School Name: Hatzic Middle School
School District: SD#75 Mission
Inquiry Team Members: Lyn O’Grady (teacher) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Marchi Gabriele (Principal) – email@example.com
Many staff at Hatzic Middle School
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Writing, Mathematics / Numeracy, Science, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Flexible learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? The focus this year is for the whole school to inquire about ‘The Sacred Teaching of Humility” – a whole school project.
Scanning: I initially used the 4 key questions as a basis for where the students – the few I chose – were at, which would provide a baseline of where to direct the inquiry of the ‘Sacred Teaching of Humility’. I find this part of the process difficult every year, as the students find this a difficult area. The students know who they can connect with, but are not sure where they are going with their learning and where they are going next. To be honest, I would find it very beneficial to have greater support in this area, maybe in the form of guest speakers for this ‘scanning area’.
My Gr. 7 class, as the staff wanted the whole school project worked on in ‘Home Room’, formed their own groups and each group was given a ‘First Peoples Principle of Learning’. They discussed what they thought it meant and how they could use/bring it into their lives. The students shared their findings with the entire class and we discussed any additional input from the various groups.
Focus: I selected ‘The Sacred Teaching of Humility’, as every year the Elders select a sacred teaching for Mission School District as our focus for the year. This year I created a poster with the wolf (artwork by an Indigenous student in Grade 10) representing the ‘Sacred Teaching of Humility’, and an explanation of the meaning of humility. I was hoping this would inspire staff, as now they had a teaching resource which they and the students could view/review and hopefully be motivated to begin their inquiry. I did not want the poster ‘taking up space on the wall’ never to be discussed, explored, and researched by the students and staff. Hence, I spearheaded our whole school project.
Hunch: Many staff hesitate when it comes to weaving Indigenous ways of knowing, being and learning into the daily curriculum. We seem to have many resources on foreign and far off ancient civilizations, but not too many on our own national Indigenous teachings. Staff rely on resources that are readily available and able to be used with accompanying explanation sheets. ‘The Seven Sacred Teachings’ is a new area for all of us. Each year brings a new teaching selected by the elders, so we are trying to learn and incorporate new understandings with and for our students.
New Professional Learning: The main design used in this whole school project was ‘inquiry based’. I used the prior year’s ‘whole school project’ framework, but needed to make various changes to support and guide the new sacred teaching and animal associated with the teaching of humility. Many of the staff found the poster I created a great ‘jump off’ point to introduce the sacred teaching, and then explore it’s relevance and meaning in each of our lives. The information I used on the poster was from The Seven Sacred Teachings by David Bouchard, and excerpts from: Dave Courchene Jr., Cindy Crowe and Richard Carlson, PhD. In addition, I created 4 lesson plans for the entire staff to use to implement this inquiry project. Each lesson plan was specific and could be easily followed, but I was hoping that staff would bring their own expertise and background knowledge to the inquiry and make changes from what I had written to suit their practice and their students learning styles. I incorporated the idea of students/staff reflecting on ways they could bring humility into their daily lives at home, at school and within their communities.
Taking Action: We have a fantastic staff at our school. They obviously read and used the lesson plans, but made many changes to engage their developing leaners. Some of the many ways the students ‘made their learning visible’ about the ‘Sacred Teaching of Humility’ included:
– the metal work students, with their teacher, designed steel coasters to be given to the Elders at our year end celebration (this unfortunately did not happen due to Covid-19 and the suspension of in-school learning/instruction)
– created songs and explored the words of various songs that they felt connected to the sacred teaching (e.g. Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ and the teaching of the wolf reminds us that the humble ‘walk on part’ is the part that has value and leads to peace, happiness, purpose and fulfillment)
– the drama students created a drama to express their ideas and understandings of humility
– the art students created drawings to show their learning
– the groups in my class created comic strips, picture talks, postcards, and puppets to act out learning
– the woodwork students created carvings of the wolf and created a display depicting the wolf pack
– students created word pictures in digital literature
– brainstormed and wrote out many every day activities to show how they could bring ‘humility’ into their lives as students/adults
Checking: I felt the students and the staff did amazing inquiry work and showed outstanding effort in their learning, the various strategies they used in relation to the subject they teach, and the many ways they ‘made their learning visible’. It was incredible to see how each staff member from each department changed the inquiry outline I provided and made it their own, incorporated this into their teaching practice and worked with the students to decide how they would show their teaching. For example, metal work students created metal coasters with the wolf pictured on them. This inquiry/whole school project sparked many rich and meaningful conversations between staff and students, and through their inquiry they gained a much deeper understanding of ‘The Sacred Teaching of Humility’ and a greater respect for the wolf. Initially, many people had negative comments when thinking/speaking about the ‘wolf’, but this inquiry project definitely changed that to a more positive attitude.
I used two baselines:
1. The four questions
2. The First Peoples Principles of Learning
3. Question sheet – knowledge of the ‘Sacred Teaching of Humility’ and the ‘wolf’ connection
Due to the suspension of in-school instruction, I was unable to revisit the four questions with my learners.
Reflections/Advice: I am learning with and from the students/staff, the many ways we can bring ‘The Sacred Teaching of Humility’ into our daily lives at home, at school and within our communities. In addition, I learned the many ways the student/staff have creatively, through co-creating, co-reflecting and co-problem solving, ‘made their learning visible’ to their peers and adults in the school.
I am unsure where to go next, as we do not know what the next school year will look like as far as student/staff in-school/remote learning. I will be waiting to see what September brings, and go from there. I love whole school projects as it seems to invite and motivate many staff to pursue Indigenous learnings (as the projects I spearhead are Indigenous), and in turn it is highly beneficial to our students. I truly believe inquiry is an excellent vehicle for students and staff to explore any area of learning, as it is intrinsically and extrinsically motivating.