Mamquam Elementary School SD#48 Sea to Sky

By September 5, 20182017-18 Case Study

School Name: Mamquam Elementary School

School District: SD#48 Sea to Sky

Inquiry Team

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOII (focus on core competencies, OECD learning principles, etc.)

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Career Education, Language Arts – Oral Language

Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Experiential learning, Growth mindset, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Following specific protocol for daily Welcome Circles; Restitution Circles between students and inclusive family members when needed.

Scanning: what’s going on – At our school, students come from a wide range of family demographics, ethnic backgrounds and income levels. Coming in with social and emotional trauma, anxiety and life’s daily challenges, teachers see the need for specific circle processes to guide social and emotional connections, growth and mending.

how do we know – Two years ago, our school made the commitment to bring in daily welcoming and closing circles. With rotating staff every September, we often lose 3-4 temporary teachers and gain 3-4 new temporary teachers. To keep new teachers in the loop, we ensured that they had support to continue the daily practice of welcoming and closing circles. We know these morning circles and closing circles work because we observed our students feel and behave with an increased sense of belonging and safety in the classrooms. These circles also gave the quiet children daily opportunities to share their voice in areas that are not academic. In addition, we also see the need for restitution circles. We know the kids need this because social emotional challenges are daily and escalate when not dealt with in a collective and respectful way.

why does it matter – Effective social emotional communication skills matter because that is how we tackle solving social emotional problems from school to home; from childhood to adulthood; from relationships to our work environment.

Focus: We selected this area as it is a consistent work in progress at our school and we all have more learning to do with the understanding and guiding the impacts of circle process and protocol. The changes we were hoping to obtain included:
– increased connectedness within the each classroom and on the playground
– coaching children, especially Tier 3 students, on how to make amends with heart and mind
– coaching staff on how to set the protocol for the different types of circles, specifically welcome circles and restitution circles

Hunch: – with consistent daily welcome circles, students felt they could be who there are and be accepted each day, no matter their moods they came with each morning
– new social connections between peers
– increased sharing of thoughts, feelings and emotions as the year went on
– Kids who struggled to make amends broke through their spirit barriers
– more teachers becoming curious about restitution circles within our school

New Professional Learning: Borrowed Resources:
– Circle Forward (Copyright 2015)
– Heart of Hope (Copyright 2010)
– local Squamish Nation mentor, Charlene Williams

Taking Action: – open daily circles acknowledging territory and speaking Squamish Nation language for our morning greeting
– students opened circle following a specific script, which included circle protocol
– use welcome circle as a time to ask questions that allow us to learn about each other; share how we are feeling; end with an interactive circle game for playful connections
– use closing circles as a reflective time for leaving the day feeling proud of self
– using the book resources to construct protocol for specific restitution circles
– reflecting with colleagues about challenges, successes and what next with the various types of circles and protocol followed

Checking: Starting with Welcome circles is most comfortable for all staff and students. Closing circles are starting to expand too as colleagues see the benefit in leaving the day connected to the place of the classroom, and connected to self with a positive heart and mind. The restitution circles need patience and time to develop and go deeper, but with persistence and guidance they will.

While we are at the beginning of our journey for closing and restitution circles, we are well on our way with welcome circles.

What we need to improve on is getting our data on paper, as it is mainly oral at this time.

Reflections/Advice: We are committed to continuing our team inquiry with the focus ‘How can the teachings of circle protocol and process benefit the community of our school?’. While we are a small group, we are creating a lovely ripple effect to our colleagues, students and families. The circle process for welcome circles is now embedded in our daily routines in all classrooms. What’s next for us to to continue to scan our staff and students for social/emotional well-being, plan forward based on hunches, get our own Circle Forward books and go deeper with social/emotional work embedded in the circle process.

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