EBUS Academy SD#91 Nechako Lakes

By September 17, 20192018-2019 Case Study

School Name: EBUS Academy

School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes

Inquiry Team Members: Nikki Arnold: narnold@sd91.bc.ca, Megan Boniface: mboniface@sd91.bc.ca, Lorn Kennedy: lkennedy@sd91.bc.ca, Shannon Himmelright: shimmelright@sd91.bc.ca, Bonnie Toll: btoll@sd91.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: mboniface@sd91.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Other: Supporting students in all curricular areas

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Differentiated instruction, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Social and emotional learning, Transitions

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? addressing full learning program for each student, including cultural learning

Scanning: Supporting full time K-12 (including adult) Aboriginal students at EBUS through a holistic approach of wrapping around the learner, personalization of learning, uncovering barriers and working through, around or removing them to improve success. Identifying ways to ensure that each learner is working towards dogwood graduation with dignity and purpose.

Focus: We were at the beginning of our scanning phase this year for each learner. We conducted regular check-ins with learners via phone as our learners are at a distance. One of the goals was to ensure that students were able to access their courses and receive support as needed. We also tried to identify any barriers for learners that prevented them from engaging in learning. Questions for scanning included: are you able to access your courses/program (technology)? What is preventing you/ your child from you accessing your/his/her/their courses? Who can you go to if you need help? What do you need help with? Can you find information easily if you need it? What would you like to do after graduation?

In May, we followed up to see if students in grades 10-12 were successful in completing courses and we identified students who had not successfully completed all courses so that we can reach out early to ensure that a plan is in place for the upcoming school year.

We continued this year with reading classes for primary learners and families using Strong Nations Readers and modeling reading strategies.

For future, we are also looking at developing a traditional or cultural learning IDS (independent directed studies) course for students in grades 10-12 to provide an engaging way to honour cultural learning in an area that interests them. For some students, we wonder if this type of learning opportunity could help re-engage them with school and lead to more IDS credits.
Through our Aboriginal Education program, we are regularly checking in with families and helping to support full-time Aboriginal learners with their studies and helping to provide cultural learning opportunities through our school and within their local communities. We are aware that we have a number of learners in K-9 and 10-12 (including some non-graduated adults) who are encountering barriers to accessing services, engaging in school or fully participating in their learning. We believe that our current approach to supporting these learners is insufficient. As well, our school district is participating in Equity Scan and we will be focussing on ensuring that all Aboriginal learners in our district graduate with dignity and purpose. Aligning our inquiry to the work of the Equity Scan made sense to us. We are focussing on our full-time learners in K-12 rather than specifically 10-12 as we know that early intervention and support is critical. We see this case study as a multi-year project.

Hunch: Our hunches included: there may be some barriers for teachers at our school: gaps in teachers’ understanding and knowledge of our country’s history from an Aboriginal perspective, many EBUS teachers are not aware of how many of our full-time learners in their courses self-identify as being Aboriginal. There are various barriers for students that can include: barriers to technology, a lack of connection to school community, a lack of connection to community in general, a need for more frequent touch-ins, varying support at home, piecemeal or inconsistent support strategies, financial barriers, barriers to accessing tutoring or other services (remote communities), lack of connection to course content, difficulty accessing information or technical help at EBUS, mental health concerns.

Not knowing the barriers that exist for a student prevents us from finding ways to effectively support the student.

New Professional Learning: We engaged in the Equity Scan and used the toolkit as guidance. Our teacher Lorn Kennedy is part of a district Aboriginal Teacher Lead Program and he engaged in professional learning this year with a focus on Truth and Reconciliation; and our teachers are using collaboration time to explore ways of embedding FP Principles of Learning in curriculum.

Taking Action: We were focussed on building relationships through weekly check-ins. This year, we have purposefully discussed any barriers that students are facing to help students navigate difficulties and find pathways around or removing barriers. Strategies to support learners included communicating with the course teacher to build understanding; and helping students access additional instructional support (tutoring). We have also tried to track issues that students encounter to understand if there are common barriers for students in distributed learning.

Checking: We had found in previous years that many students did not access opportunities through targeted dollars that were available including cultural learning opportunities in their communities and tutoring. This year, we streamlined the process of accessing resources for cultural learning: we created an online method of ordering cultural supplies to go along with a cultural learning project. Students or parents would propose the project, place the order, we would approve it and the school would purchase the supplies.

Reflections/Advice: As a school, we are making progress in ensuring that all learners, including Aboriginal learners, see themselves in our online courses and programs. Next year, we will continue our focus on supporting teachers to embed Aboriginal worldview as well as FP Principles of Learning into online courses. In K-9, we will continue to integrate Aboriginal Worldview into the curriculum and build resources, as well as offering an increased number of cultural learning opportunities.

In terms of transitions, an important point that was reinforced this year was that not only is a plan important for students to meet graduation, but all students must have a sense of purpose beyond graduation as well. In fact, that sense of purpose is a stimulus for successful completion of the requirements for their plan and for meeting graduation requirements.

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