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Committing to Aboriginal Student Success Themes in Staff Development and Leadership Mike McKay Superintendent of Schools School District # 36 (Surrey)

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Presentation on theme: "Committing to Aboriginal Student Success Themes in Staff Development and Leadership Mike McKay Superintendent of Schools School District # 36 (Surrey)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Committing to Aboriginal Student Success Themes in Staff Development and Leadership Mike McKay Superintendent of Schools School District # 36 (Surrey) May 17 2010 The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet” Lao-Tzu

2 The Courage of Commitment Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion, without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free. Starhawk, DREAMING THE DARK From Calling the Circle, Christina Baldwin RESILIENCE PERSISTENCE

3 3 We Commit to Our current efforts include: We are challenged by: I renew my commitment through: Enhancing Aboriginal Students’ sense of belonging so they can be successful Increasing transition rates and graduation rates for Aboriginal students Increasing awareness and understanding of Aboriginal history, traditions and culture for all students Advancing the literacy Achievement of Aboriginal Learners K-12 From Urgency to Action: Engaging with the Enhancement Agreement

4 Who Needs to be Resilient in this Relationship? “Let us put our minds together and see what kind of life we can make for our children” Tatanka Lyotanka 1831-1890 Can we be satisfied with the way we have responded over the past 150 years? 4

5 3,168 students of Aboriginal Ancestry About 4.6% of total enrolment Mostly First Nations and Métis with a very small number of Inuit In terms of total numbers, Surrey enrols more than Vancouver (2,163), North Vancouver, (612), or Nisga’a (434). What does it look like when we support 3000+ individuals with the connections and commitments that lead to a better future? What assumptions and attitudes do we need to reconsider? Aboriginal children account for a growing proportion of all children in Canada. (StatsCan Aboriginal Children’s Survey (ACS) 2006) Aboriginal students in Surrey 5

6 Term used to describe the intergenerational psychological consequences of historical events Negative events such as the holocaust or the forced acculturation of Aboriginal peoples may lead to trauma that is passed down from parent to child Accepting the distinctiveness of Aboriginal culture and history is one way to work against the negative effects of historical loss. Do we consider Aboriginal people’s loss and trauma with the same gravity as we do when considering other significant times of shame in human history? Do we celebrate Aboriginal resilience with the same degree of honour? Historical loss or trauma 6

7 Timeline of Events in the Fraser Valley area of BC 1863:St Mary’s Day School opened 1867:The Indian Act was introduced initially 1892:The government and churches opened residential schools 1894: Legislation introduced Indian agents to get children to residential schools 1915:35% of First Nations men volunteered in WWI 1927:It became illegal to hire a lawyer to address land issues 1934:The Native Brotherhood was formed 1940s:More First Nations men volunteered as soldiers in WWII 1951:Indian Act was amended and determined eligibility to be status Indian 1960s:The “60s Scoop” Many Aboriginal children were adopted into families – some off the continent 1960:First Nations people gained the right to vote federally 1985:The Indian Act introduced Bill C-31 returning status to many First Nations women and their children 1996:The last Federal residential school closed 2008:Prime Minister Harper apologized to residential school survivors Source: Monique Gray Smith of Little Drum Consulting 7

8 Krystal: What unrelenting support looks like What do we hear? What can we do? 8

9 9 “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.” A. Einstein What are we doing to create that new world view, where there is abundant evidence of reconciliation and restoration of a deeply held sense of worth? How long can the majority culture believe that dominance, forced assimilation and erosion of cultural norms will result in “better results and a stronger future”? When will “get over it…” disappear from our strategic vocabulary?

10 Jessica: How the assumptions we make limit the potential of our work What do we hear? What can we do? 2: Jessica 10

11 A Pathway to a Better Future What evidence can you give that demonstrates a “shared resilience” leading toward greater successes for Aboriginal learners and the community? What enduring challenges do we need to acknowledge and address? 11

12 Enhancement Agreement signed June 2008 The District is committed to increasing Aboriginal student achievement with four major goals: To advance the literacy achievement of Aboriginal learners from Kindergarten to Grade 12; To increase awareness and understanding of Aboriginal history, traditions, and culture for all students; To enhance Aboriginal students’ sense of belonging so they can be successful; To increase the transition rates and graduation rates for Aboriginal students. Source: First Annual Report on Aboriginal Student Success 2008/09 12

