Walking the Good Path in Life: Digital Citizenship and The Seven Grandfather Teachings

Photo 2012-11-12 10 39 36 AMFrom a First Nations perspective, you ‘Walk the Good Path’ when you demonstrate The Seven Grandfather Teachings. When you live your best life, you demonstrate Truth, Love, Humility, Courage, Honesty, Respect, & Bravery.

Now, this is true in our physical worlds, as it is in our virtual and digital worlds.

We all have a responsibility to help ALL people ‘Walk the Good Path’ in life.

In terms of our Education System, our Educators, just as our Children, are in need of the Seven Grandfather Teachings to continually learn how to create positive working environments, embed culturally relevant  and culturally responsive teaching practices for our students to foster confidence, and not fear.

Every single day, educators and students need to be honoured with open communication networks with staff, parents, and the community.

All people, need:

Love and Respect to strive for a mutual understanding of our own diversity;

Bravery to engage in Holistic Education each day and learn to live in harmony with each other;

Courage to follow the very Educational Initiatives that are put into place for the betterment of our students, and our society;

Humility to admit that we don’t have all of the answers;

Truth and Honesty to help us understand initiatives such as the Aboriginal Education Strategy that are a great benefit for all students, not just those self-identified as First Nations, Metis & Inuit.

The children of today are the leaders for tomorrow.

IF we train our children well, and treat them well, and honour their voices, THEN they will feel trusted, loved, and develop the courage to walk the good path toward their futures.

It is important to truly respect others, acknowledge their good work, cultural diversity, admit mistakes, strive to attain mutual understanding, create positive working environments, foster confidence and not fear.

Tens of Thousands of Educators have such an important leadership role in raising and educating an entire generation of children for the future. Just as it takes an entire ‘Village to Raise a Child’; our children, educators and other professionals also need Love, Respect, Humility, Courage, Bravery, Honesty, and Truth to grow as human beings, and continue to make the world a better place. Not just for now, but for generations to come.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Teaching the Indian Act

 

The Indian Act of 1876 was the consolidation of other Acts that were created to begin to ‘Civilize’ and assimilate Aboriginal Peoples into Canada. It is still alive and very much in pace today, still mostly organized in its original form, despite dozens of amendments.

It is a very destructive Act that sought to abolish Aboriginal cultures by making ‘Indians wards of the state’, and banning Traditional Ceremonies, language use, extracting children from their families to send to Residential Schools, imposing governments, abolishing rights to vote, and taking over land and resources  just to name a few.

Assimilation and Civilization of ‘Indian’s’ has been tragic, oppressive, and paternalistic. Teaching this within our Curriculum can be quite difficult, especially with our younger students.

Nevertheless, it is important to find ways to make sure that this is not something that is forgotten. We need to understand the past, present and future of Canada, and to do this authentically, we all need to understand the Indian Act and how intertwined and entrenched it is within the rights and treatment of Aboriginal Peoples.

It is not an act created or ‘owned’, or only pertaining to ‘Status-Indians’. It is an Act that was created by our own Canadian government. It is still enacted today by our own Canadian Government.

It played a large role in Confederation, The Constitution, the Wars, Health Care, and Rights and Access to Education and Reserve land. It still plays a large role in nearly every aspect of the lives of First Nations, Metis & Inuit People in Canada.

Though dozens of amendments have taken place to the Indian Act, problems still exist, based on the values and oppression embedded within.  Many Reserves are still without clean drinking water, proper schools, high suicide rates, and other social problems including gas sniffing, alcoholism, abuse, and violence, built in by a past of oppression and assimilation.

Such a major part of the History of how Canada was formed, and how it still governs First Nations, Metis & Inuit to this very day. Yet much of our Curriculum all but ignores. Some may argue that our Curriculum is continuing to assimilate Aboriginal Peoples, continuing to promote Colonialism and Colonial values.

I believe that we need a curriculum that promotes a shared vision of education that strongly infuses values, knowledge, traditions, and languages of Aboriginal Peoples.

Yes, Inquiry based learning is amazing, yes, the use of technology is amazing. Yes, our Social Studies, History, and Geography curricula are changing for the better. BUT this content knowledge is also absolutely essential to understanding the values upon which Canada was built, learning about Aboriginal Peoples in Canada in the past, present, and future, and not merely in reference to early colonization.

