June 3 – Inquiry Moving us Forward!
Here I am at a Prince George coffee shop on my birthday (also Mike Skinner and Lynn Maksymchak’s birthday…go figure) thinking about this past week in our district and how starting with a question has lead to some powerful learning. I’m here this late Friday afternoon waiting to welcome 300+
student athletes to the Provincial Girls Soccer Tournament being hosted by FSJSS (great job James!) This is the first time that a provincial soccer tournament is being held in Northern BC and it happened because a few people asked why not? We’re proud of the fact that a small, rural secondary school from Fort St James, with a very committed staff, is hosting a Provincial Tournament in the North. I’m reminded that it would not have happened without a few people asking, “Why not?’
I’ve rushed to Prince George following a morning at Mouse Mountain School where
educators and students were participating in their 3rd Discovery Day of the year. As I walked into the school I could see lots of movement, hear plenty of noise and see big smiles on student and adult faces. I saw:
- a science group attempting to figure out how to make paper clips float;
- musicians practicing their ‘A’ and ‘B’ chords on recorders (Mrs Shultz…you deserve a medal!);
- researchers working on asking a good question and then confirming or rejecting their own ‘hunches’ ;
- excited chefs cooking and eating waffles & bannock;
- tech savvy students working on stop motion videography;
- plenty of marshmallow and spaghetti structures.
These were K – 3 students joyfully working across grade groups with an intrinsic desire to participate and share with me what they were learning…our youngest students beginning to understand the relationship between questions and learning. Discovery Days at Mouse didn’t happen because they were prescribed by the Ministry, they were initiated because this staff asked themselves if they might try something different to engage kids in unique hands on activities. Inevitably this means educators stepping out of their comfort zone to try something new which is always scary. I saw kids and educators engaged and my hunch is that we will see more of these days next year at Mouse Mountain…way to go folks!
This past week also saw The White Hatter, Darren Laur, visit most of our secondary schools to share his engaging presentation focussed on online safety and responsibility. Darren, a former Victoria Police Staff Sergeant,
was invited to our district by Student Voice following their work on determining student priorities and concerns across the district. They “scanned’ the landscape of their peers and concluded that online behaviour and bullying were big concerns for students and so worked with the Board of Education to secure funding and invite the White Hatter to present to students and parents across the district. Feedback from many this week indicated that Darren’s message resonated. Our Student Voice leaders started with several good questions which lead them down an inquiry path that will now hopefully impact online behaviour.
Charlene, Eugene, Mike and Calvin all attended the LDSS Roots of Reconciliation Celebration today and shared with me that this may have been the single greatest educational event that they had ever been to. When you think about their overall experiences as educators, that is a significant observation. Hopefully you have all had a chance to read the three shared posts from LDSS staff describing their Roots of Reconciliation project. The learning process for this school community is captured just outside of the eagle statue that was unveiled today and it describes how the process has “deepened their understanding of aboriginal culture and the profound impact of residential schools.” Here’s a video compilation of pictures from the June 3 celebration at LDSS.
It is clear from the LDSS stories and pictures that a sense of pride, identity, and hope were evident throughout the celebration and ceremony at LDSS. You only have to look at the faces of students and adults in the video to know that this day and the learning behind it will be cherished and recalled often.
A very powerful moment occurred at
LDSS today when Trustee Lucille Duncan ran into two ladies whom she had not seen since her own experience in residential school, more than 40 years ago. Here in her own words, she describes the experience:
I and my sister Mystri Yvonne decided to participate in the traditional dance to the Bear Clan song as we belong to the Lhojuboo (Bear) clan. As we were completing the dance I recognize the two sisters Irene and Jean who attended Lejac Residential School the same time I and Mystri went. Right away they recognized us. We were so surprised to see each other and acknowledging that we belonged to the bear clan.
It was very emotional and tears of joy as we hugged each other and spent time together through out the luncheon. We talked about our close relationship we had at the school for example Jean taught me how to play the guitar, our assigned numbers we had at the school and the grieving for the torn down school when we drive by Lejac because that was our home where we bonded and suffered together. It’s like a family reunion. It has been over 40 years when we last saw each other. I am in tears as I am typing. A powerful experience that we will hold close to our hearts. Sisters reunite with sisters as the Eagle landed.
As we await the final reflection from the LDSS community on their year long inquiry , it is clear that it has had an authentic, profound and powerful impact on students, staff and community members.
This past Wednesday evening school inquiry teams, that you were introduced to in November, celebrated their professional learning over dinner in Vanderhoof. Next week, I hope to describe their learning journey. You can find their original inquiry questions HERE.
No matter what our role is within Nechako Lakes School District, it is clear that there are no bad questions. Using a question to start an inquiry process can lead to some authentic and profound change. As a student I chatted to last week said, “Give it a try!”
Have a great week!