13 Student Literacy…Transition…Graduation To increase the transition and graduation rates for students of Aboriginal ancestry 13

14 Fewer than half of Aboriginal students successfully complete secondary school within 6 years of beginning grade 8 for the first time (completion rate) When Aboriginal students do reach grade 12, they graduate in a similar proportion to the whole group (eligible to graduate graduation rate) But a smaller proportion are able to graduate from grade 12 in one year (First time in grade 12 graduation rate). Aboriginal student success 14

15 4: Krystal/Mike/Brandon Transition and Graduation Rates: Community support and encouragement What do we hear? What can we do? 15

16 Retention rate – % progressing to a higher grade 16

17 GroupDrop outs who do not return Second chance youth (20-24 years old) Youth who never drop out Total First Nations13%26%61%100% Cdn Born European descent 8%9%83%100% Youth in Transition Survey 2006 StatsCan More Aboriginal students drop out than non-Aboriginal students; They are also more likely to take advantage of second chance opportunities to complete their secondary school; This is definitely success, but at a personal and economic price. Students who go on to post secondary with no gap tend to have higher lifetime earnings. Second chance 17

18 Brandon: What support looks like What do we hear? What can we do? 18

19 2008/09 Aboriginal enrolment What does this data set tell you? 19

20 Proactive or Reactive: How students connect with the system What do we hear? What can we do? 3: Brandon/Chase 20

21 Awareness and Understanding of Aboriginal Culture How does our communication with Aboriginal parents align with these cultural compass points? 21

22 Krystal: Identity, sense of self and acceptance What do we hear? What can we do? 5: Krystal 22

23 Historical Timeline Activity Read through the detailed timeline document and consider your emotional reactions to the events described on those pages; Imagine how what happened over those centuries would impact on the core elements of Aboriginal culture as described below; How responsible are we to rebuild a connection between the shape of schooling and the cultural wheel? 23

24 Books with content that includes Aboriginal history and culture will help their children succeed (88%) As will lessons in the classroom that have Aboriginal content (84%) And a better understanding by school staff of Aboriginal culture and history (72%) Aboriginal parents tell us... 24

25 An Elder’s Perspective: The importance of our understanding of Aboriginal history What do we hear? What can we do? 1: June 25

26 Sense of Belonging The link between participation in extra curricular activities and student success is proven Goal: To enhance students’ sense of belonging so they can be successful 26

27 The Ultimate Demonstration of Sense of Belonging 27

28 Jessica: The importance of a sense of belonging What do we hear? What can we do? 6: Jessica 28

29 Making Aboriginal parents welcome is a priority Make the extended family welcome Especially given the link between having a family member who attended residential school and student success Of particular concern is the small number of parents (7%) who felt that the Aboriginal identity is never respected at school. 90% of parent/guardians of First Nation children report many people are involved in raising the child (StatsCan ACS 2006) What are we doing? How are we doing?? Inclusion and Respect 29

30 Parents who are satisfied with their child’s learning at school Parent report that their child gets along well with teachers and classmates Read every day Play sports of take part in art or music activities Live in a household with the highest income From School experiences of Off Reserve First Nations Children aged 6 to 14, StatsCan 2009 Factors associated with higher school achievement for Aboriginal children 30

31 April: How labelling impacts a sense of belonging What do we hear? What can we do? 6: April 31

32 Absence from school Diagnosis with a learning disability and attention deficit disorder Residential school history in the family First Nations children who have been absent for at least two weeks during the school year were less likely to be doing “very well” or “well” at school than children who had not First Nations children who had been diagnosed as LD or ADD were similarly less likely to do well So too, for residential school family experience. From School Experiences of Off Reserve First Nations children aged 6 to 14. StatsCan 2009 Factors associated with lower school achievement for Aboriginal students 32

33 What We Know from Past Successes: The resilient student can succeed with the support of one significant adult who can be relied upon for consistent support, an educator who cares enough to listen, maintains high educational expectations for the student, and is willing to form a relationship with the student. Are you that adult? Am I? Source: Making Connections with Students of Aboriginal Ancestry and their Families Secondary Report for SD36, April 7 2008 33

34 June: A remembered sense of belonging What do we hear? What can we do? 8: June 34


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