I have the pleasure of working with a diverse and dynamic group of educators (and learners in turn) on the board of Learning Forward BC. In April we hosted a powerful and thought-provoking network dinner titled First People’s Principles: From Poster to Practice. Learning Forward BC believes in quality professional learning where cross-pollination between roles and districts create the conditions for conversations that matter and actions that lead to improved student learning; success for all students, all the time. At this particular event, we invited a cross-role educational team to share their experience and facilitate conversations focused on indigenizing the BC curriculum. We wanted to deepen our collective understanding of the First Peoples Principles and help each other move from a poster on the wall to the meaningful infusion of aboriginal ways of knowing and doing.
The event sold out quickly so we tried to bring as many people in through a virtual window. Here are a few of the twitter highlights:
As we start the planning for our next session, designed to parallel the first, I want to share what resonated for me and warmly welcome others to join us. The next event will be held Thursday, October 25, 2018 at Centennial Secondary School in Coquitlam and registration is available through the Learning Forward BC website. For those unable to attend in person, follow the evening on twitter: #learnfwdbc or @leadlearningBC
The first thing that struck me is that we, as educators, must give ourselves permission to take time and have patience as we learn about aboriginal ways of knowing and doing. I believe that for many of us, when we step back and look at how we design learning opportunities, engage in conversations, and so on, we are more aligned with First Peoples Principles of Learning than we may realize. There is comfort in knowing that we are not relearning how to teach or adding something new to our plate. We are recognizing what truly matters the most when it comes to teaching and learning, honouring those processes and moving towards authentic integration.
During the network dinner, in an activity led by Brad Baker and Stephanie Maki, we started this process by first acknowledging our own assumptions and biases, or those that we often hear from others. The energy in the room during this activity was insightful and powerful. There was a calm and respectful silence as people pondered their own thoughts, gathered the courage to ask difficult questions and dug deep to bring everything to the surface so we could move forward.
The evening ended on a similar note. What are your questions, concerns or insights as you return to your classrooms and schools? As participants left for the evening these thoughts were collected on their way out. A few that stood out for me include:
- How can I best support our students whose individual experiences could be triggered by the difficult subject matter inherent in the AbEd?
- How do we work with FN families who do not or cannot communicate with schools, teachers and principals?
- How can I continue to develop relationships with the First Nations communities we have very few Indigenous children/families in our school community?
These are significant questions because they speak to the complexity of what we are working towards. This needs to be an ongoing conversation, as answers to questions like these will not come from one after school workshop or a handout. We need to be asking ourselves: what are we doing within our schools and professional learning communities to provide a safe space for questions to be asked as they arise? How are we supporting each other across the province such that resources, suggestions and so on can be shared with a wider audience?
Here are a few more pictures of the evening. The best part for me hands down was the conversations with teachers, administrators, district staff etc. I believe that it is within those conversations, where diverse perspectives gather, that we will move towards meaningful change.
Keep Calm and Learn On