School Name: Bert Bowes Middle School, Dr. Kearney Middle School, North Peace Secondary School, North Peace Secondary School – Energetic Learning Campus
School District: SD#60 Peace River North
Inquiry Team Members:Melanie Carew, Brittany Puttick, Sage Birley, Ashley Beerling, Carleen Andrews, Pat Jansen, Jarrod Bell, Charmaine Chretien
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: AESN Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Other: All, including Core Competencies/depending on student schedules
Focus Addressed: Transitions, Other: Part of this transition involves some aspects of all of the above
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? For learners to use the Four Questions and be able to use them to self-reflect on their learning and move forward with their learning and move forward with their learning journey.
Scanning: We used the 4 Questions to build self-advocacy and to encourage resilience within our students. Our goal was to engrain the 4 Questions in the students by revisiting it throughout the year, which would allow them look to the questions as a way to empower their learning and social emotional growth and regulation. We learned that the questions had to be explicit and meaningful to the students and by revisiting it throughout the year, it became part of the students’ school mindset. By using the OECD principles of learning, students are able to reflect and discover what their talents and abilities are from a strengths-based perspective rather than a deficit model.
Focus: We wanted students to be able to self-reflect and gain tools in increasing engagement and success in school. By focusing on academic and self-regulation/self-care skills, students can take what they learn and use it throughout their school career and beyond. If they are stronger with the social-emotional aspects of themselves, their overall school experience is more meaningful and positive.
Hunch: Prior to this inquiry, we were not explicitly teaching students how to self-reflect and think critically about their learning and what was happening around them. We wanted them to understand that they are ultimately in control of their learning and give them the tools to be able to reflect on their education (academics), self-advocacy, and self-care, and take those things with them beyond graduation. Secondary school is not an event, its another step in their learning journey; it builds on developing their options beyond Grade 12 (workforce, trades, college/university).
New Professional Learning: We shared knowledge between our schools to develop strategies to introduce to our students. Engagement in the Network meetings has continued to be helpful in finding times to meet as a group to review actions. The Learning Journey, “Make it Happen Checklist” for our students was implemented throughout the year. Learning from the Elders elective course, leadership activities, circle talks, New Student Success Quest – goal setting, Big Buddy/Little Buddy program, Nenan Dane zaa, Friendship Centre – urban support, Child and Youth Mental and Health Addictions, Women in Trades Conference, Elder teachings focusing on being a strong Indigenous man, Cultural Aboriginal Student Support Worker-learning conversations about community and culture.
Taking Action: We used a lot of different strategies in our new professional development. Some strategies were more successful than others. There was a high turnover in staff in our Aboriginal Program this year. Some of the students were impacted by the changes. Many students have adults that they trust closely with their needs at school, and when those staff members leave, these students feel at a loss socially and emotionally, which in turn affects their school experience. For example, at one school, an ASSW left the school, leaving a lot of students and staff learning to build new relationships and connections to help students. Middle School Transition Coaches have found that visiting their former students shortly after they begin Grade 10 helps them build connections with their new transition coaches and school communities. Providing a place for students to come in the school and feel safe allows students to know how to access their support people in the school.
Checking: We had a successful start to using the 4 Questions in students’ learning, however it is only the beginning of the process and we need to try to use them more with our students for a longer period of time. Part of the project this year was to establish a baseline based on their self-reflective piece of the questions. As the school year progressed, their was more depth and authenticity to students’ answers to the 4 Questions. This resulted from a deeper self-reflection, but also, from a stronger relationship with school staff.
Reflections/Advice: We found that making more connections with future transition staff throughout the year was most beneficial. We want to continue implementing the 4 Questions in student self-reflections as part of the Aboriginal Coaching Program. The best advice we could give to other schools is to have a relationship with the other schools with a goal of making the transition as seamless as possible. We want students to feel that regardless of the school that they attend, the tools that they have and the staff are there to help support me with my journey.
The Aboriginal Transition Program 2018-2019 continues in our district. We will have a planning meeting early in the school year, as we have once again added new staff to our team.