Inquiry Question: How does my practicum school successfully incorporate AbEd as a lens to its daily practice? How do I fit in?
My practicum school has fully incorporated Aboriginal education as a lens to its daily practice. My school is 14.5% aboriginal students; we have two full time First Nations Support Workers on staff and offer Culture classes for students whose parents elect them to join. From assembly acknowledgements to school-wide events, to resources available for both teachers and students, my school has given me an opportunity to learn. My inquiry is focused around where and how AbEd is visible within the school and what my own role is in creating a space, both visually and academically, for Aboriginal learning in my classroom and beyond.
I have chosen to do an annotated photo essay for my inquiry, as it shows how AbEd is being made visible at my school. The first part of my inquiry focuses on the School’s AbEd lens; where Aboriginal learning is visible and tangible throughout the school. Part two focuses on the support systems available, both for the students and teacher, so that we may grow together as a community. My final section of my photo essay focuses on my personal journey of incorporating Aboriginal Education into my practice and making it visible in my own classroom.
Part 1: School-Wide Aboriginal Education Lens
Aboriginal Learning Incorporated into Daily Practice
Visually, the school is rich with Aboriginal learning. From local first nations artists to student artwork, the halls are brightly adorned and reflect the vaules of the school. In the weekly Friday assembly, traditions such as the talking stick are incorporated, as well as weekly acknowledgements made by students at the beginning of each assembly. The school also has a Word of the Week, which is presented in Squamish, French and sign language. School-wide events such as Orange Shirt Day in the fall and Salmon blessing in the Spring are just two examples of where the entire school comes together.
Part 2: Support
Aboriginal Education Support Resources
Heather Myhre: District Support/ She comes to the school Thursdays and teaches lessons to the students about aboriginal history and culture through story telling.
Suggested resources : FNESC to help guide teachers in AbEd.
Classroom Resources: Shi Shi Etko (Residential Schools), Secret of the Dance (Potlatch Banning), First Nation’s shapes in math.
First Nations Support Workers: In North Vancouver School District, First Nations Support Workers provide on-going support and ensure the long-term success of students of Aboriginal ancestry. At Westview, we are lucky to have two individuals who are present in the classrooms and throughout the school to support students and teachers. They also hold culture class twice a week. Parents with students of aboriginal ancestry have the option to enroll their children in Culture. In culture students are reviving traditions such as weaving, button blankets, making bannock, reading traditional stories and learning to value and respect indigenous culture and knowledge.
Suggested resources: Medicine Wheel: Represents balance and can take any form you choose – a good resource for teachers to authentically incorporate into their classrooms.
Part 3: My Own Classroom
Making AbEd visible in my Classroom
Through my practicum, I worked to incorporate Aboriginal Learning into my practicum, with a goal to make it visible. By interviewing various support staff at Westview, it has given me the confidence and tools to help me bring AbEd into my own practice. For instance, I feel supported by the First Nations Support to ask questions, and to try thing in my classroom. I also now have some tools I feel comfortable using in my classroom. These include learning through storytelling (both of First Nations stories and not), the First People’s Principles of Learning, as well as the confidence to use tools such as the medicine wheel in my teachings.