School Name: Lena Shaw Elementary
School District: SD#36 Surrey
Inquiry Team Members: Adrian MacLennan; email@example.com,
Shane Reader; firstname.lastname@example.org,
Joanne Johnson; email@example.com,
Marlene Brajak; firstname.lastname@example.org,
Armee Malig; email@example.com,
Sean Chambers; 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): Language Arts – Oral Language
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus was on First Peoples Principles of Leaning, goal setting, story-telling and morning meetings.
Scanning: Each of the member of the team asked the four questions and the beginning of this process. We were surprised by the results as many of the students were able to identify adults in the school community who cared about them, and thought that they would be successful in life.
Focus: In our original plan we had hoped to focus on a broader area, from assessment to core competencies. Our initial scan indicated that many of the students where already able to connect with adults in our building and we naturally narrowed down our focus. Each member focused on something that they found important.
Hunch: Our hunch was that if we were able to embed FPPL into some of the work and learning we had planned to do, students we have opportunities to connect with this learning, and deepen their understanding.
New Professional Learning: Our school has been part of the AESN – Spirals of Inquiry project for the past two years. The focus previously has been on FPPL and teacher comfort and competence with the new curriculum. As this is our starting point, our professional learning was to explicitly make connections to FPPL in new routines, and units that we were working with this year.
Taking Action: To take action, our plan evolved into each member working on different routines and units that best fit their classrooms. One teacher worked with the Morning Meeting routine and included FPPL teachable moments. Another focused on the Story Workshop routine, where students explored social studies curriculum, and oral story telling. And finally, another teacher created a goal setting unit involving taking sheep wool from its raw state to a knitting or weaving state.
Our decision was based off giving each teacher the autonomy to deepen their exploration in their own way. Each classroom is different and each teacher is different. We have our own ways of doing things, and our own professional goals for the year. By giving each other the space for this, each member was able to find a way to be themselves and connect with the students.
Checking: Our classrooms are dynamic spaces and the students in each of these cases were incredibly proud of the work they did. Taking something like goal setting and bringing it to life via processing raw sheep’s wool, gave the kids a chance to see how learning takes patience and time. Creating stories, telling them to one another, shows the kids that learning is embedded in memory, history and story. And creating a safe space first thing in the morning, where they can be themselves, share their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and dreams, teaches the kids that learning requires explorations of one’s identity.
As teachers in an inner-city school, we never feel that we have done enough. As we talk and share our struggles and successes, we always point out what we could have done better. We were satisfied with what we did but are still on this journey of becoming the best educators possible.
Reflections/Advice: We have learned that teaching is an art form, that we all have different strengths, abilities and passions. We have learned that being open to new learning, taking risks and giving kids space to explore is essential for meeting the needs of those we teach. We have also learned that embedding FPPL is something that is simple and essential for teaching with this redesigned curriculum.