School Name: Maywood Community School
School District: SD#41 Burnaby
Inquiry Team Members: Amy Atkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chantelle Daychief (email@example.com)
Kathryn Yamamoto (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kerri Lanaway (email@example.com)
Marie Stevens (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Megan Aprim (email@example.com)
Ravena Berar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sarah Reimer (email@example.com)
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Arts Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Writing, Social Studies, Other: Social Emotional Learning
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example: Traditional knowledge, Oral history, Reconciliation), Community-based Learning, Core competencies (for example: critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and Emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How does our history (past experiences, culture, family) impact our sense of identity and specifically, that of Indigenous peoples?
Scanning: Staff scan Spring 2019: Using Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives learning progression, staff were asked to indicate their strengths and needs.
Staff scan September 2019: Staff were engaged in focused conversations and expressed questions and commitments. There were a range of responses, but also an overall theme around learning more about the impact of history on Indigenous people, and to find ways to enhance our collective knowledge of Indigenous ways of learning.
School Plan Goal: Student self-assessments on perspective taking and problem solving – a need for our students is to learn about different perspectives. Our learning around perspective taking and understanding that while we share our life stories with each other, creates a greater understanding that each person’s perception of that story is their own and may differ from that of others. We want our students to have a strong sense of self, and in order to do that, we need to have a strong sense of others. In order to engage our primary students in deep thinking and to come to a meaningful relationship with themselves, we used Indigenous picture books to explore our identities. Students explored their own strengths, talents, stories, and personal sources of pride. These books lent themselves perfectly to students finding themselves in stories and focusing on their own identities. For many, it was obvious that this was one of the first times that they had deeply examined who they are and it was exciting to see their budding pride and sense of selves. When students have a clear understanding of their identities, they have better chances of being successful in life. When the adults in their lives believe in their success, students too will come to believe in their own success. The spiral approach that we took with our learning allowed us to circle back to topics that we had visited previously and to build on our learning and sense of identity. We could see where we had come from in our learning which helped us to have a clear path forward.
Focus: We wanted our staff and students to have a better understanding of how our histories have impacted our identities. We also wanted students to have a better understanding of who they are as people. We wanted our students to be able to understand that each person has their own perspective on an experience and that to understand ourselves and each other, we need to examine those perspectives.
Hunch: Many teachers admit that they are not very knowledgeable about Indigenous teachings, culture, ways of knowing and being, etc. They are also nervous about teaching Indigenous content for fear they may offend. This can lead to little or no Indigenous content in some classrooms, which of course has an impact on all learners. Schools are still very much run from a colonialist mindset. Although we are beginning to see a shift in teaching and learning, the idea still prevails that students need to behave, act and learn in a certain way, in to order to be successful.
New Professional Learning: We examined our roles and responsibilities as educators on collective and personal journeys of Truth and Reconciliation. While many of the questions that surfaced remain, as they can only be answered through lived experience, we remain committed to enhancing our collective knowledge of Indigenous history and ways of learning. We found that working collaboratively was a huge support to our learning. We used each other’s experience and knowledge to plan our lessons and activities. At the primary level, the resource “The Power of Story” compiled by the Burnaby School District Indigenous Education Program was an invaluable resource in guiding our learning.
Taking Action: We found that hands-on learning such as the Kairos Blanket Exercise led to the most powerful at the intermediate level. Students were engaged emotionally, and many had “a-ha” moments in terms of understanding the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada since contact, and in terms of perspective taking.
At the primary level, students were very engaged with the picture books that we read as they were able to relate to the characters and find themselves in the stories. The characters in the stories were children just like themselves.
Checking: As we were unable to finish our inquiry project, we are unable to answer these questions in depth.
We feel that we began to see a difference in our learners. They improved their ability to understand different perspectives, and most gained a deeper understanding of their identity. We know, however, that our work has just begun and that we would like to continue this spiral of inquiry in the future.
Reflections/Advice: Many teachers gained a new respect and understanding of how complex the history of Canada really is, since contact. Many gained perspective on how history has had an impact on Indigenous Peoples, and that this learning is a continual journey. In order to learn, we need to examine our identities and how this has impacted our perspectives on Indigenous issues and history. We are all part of this (his)story. It is a (his)story that needs to be told and a (his)story that needs to be heard.