  • Why is it that we do not allow for more knowledge about Aboriginal people, and the Indian Act, in our Curriculum?
  • How can we ensure that our Pedagogy and strategies are allow for this content? 

Education can be a powerful tool of restoration, restitution, and renewal.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Facilitating a Digital Publishing Program in my new Education Commons Role

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Last year started out as an exciting year, where I had the opportunity to launch a Student Publishing Program in our Library.

Inspired by the SAMR and Technology Integration Matrix, and the TPACK models, I decided to design a Digital Publishing Program.

As I continue with this initiative in this new school year, I hope to inspire and motivate students to Publish the wonderful work that they are already doing in their classrooms. It will provide many new opportunities for, but not limited to, collaboration, differentiation, sharing, creating, and consolidation of learning. Work stations will be set up with iPads, netbooks, laptops, and other devices that students may have.

This program will also be linked with the Forest of Reading initiative through the OLA.  I will also be presenting this model at the BIT 2014 Conference in Niagara Falls in November. Don’t lose the forest for the trees!

This program will meet criteria from:

  • Board Improvement Plans
  • School Improvement Plans
  • School Effectiveness Frameworks
  • Essential Practices
  • Digital Citizenship & BYOD policies and Procedures
  • Curriculum Expectations
  • Community, Culture & Caring
  • FNMI knowledge and FNMI-friendly strategies can be infused

Students can come down to Publish their work!

This certainly is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the suggestions of what students will be able to do:

    • Publish short Stories on iBooks
    • Blog your reflections instead of journal writing OR re-blog your journal writing
    • Create a ‘Fakebook’ page for a character in a book you are reading
    • Publish poetry into an eBook
    • Classroom Newsletters & website updating
    • When a class finishes for example, art work, send a student down with all of the pieces, and we can take pictures of them all and put them into a dynamic presentation
    • Explain Everything’ where students can explain what they are doing in math to teach another group of kids, or show to their parents.
    • Publish work anonymously to your website/blog
    • Take pictures of your work in class at various stages, then come back later with those pictures to put them into a slideshow presentation that demonstrates a continuum of learning
    • Record your findings of an experiment
    • Create oral or written ‘Book Reviews’ to share with others
    • Drama Presentations turned into iMovies and even use of Greenscreen
    • Create infographics, or other visual representations of data from your findings in math
    • Record music you have made
    • Discover new ways to demonstrate your knowledge from your readings to replace traditional  Book Reports

The benefits of Student Publishing can include:

  • Safe ways to publish student work
  • Motivation for students to get their work done knowing that they can work on it using technology
  • Feelings of Pride and accomplishment for seeing a Published piece of work
  • Something to share with parents
  • Opportunities for students to teach other students
  • Knowledge consolidation
  • Creativity and Imagination
  • Differentiation
  • Collaboration and support from other people in the school
  • Gives student work new purposes
  • Ideas can be shared and transferred into different classrooms with students teaching other students about new tools they learn about
  • Inspiring others to do new things with their work
  • Inspiring new types of learning
  • Feedback that Teachers can use for summative assessment and evaluation:
  • Assessment OF learning
  • Reinforces the learning process
  • Ability to share work ‘anonymously’ with other classrooms and students. Peer feedback from others.
  • Meeting different needs of students to provide motivation or enrichment to some, but not mandatory for those students who may be overwhelmed or be experiencing processing difficulties with the myriad of visuals and text, for example.

Please feel free to share some of your ideas based on what you have done or would love to do in your own classroom or Library! 

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 Ways to Foster Welcoming Environments for your Students

With so many Educators embarking on a new beginnings this time of year, it is a great time to reflect upon how we can create Welcoming Environments for our students and parents.

Creating classrooms and schools that are Welcoming for both students and parents, is absolutely essential to improving Student Learning and Engagement.

If we look at a Schools Paradigm only, schooling is about bells, standardized tests, inflexible schedules, and teacher/curriculum driven. This set up can be very unwelcoming to many students and their families. However, If we look at an Education Paradigm, school is holistic, and based upon the individual needs of our students, learning is flexible, and related to contexts that are meaningful for the students. A daunting task at best when Teachers are faced with large numbers of students in their classrooms. However, Teachers can help acknowledge students by representing their cultural diversity. This can be done by embedding cultural symbols, and practices into our buildings, classrooms, and creating online environments that serve to help make students and parents feel welcome and important.

