More on Professional Development…

I haven’t blogged for so long! I haven’t taken many photos since Christmas! I haven’t been outdoors as much as i would like to have been. Now that there is more light in the day and with more sunny days, I know i can do better on all counts..

We had the worst possible weather last Friday for our outdoor pro d day. The theme was Science and the focus was on bridging a link between the outdoors and curricula. Several staff members dressed in rainwear from head to foot ventured off on boats in search of sea otters at Henry Rocks and the Prince Group. Another group went to Howeet to see an old village site. One other group went to Beales Lagoon to look at a big natural area in search of natural wildlife. Others stayed behind to learn how to make traditional medicine with the elders. Others joined a presentation to learn more about traditional Heiltsuk ways. This was all done in the afternoon as teachers started off the day with putting together science kits from Pacific Wild and Pacific Wet resources. Everyone then went off to take part on a clam survey and a study of the intertidal life at low tide. What a wonderful day that was! I look forward to hearing what initiatives will emerge from this and how student learning will be impacted.

As a child, my life was spent outdoors exploring the life on the beach and in the woods behind the village. Part of a day at the beach included going i to the bushes along the shore to pick berries. The reality of our place in the universe is this: We simply step outside and we are immediately in the midst of an eco system that has sustained the Heiltsuk for Thousands of years. My wish is for teachers to embrace some of what was gained from this day and incorporate it into their lessons. My wish is also for children to experience the natural life forms as we live in the midst of the Great Bear Rainforest. It can’t get any better than this especially on a sunny spring day when everything is starting to bloom.

This is the second pro d event in 2013. The first was equally compelling – a day long session with Karen Hume on Differentiating Instruction. It was an extra special pro d day as we had our neighbouring school staff join us. Kitasoo Community School staff joined us for what we hope was the first of many joint initiatives where we collaborate to bring in world class presenters on topics that have the potential to positively impact student learning. Everything that we do must somehow be considered in relation to student success.

Over the past couple of staff meetings, we have spent time becoming better acquainted with the BBCS mission statement in terms of how it informs what we do. It has been a learning curve as inherent in it is a desire to bridge the outdoors and our cultural knowledge with classroom learning:

“Our mission is to develop in a just, caring, and respectful environment, students who are independent and life-long learners, incorporating our community traditions and culture with the acquisition of skills needed to succeed in both the traditional and modern worlds”.

This loaded mission statement begs the following:

How do we develop a just, caring, and respectful environment? What does this look like in our classrooms? In our hallways? In our policies? In our practices?

What activities are capable of encouraging independence?life long learning?

In what ways are we incorporating community traditions and culture?

What skills may be considered traditional? More modern? Is it fair to ask classroom teachers to do justice to both? At what point do we call in our local Heiltsuk to teach the traditional skills?

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It is my wish and my intention to continue these conversations with staff members to see if we can deepen the learning experientially and bridge the link between who we are and what the IRPs state as being prescribed learning outcomes.

I hope that the Professional development events that BBCS has engaged with over the past couple of months has provided teachers with a better understanding of the importance of merging who we are as Heiltsuk people with what the BC Ministry of Education mandates as significant knowledge and skills for all children. In our piece of the central coast, part of our classroom must be along the shores of our beaches and alongside the ancient areas within our traditional lands.

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I would love to hear your thoughts…photos to follow, I promise! Meantime, check this out- an Idle No More Event

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