Gillian’s AbEd journey

Coming up with an Inquiry:

Formation of an inquiry question was very difficult, as I could not see how I could introduce Aboriginal Education to my science and PE classes without it feeling forced and tokenized. When I was introduced to the First People’s Principles of Learning I immediately felt more comfortable with the idea.

Question: How do the First People’s Principles of Learning relate to my life and my practice? How can I introduce these into my classroom?

First peoples principles of learning

Personal Understanding of my Inquiry:

I found the first step of my inquiry to be focused on reflecting on the First People’s Principles of Learning and trying to figure out how they relate to my practice. I found that the principles could relate to myself as learner, my practice as a teacher, or both.

  • Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.
    • In order to become a good teacher that is able to contribute to my community I must commit myself to being a lifelong learner. This to me means continuing to stay up to date with new practices and research in teaching, science, and health/sport.
  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).
    • This bullet was the first that I related to my practice and my own learning style. In my teaching I have begun to lean towards experiential teaching where students learn through doing, both in the classroom and in the gym.
  • Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.
    • This principle I related to my professionalism and the realization of the affect that teachers can have on students, both positively and negatively. Throughout my practicum I have used this principle when dealing with difficult students and situations, I have tried to always approach the students with compassion and caring before reprimand.
  • Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities.
    • This principle I related to the relationship between my past teachers, professors, School Associates, Faculty Associates, and my mother. All of these people have played a huge role in shaping where I am today and where I want to be in the future. They are all professionals in the field that have had the role of teaching me at some point, and my role and responsibility as a learner. These experiences have shaped now how I wish to help others learn.
  • Learning recognizes the role of indigenous knowledge.
    • I found that I was able to relate this principle to specific aspects of my teaching areas. In science indigenous populations had knowledge around the earth and use of sustainable practices that I would be able to incorporate while in PE I could use the wellness wheel, which is very similar to many other wellness models I have seen. I struggled with this principle though for the area that I was teaching in science, which was chemistry.
  • Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.
    • This principle was easy for me to relate to my desired teaching practice because as often as I can when teaching I try to use stories or past events in order to help the students relate the materials to their own lives and experiences.
  • Learning involves patience and time.
    • This principle I feel confronted some of my biases around education and teaching. When I was in school I found many things to be fairly easy to pick up, so this principle was a nice reminder that I need to be cognizant that for many people science and physical skills do not come easily, but need to be worked at.
  • Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.
    • This principle again was a personal one for me as this inquiry comes at a time when we are all trying to really figure out who we are as professionals. I feel as though while I have grown a lot through out the PDP experience I am still discovering who I am and what kind of teacher I want to be. I know I want to be someone who is respected, even if I am not necessarily liked. I feel I can do this by always being authentic with the students as well as caring about them as a person first, not just as a student that needs to get the work I assign done or do what I say.
  • Learning involves recognizing that some knowledge is sacred and only shared with permission and/or in certain situations.
    • This principle I feel relates very well to the role of teachers. Many times we are trusted with information from students, parents, colleagues etc. and we need to decide on the appropriate action to do with the information.

Putting my Inquiry into the Classroom:

I attempted to put include my inquiry in the classroom in a few different ways. The first being deciding which principles I feel I could easily incorporate due to their coinciding with my credo. I found these to be:

  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).
  • Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.
  • Learning involves patience and time.

I attempted to integrate these into my science classroom by focusing on tasks such as describing the properties of various common objects when discussing matter, lessons such as my Amazing Race Review day where students were given multiple tasks that had them show their knowledge in various ways, and giving notes with many examples and spending the time to go over each one carefully. In PE I have focused on using small games in order to teach the students skills that will be needed to transfer into other games. What I did discover when I gave my students a teacher feedback form and a question on it asked “what would help you to be successful in this course?” many of their answers could be linked back to these three principles (draw pictures/diagrams, more time to work in class, group time in class, take time with the concepts, work through questions together). To me this really validated the use of the First People’s Principles of Learning within the classroom.

What now?

Moving forward I am going to continue to use and be more intentional with the First People’s Principles of Learning. I feel as though I have just begun to scratch the surface of their use in the classroom. I included the dragonfly in the center of my spiral as I felt connected to it’s description on the Squamish Cultural Centre’s website that said, “To Northwest Coast Aboriginal peoples, Dragonfly is a symbol of change, transformation and swiftness. He represents a symbol of change in the view of self-understanding and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the insight of the deeper meaning of life. The Dragonfly’s swift flight and its ability to move in all six directions radiate a sense of power and poise something that comes only with age and experience”. I feel as though I have just begun my journey into change and self-understanding but hope that as I gain experience in this profession I will one to one day be able to do it with the help of the First People’s Principles of Learning.

My AbEd Spiral of Inquiry Timeline:Gillian.AbEd.Inquiry


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