School Name: Nechako Valley Secondary School
School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes
Inquiry Team Members: Mia Moutray: firstname.lastname@example.org, Jana-Rae Kadonaga: email@example.com, Denise Dowswell: firstname.lastname@example.org, Monique Morris-Mullings: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Other: SEL
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, Experiential learning, 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
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? To increase a sense of belonging amongst learners in our Middle Years wing, through a more consistent advisory/CREW time program in all classes.
Scanning: We noticed that after five years of having a Middle Years program, there were some young adolescent learners who continued to not connect to their learning environment and the class community. Since our different grade seven and eight classes did not have an aligned and equally thorough CREW practice, we went back to the core practice of our program: implementing a strong and thorough advisory program in all classes.
Focus: It is proven that CREW time supports building relationships, by allowing time to get to know one another and practicing listening, speaking, playing and thinking. If a learner speaks up in the morning, they are more likely to speak up again that day. The changes we were hoping to obtain were a solid and more unified CREW time program, so that no learner goes without.
Hunch: When CREW time practices were not in place, we could see that the class had more learners checking out and not connecting to their community. This impacts their academic ability and willingness to engage in learning. Relationship building and community is the foundation upon which all other learning and behaviour rest. If a sense of belonging is lacking, learners are less likely to do well.
New Professional Learning:
– We used the modules from the Middle Grades Collaborate in Vermont (Mia, Denise and Jana-Rae went to Vermont in June 2019 and had a chance to work on creating foundations for MYNVSS).
– Dr. Nancy Doda consultation
– AMLE website
– Dr. Leyton Schnellert webinars 2019-20
– Ongoing MYNVSS meetings
– CREW time built into the schedule, in the mornings, for all classes
– Collaborating creating the agenda PPT slides for CREW time (each MYNVSS teacher took on a week at a time in a rotating schedule)
Taking Action: The sharing of creating agenda slides worked like a charm. When each teacher was invested in the process of ensuring each CREW had a purposeful goal, we noticed how they engaged more in ensuring CREW time took place. Mia started having Friday fika with her two crews, where the class had tea and reflected on the learning that week using the four questions. Together, the class set a goal for the next week that they later reviewed. During COVID-19 remote learning, classes/crews with a strong commitment to relationship building, had a noticeable amount of learners returning to engage in CREW time online. The positive results from putting effort into CREW time was clearly noticed and valued by learners.
Checking: As a wing, we have clearly witnessed a huge difference in the commitment to CREW time. It has increased and solidified compared to previous years. The evidence for community building was the level of engagement with learners during remote learning time this spring. In classes where the four questions were being asked, learners moved from reflecting on academic performance to how we were building community, recognizing the value of that process.
Reflections/Advice: We learnt that CREW time is NOT a waste of time, but an essential part of a Middle Years program. It helps to create a safe learning community where learners’ social, emotional and academic learning is put in the centre. We feel that we do however need to track learners’ sense of belonging in some kind of record keeping or chart, to ensure no learner is being forgotten or bypassed. In addition to the tracking, other classes will be implementing fika/tea time, and we are going to expand on our CREW time agenda to include music and student voice (ultimately, the learners should be part of collaboratively creating the agendas)!
Advice for other schools would be to spend time on community building through advisory time. It is a sacred time that builds a strong foundation – a necessity for Middle Grade learners!