School Name: Spring Creek Community School
School District: SD#48 Sea to Sky
Inquiry Team Members:Andrea Franklin AFranklin@sd48.bc.ca
Stuart Bent SBent@sd48.bc.ca
Spring Creek Elementary Staff
Inquiry Team Contact Email: Afranklin@sd48.bc.ca
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Not applicable
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Growth mindset, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Will undertaking professional learning about reconciliation and First Nations perspectives and culture deepen staff understanding and help staff feel more confident in facilitating learning though a local indigenous lens?
Scanning: The following questions were considered as they arose during a circle in a staff meeting where it became apparent that people at our school were feeling unsure about how to use a First Nations lens to teach various subjects. Few on staff felt that they were addressing First Nations perspectives well or confidently.
Are students and staff aware of local First Nations issues (current and past)?
Are students and staff comfortable sharing their knowledge of First Nations culture/perspectives? Can they do so in respectful ways?
Are students and staff aware of the impact of residential schools on local First Nations community members?
Can students or staff demonstrate specific knowledge of local first nations culture, history or traditions?
Focus: Some students, staff and families are aware of traditional territory and aspects of both Lilwat and Skohomish culture. Some staff are unsure about how to teach content/ competencies through an indigenous lens. Some classrooms employ First Nations Principles of Learning, but not always explicitly. How can we encourage all of our learning community members to demonstrate empathy for others and respectful behaviour? Will undertaking professional learning about reconciliation deepen staff understanding and help staff feel more confident in facilitating learning though a local indigenous lens?
Hunch: Providing opportunities for staff to discuss reactions to and questions about current and past First Nations history will create opportunities for staff to recognize sources of information/expertise on staff
Providing low risk opportunities for discussion will increase staff confidence about presenting learning with a First Nations lens to students.
Incorporating the First People’s Principles of Learning into how our classrooms and school is run will foster greater consideration of the perspectives and stories of others.
I believe that lots of good learning is going on at our school but staff don’t always share what they are doing – perhaps because they feel vulnerable or unsure. I wanted to create more opportunities to talk about sensitive issues so that we would become more comfortable/ confident with them.
New Professional Learning: We watched videos about reconciliation, bias towards First Nations People, and about current and past issues facing First Nations Peoples in Canada as a staff. We allowed for discussion time afterwards to voice our thoughts, opinions, reactions. We also considered how we might use what we had learned in our own classrooms.
Teachers sought out the advice of our School Cultural Support worker and the District Aboriginal Education Principal on areas or topics that they were unsure of.
Some teachers shared learnings they had gained from working at other schools in the district, some journeyed to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre with their classes, some welcomed students from other schools to share their knowledge of local culture.
One teacher formed a pen pal relationship with another elementary school class in the district (the school uses place based learning and Squamish Nation culture and language as its educational foundation – so its pupils are becoming cultural knowledge keepers). The pen pals developed a relationship over the course of the year and shared their ancestry, love of place and school community with each other culminating in two visits – one to each school to experience each other’s culture, natural surroundings and learning communities.
Every class either contributed to a video or made a patch for our reconciliation blanket – the idea was that each offering would communicate to the entire learning community the work that each and every one of us is doing to learn more about local culture, history and tradition as well as move towards greater understanding of all people.
Taking Action: see above.
Everything listed above went well, with the exception of the staff discussions after watching some of the videos. Perhaps the information was too much and people needed more processing time before they were ready to discuss how they felt about it and how it might be useful in their classrooms. I am not sure how to address this at this point.
Checking: We were finally able to share more of what is happening in each of our classrooms with each other. I am hoping that this first step continues int o further sharing for next year.
We (as a staff) became more aware of some sources of information and knowledge at our disposal in the district.
While I don’t feel that it is as far as I was hoping we as a staff would come, I feel like it is a good beginning.
Reflections/Advice: I have to realize that organizing whole school inquiries can be unwieldy unless there is a unifying theme or question, which with a group of 20 something teachers is often hard to distill down to just one. I feel that inquiries involving one to five classrooms or groups of learners with a very specific focus tend to be more successful and manageable.
That being said, I am going to continue to try and create opportunities for more sharing of learning between teachers and between students.