When the First Peoples Principles of Learning were introduced to me, my first thought was that these principles were a direct reflection of effective, holistic teaching. I wanted to take a deeper look into these principles and discover how to integrate them into my teaching. My AbEd inquiry focuses on First Peoples Principles of Learning, how to incorporate them into each of my lessons and therefore how to make them a part of my pedagogical development. Throughout my practicum, my aim extended to including the students in this process.
Discovering the principles myself
My inquiry began with analyzing each of the principles myself—while some seemed straightforward, others were more complex. The principles I focused on at the beginning of my practicum were:
Learning involves patience and time
Learning requires exploration of one’s identity
Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions
These three principles were significant at the beginning of my practicum because they related to important aspects of starting a new semester with new classes and students: Communicating expectations, getting to know the students and having them get to know one another, and taking the time to create a cohesive, safe classroom environment. I believe that once relationships and trust have been established, growth and learning can happen.
As the semester went on, I explored more complex principles. What was most significant to me during this process was that when looking at principles that include many aspects, such as:
Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors
After collaborating with my colleagues, I concluded that it is just as effective to focus on one or two aspects of the principle for a lesson and not necessarily each aspect. For example, when I created a hands-on game to introduce the French Revolution, I focused on the aspects “reflective” and “experiential.” Another significant breakthrough was considering the principle “learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions”—my students and I originally focused on the negative aspect of “consequences,” but I realized that this can and often should be seen as a positive thing.
Developing my pedagogical practice
In addition to incorporating each of these principles into my lessons, they also helped to develop my pedagogical practice. One example is when I was deciding whether or not to allow students to re-do assignments. I considered the principle “learning involves patience and time.” When I had my students analyze the First Peoples Principles of Learning, the students who analyzed this particular principle wrote “you might not get it the first time.” This response resonated with me, and reinforced the idea that learning often requires more than one attempt, which is in line with “learning involves patience and time.” I concluded that if students are willing to put in the time and effort to re-do an assignment, it is reasonable to allow them to do so.
My students and the principles
As previously mentioned, I had my students analyze each of the principles and record their thoughts on individual white boards–I took photos to record their feedback for my records. This was useful, as it involved the students in the process of analyzing and incorporating the principles in my classroom. When I return to my class after Spring Break, I will have my students look at all of the principles again and each student will choose which principle applies to our final project, with supporting evidence.
I have attached a Prezi that displays the photo evidence of different projects and lessons that I chose for each principle, as well as the student analysis of the principles.