Learning Alternatives SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

I. General Information

School Name: Learning Alternatives

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Chad Jobe: CJobe@sd68.bc.ca
Wendy Beaton: Wendy.Beaton@sd68.bc.ca
Trevor McIntyre: Trevor.Mcintyre@sd68.bc.ca
Clay Aitken: CAitken@sd68.bc.ca
Breigh Huggins: Breigh.Huggins@sd68.bc.ca
Amelia Bieling: Amelia.Bieling@sd68.bc.ca
Brett Hancock: bhancock@sd68.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: bhancock@sd68.bc.ca

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

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

Curricular Areas Addressed: Arts Education, Career Education, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Writing, Physical & Health Education, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Inquiry-based learning, Social and emotional learning, Transitions

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How does our perception of success ultimately impact a student’s ability to achieve success?

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We decided to change the order of the four key questions. We felt if we started with the question: Can you name two people in this setting who believe you will be a success in life? and students could not identify anyone, it might take away from their other responses. The scanning process was done by the school principal, Brett, during his monthly student check-ins. Some of this was done at the school and some in the community (if the students were unable to attend).

Focus: For the past couple years our school team of learning leaders tirelessly scanned the students and families that we serve to find what would best guide our inquiry journey. We eventually agreed upon using one of the First Peoples Principles of Learning for our past inquiry question: How can we provide learning that ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors? We will continue to work passionately on making the FPPL be more than just a poster on the wall and make it something that we lead with our heart and mind. We reflected on a record number of graduates during 2022, but worried about how these graduates were doing once they left the walls of our school sites. We asked ourselves, did we do everything we could to provide dignity, purpose and options to every student that crossed the stage?

Hunch: We have some students who we worry might not live to see tomorrow and others who will attend post secondary programs. We asked ourselves “How do we define success? Should we be redefining success?”. We know we can always build stronger relationships and a better model that will improve the life chances of every student we serve.

New Professional Learning: Our new professional learning was focused on questions like:
• How does our (staff, the school system, families, and communities) perception of success ultimately impact a student’s ability to achieve success? (Setting the same expectations for unique learners ultimately results in some feeling like they will never achieve success, while others may never be pushed to their potential).
• How can we honour what a student/family views as success?
• How can we increase the family’s active participation in a student’s success? (family engagement in school and after school learning/community building on a consistent basis, ‘parenting type classes’)
• How can we help parent/families to feel success themselves and foster a culture of self-worth and motivation?
• How do we celebrate success? What successes do we currently celebrate, and which are overlooked? Do we need to rethink this as well?

Taking Action: We shared our inquiry question with all school and community staff that serve students alongside us. This took time, but helped guide us to the model of Team Practice that was being developed by one of our Take a Hike colleagues, Liam Law, and a group of other educators across the province. Liam’s Team Practice Model helped provide each of our programs with common language and a model to better serve our students and families. We started working with every student and family to develop a healing goal, growth goal, and a learning goal (in that order). We are currently creating caring therapeutic ceremonies to celebrate student’s work on their three goals. We knew that we needed to build a learning model that didn’t lose students over the summer, so we created a three day a week summer learning model to provide a safe space for students over the summer months. We have also been able to move all our school programs into the same site. This will help us build more collective teacher efficacy. We are stoked!

Checking: We know that we have made a difference, but when you are supporting the most vulnerable population in the community, it is never enough and you can never sit still for too long. The words from our learners and their families will always be held close to our hearts and help guide us. Working with Liam on a research-based approach to serving youth has us thrilled to better our practice. This will help improve the life chances of the students we love.

Reflections/Advice: We have learned the importance of listening twice as much as we speak. We plan to move forward with a good mix of using our heart and mind to lead learning. The goals and learning that we will guide will be derived from the students and families we serve. We are excited about the new model and celebrating students through therapeutic ceremony. We hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with other schools and allow our students to share their journey.