Nanaimo District Secondary School SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

School Name: Nanaimo District Secondary School

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Kelly Barnum,
Michelle Smith,
Carol Funk,

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

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

Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Not applicable

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our primary focus was to continue working with our grade 8s from last year as well as connecting with our current grade 8s, while adapting our plans due to the limitations of Covid protocols.

Scanning: Some of our scanning happened last year during remote learning. We were pleased to see that the connections we built with our grade 8s made them want to keep working with the drumming group. Due to Covid, we didn’t get a chance to formally scan our incoming grade 8 students when they first arrived at NDSS. Using the information we gathered last year, we planned ways to connect with our grade 8 and 9 students. In March, we had a chance to check in with our grade 8s and make adjustments that would support their feelings of belonging, as well as their learning.

Jan 2020: Connecting students, 1) to an adult at school; 2) to an Indigenous Education program; and 3) by strengthening current connections through events involving food. Having had a successful first year, we decided that it would be wise to continue our plan to focus on grade 8’s (and adding in the new 9s) and developing their connection to staff and fellow students. As the year progressed, we discovered that there were a number of grade 10-12 students who would benefit from our focused attention.

Hunch: Our largest hunch as we went into this year, was that covid protocols were going to make it much more challenging to connect with our students in large groups and over meals.

New Professional Learning: Continuing our PLC group meant that we had time each week to check in with each other on the various ways we were incorporating professional learning. We participated in numerous workshops through our school district’s learning leader meetings, as well as the 2021 NOIIE Symposium and the Moosehide Campaign Day. We read numerous books including White Fragility, This Book is Anti-Racist, and some of Brené Brown’s work.

Taking Action:
– Continuation of drumming group
– Missing collaboration
– Shane’s story: Reflection on building trust and how we build trust with our students, bravely doing counselling outside the traditional school counsellor office, stepping forward to decolonizing counselling and connecting with nature
– Commit to actual change in social conditions of students and advocate to remove barriers to connection
– Smaller scale food events: Christmas brunch, Spring brunch, Easter get-together for Grade 8s

Checking: The connections we made with our students over the past two years has absolutely changed how they feel about the staff in this building, but it has also led to incredible collaboration amongst our colleagues. We still have much work to do as we begin to widen our circle beyond the three staff who participated in this transition project, as well as include more of our Indigenous students as they make the transition from 8/9 and into their grad program. None of our grade 8,9, or 10s next year will have had a full year of “normal” schooling, and the transition back to a semester system without cohorts could prove hard on a number of our students. Setting up systems for next year will be just as important as it was this year.

Future Planning:
– Developing social emotional learning through wellness presentations grounded in Indigenous practices
– Well-being is better in a collaborative environment for all students, teachers, and families
– Connect with local network about NOIIE projects to promote creativity and establish our own supports
– Re-establish with Grade 10’s who were our original Grade 8’s two years ago, as they enter the grad plan (how many are on outreach, online learning/hybrid, or back at NDSS)
– Re-establish our connections with parents, through food gatherings, as COVID allows. Many parents have felt disconnected from school throughout COVID, as they were not allowed in the building
– Developing multi-graded student mentors
– Encouraging and supporting colleagues to engage in the decolonization of their lesson plans – a shift toward an approach and practice that uses the First Peoples Principles of Learning
– Place-based learning in the community: Getting our kids off-campus to strengthen connections through experiences.
– Teacher pro-d that supports collaboration and the changing roles of educators

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