Nechako Valley Secondary School SD#91 Nechako Lakes

I. General Information

School Name: Nechako Valley Secondary School

School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes

Inquiry Team Members: Mia Moutray:

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Mercedes Ducharme/

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

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

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Other: Core Competencies

Focus Addressed:

  • Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)
  • Experiential learning
  • First Peoples Principles of Learning
  • Formative assessment
  • Growth mindset
  • Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies
  • Indigenous pedagogy
  • Land, Nature or Place-based learning
  • Self-regulation
  • Social and emotional learning
  • Other: Building relationships, identity, belonging

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus was building a sense of belonging for all learners in our program.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Click here to watch a PowerPoint that summarizes our Inquiry in a 3-minute presentation we did for the SD91 Celebration of Learning.

Scanning: We used the four questions as part of our inquiry by posing these questions to our learners in the fall. We noticed that most could identify two adults who they felt believed in them, but had a hard time articulating their learning. We used the OECD principles by focusing on how much we were actually putting the learner in the center; we were curious about how much our perception of their experience in the Middle Years program reflected what they were actually experiencing. We honoured the First Peoples’ principles of learning by attempting to build and maintain strong relationships with as many learners as possible.

Focus: We selected this as our area of focus because we knew, both intuitively and based on research, that learners who feel connected to and supported by adults have better outcomes in learning than those who don’t. Furthermore, learners who have a strong sense of self and belonging can focus their energy on learning significantly more than those who don’t. The changes we hoped to obtain for our learners was greater connectedness, a sense of self worth, and that they mattered.

Hunch: Our hunch is that we are often too focused on academics at the expense of getting to know our learners. Often, we get focused on content and curriculum over relationships. For example, instead of putting effort into CREW time and land and place-based learning, we put more focus on classroom learning that reinforces a traditional notion of “how to do school.”

New Professional Learning: Some new professional learning includes:

  • Peter Liljedahl: creating community, defront the classroom, movement, random grouping, thinking tasks​
  • Jo Chrona: learner in the centre, decolonization – what does that look like, values in learning​
  • Faye Brownlie: literacy strategies​
  • Nancy Doda, NVSS/SD91 workshop 2019 “Belonging trumps learning”​
  • “This We Believe” (2010)​

Taking Action: Some actions that we took included:

  • Checking in with all grade 8 learners twice​, using the four questions
  • Seeking commonality with our learners who have different values; worked to maintain a relationship despite different worldviews and perspectives​
  • Trying to engage learners more in class (activities, hands-on, slowing down and spending more time to deepen learning, have conversations and respond to learners)​
  • Building community throughout the year and not just in our “start-up”; relationships need work​
  • Holding weekly check in meetings on how to support learners who struggle​

Checking: When we checked in with our learners again in the spring, there were fewer learners who could not identify an adult who believed in them. They were also more able to reflect and explain how they knew that adults cared about them. However, students were still not able to articulate what they were learning, how it was going and their next steps, beyond surface-level content learning. Many learners could verbally reflect on the growth that they had made in the year during CREW time, which can be a vulnerable way to share for a young adolescent.

Reflections/Advice: Our goal is to be more transparent and visible about the big ideas and skills that we are building in our learners. We also want to continue to engage our learners in reflective thinking, and support them in thinking about the core competencies and skills they are learning, as well as their next steps. We will continue to focus heavily on building relationships as this is continuously important and not something that happens only in September.

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