I. General Information

School Name: Kwalikum Secondary School

School District: SD#69 Qualicum

Inquiry Team Members: Dallas Phillips: dphillips@sd69.bc.ca, Heather Deering: hdeering@sd69.bc.ca, Lori Marshall: lmarshall@sd69.bc.ca, Jennifer Lunny: jlunny@sd69.bc.ca, Tanya Gardner: tgardner@sd69.bc.ca, Jolin Meier: jmeier@sd69.bc.ca, Mallory Chester: mchester@sd69.bc.ca, Tannis Trevor-Smith: ttrevorsmith@sd69.bc.ca, Trevor Armstrong: tarmstrong@sd69.bc.ca, Traci Nesbitt: tnesbitt@sd69.bc.ca, Christina Hardin: chardin@sd69.bc.ca, Mark Donkers: mdonkers@sd69.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: hdeering@sd69.bc.ca

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Career Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Mathematics / Numeracy, Physical & Health Education, Science, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Social and emotional learning, Transitions, Universal design for learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How does KSS as a learning community create opportunities for equity that foster a sense of belonging for all? Focus: Grade 8 and 9 – Belonging and Community; Grade 10-12 – Grade and Grad Transitions.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Click here to view a Google slides presentation that we created that represents our journey this year.

Scanning: In October, our team met to discuss the scanning process and identify our next steps. We used a placemat activity to gather our thoughts, curiosities, and wonders. When we scanned the learning environment of KSS, and what was going on for our learners, we determined that several of our students and families needed various levels of support. We also discovered that all of the kids needed to develop a sense of belonging and connection with peers and adults. We used the 4 key questions to have conversations with our learners. We specifically met with the Indigenous learners to assess how the beginning of the year was going, and ask them if they could identify two adults who believed in them.

Through the scanning phase, we were keeping our learners at the centre and focusing on the exploration of identity and wellness for all. We realized that the last few years have caused trauma and turmoil for many of our families, and our scanning revealed that many of our kids were disconnected. Building horizontal connections is an integral component of this process.

Focus: Through the scanning phase, we identified that our grade 8 and 9’s need to develop a sense of belonging and connection to this ‘place’. We also determined that our 10-12’s need to have more concrete support in identifying transition goals and supports. For the Indigenous learners, our team recognized several barriers to learning: transportation, lack of connection spaces in the building, SEL obstacles, information gaps, engagement and attendance issues, and lack of connection to some curricular areas.

The hopes and intentions of this inquiry are to create spaces for connection, identify curricular areas that need support embedding FPPL and Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and provide meaningful learning opportunities for all of our kids. We also intend to build cultural awareness and competency for all at KSS.

Hunch: In October, our learners were trying to figure out what the ‘new normal’ was, and many were still battling with the mental and socio-economic outcomes of the pandemic. For two years, our kids and staff were isolated and disconnected. Our hunch was that these conditions impacted our kids and it was our responsibility to create equitable learning environments for all our learners. We needed to identify what current conditions inhibited our learners. We identified the following: racialized language and racism impact many learners’ lived experiences; some traditional school practices inhibit learning; and, the lack of clubs and social opportunities has impacted our kid’s social/emotional development.

New Professional Learning: We are fortunate to have our district involved in an equity scan process. They are also promoting UDL as a framework for inclusive practices and have offered pro-d to support this initiative. Our team has had the opportunity to learn from a variety of educators including but not limited to: Carolyn Roberts, Katie White, Lisa Bosio, Shane Safir, Shelley Moore, Marie Battiste, Jo Chrona, and Beth Applewhite. A few of our members have also attended Engaging Learners in the Secondary/Middle School Years, Learning with Syeyutsus speakers series, ERASE trauma-informed safe and caring school communities, ERASE response to racism and targeted hate, and several NOIIE bursts.

Taking Action: This year, KSS has implemented several strategies to support our inquiry. Upon reflection, we have divided up our action pieces into two separate categories: personal and system/structural.

First, our learners are the heart of all of the work that we do and we know that each and every one of them have gifts to offer. We have focused on making connections with all of our learners, and we are making an action plan for next year that includes scheduled meetings with Indigenous learners. These meetings are intended to identify the path that learners are on and recognize the support that they will need to reach their goals. We may be looking at completing a P.A.T.H process for these learners. We have created a suggested timeline for this action piece. We also plan to meet with the Qualicum First Nation’s community and have an information session about graduation requirements, scheduling, groups/clubs opportunities, and other information focused on navigating the high school system to support family awareness and involvement. We are also planning on hosting an Elder’s tea each semester to help connect the local nation and KSS. So far, we are not in a position to do this due to COVID protocols.

Systemically, we have added collaboration and FLEX learning on Wednesday mornings. Our whole staff collaboration has been focused on UDL and anti-racism. We have provided opportunities for our staff to identify where they are on the wheel of privilege, and made space for conversations to support bias recognition. We are inviting our staff to embed FPPL and Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being into their pedagogy and providing resources for them to support this journey. (Thank you FNESC!) This year, we also had all grade 10 learners take EFP10 Literary Studies.

Checking: We are happy that this is a three-year inquiry process. We were not able to ask the questions to the Indigenous learners again this year. However, we were making sure that the Indigenous grade 12 learners were walking across the stage with dignity, purpose, options, and a sense of well-being.

Also, one of our collaboration groups sent out a student survey that asked several questions to all of our learners, one was the adult connection piece. We know we have work to do in this area; however, we are pleased that several learners do feel connected. Out of 432 responses, 55% can identify two adults with whom they feel connected with and make them feel like they will be successful. (23.8% Maybe/21.1% No)

Next year, our team plans on continuing to identify ways to help our grade 8 and 9’s connect to the school community and feel a sense of belonging. We also plan on supporting our student’s grade transitions; part of this is working on identifying support for mental health and SEL. The data that we are using to identify how effective our inquiry is includes the following: attendance reports, student surveys, SBT and DBT referrals, conversations with students and staff, and graduation data. We have also examined the “How are we doing?” report as a baseline.

Reflections/Advice: As a team, we have learned that it is important to pause and slow down. We have determined that we have many ideas to implement; however, we would like to refocus in September and concentrate on making connections with learners and families. We also know that the first few months are key to capturing our new grade 8’s. We are focusing on ensuring that they are aware of ways to be involved in KSS clubs/teams, and we are providing time in the schedule for all of our learners to connect through whole grade assemblies and whole school assemblies. From the data we received from our “Being Connected Survey”, we recognize that whole-school activities are deemed important to our student population.

Systemically, we are still planning to focus our whole staff collaboration on creating equitable learning environments. We are also examining our Kwalikum Kondor logo and are in conversation with local First Nations about possible rebranding. We will be inviting all of our learners to continue identifying bias and privilege.

The advice that our team has for schools with a similar interest is to keep all learners at the centre and the heart of the work and learning. Pause when it is getting overwhelming and busy and connect with the kids. Finally, prepare yourself for the equity work; attend conferences and workshops and create book clubs that center around anti-racism, white fragility/privilege, trauma-informed practice, and UDL. Find your people and reach out for support if needed. (The NOIIE team is excellent for support.)