Leaning into Vulnerability...and Learning

Barb Holden, Principal, A.E. Bowers Elementary – Building on her own quest for understanding and tapping into the divisionally offered Design Cohorts, Mme Veronica Doyle has led our school community into deeper learning. Through on-going instructional design within the cohort, Mme Doyle connected with Chelsea Jackson, RVS Learning Specialist, and developed ‘Ripples of Change’- a project aimed at increasing our understanding of and awareness of Indigenous cultures and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Through ‘Ripples of Change’, Mme Doyle committed to continuing to learn alongside her students – to lean into vulnerability, risk saying or doing the ‘wrong thing’ – and to develop powerful educational experiences connecting students to engaging and meaningful learning. Chelsea guided the work with her own knowledge and understanding; she also provided encouragement and support through carefully cultivated relationships with local elders.

‘Ripples of Change’ piqued the interest of the school community and interest continued to build during regular visits from Elder Randy. Each student in the school looked forward to listening to him as he shared his knowledge of Blackfoot language and the stories that would connect them to greater understanding of Indigenous culture and perspectives. Mme Doyle and her students nurtured a growing awareness and appreciation of Indigenous Culture in our school. We are so excited for one student who has become so engrossed in The Indian Act, we are certain it will drive his future endeavors!

In June of 2019, Mme Doyle’s students hosted the second annual Indigenous Culture Fair and were honored by Elder Randy with a naming ceremony. The group of students received this tremendous gift and are known as ‘The Thunder Children’ for the strength and impact of their work.

It is not surprising that a desire to continue the learning journey in this area emerged as a central theme in the feedback of all stakeholders during the Discover phase of The Spring Playbook. We are authentically designing forward

During School Council conversations and  within school staff reflections, it became clear the opportunity to explore this aspect of our community is valued – for the children, for their families, and for ourselves.

Most noteworthy is the desire to learn more expressed by the students.  In reflections collected as part of the playbook process, the engagement of our students is evident. Our students value the opportunity to lean into their learning about the people they are – and the people around them.  They value learning about culture and want to understand more – and do more. Our students, across the grades, see themselves as empowered citizens who really can – and do – make a difference.

Mme Littlefair and I are so fortunate to be lead learners at A.E. Bowers Elementary School in Airdrie. We are in the midst of an engaged school community – a community that is interested and forward thinking, a community that asks questions and ‘wonders out loud’ - together. We are so pleased to work alongside dedicated educators who have joined Mme Doyle in a multi-grade project aimed at the development of a prototype to further this work. We are confident of a positive impact on the people who spend their days in, live in and surround our community.  These caring and thoughtful staff members, students and families – these are the ‘Ripples of Change’ Mme Doyle had envisioned. Through processes and prototypes connected to the playbook, we are able to articulate and share as we move forward, build on our strengths and harness the power of grassroots initiatives.

“Live, Learn, and Grow”.