I. General Information
School Name: W.L McLeod
School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes
Inquiry Team Members: Amy Dash: email@example.com, Kathy Chmelyk: firstname.lastname@example.org, Leona Prince: email@example.com, Lorn Kennedy: firstname.lastname@example.org, Michelle Miller-Gauthier: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Michelle Miller-Gauthierfirstname.lastname@example.org
II. Inquiry Project Information
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Areas Addressed:
- Language Arts – Literacy
- Language Arts – Oral Language
- Language Arts – Reading
- Language Arts – Writing
- Physical & Health Education
- Social Studies
- Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation)
- Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)
- First Peoples Principles of Learning
- Indigenous pedagogy
- Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? To improve Indigenous learner success and create safe learning environments.
III. Spirals of Inquiry Details
Scanning: The last two years’ work involved embedding Indigenous ways of learning in our classroom practices and implementation and navigation of the Honouring Diversity 8 (HD8) Course, as a way to improve equity and reduce experiences of racism for Indigenous learners. The HD8 course has taken on a life of its own, and a process will evolve to respond to each high school’s unique community needs. We will continue to be involved.
As we scan the needs of our teachers, we are seeing a need to support many to learn to embed Indigenous ways of learning — to decolonize our practices where they are causing barriers to learning for Indigenous students. We are still concerned about the experiences of racism that are overt, and those that are systemic (instructional and structural).
Focus: We noticed that many teachers need support with embedding Indigenous ways of learning and knowing and decolonizing their practices. We hoped to improve Indigenous learner success by mentoring the continued creation of safer and non-racist learning environments, through expanded networks of support for teachers in many schools.
Hunch: Our school district conducted an equity scan survey in 2018; based on the results, we were concerned about the experiences of racism that are overt and those that are systemic (instructional and structural).
New Professional Learning:
1) Timperley, H., Ell, F., Le Fevre, D., & Twyford, K. (2020). Leading professional learning: Practical strategies for impact in schools. ACER Press. Chapter 3: Emotion, uncertainty and vulnerability, (45-62)
2) Learn about Critical Race Theory and racism to support teachers as they encounter community and student challenges with some of the concepts
3) Transformative Education Leadership Program through UBC: https://telp.educ.ubc.ca/
4) The Indspire national gathering: https://indspire.ca/
5) District-wide workshop with Monique Gray Smith and Jo Chrona
Taking Action: We will move from building our knowledge base and skills to service work, to provide mentorship for teachers across our district to impact successful Indigenous transitions at a system-wide level. Our mentorship will involve co-teaching and will embed the Spiral of Inquiry and the 4 Key Questions with each class/teacher we engage with.
• Communicate our support/mentorship for teacher learning with a poster and a short video that will be circulated to teachers across the district
• Invite others to be mentors (LSA, shoulder tap those who have been working to decolonize and Indigenize their learning environments)
• Use a formal structure/framework (The Spiral of Inquiry) for working as mentors that involves inquiry and the use of the 4 key questions
• Some of us are going to start an Aboriginal Education LSA so we can expand the number of teachers who are networking to support each other to focus on improving transitions for Indigenous learners.
Continued support for teachers teaching Honouring Diversity 8 and the inclusion of one or more schools offering the program
Checking: A tangible difference has been made. Learners in many buildings and online could answer the four questions positively. We experienced pushback from some community members regarding the Honouring Diversity 8 course, but overall, people are open to learning. We had a first annual pride day event in Vanderhoof, and it was widely attended and a smashing success. Attitudes are changing regarding diversity, and learners are safer because of it.
Reflections/Advice: Throughout this inquiry, our knowledge of Canada’s unwritten history and the lives of Indigenous peoples increased. We have learned not only the importance of sharing our new knowledge, but also how our practices need to change to not only become more inclusive but also less Eurocentric.
We are moving ahead with the creation of a local specialist association based on diversity education. We will continue teaching HD8 in as many buildings as we can and supporting those teachers. We are also continually learning about and embedding Indigenous knowledge and processes in our learning environments to decolonize and indigenize. To be strong allies we will continue to learn about all of the equity issues that impact our learners and communities.