However, it is a challenge to continually create Welcoming Environments in our schools. Especially since we are living in this 21st Century of growing Technology, that more and more people are using on a daily basis.

With increasing demands surrounding school report cards, test scores being linked to school funding, and demands for increased accountability for educators and students, Educators, parents, and students can feel overwhelmed, and forget that creating a Welcoming Environments can be the most powerful tool in our quest to improve student learning.

The following 5 Categories are important when considering how to create a Welcoming Environment within your classroom and school:

  • Ongoing, and Open communication
  • Physical Environment
  • Practices and Policies
  • Personal Interaction
  • Written Materials and Communications

 

1. Ongoing, and Open communication with Parents is crucial.

Parents and families of different cultures and special needs, warrant extra communication to foster a feeling of being Welcome in our schools and Classrooms. Whether parents are requesting this communication, or whether extra communication is warranted to further engage students and support their learning, Communication is perhaps the number 1 role of an educator. Though more personalized communication is best done in person, there are aspects of communication that can be met via 21st Century Technologies. For instance, email, blogs, webpages, wikis etc., are all useful tools to support the Communication that already exists, and can provide tools, links, and symbols to integrate and share valuable information.  But this should never replace place of person-to-person communication and real-life, real-time interactions that are absolutely necessary to engaging our students.

Parents, staff, community, and students will only become invested in their schools if they feel invited and welcome, and believe that the teacher is willing to reach out to communicate the families, and integrate culture into the process.

Welcoming environments can be created and improved upon by attending to the Physical Environment, School Practices and Policies, Personal Interaction, and Written Materials and Communications. Here are just a few ideas that can be used:

2. Physical Environment:

  • Embed Culturally significant symbols, ie., Medicine Wheel, 7 Grandfather Teachings, Dream Catchers, into hallways, classrooms, offices, libraries, websites & blogs, social media ie., School Twitter account.

3. Practices and Policies:

  • Promote strong sense of Community, Culture & Caring Policies. Co-create them and post them on school websites.
  • Continually refer to these co-created rules on blogs and other forms of social media.
  • Restorative Practices explained on social media and web-based platforms.
  • Character Education Models
  • 21st Century Technologies and Digital Citizenship Policies
  • Involving Parents in decision making perhaps through Google-Docs surveys or other assessment tools
  • Online Parent Groups

4. Personal Interaction:

  •  Calling parents, setting up regular meetings, and engaging in open communication with families, whether explicitly requested, or due to the necessity to engage all learners, cultures and special needs.
  • Catching parents after school to touch base. It doesn’t take much to make families of all Cultures and Special needs feel welcome and included.
  • Leaders in the school working on teambuilding with technologies to bring staff together & recognize accomplishments;
  • Co-create and share visions at Staff meetings by brainstorming key ingredients of a Welcoming Environment, include the ideas on a website or blog.
  • Do the same with Parent Groups;
  • Staff as friendly and inviting to students, staff, and parents, and then inviting them into this digital school community as well.
  • Call Parents!  Set up regular meetings, and engaging in open communication with families, whether explicitly requested, or due to the necessity to engage all learners, cultures and special needs.
  • Make it a general rule to talk positively at school about students, families, cultures, and special needs. There is nothing that will make a family feel more Unwelcome, and Disrespected, then to know that they and the students are being spoken of in negative ways. The world is a very small place. What is said usually does get back around, so make it positive and helpful!
  • Put yourself in the position of a Learner, and not always an ‘Expert’.  To help families and their children feel welcome, realise that they are in fact equal partners, and equal experts in the process of educating their children. Be open to learning new things with each new classroom and each new student that comes into your care!
  • Personally Research the Cultures and Special Needs that you are working with. One cannot assume that the learning that occurred in a University Degree will be applicable to the current situation. Teachers are wonderful and welcoming, because they are equals with the parents and community. They appreciate the diversity of all students, and are real champions of those who have historically experienced more prejudice, racism, bias, and un-preferential treatment.

