Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

An Impact Assessment of the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN)

6.3.2 The second step

The following year many of the AESN inquiries focused on ways to combine the AFL strategies and the BC Performance Standards, but many included a more sophisticated layer of inquiry that included members of their Aboriginal communities. Importantly, these inquiries also demonstrated a shift: educators started to address other student learning needs, such as social emotional needs centered on a sense of belonging. Honouring the strengths of the invited members of the Aboriginal community helped students and teachers recognize that learning is life long, authenticity and connectedness to school content are important, and that learning is represented in many different ways in the real world beyond the school.

Comments provided by members of the AESN indicated that they understood that relationships needed to be carefully cultivated and that they needed to be very respectful as they invited First Nations’ members of the community into their buildings to help support student learning in a variety of ways. For example, educators from Lillooet Secondary School in the Gold Trail District, visited the local Band, made personal contacts and invited parents into the school. A room in the school was set-aside for Elders to use when visiting the school and an office for the Band Education Coordinator was established. At Caledonia Secondary in Terrace, a team of school staff went to the Reserve to discuss subject choices, the graduation program and ways to ensure that Aboriginal students were on track for graduation. These early efforts of community engagement became models that other school inquiry teams would use in subsequent years.