Engaging First Nations and Métis Students Through “Following Their Voices”

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Following Their Voices focuses on improving achievement of First Nations and Métis students. The goal of Following Their Voices is to improve teacher-student relationships, improve the learning environment and to encourage broad interactions between teacher and learner.

From February to June 2015, six schools across the province participated in field testing and were integral in the evolution of Following Their Voices.

Elders have been and continue to be engaged in the development and direction of Following Their Voices through quarterly Elder’s Gatherings, as well as at the school level.
Following Their Voices has had a positive impact in improving the educational experience of First Nations and Métis students at the six field test schools. Here are some of the stories:

Student- “My teacher has high expectations for me. She thinks I can achieve my high school credits and goals later in life. She helps me to be successful even when I doubt myself. I can do this!”

Facilitator- “Learning is joyful and culture is affirmed… part is bringing fun into the classroom through discursive strategies. Our teachers are taking risks and it is beginning to pay off. Following Their Voices’ teachers are focused on bringing authentic, traditional teaching into classrooms as a result of this.”

Principal- “Following Their Voices is very exciting for us. It’s a very powerful kind of game changer. We can’t sprinkle things on top anymore; we have to do something at the teacher level and it is about being responsive to student needs.”

Teacher- “I truly understand where my students are coming from and I can create a learning environment that is custom fit for them. Now every day in my classroom there is great joy, there is laughter and we are a family.”

Teacher- “We have a grade 10 student who has developed relationships since he arrived in grade 8, however he wasn’t achieving success academically. Our relationship with him became strained this year as we raised our expectations for his academic success. As we close the year he is passing all of his classes with higher marks and is in line to be the football captain. It is so exciting. He has also removed his hood and we see his face every day. Right now, as I type this, another teacher just texted a picture of him smiling in class. I kid you not!!!”

There are 17 schools involved in Following Their Voices in the 2015-16 school year.

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