5. Written Materials and Communications:

  • Regular Classroom & School Newsletters, Phone calls, meetings, in whatever format the parents and community wants or needs. Not all people have internet access! Not all parents check their email!
  • Classroom & School Websites
  • Recognize parent & community volunteers
  • Write articles about staff members, volunteers & students
  • Parent Handbooks
  • Twitter Feeds
  • School Facebook Page
  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • Ministry Learning Management Systems
  • Telephone answering machine messages
  • And always remembering to limit educational jargon, and write communications at a 6th to 8th grade reading level
  • Good Old Fashioned person-to-person communication with the families in need!

 

All parents and families need to feel welcome, and understood in order to increase engagement and Learning. Welcoming environments can be created by attending to the needs of different cultures and special needs, and keeping the lines of communication open. It is when these lines of communication and strategies to welcome all types of learners break down , that students and families lose trust and faith in the school system, and disengage from the education process.  We need to strive to create Welcoming Environments, and create school systems where families feel safe to learn and grow.

How do you create Welcoming Environments in your Classroom and School?

 

Deborah McCallum

 

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Resource:

Seeing your school as others see it.: Welcoming Environments.http://www.education.ky.gov/users/OTL/Beginning_of_School_Year/Seeing%20Your%20School%20As%20Others%20See%20It.pdf

5 Considerations for Welcoming Environments in our Schools

77665-Royalty-Free-RF-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Circle-Of-Diverse-Happy-Cartoon-Children-Holding-Hands-And-Looking-Up

Fostering welcoming environments in education is essential for improving learning and engagement. Schools can help acknowledge students by representing their cultural diversity. This can be done by embedding cultural symbols, and practices into our buildings, classrooms, and online environments that serve to help make students and parents feel welcome and important.

However, it is a challenge to continually create Welcoming Environments in our schools.

Educators are faced with increasing demands surrounding school report cards, test scores being linked to school funding, and demands for increased accountability for educators and students. Educators, parents, and students often feel overwhelmed, and forget that creating a welcoming environments can be the most powerful tool in our quest to improve student learning.

The following 5 categories are important when considering how to create welcoming environments within your education contexts:

  • Ongoing, and Open communication
  • Physical Environment
  • Practices and Policies
  • Personal Interaction
  • Written Materials and Communications

 

1. Ongoing, and open communication with parents is crucial.

Parents and families of different cultures and special needs, warrant extra communication to foster a feeling of being welcome in our schools and Classrooms. Whether parents are requesting this communication, or whether extra communication is warranted to further engage students and support their learning. Communication is perhaps the number 1 role of an educator. Though more personalized communication is best done in person, there are aspects of communication that can be met via 21st century technologies. For instance, email, blogs, webpages, wikis etc., are all useful tools to support the communication that already exists, and can provide tools, links, and symbols to integrate and share valuable information.  But this should never replace place of person-to-person communication and real-life, real-time interactions that are absolutely necessary to engaging our students.

Parents, staff, community, and students will only become invested in their schools if they feel invited and welcome, and believe that the teacher is willing to reach out to communicate the families, and integrate culture into the process.

Welcoming environments can be created and improved upon by attending to the P© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.hysical Environment, School Practices and Policies, Personal Interaction, and Written Materials and Communications. Here are just a few ideas that can be used:

2. Physical Environment:

  • Embed Culturally significant symbols, ie., Medicine Wheel, 7 Grandfather Teachings, Dream Catchers, into hallways, classrooms, offices, libraries, websites & blogs, social media ie., School Twitter account.

3. Practices and Policies:

  • Promote strong sense of Community, Culture & Caring Policies. Co-create them and post them on school websites.
  • Continually refer to these co-created rules on blogs and other forms of social media.
  • Restorative Practices explained on social media and web-based platforms.
  • Character education models
  • 21st Century Technologies and digital citizenship policies
  • Involving Parents in decision making perhaps through Google-Docs surveys or other assessment tools
  • Online Parent Groups

4. Personal Interaction:

Calling parents, setting up regular meetings, and engaging in open communication with families, whether explicitly requested, or due to the necessity to engage all learners, cultures and special needs.

