School Name: Bert Bowes Middle School
School District: SD#60 Peace River North
Inquiry Team Members: Melanie Carew: firstname.lastname@example.org, Moneca Conway: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Career Education
Focus Addressed: Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, STEM / STEAM, Transitions, Universal design for learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus was to assist students in finding a deeper connection to what they were learning in school, while building relationships with their peers, Indigenous Transition Coach, and their future Careers Coordinator at their upcoming high school.
Scanning: Each Grade 9 student completes a Learning Journey. The Learning Journey is a self-reflective tool used to see where students see themselves currently and how they see their futures. Within the Learning Journey, students are asked the four key questions. In asking students the questions, some had felt that what they were currently learning in school was not relatable to how they viewed their futures. Our team wanted to create a positive learning experience for our students that enabled them to see that there are many different ways of learning at school, while at the same time, building a positive connection with the students and staff from their current middle school and future high school. This encompasses the First Peoples Principles of Learning in that, “Learning is reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).
Focus: Our focus was to give the students an opportunity to do career related activities and projects that peaked their curiosities and expanded their knowledge on future occupations that they showed interests in. In collaborating with students on what workplaces and projects related to which specific careers, our hope was that they would gain a more positive outlook related to school, see its benefits, and build positive relationships with their peers, middle school Indigenous Transition Coach, and high school Careers Coordinator.
Hunch: Generally, the students who were invited to participate were students who had some level of disconnect with school. Many of them have had negative past experiences in relation to academic success, regular attendance, building connections with peers and staff, and finding relevance in what they were learning in traditional classroom settings. Our hope was to provide these students with an opportunity to explore different career settings in our local area, relate what students were learning in the classroom to occupations that interest them, while providing a safe and welcoming space.
New Professional Learning: There were a number of areas of professional learning that we explored. In particular, we participated in two virtual events. Dr. Niigaan Sinclair hosted a Zoom session titled, “Truth and Reconciliation in the Classroom.” This was helpful in providing a space for educators to learn about our country’s history and current practices related to education. Sinclair also included hands-on tools and lessons that can be used in a variety of classroom settings. Dr. Jody Carrington’s, “STAYLit! 2021,” virtual conference showcased a number of educators with valuable knowledge on education, diversity, inclusion, and connections. Both of these virtual sessions were helpful in opening a space of learning and exploring new ways of thinking in the classroom.
Taking Action: We formed two different groups of Grade 9 students that met with their middle school Indigenous Transition Coach and the high school Careers Coordinator. Each group consisted of 7 students that met bi-weekly in our middle school’s maker space. We worked on a variety of projects throughout the school year, including: pallet Christmas trees, metal stamping/jewelry making, sewing, cake decorating, and sign making. We had also planned a number of field trips, however due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were only able to visit the hardware store, the local high school, and a farm in a nearby community. Students also met a variety of supports from their future school. High school counsellors and administration, dual credit teachers/advisors, and speciality teachers all provided students with a wealth of knowledge that would give them an advantage and familiarity of their future campus before they become students there.
Checking: It is difficult to know now if what we did was enough. This is something we will see over time. Our hope is that students take the knowledge that they gained from being in our groups and apply that knowledge in the classes they take in high school and the occupations they choose in their future. With the work that we did throughout the year, we hoped to form a positive relationship between the students, their current middle school Indigenous Transition Coach and their future high school Careers Coordinator. We also hope that having a positive relationship with an adult from their next campus will ease their transition from middle school to high school.
Reflections/Advice: We learned that this inquiry will be a work in progress for the next few years to come. We will continue to connect with the students who participated and see how much this group influences what their view on school is, their relationship with adults/peers, their success in transition from middle school to high school, and what paths they take in school and their careers.