Case Study #1
I was a part of the Buffalo Ridge First Nations High school, at first I felt stressed because there were a lot of changes to take in. Some of my initial concerns about this change were whether or not the new school would be accepting of us, whether they valued First Nations content and perspectives the same way we did, and whether or not the teaching styles of the other teachers would clash with our own. We realized that most of our assumptions had a negative stand point. For example, we assumed that the other school would probably not be accepting of us and would generalize and stereotype us for being First Nations, however, we quickly realized that these assumptions were based on previous experiences and that this new school may be very accepting and eager to have us with them.
An idea that my group talked about and that I found meaningful was having a meeting with the teachers of the school in order to alleviate some of our fears and anxieties. We discussed how it would be beneficial to collaborate with these other teachers by coming together and being honest about our thoughts and ideas regarding the new set up. Since one of our initial fears were that the schools structure and teaching styles may differ vastly from our own we thought it would help to share some of our strongest attributes to the way we run our school and to hear those of the other schools, this way we could compromise and decide how we would run the school together. I think this is a key point for teachers in order for them and their students to succeed. There needs to be a lot of honest communication and the only way this can happen is if the relationships we share with the other staff are safe and respectable.
I found it interesting how everyone’s first response was negative; all of our initial thoughts reflected something bad and none of us looked at the opportunities this could provide for us as teachers and for our students. After talking about how there would probably be a lot of segregation, racism, and stereotyping I started to think of how bringing together these two completely different schools could actually provide a rich learning experience for the students and for ourselves. I pointed it out to my group how we all assumed bad things would come out of this experience and everyone agreed that this response was probably based on our own experiences. I wish I would have elaborated on this a bit more by stating that our fear of the “other” is probably what drove us to believe that this would be a bad experience. I think that I didn’t point this out because I was still working it out in my head, I was trying to make the connections and by the time I finally did, the discussion was on something completely different.
Another idea we talked about that I felt was really important was how we as teachers would need to be open with our students and to talk to them about any concerns they may have. We talked about how students might decide to drop out of school if they felt threatened by the change and that it would be up to us to make this change safe and comfortable for our students. We talked about how we would encourage the teachers at the other school to do the same thing with their students. I think that this idea reflects a mutual respect that all teachers should share with their students, it shows that neither the teacher nor the students are alone and that together as a team they can overcome any obstacles that may be presented to them.
I think the best way to deal with this change is to be open with our students and colleagues and to form a safe and welcoming community within both schools as they join together. It’s also important to always keep the student’s learning needs as the basis of all decisions.