Socio-emotional connectedness

A teacher in a rural Canadian school with a large First Nations population describes her experience of scanning using learning maps.

Scanning questions 

I gave my class a short lesson on learning maps and asked everyone in the class to put themselves in the middle of the page.

I asked them to draw and write the names of at least two adults who they knew for sure believed that they would succeed in life. 

I asked them to add to their maps two or more things in school that they liked to do and two or more things that they liked to learn.

I was surprised by the emotions that came from the students and the conversations that I heard.

I gave the class 10 minutes of quiet time to reflect and then I let them talk to each other while I walked around listening without saying a word.

Students’ responses

Some learners wrote, coloured and drew on their map the whole time without looking up from their page.

Other students had a hard time thinking about ideas and said they did not have the answer to my assignment – they didn't know what to write, they didn't have anything they liked learning in school, or they were not involved in an activity.

One student asked me, “What do you want me to put?” Another student asked, “Is it what we want to learn or have to?” There were some students who sat there and did not write anything. 

Now what?

After school was over I wrote down as many of the students’ comments as I could, what they'd said and how they'd reacted to doing the learning map. I went home and put all the maps on my floor and thought … now what?

Many students in my class do not have at least two adults in their setting that they know believe in them. Nor are they engaged in school activities or enjoying a particular subject.

Other students wrote about subjects they love but we do not always do them in school, for example, Science Fair, building Lego, designing with clay, drama and playing music. 

Professional learning

Last week, I took a professional learning day, that I chose, with the First Peoples curriculum coordinator, who was speaking to first and second year teaching students. The day gave me a great deal to reflect on. She discussed the First Peoples curriculum and principles of learning. The importance of learners being connected to what they are learning and how community members and the curriculum can help us achieve this goal. 

During the day, we broke into groups and chose one of the principles of learning to look at. We reflected on why the principle was important in our setting and how it could be used with our learners. There were over 60 people in that room and each group came back with a response about connecting students with their education.

Getting to a focus

I have combined everything I have been thinking into one big idea with four main points.

I want to increase the connection between the learners in my class and their education.

We can be connected to our learning if:

  • we can have choice in what we learn and how we show what we know
  • we can be connected to who we are, where we come from and how we are feeling
  • we can be connected to the land
  • we can be connected to the people in our lives.

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