Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Summary FNESC Annual Conference on Aboriginal Education

When teachers apply to the Pro-D Fund for conference funding, we ask that they find a way to share what they have learned, pass their professional learning on to colleagues, and make use of new skills or ideas with their students. We also ask them (optionally) to craft a statement to be posted here. We are pleased to celebrate the professional development of our teachers.

Conference: FNESC Annual Conference on Aboriginal Education

Participant: Marianne Brown, Nusdeh Yoh Elementary

Summary: After work on December 4th I had the opportunity to fly to Vancouver for an Aboriginal Education Conference. This was an amazing event where people from all over the province and beyond came together to learn effective ways to teach aboriginal youth and the issues facing aboriginal people. It was inspiring to see the 750 people from many different occupations all together for the same purpose.

Thursday evening opened this event with a performance and song. Friday morning we all got together for breakfast, where I met a gentleman from Port Coquitlam and a woman from Yellowknife. It was interesting talking with these people as we each had different perspectives from three different regions. After a song from the Musqueam Nation, the keynote speaker spoke about Transforming Indigenous Education after which the Transforming Education Panel spoke about their hopes and efforts towards transforming education to create success for aboriginal people. After lunch we broke into two workshop sessions. My first session was “Every Child Can Read”, presented by Karen Smith, which is a Response to Intervention model. This session gave me many ideas and programs of which I hope to incorporate into our school, as we are starting a RTI model as well. Session 2 was “I don’t want to go to school!” presented by Eric Wong. From this session I learned that many of the things our school is already doing is on the right track, a lot of which is developing relationships with our students and showing that we care about them. On Saturday we enjoyed listening to Tomson Highway entertain us with his enthusiasm and sense of humour. Tomson Highway is a successful aboriginal playwright and author. My third workshop was a bit of an eye opener as we discussed where the education system needs to financially fix or improve how the funds allocated for aboriginal students actually meet the needs of aboriginal students. My last workshop was “Authentic First Peoples Resources for Grades K-7”. I had the books from this group already, but I was hoping that the workshop will encourage me to actually use this resource, as it currently sits on my shelf. I do plan to use this resource more often… just need to find the time within my hectic schedule to utilize it.

Overall, this was an amazing opportunity, and I am grateful that my union supported me thus allowing me to attend. When I think of the money each student in my school brings into the district, I feel that the Aboriginal Education Department should send one teacher from each pod in our school to this conference. If we truly want to see graduation rates for aboriginal students to improve, we need to continually train the teachers working within this cultural stream. We had 18 administrators from our district out of a group of 24 sent by our AbEd Department. Good experience for them but I wish there were more teachers (other than myself) from our district's Aboriginal Choice School.


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