identify our role as ally.
Develop a plan with our Indigenous learners to help increase successful transition.
One team lead is beginning a Masters program in Educational Leadership-focus is on driving systemic change through the district. (The work with NOIIE has led to this decision/focus)
Advice: Advocacy and allyship require tenacity and a willingness to challenge the status quo. Even if you have members of your community that are fighting the work, you and your team must remain persistent and focused on the goal. If it is possible, meet once a month to discuss progress, initiatives, and next steps. Invite your whole staff to the meetings; create an inclusive learning environment for the entire staff. Provide resources to assist colleagues who are unaware or unsure of how to approach the work.
As our team continues to ‘spiral’ through the inquiry process, we have identified two areas of concern:
1: Is teacher collaboration time at Ballenas being used effectively and focused on increasing the success of our learners?
2. We are working hard at creating an inclusive and diverse learning culture, but are we meeting equity for access points? Do our students have “equitable access to what they need to be academically successful?” (“Confronting Inequity: Discourse, Structure, and Practice” The Deeper Learning Dozen p.18) What does this look like at Ballenas? Tutoring is a topic that we may need to be examining. Flex time addresses this, but are students using this effectively?