School Name: Ecole Ballenas Secondary
School District: SD#69 Qualicum
Inquiry Team Members:Rudy Terpstra firstname.lastname@example.org; Heather Deering email@example.com; Jane Reynolds firstname.lastname@example.org; Olivia Hill email@example.com; Loanna Clint firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: AESN Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Differentiated instruction, Flexible learning, Inclusion and inclusive insructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Social and emotional learning, Transitions
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? This year we continues to increase the school population’s awareness of Indigenous knowledge and ways of being through school-wide mini lessons, an increase in Indigenous physical, cultural and curricular representation.
Scanning: As a team, as a result of conversations with Indigenous students last year, we asked how can we further create Indigenous awareness within our school community. We focused on the reflective and responsive nature of learning, we had conversations with local knowledge keepers and we were thoughtful about the process of creating and delivering both mini-lessons and curricular lessons. The OECD principles of learning that were a focus were stretching all students through school wide mini-lessons and curricular lessons and building horizontal connections.
Focus: This was the third year that we have been focusing on this question. While the broader goal was increasing awareness for all students; we wanted our Indigenous learners to feel an increased sense of belonging which would result in an increase in transition through grade 10 and on to graduation.
Hunch: We were concerned that many staff members were ascribing to the “perfect stranger” ideology – essentializing, stereotyping, and romanticizing Indigenous history and culture. We know that when teachers have an “I know nothing and it doesn’t have to do with me” attitude, students begin to devalue the importance of Indigenous education. Our mini-lessons were designed with the idea of challenging this perspective and educating our greater school community.
Much more learning is needed around Indigenous culture, history and contemporary contributions. People are very cautious and don’t feel comfortable teaching the subject. By developing the mini lessons, we are educating our entire community, and modelling for our staff; hopefully increasing their confidence with this area.
New Professional Learning: Collaboration as a team: Mini-lessons were designed to inform and educate both staff and students. These lessons were created collaboratively with a focus on effective strategy and ease of implementation. Lessons were designed to be participatory, with minimal direct instruction. This helped engage our learners, and reduce both prep and anxiety for teachers.
FNESC: Heather Deering has become a leader with FNESC through her work piloting English First Peoples 10 and teaching BC First Peoples 12. This has included creating learning maps with Shelly Moore, Joe Chrona and others to assess the new EFP courses. Heather’s learning and sharing across the province and at Ballenas have been an invaluable contribution to the inquiry project.
Taking Action: By far the the highlight of the year was the paddle installation ceremony at the end of the year where the welcoming and leaving paddles were revealed to the whole school community at our celebrate Ballenas year-end celebration. The artist, elder, Indigenous team and Indigenous community all participated. As well, all students had a mini-lesson on the symbolism and meaning of the paddles. They now greet everyone at the main entrance and look beautiful.
Remembrance Day highlighted Indigenous service in the wars.
We spent a large amount of money to purchase authentic Indigenous resources to support the new curriculum. For the 2018/2019 school year 5 of 8 ELA classes will take English First Peoples 10 and the other 3 classes will have significant Indigenous content as a result of these resources.
The timeline of Indigenous history is complete, but we are still waiting on maintenance to install the wood along the hallway for the timeline.
Checking: This year we surveyed our Indigenous students to find out how they thought our actions were impacting them. We asked the following:
1. Have these had an affect on how you feel about Ballenas?
2. BC First Nations Studies, English, and Social Studies among other courses at Ballenas have increased the amount of Indigenous content into the courses. Have you noticed this and how did you feel about this?
3. Ballenas has made all students of Ballenas aware of Indigenous culture by having mini-lessons in LINK (stereotypes and Halloween, recognizing that we are on the shared territory of the Qualicum and Nanoose First Nations. . . . ), highlighting Indigenous contributions to the World Wars at Remembrance Day, and the Paddle Ceremony coming this year. How do these school-wide activities make you feel about your school?
4. What can we do more of? What can we do less of? What next?
While many of our Indigenous students do not belong to our local Indigenous Nations, most responded either very effective or effective to each of the questions. Further, we received positive feedback on our initiative and this caused us to reflect on how to make the paddle installation ceremony more significant.
Reflections/Advice: We need to encourage student voice next year to ensure cultural responsiveness and continue to be in conversation with our local knowledge keepers (cultivate positive cultural identity).
Advice- be persistent and find ways to collaboratively plan methods and strategies to increase Indigenous consciousness for your community of learners. / Recognize deficit thinking in your school and develop a plan to change or challenge this misconception.
Continue to develop lessons and confidence in teachers to teach and learn. Support them with rich, varied and authentic Indigenous resources. Allow time for teacher collaboration and learning.
Next. We are also focusing on incorporating the FPPL into our Core Competencies and reflecting on how we are using the FPPL in our classrooms. We continue our journey and focus for a fourth year.