School Name: Panorama Ridge Secondary
School District: SD#36 Surrey
Inquiry Team Members:Justin Boehringer; email@example.com
Matteo Babini; firstname.lastname@example.org
Leanne Whynot; email@example.com
Nikki Scott; firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Moloney; email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: AESN (focus on Indigenous learners or Indigenous understandings)
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Not applicable
Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), First Peoples Principles of Learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How can we better support the teaching staff in our school with Aboriginal pedagogy and First nations Principles of Learning within their classrooms?
Scanning: The scanning process for us was talking to fellow teachers as well, not just the students. We used the four key questions in our talking with students, what came of that is a lot of our students feel supported and feel that people in the school care about their success. From talking with teachers it seemed they felt less supported with the new curriculum and bringing in Aboriginal Pedagogy, which is why we went in that direction.
Focus: From talking with teachers, a lot of them felt this was all very new to them and they didn’t feel like they were experts in the field of Aboriginal knowledge. For a lot of teachers they’re comfortable with their own subject because they feel like they’re experts. It can be hard for teachers to bring in these new ideas to their classrooms, so we wanted to support them in that process.
Hunch: Our biggest concern was if teachers didn’t feel comfortable with Aboriginal knowledge, that it would simply be forgotten or ignored. There’s no police going around seeing if teachers bring in Aboriginal knowledge so some may feel it’s easy to not do if they aren’t comfortable. So instead of teachers taking a step into this new experience feeling uneasy, we wanted them to take that first step in confidence
New Professional Learning: The best professional learning I explored was looking into each department and seeing what they needed to feel confident in themselves. Rarely do we as teachers take time to understand how other departments work and what supports work for them, so taking time to understand other areas of expertise was great. Then looking for ways to “bridge the gap” between these subjects and Aboriginal Knowledge was helpful for those teachers by finding proven resources for them to use or adapt.
Taking Action: Being in such a big school it was difficult to organize times for official meetings. We largely used informal chats or get togethers to exchange ideas and get feedback. By meeting face-to-face with colleagues it was much more effective than sending out emails with resources. Printing off a resource and physically bringing it to a teacher, and having a quick conversation about it, made it more meaningful and more likely that the teacher would actually use it in their class.
Checking: We were able to make some differences in a few departments, mainly the “easy” ones like English and Social studies. For a lot of our teachers at our school this is all very new to them so even if we can start with the “easy” departments it’s still a start. I don’t feel like the differences were enough to generate a critical mass that spreads throughout the school, not yet!
Reflections/Advice: From this inquiry I learned that no teacher intentionally leaves things out of their practice by choice. Sometimes things become hectic or the teacher doesn’t feel confident, and things end up being swept aside. But the moment you come in with some form of support it can be a very easy 180 degree switch for that teacher. Meeting face-to-face is my biggest recommendation for other schools, they are much more meaningful and make people feel like you genuinely care about how they’re doing. Next I plan to continue chipping away one teacher at a time and one department at a time, making sure they all feel supported.