  • Catching parents after school to touch base. It doesn’t take much to make families of all cultures and special needs feel welcome and included.
  • Leaders in the school working on teambuilding with technologies to bring staff together & recognize accomplishments;
  • Co-create and share visions at Staff meetings by brainstorming key ingredients of a Welcoming Environment, include the ideas on a website or blog.
  • Do the same with parent groups;
  • Staff as friendly and inviting to students, staff, and parents, and then inviting them into this digital school community as well.
  • Call parents!  Set up regular meetings, and engaging in open communication with families, whether explicitly requested, or due to the necessity to engage all learners, cultures and special needs.
  • Make it a general rule to talk positively at school about students, families, cultures, and special needs. There is nothing that will make a family feel more unwelcome, and disrespected, then to know that they and the students are being spoken of in negative ways. The world is a very small place. What is said usually does get back around, so make it positive and helpful!
  • Put yourself in the position of a learner, and not an ‘Expert’.  To help families and their children feel welcome, realise that they are in fact equal partners, and equal experts in the process of educating their children. Be open to learning new things with each new classroom and each new student that comes into your care!
  • Personally research the cultures and special needs that you are working with. One cannot assume that the learning that occurred in a University Degree will be applicable to the current situation. Teachers are wonderful and welcoming, because they are equals with the parents and community. They appreciate the diversity of all students, and are real champions of those who have historically experienced more prejudice, racism, bias, and un-preferential treatment.

5. Written Materials and Communications:

  • Regular Classroom & School Newsletters, Phone calls, meetings, in whatever format the parents and community wants or needs. Not all people have internet access! Not all parents check their email!
  • Classroom & School Websites
  • Recognize parent & community volunteers
  • Write articles about staff members, volunteers & students
  • Parent Handbooks
  • Twitter Feeds
  • School Facebook Page
  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • Ministry Learning Management Systems
  • Telephone answering machine messages
  • And always remembering to limit educational jargon, and write communications at a 6thto 8th grade reading level
  • Good Old Fashioned person-to-person communication with the families in need!

 

All parents and families need to feel welcome, and understood in order to increase engagement and Learning. Welcoming environments can be created by attending to the needs of different cultures and special needs, and keeping the lines of communication open. It is when these lines of communication and strategies to welcome all types of learners break down , that students and families lose trust and faith in the school system, and disengage from the education process.  For populations including First Nations, Metis & Inuit, the experiences of the Residential school system, and residual effects of this system still exist with our FNMI students today. The last Residential School shut down in the 1990’s.  We need to strive to create welcoming environments, and create school systems where families feel safe to learn and grow.

 

Deborah

Resource:

Seeing your school as others see it.: Welcoming Environments.http://www.education.ky.gov/users/OTL/Beginning_of_School_Year/Seeing%20Your%20School%20As%20Others%20See%20It.pdf

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

13 Strategies to Promote Equity and Diversity in the Classroom For First Nations, Metis & Inuit Students

Photo 2012-11-12 10 39 36 AM

The FNMI populations across North America are incredibly diverse, both linguistically and culturally. With literally hundreds of different First Nations and Aboriginal populations, we are faced with many challenges with regards to how we can adequately preserve Indigenous knowledge and ways of living within Canada. Indigenous populations are also the fastest growing populations in Canada. We need to embed and integrate this knowledge throughout the curriculum, and not just as an add-on.

In our Western world, standardized, results-based practices, measurement, and same aged groupings learning the same thing at the same time prevails. This foundation continues to foster mistrust toward our education systems. What is needed are flexible and open ended curriculum expectations that lead students to deep learning and interconnected Indigenous knowledges.

We need to provide access to Indigenous values and knowledge that can be passed along to improve our Education Systems, FNMI peoples, the environment, and our economy.

After discussion with my husband, who is the FNMI Resource Teacher for our school board, and of First Nations descent, these are the tips we came up with for Educators to begin with:

13 Strategies to get Started Learning about your Local FNMI Communities:

  1. Start where you are at in terms of your own knowledge, then look toward your closest communities FNMI to learn more.
  2. Join in a cultural event
  3. Visit your local band office or Friendship Center to obtain information
  4. Ask to meet with a Traditional Teacher or Elder
  5. Do some reading.  Most communities have websites.
  6. Use 21st technologies to connect with other communities.
  7. Connect with other Education agencies that run through Band offices and Friendship Centres
  8. Read local news.  There may be many current issues involving local communities
  9. Use Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (Government of Canada) weblinks.
  10. Differentiate your classroom programming and curriculum based on the aspects and respect for the FN/Metis/Inuit territory that is closest to you
  11. Understand the needs of your Community.
  12. Strive to reach and engage the students from that community in meaningful ways.
  13. Do your own homework. What backgrounds and cultures exist in your classroom? Have any community strategies worked in the past, for example, cultural programming, building of community structures and other strategies to engage and motivate youth.

