I hope this post finds you well. There is still snow on the ground outside, and considering it is March and it showed up at the end of February after a winter of no snow, I am impressed with it. A short twenty minute drive away, there is no snow whatsoever.
I just returned from Prince George where I had the opportunity to visit the Aboriginal Choice School. I went in my official capacity as Chair of the BCTF Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee. I was very happy to have been able to do this and while I would love to write a more in-depth story about the visit, I forgot to ask permission to do so. Suffice it to say, the school is going through some growing pains and faces many challenges, but I was impressed with what I witnessed and the ideas that the Principal shared were exciting. I went in there wanting to like the school and I came out liking it. I asked the questions that needed to be asked about curriculum and teacher training and development and got the answers I expected. It was positive.
There was no answer to the last question I had for them though: How can I support you? I am going to report to the AEAC what I witnessed and encourage the committee to find ways to support the teachers and students at the Aboriginal Choice School. They are trying something different and I hope it is a success.
While I was in Prince George, I was also tasked with presenting a couple of workshops at the North Central Zone Professional Development Day. I was very pleased to see the turnout (27 in the first session, 22 in the second), I almost didn't have enough room in the class I was given. I was intimidated by the numbers, but I am thrilled to report that it seemed to go very well both times. I even had a few teachers from the Choice school in attendance. The groups were thoughtful, articulate and willing to learn, teach and share.
I did the Working with Aboriginal Youth workshop that was designed at BCTF, although to be honest, I don't use any of their material, I have tried to make it my own by throwing out the facilitator notes and asking the group, in a circle, what are they hoping to learn by coming here today. From there we explore the history and lived experience of Aboriginal youth that could be called shared and then move into more specific needs. This workshop has always vexed me a little bit. I worry about the stigma of needing a course to explore strategies for working with our youth, but I am happy to point out that the teachers present are recognizing that it isn't the students that need to change or be strategized about, instead it is the teachers and the system that needs to change to become welcoming and safe for our youth. The feedback seems to indicate that all youth benefit from this. The workshop is less a workshop than it is a conversation.
I also had a chance to see my Grandma and an Aunt and my cousin and her family, whom I haven't seen, or really spoken to, in years. I almost didn't contact them to tell them I was coming, I am not good at family things, or small talk, or being social in general... I am glad I did though. It was a great reunion, and Grandma was very happy that I had visited (at least I think she was happy to see me). Plus the snow in her yard was higher than I am tall, it was so cool.
In other news, I wanted to share with you that I participated in a short interview with Brian Barry, a teacher and blogger from Nunavut, for his "A Short Conversation with..." series on his blog Against the Wind. If you are interested, it can be found here. It was fun to be a part of it.
I want to thank Starleigh for her wonderful guest post, Where are the Berries? It was thoughtful, exciting to read and inspiring. Her story is an excellent reminder of everything we take for granted and the need to be open to listening and learning about all that surrounds us. Her blog is Twinkle's Happy Place. I did provide a guest post for her as well, and I hope that we are able to collaborate that way again.
Finally, two posts on Shannon Smith's blog Shannon In Ottawa, "Tell New Stories" and "What is your 'Why'" have been haunting me a little bit. Part of that is because she completely stole my thunder on a planned post about Thomas King's The Truth About Stories, but also because I have been considering the importance of stories and the new means of storytelling that are available to share what we have learned and what needs to be learned for our youth, cultures and identities to survive and flourish. Thank you Shannon, for mentioning me in your post, but also for reminding us of the need to learn and share as we do. As well, you also have me thinking about my "why" as well.
So, all in all, I was very happy with the week that was. Thought I'd share.