School Name: Delta Secondary School
School District: SD#37 Delta
Inquiry Team Members: Shelley Greene: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin Rohwer: email@example.com
John Pavao: firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Callander: email@example.com
Dana Huff: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine Oliver: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Writing
Focus Addressed: Community-based learning, Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? The lack of connection is affecting teacher work and student achievement.
Scanning: I took notes about how people (students, staff, counsellors, custodial staff, office staff) were feeling. I used a fish-bone activity with my Psychology 12 students to get a sense of how this new Quarter System was affecting student connections at school. Students were also asked to journal their experiences. Here is what we noticed: loneliness, masks, and hybrid classes were creating a reluctance to communicate, share and collaborate. Most interactions were riddled with fear. Grade 8s were doing well with the new system because it felt like an extension of Elementary school. Most of them weren’t anxious about trying to find friends for lunch or getting to know so many different teachers and students.
Focus: I selected this topic after listening to & watching the students try to adapt to a new system. Most people were feeling isolated and alone. Through this inquiry, I was hoping to implement small, manageable changes to help staff & students feel like a community.
Hunch: My hunch was that everyone was suffering & feeling isolated because of the limitations imposed by the Quarter system. I didn’t think that it was good for anyone. I thought that learning was being affected because there wasn’t enough time or space to get to know each other well enough to share ideas, collaborate, discuss, etc.
New Professional Learning: I spoke to counsellors and admin about their experiences with students in the Quarter System. I spoke to colleagues. I listened in on conversations & recorded what I heard. I listened to podcasts about community, connection, and learning. I used a fish-bone activity with my Psychology 12 class to get some evidence about how students were feeling about the new system.
– Resources: Book: Lost Connections by Johann Hari.
– NOIIE Conference.
Taking Action: We spent too much time in the collection of data. We collected data from Pro-D meetings and Collaboration meetings, etc. I would write down what I heard and what I saw in the hopes that it could be used to inform schedules and procedures for the upcoming year. Next year, the school has opted to adopt a semester system. This is one place where the information collected helped to make changes. Also, the Pro-D committee is actively working on creating connection activities to start the new school year off with.
Checking: We all became more aware of how seemingly small acts (a conversation, an outside lunch with each other, a phone call, etc) can make a huge difference in creating belonging. For a co-workers birthday and Quarter turn-around day, we asked a mom from the school community to make individually-packaged pavlovas for a few staff members. It was a beautiful afternoon of laughter and conversations.
Re: the learners. I asked direct questions about how their feelings of disconnectedness may be affecting their learning. They agreed that they were feeling lost and lonely. So, I worked towards creating a cozy and comforting classroom climate. This helped students feel more at home.
Reflections/Advice: Learning involves risk-taking & vulnerability. If we are disconnected from our fellow learners, learning will be hindered. Taking a few minutes to acknowledge these truths and ask for the required safety and understanding, makes a visible difference. I could see students take deep breaths and relax into their seats when I explained these learnings that I was having.