School Name: School District #47
School District: SD#47 Powell River
Inquiry Team Members: Allison Burt : Allison.Burt@sd47.bc.ca
Alisha Point : Alisha.Point@sd47.bc.ca
Karina Peters: Karina.Peters@sd47.bc.ca
Tyler Peters : Tyler.Peters@sd47.bc.ca
Roseann Dupuis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica Johnson: Jessica.Johnson@sd47.bc.ca
Gail Blaney: Gail.Blaney@sd47.bc.ca
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Language Arts – Oral Language, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Social and emotional learning, Transitions
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We wanted to bridge the transition from elementary to secondary school for Indigenous learners.
Scanning: We asked students:
What are you learning?
Who in your lives believe that you would be successful in school?
Do you feel welcome and like you belong in school?
We surveyed the grade 8 and 9 students to see how they felt when they transitioned to the high school. Although most students identified that they had people who believed in their success at school, it often was not school staff who were identified as that support system. Some of the students were not even aware that they had access to the supports provided by the school.
Additionally, some of the team had conversations with Elders in Tla’amin and they indicated that they wanted to spend time in the schools in a genuine way. Younger learners weren’t necessarily learning from the Elders in a traditional way.
Focus: When we surveyed Indigenous students, they identified that the transition from elementary to secondary was challenging. We hoped to provide incoming students with the opportunity to interact with students and staff, to help them feel comfortable, and to identify what support systems are in place. We felt that if students could establish a connection with adults at Brooks, and begin to feel comfortable in the school, the transition will be easier.
We also wanted current Brook’s students to have the opportunity to remain connected with their elementary school. Providing opportunities to strengthen the leadership group as well as the senior Ayajuthum language class by having activities between schools could help to bridge those connections.
Hunch: The disconnected classes and sense of community is not as strong as in past years. Ayajuthum language needs to be a priority within the school and district. Increasing the exposure to more students will lead to more inclusive curriculum, more students accessing the language courses, and create a safer environment.
New Professional Learning: The students worked with an adult who taught them how to film using the cameras. Although our original intent was to have the students edit the videos, it was not possible given COVID. We hired a grade 11 student to edit the videos.
We explored generational learning with elementary students, secondary students, teachers and Elders participating in the process.
Taking Action: We invited Elders from the community to come to the Ayajuthum language class to share their knowledge with secondary and elementary students. This helped strengthen the relationship between the Elders and the youth. This also bridged the transition to secondary school for the elementary students. The sessions were recorded and students got to practice filming and interviewing skills. The videos were edited for other classrooms to access and use in the future as a resource using the First Peoples Principals of Learning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH-Ep91m3v0
Checking: Even given the challenges of COVID, we did see that this made an impact. The students who were involved in the Elder visits were interviewed a second time, and asked:
- What was the most memorable part?
Some of the answers to the questions were:
“The stories from the Elders”
“Listening to the stories”
“Elsie telling her stories, getting to know more of the other Elders”
- Did this spark an interest in learning more about Indigenous culture, practices and ways of learning? Is there a particular topic or skill that you like to learn?
“Yes – I want to learn more about cedar weaving. I really want to learn to make a cedar rose.”
“It did make me more interested in learning more about our culture. I would like to learn more of the language. I am enrolled for Ayajuthem.”
“Yes, I want to learn how to carve. I have a cousin who was a carver. I want to continue practicing how to make earrings.”
- What did you like about coming to Brooks before grade 8? How did it go? How did it make you feel? Did it make you feel more comfortable here?
“I liked coming to Brooks before grade 8. It went good. It made me feel like Brooks wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
“I liked how big Brooks was. JT (the elementary school) is so small and quiet. I was scared to come to Brooks.”
“The project went good. It made me feel more comfortable with coming here to Brooks. It was less scary being in a class and walking the halls.”
Although we are encouraged by the responses, we are not satisfied that we are finished. This is ongoing and important work.
Reflections/Advice: We realize that we have just scratched the surface in what needs to be accomplished. There is ongoing interest in the community passing on their traditions and knowledge and reconnecting with youth. Shared activities need to be ongoing to keep the importance of this work prioritized. We want to revisit and re-assess this process next year when we no longer have COVID restrictions. We want to be able to invite the Elders back to continue this process. We want to provide this opportunity to other classes when they are ready to listen and learn. As for advice, we encourage others to reach out to Elders in their communities to ask if they want to be involved.