ᐹᑖᐱᓐ ᐄᔨᔨᐤ ᒋᔅᑯᑎᒫᑑᑭᒥᒄ
As we continue to strive for success, we have been focusing on four main areas of improvement: Attendance, a Safe School, Literacy and Mathematics. We continuously seek to better ourselves as educators, and we research teaching strategies that will be effective and meaningful for our students. Throughout the year, Badabin Eeyou School kept working to develop a school culture of collaboration and high standards, while being attentive to each student’s needs. Needless to say, we faced challenges on our journey to school improvement this year, but the synergy among the team brought us closer to reaching our vision: to create a positive learning environment that promotes and fosters student achievement, parental involvement and professional development while instilling the Cree identity.
School Governance and Shared Leadership
I strongly believe that the success of an organization or team cannot be based on, or lead by, a single individual. School improvement is addressed on many fronts and capacities that require shared leadership to be effective. Starting with my colleagues, Maggie George, Vice-Principal, and William Kawapit, CEA, we coordinate the different teams and monitor the improvement initiatives for our school. The Leadership Team, (Badabin Eeyou School Improvement Team, or BESIT) which consists of administrators and teachers, plays a big role in communicating, implementing and modeling the expectations to the faculty. I commend each BESIT member for their dedication and commitment to improving our school. The Badabin Eeyou School Parent Committee has also consistently helped us by providing their wisdom, ideas and support.
Local School Improvement Plan
To improve student performance in language and mathematics, we have implemented research-based instructional strategies and clear pedagogical behaviours in all levels. For language, guided reading and writing became a daily routine. Students’ reading levels were monitored with PM Benchmark and CASI assessments. Low-level readers were exposed to an intensive reading program. As of June 2016, 54.5% of elementary students were reading at grade-level, an increase of 19% from June 2015. For mathematics, manipulatives were used on a weekly basis to strengthen basic concepts, and special attention was given to reading and reasoning of mathematical word problems. Although we have fallen short of our LSIP objectives, Grade 6 students improved in reading and mathematics on the CAT 4 assessment. Secondary III students improved their CAT 4 scores in reading.
Guaranteed And Viable Curriculum
Most of Badabin Eeyou School teachers referred to the GVC with quality and fidelity to deliver the lessons. This was observed using classroom walkthroughs, but mainly from the teacher teams’ meetings minutes and students’ work. Teachers had Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings every other Thursday to discuss teaching strategies, student work and curriculum content. In February, Badabin Eeyou School adopted a Response to Intervention (RTI) model to address the gaps in reading. This format required teachers to work collaboratively by analyzing, identifying and teaching essential elements of the GVC. This had to be done in a coherent manner using the data driven decision-making process. After a seven-week sequence, we observed improvement in students’ work ethics, reading and writing skills.
Professional Learning Communities
By adopting the RTI model, PLC teams had to modify their approach to planning, and to assessing the students. After selecting essential elements from the GVC, teachers coherently established high standards from upper to lower grades. Then, teachers collaboratively developed common assessments to monitor students’ progress. During the learning sequence, teachers set up a grouping system to provide extra time for students who did not reach the targets, to help close the gaps. The instructional strategies are researched-based and used throughout levels, according to the students’ knowledge and skills.
Lateness and absenteeism are challenges that we face year after year. During the 2015-2016 school year, two main initiatives were implemented to improve attendance: a breakfast program and concentration programs. With the help of Whapmagoostui First Nation Band, we were able to provide healthy breakfasts and snacks to students twice a week. Concentration programs were offered to students from Grade 5 to Secondary II. Four pilot programs were initiated at the beginning of the year: Cree culture, sports, arts and science. Students selected a concentration to attend during last period of each day. The programs were designed to provide hands-on activities to encourage students to attend every day and be engaged. Unofficial data showed a monthly average increase of 2.5% in student attendance. There is, however, a need for improvement in communicating with homes, and engaging parents and guardians to address student lateness and absenteeism.
Safe School Policy
To provide a positive and safe learning environment, the Cree School Board Safe School Policy and Badabin Eeyou School code of conduct were implemented. Bullying, in all its forms, is an issue that we take seriously. Staff received training on Restorative Practices, in which a firm but fair approach is used to discuss expectations with students. The discussion provides the student with an opportunity to reflect on his/her actions, develop empathy, responsibility and accountability. The Justice Department, with Rita Masty, provided tools to students through the SNAP program. This program enables students to self-regulate and deal with bullying behaviours. Throughout the school year, Badabin Eeyou School also invited elders to come and discuss Cree values and traditions in building positive relationships. Bullying is a complex issue that requires the attention from every entity and each individual in the community.
On top of the concentration programs, many activities were organized to engage our students. Youth Fusion animators provided extra-curricular activities for the students, such as cooking classes, sports and games, outdoor excursions, arts, and school council. Students looked forward to these daily activities. To support our Secondary IV and V students, instructors from Elephant Thoughts provided extra help and tutoring to prepare our students for final exams. Many of our students participated in local and regional events such as the Science Fairs, and the Arts Exhibition and Public Speaking Contest.
I wish to thank the Badabin Eeyou School team that organized the CSB Regional Public Speaking Contest and made it a success. I wish to thank all the parents that supported Badabin Eeyou School in its efforts to improve student success. Every year, there is an increase in the number of parents that attend report card nights. Many parents take the time to come and discuss their children’s progress with the teachers. The Parent Committee also meets on a regular basis to provide recommendations and input. To the parents that participated in the 2016 Winter Carnival, there is definitely a need for improvement on our part to reach out and invite parents and guardians to partake in the school’s events, but also for academic support. It is imperative that we have parental involvement to attain our goals and celebrate student success.