School Name: Lake Trail Community Middle School
School District: SD#71 Comox Valley
Inquiry Team Members: Our entire staff
Inquiry Team Contact Email: Gerald.Fussell@sd71.bc.ca
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Other: All curricular areas have been touched on.
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Formative assessment, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, Transitions, Universal design for learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How do we use the move into a new building to improve inclusion?
Scanning: Our team has been built over the past 5 years around a Spirals model of Inquiry. Each year we scan, focus, develop our hunches, learn, take action, and then review our work to set our questions for next year. This past year we focused on increasing our awareness and understanding of inclusion. This year we are activating our learning as we practice, experiment, and learn what supports success as we prepare to move into a new building. This spring we will apply that learning, develop a plan, resource, and then move into a new building for September 2021. Our priority is to capitalize on this opportunity to improve our work on inclusion.
Focus: We will be looking at the use of space, structural messaging, and school culture building to create a wholly inclusive new school while serving our same community.
Hunch: It is hard to break from a traditional pedagogy; however, by preparing for a school based on contemporary learning research and practice, we will be able to accelerate our inclusive beliefs and practices.
New Professional Learning: We continued our work on Trauma-informed practice, most specifically working with Dr. Jody Carrington’s work (book study, on-line course, social media connections). We actively worked with UDL and shared our work. And, our Inclusion support team worked with teachers in classes based on class profiles and UDL practices, most specifically on executive skills.
Taking Action: We had a great start to our Covid school year because we were able to follow the plan for the fall we created in June. In the middle of December our Inclusion Support Team met to review where we were and what we needed to do to further improve our capacity. As a note of learning, the last week of school before Winter Break after a stressful and exhausting four months is not a good time to hold a meeting. However, everyone participated and everyone engaged. Our Inclusion Support Team is outstanding. From this meeting we mapped our next steps.
1. Support the creation of class profiles and use that to direct the supports.
2. Begin laying the groundwork to launch Positive Behavioural Interventions and Supports (PBIS).
3. Get support from SET BC.
4. Build capacity with our technology.
With the support of SET BC, we were able to release each of our teacher teams to meet for half a day with one of our Learning Support Teachers to prepare comprehensive class profiles following a template introduced by Shelley Moore. Once they did that, they worked together to plan based on the class profiles, and our Learning Support Teachers were able to collect themes common to all 7 teams in our learning community. This informed their support work over the winter.
A small group of us pooled our networks and resources to identify a good print sourcebook for PBIS. We ultimately decided on the PBIS Team Handbook: Setting expectations and building positive behaviour by Char Ryan and Beth Baker. Our counsellor, Jocelyn, has volunteered to take the lead on this and now has a committee of 27 people from our learning community and district personnel to guide our work as we learn and prepare to introduce our individualized PBIS model in September.
Working with SET BC we have been able to release teachers, gather pertinent resources such as the PBIS Handbook, and get training for our Education Assistants and Teachers. We have also been able to tap into their expertise in areas of planning and differentiating instruction. With respect to technology, they have sourced key supports and provided guidance on applications for a myriad of technological supports.
At our district Professional Development Day in February we had an outstanding morning of presentations connected to our work with the Downie-Wenjack Foundation and our acts of ReconciliAction. Every school in our district signed up as a Legacy School when the opportunity was first presented and we have benefited from our three year connection with this evolving project. In the afternoon, most schools worked through the outstanding learning resource, Continuing our Learning Journey: indigenous Education in BC. Our staff had worked through this last year, so we spent the afternoon in our teams sharing resources and our thinking as each team planned and prepared for at least one event designed to support reconciliation.
In late February, our Inclusion Support Team met and identified common themes they were seeing across our school and prepared a menu of supports.
VISION: We will help make each child’s life better and develop expert learners.
Members of the LTCMS Inclusion Steering Committee (Sarah D, Lana, Jocelyn, Nicole, Tonya, Gerald, & Jane Rondow) have created a chart of INCLUSION PRIORITIES in our school & POTENTIAL SUPPORTS (http://whynot-gfussell.blogspot.com/2021/05/mid-year-check-for-inclusion-learning.html).
With this information and our support team’s leadership, we have again released each of our teacher teams to plan, using their refined class profiles. They will set their directions for the rest of this year insuring inclusive design for all. This will be done before they leave for Spring Break. Our hope is that by providing the menu above, teachers will select areas they would like support in to better meet the diverse needs in their classes.
After Spring Break, we will implement the plans created in these meetings. Measures of our success will come from student and parent responses on the Student Learning Surveys – we survey students in all 4 of our grades – self-reports on Core Competencies, and core learning growth.
This spring we will be turning our heads to our new school. In September we move into a new building, on the same property, that has been designed based on modern learning principles. We have been involved in this process for the past 5 years, and 3 years ago our staff committed to learning how to support inclusive learning in a very different physical space. As the date roles closer, our focus is sharpening, and our learning will be more specific and connected. How do we support those with backgrounds of trauma in large, open spaces? How do we support student learning without walls? What executive skills will we need to focus on to help adolescent students be successful without many of the structures we are used to having? We have been very fortunate to have received considerable support from Canyon Falls Middle School in Kelowna, as their pedagogical underpinnings align with ours, they are two years ahead of us in this journey, and we know we have a lot to learn.
Our inclusive journey has been challenging and very rewarding. We are thankful for the many supports we have and are proud of our evolving culture of inclusion.
Checking: We will only be able to assess this based on our practice this fall. The professional development for our learning community was been very, very rich and we have all improved in our practice and awareness.
Reflections/Advice: As a staff, our professional development has been outstanding and our students have benefited from it. Considering (Covid 19, construction, etc.) the challenges faced this year, if it wasn’t for the groundwork we’d laid the past three years, this would have been a very different year. This fall we plan to implement the last plank of our transition to inclusion, a PBIS model for our new school. Another interesting thing for us to reflect on will be how durable the cultural shift will be, as half of our staff that created the culture shift have moved on to other positions for the new school year.