School Name: Don Ross Middle School
School District: SD#48 Sea to Sky
Inquiry Team Members:Louise Wick: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Allen: email@example.com
Amy Erskine: firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Robichaud: lrobichaud @sd48.bc.ca
Heather Lewis: email@example.com
Sara Place: splace @sd48.bc.ca
Robin Kirk: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: AESN (focus on Indigenous learners or Indigenous understandings)
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education
Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), First Peoples Principles of Learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our staff and students collaborated on the creation of a blanket which documented our journey towards reconciliation.
Scanning: During the scanning phase we tried to discover the attitude, feelings and thoughts staff and students at our school held in regards to reconciliation, and specifically how our school could navigate this journey. We learned that most staff and students believed that we needed to act on reconciliation but were unsure of what we were doing or what we could do as we move forward. We also learned that many staff were anxious about how to approach the topic, and how to meld the work in with their curriculum and daily practice. Another thing we learned was that people within our building were taking some actions towards reconciliation but were working in isolation. We were curious that many felt there was something of a moral imperative and want to do this work, and yet we seemed to be stuck.
Focus: Our focus was determined because we felt that, although most of us were agreed that our reconciliation journey was important, we were struggling to understand what it could look like for ourselves and our student learners.
Hunch: One of our hunches was that we tend to work in isolation – either singly or in small groups and we feel that we have pockets of work throughout the school, but without a deep understanding of the big picture.
A second hunch was that our reconciliation journey was one of a long list of priorities. With so many areas deemed important, we tend to become scattered, moving from one focus to another as they come to our attention.
New Professional Learning: One of our main areas of exploration was learning from one another. We discovered much more about what was happening in each of our classrooms, and what learning we were all pursuing. We were able to begin to share the knowledge we had already and to identify more learning we would like to do. We began to investigate the First Peoples Principles of Learning, and will continue to do so in the coming year.
Taking Action: Our team wanted the staff and students to have as much input as possible. This project needed to involve and touch as many people within our school and community as possible. We met together and devised a plan. Two classes took on designing the border for our blanket. We decided that we wanted our blanket to show our journey over time, and so we have chosen to use photographs (poster-sized) that will change. This lead to further collaboration with colleagues and their students for whom photography is a passion. Next year more classes will be involved as we design more of the border, and produce the ceremony for hanging the final piece. There is also discussion of continuing further with more pieces being created in other classrooms not yet as involved. Throughout the year we were sure to keep everyone on staff informed and as involved as possible – this was our key goal.
Checking: The differences we made were small, but important. We worked collaboratively, and now have a stronger base to continue our work next year. We involved many more staff and students than we thought possible. It was an important baby step – to get a little hand-hold to get started. Next year we have a place to start and can continue to build.
Reflections/Advice: As with any project, there is always more to do. Our successes include bringing together a group of people who are interested and involved. Also, we will be sharing our blanket and ceremony with our school in the fall, which will only add life to our ongoing projects, we believe. For the future we hope to continue to bring more attention to indigenous pedagogy and reconciliation, and we are working to keep as many people involved as possible.