EBUS SD#91 Nechako Lakes

School Name: EBUS

School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes

Inquiry Team Members: Nicole Arnold: narnold@sd91.bc.ca
Lorn Kennedy: lkennedy@sd91.bc.ca

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

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

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

Curricular Area(s): Other: School Community

Focus Addressed: Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Increase engagement in the school community and create connection with peers and adults at EBUS, to improve student success in learning.

Self Advocacy: Learners were not reaching out to teachers; communication expectations or clarity is challenging at a distance.
COVID: Lack of connection, food insecurity, and mental health concerns/lack of support.
Barriers: Technology access, internet availability, remote communities, communication, technology skills, intergenerational caregivers challenged by technology, and tutor availability.

Focus: We wanted to increase engagement in the school community; create connections and collaborative opportunities with peers and adults at EBUS to improve student success in learning. This is active participation in school events, increased course completion and engagement in learning.

Hunch: Lack of self-advocacy (anxiety) causes students to not reach out for the support they need. Being at a distance puts us at a disadvantage and students can ‘hide’ or be overlooked easily. Building personal relationships will help alleviate a lot of the other barriers.

New Professional Learning:
– Tech tools: Padlet, TEAMS, Blackboard
– Ab Ed conference: Indspire
– Distance Learning Conference: Explore First Nations Pedagogy Online http://firstnationspedagogy.ca/circletalks.html
– “Potlatch as Pedagogy: Learning Through Ceremony”
– Article: Wei Wang, Lihuan Guo, Ling He & Yenchun Jim Wu (2019), Effects of social-interactive engagement on the dropout ratio in online learning: insights from MOOC. The article focuses on the factors related to drop out or loss of engagement for online students; in particular, how experience, difficulty level, and social connection play a role.

“The goal of online engagement is not exactly the same as that of online learning because online engagement is essentially an online social behaviour, and it is easy to create a chaotic learning environment. ”

“Thus, the advice given to instructors and platforms is that it is necessary to enhance engagement in online learning, as engagement alleviates the feelings of being disconnected and isolated in online communities and is beneficial to continuous learning.”

Taking Action: We tried some Talking circle v-classes but did not draw many participants. Our weekly story v-class for primary ages has continued to grow from last year. We shifted away from talking circles as the main activity, to hands-on activities where we send kits to students and have a knowledge holder tell stories and teach the students the skills of the activities.

The shift to hands-on activities in our v-classes have been a huge success in hooking participants. They provide a chance for students to engage in community and build relationships with other students, teachers and the local experts that are delivering our culture v-classes. The pride that students feel when they share their creations is evident. The confidence that students show to ask for clarification and help has grown over the last month as well.

On the high school side, a few teachers have started using MS Bookings that provide blocked off time slots that students can book for one-on-one support. It is part of reducing barriers to encourage open communication.
One teacher shared with me the response from a student who told him that the part of his email signature that said, “Is there anything else I can do to help,” didn’t really seem genuine, and that if the student emailed to ask for help, they felt like they were disturbing the teacher. But, having a link that they could click to book a time was much more comfortable for the students to use to ask for help.

Every teacher who has tried this is having lots of success with this method. It is more efficient for them as they don’t have to go back and forth with students to set times, and students see that there is availability for assistance where they don’t feel they are an inconvenience.

Checking: Minimal at the senior level. We chose two learners (grade 10 and 12) and attempted to build a connection and provide the support needed.

Results – One learner leaned into the support and completed their course in 5 months. They took advantage of extra teacher coaching sessions and stayed in constant contact. This student is on track to graduate this year.

The other learner has made some progress (28% since Sept 2020) in the course and has been supported or offered support in the same ways. In addition, this learner was set up with a tutor. The learner communicates sporadically and is hesitant to accept the offer for a teacher coaching session.

At the K-9 level, engagement and connection was increased. Teachers reported ‘knowing’ more students, and parent surveys reflect a school connection.

Reflections/Advice: Covid more than doubled our ab ed numbers, provided lots of new opportunities and challenges to engage students.

We tried many different approaches; direct relationship and hands-on activity engagement are the most effective way to engage online learners.

We plan to survey high school students to find more ways to engage students. We suggest incentives (Subway gift cards).

We would like to connect with other online schools to see what they do?

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