Fairview Community School SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

I. General Information

School Name: Fairview Community School

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Sofia LaBounty: sofia.labounty@sd68.bc.ca, Kyla Royle: kroyle@sd68.bc.ca, Danielle Swanson: danielle.swanson@sd68.bc.ca, Cindy Haack: CHaack@sd68.bc.ca, Holly Shelton: holly.shelton@sd68.bc.ca, Valerie Muir: Valerie.Muir: @sd68.bc.ca, Stacey.Brown1@@sd68.bc.ca, Noreen Keen: nkeen@sd68.bc.ca, Kaya Miernik: kaya.miernik@sd68.bc.ca, Jessica Dewarle: jessica.dewarle@sd68.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: sofia.labounty@sd68.bc.ca

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

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

Curricular Areas Addressed: Not applicable

Focus Addressed: Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Creating a feeling of belonging and purpose at school.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We asked our students to evaluate 6 key statements twice in the school year (once in the fall and again in the spring):

  • I am happy at school.
  • I am happy outside of school.
  • I feel comfortable and safe at school.
  • I feel like an important member of my classroom.
  • I feel like an important member of my school.
  • How many adults care about and believe in you?

Focus: As an inner city community school, we have a diverse and complex student population with a variety of demographic, cultural backgrounds and needs. 300/475 students access food programs in our school and many students come with unique academic, social and emotional needs. It is imperative that students feel cared for and welcome in our school community to be able to access them academically. All staff members felt that reviewing some of the activities and practices at our school would benefit our most vulnerable students.

Hunch: As a staff, we felt untethered post Covid-19. After 2 years of distance learning, mask wearing and limitations in the school, we noticed that our students were missing some social/emotional skills, and that a higher incidence of trauma was contributing to dysregulated students consequently affecting the classroom and school environment.

New Professional Learning: To launch our inquiry, we participated in the Book Club “Kids These Days” by Jody Carrington. Over several months, staff met to discuss some of the themes of the book and how it might shift our perceptions of our students. During the fall school-based Professional Development day, our team completed a Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package from the National Centre on Safe Supportive Learning Environments. Completing these modules as a staff helped us understand Trauma in a broad and inclusive way; recognize the effects of trauma on students, staff and our school; be familiar with core principles of a trauma-sensitive approach; understand the key components of a trauma-sensitive school; and learn strategies for supporting a trauma-sensitive school. Discussions and connections made during this Professional Development day were invaluable at informing our staff how to improve our daily practices in the classroom.

Lastly, during our spring Professional Development day, we committed to reviewing Social and Emotional programs available for purchase that would meet the Social and Emotional Competencies Checklist that we reviewed in the Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package. The Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training was most helpful in guiding us through this inquiry and articulating our next steps as a staff.

Taking Action: Our school recognized the need for whole school activities. Our building has two wings and it naturally segregates the primary students from intermediate students; we felt that cross grade group activities would support our goal of building community at our school. At this stage of our inquiry, we will be Taking further Action in the fall of 2023. Besides the learning and new strategies our team acquired during the Trauma Informed Practice Training, our staff decided to implement in our classrooms the Social Emotional Program ‘Open Parachute’. This Canadian based program met the criteria of a program our school was looking for and it fits well with our BC curriculum as it’s based in Vancouver. Our staff also discussed purchasing some classroom resources, such as sensory tools (kinetic sand) or calming bins, for easy student access.

Checking: We were pleased to see that our survey had improved results in the spring and that our efforts in school community building (i.e. cross grade activities, whole school weekly assemblies and dancing in the gym, buddy activities, intermediate leaders taking charge of leading events) allowed students to make more positive connections with different adults and students alike. We feel that a follow up survey will be necessary to see about any improvements from implementing Open Parachute Social Emotional Program.

Reflections/Advice: Knowing your community is really important to understand first before embarking on an inquiry of a Social and Emotional focus and understanding that all students have unique needs and capabilities. This has been successful thus far as it was an area of concern for most of our teachers. It was important to not rush through this learning, and to take our time to work through this difficult area which can be stressful and hard’ heart’ work for educators. Inviting the topic with a book club was a gentle start to diving into Trauma Informed Practices. It’s important to be sensitive to colleagues who may be struggling themselves and offering a safe space for our team was crucial for constructive discussions around Trauma. Our team would agree that this would need to be revisited over time to ensure that our specific school community feels like a welcoming place where everyone belongs and has a purpose.