6.3.3 The third step
In order to build a sense of community and common purpose with their Aboriginal partners, other AESN educators made concerted efforts to include Aboriginal community members as part of their school teams. For example, at Smithers Secondary School, educators sought opportunities to increase their social contact with Aboriginal students, believing that appropriate, respectful personal relationships would facilitate improved student comfort at school and help to build confidence to succeed. At Kitwanga Elementary School in Coast Mountains School District educators focused on using culturally relevant materials that mirrored oral and other traditional ways of learning. This learning was supported by participation by members of the community.
As this brief summary illustrates, AESN educators’ efforts towards developing authentic, inclusive and respectful learning environments were rewarded as evidenced by students’ deeper engagement with school, improved attendance and greater academic success. It also demonstrates a type of progression of thinking among AESN inquiry teams as they became more immersed in learning about Aboriginal cultures, protocols and knowledges that would inform their continued work with Aboriginal students.