Erma Stephenson Elementary SD#36 Surrey

School Name: Erma Stephenson Elementary

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members:Shelley Stark;
Nancy Chalmers;
Patricia Watson;
Seline Harradine;
Tamara Fransen;
Christina Chen;
Kim Bearisto;
Ginette Demaere;
Adele Northrup;
Kim Sturn;

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: AESN (focus on Indigenous learners or Indigenous understandings)

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

Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Writing, Science, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Experiential learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? 1. Create a plan for an outdoor learning space and garden, with a community library (book-share). 2. Integrate Aboriginal teachings into daily activities to develop awareness, respect, and understanding for the people and culture. 3. Host a school-wide Aboriginal Day in June to celebrate Aboriginal culture 4. Promote and develop a feeling of cultural pride and confidence in our Aboriginal students

Scanning: We observed that our learners were lacking confidence in themselves and having difficulty connecting with other students. They were frequently having social challenges with peers and behaviour problems with teachers. They were not wanting to self-identify as Aboriginal.
We chose to change the perception and awareness of the entire community of learners, to one of understanding, acceptance, and appreciation.

Focus: We chose to change the attitudes of the entire community of learners so that we could collectively recognize and celebrate the Aboriginal culture, creating a positive value in a closer connection while erasing any stigma.
We also chose to share cultural beliefs, quotes, and messages regularly so as to make it part of the expectations and existing culture in our school.

Hunch: Students were not wanting to self-identify as Aboriginal and lacking a cultural pride and confidence.
-Teachers being concerned about their own lack of expertise or understanding of the culture, and wanting to teach it with honor and respect. What is acceptable and what isn’t? A general lack of confidence about how to integrate cultural information while still learning about it yourself.

New Professional Learning: Went to workshops offered by the District
-Used literature provided from Strong Nations Publisher
-Internet research
-Lots of talk and sharing with colleagues

Taking Action: Posters and written statements on the walls of our classrooms and hallways.
-Aboriginal principals, quotes, and messages announced over the PA system regularly.
-Participation of our Aboriginal students in the “Warriors 89” program.
-Committee meetings to create a common vision for an outdoor garden and learning space.
-Creation of an Aboriginal Day in June to celebrate the culture.
-Making regular personal connections to our Aboriginal children to ensure they feel welcome, safe, and important in our school.
-Incorporate and integrate Aboriginal beliefs and teachings into daily lessons and activities.
Recognizing the Aboriginal territories that we live and work on.

Checking: We are on a journey of change as a school team. We have made changes in attitudes, perception, participation, acceptance, and acceptance. It may be difficult to recognize the changes as they happen slowly over time, but we recognize it as a process. Every initiative makes a difference in some small way, which will empower our students to lead the way eventually.

Reflections/Advice: We have researched outdoor learning spaces and spoken to other schools about their experiences, to design a space that fits our needs, goals, and budget. Coming to a common vision took time, much conversation, and patience in a large group, but was well worth the experience.
-We have established a relationship with teachers at our local high school to help our students design and build the structures chosen. There is support and a depth of knowledge and experience available within our family of schools, and people are enthusiastic to offer their expertise.
-We are in the process of getting district approval for our outdoor learning space so building can begin.
-Participation in district programs with other Aboriginal students such as “Warriors 89,” and recognition and celebration of the culture builds a sense of pride and confidence in our students that lasts beyond the duration of the program.

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