Learning Services SD#60 Peace River North

School Name: Learning Services

School District: SD#60 Peace River North

Inquiry Team Members: Navenda Wright: nwright@prn.bc.ca
Anna Cullen: acullen@prn.bc.ca
Jennifer Hebden-Taylor: jhebdentaylor@prn.bc.ca
Seanagh Strebchuk: sstrebchuk@prn.bc.ca
Heather MacGillivray: hmacgillivray@prn.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: hmacgillivray@prn.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing

Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Through collaboration, the team focused on continuing to develop our grade 9 ELL transition from our Middle School to High School campuses.

Scanning: We met as a team four times (twice through scheduled NOIIE Meetings, one afternoon collaboration, and a “Zoom” meeting). Our focus was very much on creating a sense of connectedness and team between the middle school and high school teachers, to continue to strengthen our team to better support our students. Our focus was on being a team and planning as a continuation to the work done in our previous years of learning our students’ academic needs and building a sense of trust with students as they transition to high school. Our planning for the Spring 2020 year included 3 different activities:
1. Pathways (learning journey) Activity → To create a sense of focus for the next 3 years — involving only the school based-teachers and ELL teacher from the district. This was to be held at a neutral site (District Development Centre), be a full day of connecting the two sets of middle school students to each other, and be the first introduction to the high school teacher.
2. Bowling – An introduction of the ELL students from the high school, to build sense of community.
3. Activity & Tour of the High School → led by the school based ELL teacher and ELL Leadership students. Wanted to interview students from previous years about their transition experiences.

When looking at the journey of English Language Learning, it fits into the First Peoples Principles of Learning and we wanted to know our learners to the best of our ability. Having our coaches interact with our ELL learners through the activities, learning about each students’ dreams and goals and where they come from, builds relationships. Most of all, the First Peoples Principle of Learning — in which “learning involves patience and time” — connects to the belief that each of our ELL students have their own lived experiences and history that enrich the journeys of those around them.

Focus: We want our students to know who will support them in their academics and feel that they are a part of the academic community of the high school. Our focus on transitions has developed through the need to make sure that ELL students who transition to the high school have a clear connection to support them in academics and the community within the high school.
Our hope is that students will be able to identify who is supporting them academically, and that students will see opportunities to be engaged in their community. While our activities are about strengthening our students’ community connectedness, they are also about looking at what steps students are going to need to take over the next months and years while finishing their public school education, to be successful after grade 12.

Hunch: By using survey data from the previous years and observations from last year’s afternoon transition activity, we are confident that the connectedness of our students is growing. Some of the students that were in the previous years’ “Breakout Box” and tour activity commented throughout the year how it made them feel more comfortable going to high school. Through further activities, we will be able to continue to strengthen our students’ confidence as they join the high school.

The ELL teacher at the high school has noticed that several students (who were not in the English Learners Skills class) were more open and felt comfortable with having check-ins and asking for support over the course of the year. Another change is observable interaction amongst the different student cultural groups at the high school, as they interact with each other not only in the ELL skills class but in the hallways as well. One of the areas that created that comfort was being able to connect with older students at the school.

There is not only a need to continue to foster and grow relationships between ourselves as ELL teachers and our students, but to continue to build relationships with our colleagues. Being visible and discussing activities to support our students opens a door to further discussions with colleagues around the needed support for these students.

New Professional Learning:
– Group Collaboration (During NOIIE meetings and more focused planning meetings over the school year)
– Collaborating with content teachers on school sites
– ELL teachers sessions at a district level

Taking Action:
1. Continued funding from the board to give our middle and high school ELL teachers coaching time. This enabled them to be able to spend more time working with students in classrooms and in supporting classroom teachers in content areas with adaptations and strategies including Co-Teaching.
2. ELL coaches were able to continue to share strategies that support ELL learners, during staff meetings.
3. Collaboration time was asked for and given to ELL coaches to meet and discuss opportunities for learning, resources and strategies, to meet the ELL needs in our schools.
4. To build relationships between the schools, we were able to grow our transition plan to include 3 activities for our ELL students from the middle schools and second campus of the high school. These activities were interrupted and postponed due to the movement to online learning.
a) “Pathways” → personal journeys for students to look at their goals for school (3 years at high school), and after finishing school
b) Bowling → to include as many ELL students from middle and high schools as possible, to continue to grow the student community
c) Afternoon and lunch at the high school, a group activity “Breakout Box”, and tour given by current ELL students from the high school
5. ELL teachers from the middle and high school collaborated on Transition planning for students through Google Docs and individual meetings, to discuss students and be able to help as much as possible in September.

Checking: With the interruption of in-class learning due to Covid-19 (and to follow PHO safety regulations), our transition activities had to be cancelled. We have agreed as a team that these activities are meaningful and will plan to go ahead with them next year, with the possibility of extending or switching 1-2 activities to the fall.

One of the biggest observations from our Zoom meeting was how much connection each of the ELL coaches have with their students. The stories of how students were advocating for support and continuing to connect with teachers was inspiring.

Reflections/Advice: As a team we are excited to continue to plan and connect with each other. Even though change to remote learning delayed our activities, the team connection and the connection to our ELL students strengthened, and showed great resilience.

Next it would be great to survey our colleagues to get a better picture of their understanding of ELL students and the needs that they see academically. We also would like to continue to be more involved in sharing our learning with our staff at monthly meetings. This could take place through: building pamphlets, take away points, quick videos (in this online world).

Advice to others: Start with knowing your students and grow with your strengths — it takes time.

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