Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

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

8.1 A sustained overall impact on the culture of teachers, schools and districts

There is strong evidence to show sustained, deeply transformative impact in a range of school districts and schools. Both elementary and secondary schools are participants in the Network showing that its approach engages all teachers—from those involved in early learning initiatives to those who work with young adults transitioning out of the school system. This is because the inquiry model starts with the interests and needs of teachers within his/her own specific context. It provides space to develop thinking in diverse and unique ways and doesn’t impose a particular model or ‘way of doing things’ but rather enables the diversity that is the teaching force in BC . It also capitalizes on teachers’ deep interest in supporting student learning: this emphasis on putting learning results at the center of the teachers’ efforts to innovate is a spectacularly successful approach. It avoids all the pitfalls of top down, systemic efforts at programmatic change because it values the professional knowledge, experience and capabilities of teachers. It honours their commitment to teaching and making a difference, and then uses that natural energy and passion for the work to invoke deeper thinking about how they can enhance student success. We think the model of teacher-based inquiry is here to stay; as we heard from some participants, it has become embedded in their own ongoing efforts to engage in professional development and learning. A network that achieves the degree of commitment, passion and dedication we saw throughout this study tells us that it will be sustained even if only by the strength of will shared by its proponents. This is the Network’s deepest and most profound area of impact.