School Name: Frank Hurt Secondary
School District: SD#36 Surrey
Inquiry Team Members:Robert Taddei; firstname.lastname@example.org
Leanne MacDonald; email@example.com
Roxanne Pope; firstname.lastname@example.org
Vasilios Koutsonikas; email@example.com
Kavita Sharma; 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): Not applicable
Focus Addressed: Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Growth mindset, Transitions
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? To continue engaging in meaningful transitions with our Gr 7-8 students.
Scanning: Last year, we used teacher and student surveys to consider the impact of our inquiry initiatives. Most grade 8 students were able to describe Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives are relevant to all learners. Some teachers felt that they were more likely to engage collaboratively in Aboriginal education as a result of this inquiry, feeling slightly less like Aboriginal staff are operating in silos. Some are now looking for ways to share and enhance locally developed curriculum in order to more deeply value First Peoples’ approaches to learning and content into their curriculum.
Focus: Through our collaborative actions, we acknowledge our shared responsibility to Aboriginal learners by working together in ways that reinforce our relationships and connectedness through the grade 7-8 transition experience.
Hunch: If we provide opportunities for students and teachers to co-create transitions experience, it will reinforce connectedness to each other and to our school.
New Professional Learning: Use the Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives: Moving Forward as a framework for exploring First Peoples Principles. Engage in professional reflection, discussion and goal setting around BCTF Aboriginal Education: Beyond Words: “Self-Assessment Guide for Teachers”. Include voices of local First Peoples (students, parents, families, elders, etc), and other Indigenous voices and allies.
Taking Action: Our admin is using the equity audit framework to reflect on our ways forward. This is part of a ministry initiative, but our school has begun this reflection process. Two years ago we had a series of professional development experiences in response to the calls to action. Over the course of our transitions inquiry we have developed a framework that includes collaboration Enhancement Staff with our Family of Schools (feeder schools). In addition to our school wide transitions framework, grade 7s with Indigenous ancestry were invited to a series of transitions visits throughout the school year. These visits focused on growing cultural understanding, building relationships across schools, and connecting students to caring adults and peers within our school. Our annual kayaking trip allows students to build relationships through the environment. This year, this trip also served as an opportunity to grow the professional relationships of our incoming Aboriginal Teacher Advocate. Finally, in anticipation of National Indigenous Day, we are hosting a Family Gathering Celebration. This event will serve as an opportunity to connect with families from across our Family of Schools to honour our future grads of 2023 as they transition into high school.
Checking: Connecting with Indigenous students earlier in the year, allowed those students to enter the schoolwide transitions experiences with a sense of belonging and ownership. Several students recognized staff and peers they had previously connected, demonstrating the connections to caring adults. Overall, through conversation with our incoming students, it is evident that they will enter high school with two caring adults who believe they will be successful. Importantly, teachers who participated in the transitions visits also identified that they had a greater sense of accountability for the learners with whom they had developed relationships. One teacher described how even if one student was not in her class, she would look out for him.
Reflections/Advice: With humility, we are looking at shifts to our transition experience that distribute capacity, so that enhancement is shared and engagement is broad. This presents challenges in clarifying vision and goals, authenticity and appropriation, and pride/self-purpose. At different times, this experience has been uneven for different team members. We need to engage others as essential to the transition experience so that they feel urgency. Over 50% of students with Aboriginal ancestry were failing 2 or more academic courses at the halfway mark for the last several years. Attention to curricular design and assessment practices as well as core competencies are essential to changing this experience. This goes well beyond ‘fixing the Aboriginal problem’ and involves systemic introspection. Through a strength based lens for our school planning process and our FLEX time, I am hopeful that educators help change this experience. Engagement in our transition enhancement will hopefully help initiate the urgency to be present, get to know who our students are and change ourselves.
At the end of this year, our primary Aboriginal Teacher Advocate (ATA) will be leaving the school, which presents an opportunity. The current Vice Principal liaison for the Aboriginal Department at Frank Hurt has significant experience and passion in facilitating grade 7 to 8 transitions. As Learner Support Department Head, our returning (ATA) is engaged in changing narratives around students, is active in school-based processes, and is respected among colleagues. The incoming ATA is our current Social Studies Department Head, holds high expectations for quality educational experiences, and is dedicated to social justice. Going forward, we are well positioned to not simply embed Aboriginal education in school wide processes, but centre our collaborative practices around what works for Indigenous learners.