School Name: Simon Cunningham Elementary
School District: SD#36 Surrey
Inquiry Team Members:Christian Oskam; firstname.lastname@example.org, Juniper Ridington; email@example.com, Monique Ivens; firstname.lastname@example.org, Erin Powell; email@example.com, Maxine Pressman; firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus areas led us to finding ways to access Aboriginal knowledge in order to enrich our school community and Aboriginal learners.
Scanning: Our scanning process led us to identifying ways in which our Aboriginal students could connect with their culture in the context of the school. We noticed students were looking for connection points.
Focus: We have a school drum that was unused. We felt we could help rehabilitate the drum and make new ones. It would be an act of reconciliation to have the drums used as in integral part of our future assemblies. We were hoping that our learners would have pride and a sense of empowerment.
Hunch: The sense that students were looking to give us the “right” answer in the scanning process makes us wonder if we put too much emphasis on the Western way of learning and regurgitating information.
We wondered if putting too much attention on Aboriginal students (ie having the drum making just for them) would make them uncomfortable. As a result we brought the learning focus to the whole school.
New Professional Learning: Two of our members are currently enrolled in UBC’s MOOC on Reconciliation and Indigenous Education.
Our drum lesson plans highlighted cultural protocols so teachers as a whole would be more cognizant of them.
We wanted to reach out to Aboriginal Knowledge keepers for guidance as well as be responsible for our own professional learning on the topic.
Taking Action: We invited in an Aboriginal Elder, Ralph Leon, and a district cultural facilitator, Chandra Antone, to share drum making with our grade six students. We also researched and provided lesson plans and online resources to all teachers on Aboriginal drumming and Cultural Protocols.
The drum making sessions were successful, however, due to the preferred age range for drum building, (Grade six) we only had a few of our Aboriginal students in the cohort who built the drums. Unfortunately, Chief Leon did not attend so Chandra, with the aid of Janet Crowford for part of the time, ended up leading the workshops.
Checking: We are pleased with the start we have made but acknowledge that we are still in the beginning stages on our road to reconciliation.
Reflections/Advice: Finish by sharing what you learned from this inquiry, where you plan to go next, and what advice you would offer other schools with similar interests.
We will continue to integrate Aboriginal ways of knowing in our professional learning and school community through:
• Incorporating the drums we made in assemblies
• Learning songs
• Bannock and Books
• Celebrating National Aboriginal day
We plan to continue our actions in the future.