School Name: Sir Sandford Fleming Elementary
School District: SD#39 Vancouver
Inquiry Team Members: Mike Aird: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shannon Boyland: email@example.com
Caroline Cho: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosa Fazio: email@example.com
Paul Hughes: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): 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), Growth mindset, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, Other: circle of courage, goal setting, collective efficacy, learning communities
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Through our collective efforts, how can we provide students with a self-regulation toolkit while honouring Indigenous ways?
Scanning: The 3 big-picture questions helped staff realize that there was an increase in excessive discipline issues, global unkind teasing behaviour, and students ill prepared to deal with emotions and unable to focus nor critically self-reflect. For two years, the school had explored the Seven Grandfather Teachings and Character Traits to contribute to helping students become well-balanced contributing members of the community. However, the transference of traits did not make a noticeable difference. The OECD principles of learning were not unpacked during the scanning phase, yet the SEL team noted a strong overlays with the FPPL and SEL.
Focus: The focus was for Fleming students and staff to work together to create a safe, caring and creative space for students to improve their social-emotional skills. Developing a school wide toolkit of strategies for students, with common language used K to 7 for consistency and continuity, was the original focus.
Hunch: Since there was no common practice, we proposed that if we use common language and strategies school wide, we will build greater capacity for success.
New Professional Learning: We explored Stuart Shanker and the Mehrit Centre Self-Regulation Toolkit for schools; Indigenous ways of being and the importance of belonging; the Circle of Courage framework, research and strategies; Growth Mindset; the Tribes resource for community building; Zones of Regulation; Core Competencies, and more.
As integrating Indigenous ways was important for staff, and the Circle of Courage resonated with us, we created a Google Doc to store links in the four spirits with two team members taking a lead with each spirit — belonging (I am loved); mastery (I can succeed); independence (I have the power to make decisions); and generosity (I have a purpose for my life). This Google Doc reflected our learning (with extensive links) and we are happy to share with anyone who wants to contact us. We brought our learning to a preliminary staff meeting where we shared the four spirits with some suggested resources to explore, and then held two subsequent staff meetings to determine an action plan.
As a staff, we chose one primary resource that everyone would commit to using, allowing people to use the supplemental resources as they saw fit. For the spirit of belonging, we created 5 teams (learning communities) for staff to belong to and explore the learning. Reaching All by Creating Tribes Learning Communities was the primary chosen resource, and a resident expert on the SEL team shared some learnings with staff around community circles, greetings at the door, and spirit buddies. For independence, the staff agreed on using the Zones of Regulation and another SEL team member led ProD for staff. Key visuals were also chosen by each team, printed and laminated for each community. For the 2019-20 school year, we were only able to tackle belonging and independence. Mastery and generosity will be introduced in 2020-21. Since Fleming Wolves (who we are) HOWL (what we do), we represented the WOLVES acronym through the core competencies through the creative genius of another SEL team member.
Taking Action: A community celebration assembly introduced the Circle of Courage to students, and our Indigenous Enhancement Worker shared her story. With the spirit of belonging, the teachers extended themselves to build a sense of belonging through community circles, welcoming students at the door, establishing team names, etc.
In March, grade 1/2 and grade 7 students did a musical performance on the theme of “Belonging and Being Yourself,” incorporating the entire school in a dance finale with a message of “you belong” and “we are a team.” The school was also introduced to the Cherokee legend of the two wolves living within us (the good wolf and the bad wolf) and how our actions feed the good wolf.
With the spirit of independence, staff began using the Zones of Regulation program. Our Community School Team staff who work with our students after school, also received training and the same set of posters (mindful breathing, size of problems, etc) to use within their programs.
To start the 2020-21 school year, we purchased a growth mindset resource and also incorporated goal setting for the Grade K-2 teams, Gr. 3-5 teams and Gr. 6-7 team. We will then extend into the spirit of generosity.
Checking: A Circle of Courage Student Survey was administered to our 225 grade 4 to 7 students using a Likert scale. This is to act as our baseline data as we will be administering the survey again February 2020. We also administered the four questions to one grade 5 class before schools went into Covid mode. Our essential question for belonging is: Can you name two adults at school who believe in you and think you can be successful? We look forward to continuing to gather some baseline data.
Reflections/Advice: This inquiry, through the lens of the Spiral, has allowed our school to embark on a deep learning experience. To begin with, we are all working towards a collective vision which is incredibly powerful. We are in the midst of learning what we need to do more of, and less of, for our students. The importance of various levels of data collection are fundamental to making any notable difference for learners.
We would recommend setting up a learning communities (pod) structure in your school, in order for one member of each team to be on the SEL team. This structure allows for committee members to gather input from pod members which incorporates voice and a richer discussion at the committee level. The success of the SEL team has prompted us to set up three other similar committees next year with the same format. One of our committees will be the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team (EDIT) and we are excited to see where that inquiry leads that team and how it may contribute to our SEL inquiry.
We believe that through collective efficacy, we can indeed make a difference to the social and emotional well-being of the students (which ultimately results in the well-being of staff). We look forward to continuing this inquiry next year.