As Educators, we can start with the knowledge we already have, and the resources that are available to us. From there, we can continue to focus on the similarities that exist between Aboriginal cultures. Many of the similarities have arisen from the impacts of European views and colonialization over the past few hundred years. This has created shared histories for FNMI peoples, but unfortunately, has also undermined and left many diversities forgotten.

As Educators, this presents a very large difficult task in terms of not just meeting the expectations of the curriculum, but also respecting the diversity within each and every classroom.

Whether we consciously acknowledge this or not, one of the tasks of the Education system is to look toward ways of restoring and renewing Indigenous relationships in Education, and reconciling Indigenous and Western viewpoints within our Educational practices. Only then, can we improve the quality of life for all FNMI people, our environment, Country, and the future for everyone.

Education can offer great tools to help deepen knowledge and understanding, and reconciling differences between cultures.

According to Indigenous perspectives, communities and Elders, and family were always very important in transmitting knowledge. Learning always took place when the student was ready. Teachers brought in at the ‘right’ times.

I would state that this requires teachers to hone their instincts, and pay attention to aspects of the child that are not located on standardized tests, and look-fors on standardized teacher evaluations. It requires true listening skills, instinct, and qualities often overlooked and not indicated on standardized Teacher Evaluation forms.

This is the first in a series of posts that will explore how to effectively incorporate FNMI perspectives into the Curriculum.

Deborah & Ian McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tips for Teachers of Aboriginal Students

 

Tips for Teachers of Aboriginal Students

http://workingeffectivelywithaboriginalpeoples.com/tips-for-teachers-of-aboriginal-students?utm_source=August+29+newsletter&utm_campaign=May+2++2012+newsletter+&utm_medium=email

Restorative Practice Circles

Restorative Practice Circles are based upon the First Nations tradition of Talking Circles. First Nations, Metis & Inuit cultures are built upon oral traditions, therefore Talking Circles have been important ways to maintain and pass down important cultural teachings.

Restorative Practice is a form of justice, where in the classroom, it could be comprised of the person or people who hurt someone else, the person or people who were hurt, and anyone else involved in the incident. Rather than merely punish the wrongdoer, or engage in assertive discipline, everyone has a turn to speak, and it facilitates a deeper understanding of the hurt or incident, what happened, and greater satisfaction among all people in the circle. It incorporates some of the benefits of Talking Circles, in a way that promotes a holistic form of justice.

Restorative Circles provide many benefits including:

  • Fostering turn taking
  • Increasing respect
  • Creating a classroom community
  • Sending positive messages relating to Character, Culture, and Community
  • Allows for everyone to be heard and honoured

The Restorative Circles also work on much deeper levels as well. They provide excellent strategies for incorporating Cognitive, Developmental, Social, and Emotional benefits into the classroom including:

  • The ability to tailor the circle to the specific Developmental stages and needs of the students
  • The ability to be heard is often very therapeutic as well, which can increase student learning and involvement
  • Building strong working alliances in the classroom
  • Building reflection, and metacognition skills into the classroom structure
  • Building social relationships by increasing participation and interactions among students and between students that follow students outside of the classroom
  • Giving Students a greater ‘voice’

The use of Restorative Circles also serves as a great organizational tool or framework that can help Educators with decision making, lesson planning, accommodation of individual learning differences and embedding assessment strategies into the curriculum.

Considerations for Restorative Practice Circles: .

Teachers need to be cognizant of the skills necessary to effectively managing Restorative Practice Circles. These circles have the ability to be very therapeutic in nature as well, and Educators need to know effective ways of managing content being shared. Such skills may include, the ability to provide explicit feedback, positive reinforcement, effective acknowledgement of all participants, and ensuring consistency, good modeling skills, positive feedback, and allowing for adequate ‘Pause Times’ between responses and sharing.

The use of Talking Circles in education provides many benefits to students, not just academically, but also socially and emotionally. But let us not dismiss the importance of Restorative Circles as well as important ways to honour the Cultures of our First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples in our Schools and Communities.

 

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.