At Marion School our school plan reflects our goals as a learning community. Through a Collaborative Learning Cycle, Marion staff members meet to look at previous plans and goals to refine and make data informed decisions to provide the best opportunities for student success.
Our 2019-2020 school plan aligns with the Louis Riel School Division Multi-Year Strategic Plan (LRSD MYSP), and is based on the Medicine Wheel and the Circle of Courage. The priority areas we have initiated this year and will continue to use moving forward include: incorporating Indigenous knowledge, community building, literacy/numeracy, and mindfulness.
The Medicine Wheel is a teaching and learning tool that has been in popular use since Elders and knowledge keepers from across Turtle Island came together in the early 1980's. Mino-Pimatiswin is an Anishnaabe term for "walking in a good way". The Medicine Wheel is a visual representation of Mino-Pimatiswin, the four directions representing four separate concepts (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) (Katz, 2018). The many teachings from many nations around the Medicine Wheel teach us about our relationships and responsibility to all people, the earth, and the natural world. The Medicine Wheel "contains all traditional teachings and can therefore be used as a guide on any journey, including the educational process which stresses the importance of appreciating and respecting the interconnectedness and interrelatedness of all things." (Bell, 2014).
The Circle of Courage was originally developed in 1998 by Doctors Larry Brendtro, Steve Van Bockern, and Martin Brokenleg based on Indigenous child development principles. It is based on the knowledge of child-rearing of the Lakota people and represented by the Medicine Wheel with "sacred meaning to Native people who see the person as standing in a circle surrounded by the four directions". (Brendtro, Brokenleg & Van Bockern, 2002). The Circle of Courage "combines Indigenous beliefs about well-being and Mino-Pimatisiwin, and modern research on resilience" (Kaatz, 2018).
Belonging and Generosity
LRSD MYSP 1.1 - All learners will demonstrate a thorough understanding of equity and inclusion through a strong sense of connectedness to peers, staff and community.
LRSD MYSP 4.1 - All learners will demonstrate care and concern for others and their natural environment, so they feel safe to take risks, share successes and failures, and learn together.
Belonging - In traditional Indigenous communities, kinship was not strictly a matter of biological relationships, but rather a learned way of viewing those who shared a community where the ultimate test of kinship "was behavior not blood". Belonging honoured kinship bonds where "relationships manufactured for persons still left out so that everyone would feel included in the great ring of relatives". (Brendtro, Brokenleg & Van Bockern, 1991)
Generosity - Giving permeates all aspects of Indigenous culture. In Indigenous pedagogy the highest virtue was to be "generous and unselfish" where "giving was a part of many ceremonies, such as a marriage or a memorial to a loved one. People engaged in gift-giving upon the least provocation" (Brendtro, 2002). In the west coast the Potlatch was a ceremony where one would accumulate all their possessions to give away to the community, the Anishanaabe similarly have giveaways. Generosity represents giving of one's self for the betterment of others and community.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to action document was published and shared with Canadians. Its purpose is to "redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation". The report outlines 94 calls to action urging all levels of government — federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous — to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with an understanding of our collective role in reconciliation.
At Marion School, we strive to foster a community where Indigenous ways of knowing and being are celebrated and part of the fabric of all aspects of instruction, school culture, and interpersonal relationships and includes:
- Special events and activities such as Orange Shirt Day, Indigenous Veterans Day, Pow Wow Club, Family feasts, Indigenous Peoples Day, and Collaborative cultural activities with other schools, along with pre-teaching and post-teaching lessons support a deeper understanding of the past and how we can affect change in for our future.
- Learners at Marion School participate in daily, weekly, and monthly experiences and ways of being, that answer the Calls to Action that the education system has been appointed responsibility for. These experiences would include: Smudging, Elder visits at Marion School to support students, staff and community, Staff Professional Learning - Circle of Courage, K-3 Ojibwe Language Programming, Seven Teachings, Treaty Education, Land based education, Family feasts, Infusing Indigenous knowledge into curriculum.
Throughout the year we challenge ourselves to create environments where all students, families, and staff feel that they are loved and cared for. Belonging is Marion School's central focus because students first must have a sense of belonging before they can move onto mastery in learning, independence of self, and generosity of spirit. A sense of Belonging is most successful when applied to all in a system: students, families and community, teachers, support staff, and administration – we all need to belong. Marion School activities that promote belonging and community building include:
- Feasts/movie nights
- School programs
- Family Centre activities
- Roots of Empathy
- Student leadership opportunities
- Collaboration with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
- Community clean-up
- Pow Wow Club
- Parent Programming
- Coffee Club
- Creating indoor-outdoor community spaces
- School beautification
- Medicne garden
LRSD MYSP 2.1 - All learners will demonstrate evidence of improved achievement, engagement, and well-becoming as critical-thinkers, problem-solvers and communicators.
Mastery - When an individual's need to be competent is satisfied, motivation for further achievement is advanced. In traditional Indigenous communities success became a possession of many, not of the privileged few with the goal being to "develop cognitive, physical, social, and spiritual competence" (Brendtro, Brokenleg & Van Bockern, 1991). This was achieved through storytelling, Elder mentorship, and "a non-adversarial spirit of shared adventure". (Brown, 2015). Marion School activities that promote academic rigor include:
- Ways that teachers interact, teach and build capacity with their learners would include: using the writing project (Optimal Learning Model), RIGS (Responsive Instructional Guides - Numeracy), and collaborative planning and teaching with the LRSD learning team
- Some of the tools and programs that the staff use with our students are: Words Their Way, FlipGrid, and other Math software
LRSD MYSP 3.1 - All learners will demonstrate the aptitudes, skills and knowledge to be autonomous and confident in their innate ability to achieve goals and become life-long learners.
Independence - Without a sense of autonomy, people "see themselves as pawns in a world where others control their destiny". Traditional Indigenous pedagogy placed a high value on individual freedom where the person "answered to self-imposed goals and not to demands imposed by others". (Brendtro, Brokenleg & Van Bockern, 1991). Independence is more than self-sufficiency but rather "the responsibility to make one's own life a success" (Brown, 2015).
Being mindful is a way of becoming self-aware, developing self-control, and ultimately achieving self-actualization, as well as developing the ability to be aware of others' needs and ways of being. Marion School activities that promote Independence include:
- Ways to develop self: Smudging, Elder support, Mindful breathing, Zones of Regulation, Yoga, Meditation
- Ways to develop awareness of others: Elder support, Social Studies, Spirit buddies, morning meetings and closing circles.