SCI Collaboration Building School Teacher Capacity in Northern Alberta
School teachers - they are a valuable resource to communities of all sizes, and the small, remote Indigenous communities of Fort Chipewyan, AB and Janvier, AB are no different.
Teachers in these communities work with the Northland School Division atÂ Athabasca Delta Community School (ADCS) in Fort Chipewyan andÂ Father R. Perrin School in Janvier.
Northland School Division has been in partnership with SCI since 2009. In each school the partnership looks a little bit different, though there is one common theme among both â€“ the ability to build teacher capacity with cultural learnings and community engagement alongside their students and community members.
TheÂ Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) facilitates this type of learning for teachers. With ELI, teachers are able to build cultural context into their lesson plans. They engage with Elders, learning from them and sharing their stories with students. The creative freedom of the teachers, combined with community context, builds the local knowledge of the teachers, so they present materials to their students that are more relevant, easier to learn, and more fun too!
Connection between teachers and Indigenous communities and their culture is expected of all teachers in Alberta. According toÂ The Alberta Teachersâ€™ Association:
The Associationâ€¦believes that education for First Nations, MĂ©tis and Inuit students must be built on their Indigenous education practices, cultures and languages. Furthermore, the Association recognizes the right of Indigenous peoples to self-governance, economic and cultural survival, and the control of education in their communities.
In their instructional practices, teachers are encouraged to support the success of First Nations, MĂ©tis and Inuit students by (a) valuing the knowledge, abilities and experiences that students bring to the classroom; (b) developing and implementing appropriate instructional and evaluation strategies; (c) treating all students with compassion and understanding, viewing each child holistically and addressing individual learning needs; (d) recognizing that English and/or French may be additional languages for First Nations, MĂ©tis and Inuit students; (e) acting to eliminate racism and racial harassment in the classroom and school; and (f) being proactive in building relationships with First Nations, MĂ©tis and Inuit parents, families and communities.
- The Alberta Teachersâ€™ Association https://www.teachers.ab.ca/About%20the%20ATA/What-We-Think/Position%20Papers/Pages/Indigenous%20Peoples'%20Education.aspx
Of course, besides the opportunities available in weekly teaching, which is at the teachers discretion, for several years running teachers from both communities have been invited to the ELI Gathering, a larger event between the 2 communities that opportunities to learn for everyone attending, including new and returning teachers.
Whether itâ€™s small, per-class, land-based learning, or a large gathering, the value of engagement for teachers and community has, in the case of SCI, created long-lasting relationships that make a positive impact both ways.