Coming to Know our Learners in a Good Way

“It is as though the stories that are shared are doorways into many other stories… Once we enter that world with another… this can lead to many things.  One of them is change”​(Regan, 2010).​


​Imagine a different way of solving friendship problems. In a traditional school setting, teachers, leaders and resource teachers would decide what strategies and activities could work to help smooth things out. They might host a class meeting. But what if they took their students out on the land as a radical attempt to create change and (re) establish relationships?


One learning leader shared her story of just this. Her students were experiencing increasing difficulty with their group dynamic. As a possible solution, the teacher took her students out on the land for the entire day to reconnect with each other. In the beginning, there were complaints about how long the walk was, but as they continued, they developed new found camaraderie through a shared experience and a return to Indigenous ways of knowing and being. They spent time at the medicine wheel. They marveled at the animals they saw and reacquainted themselves with the land.

This story was shared in response to the Calgary Board of Education’s key pedagogical considerations:

  • There are things to be known about each student and knowing something about students has implications for teachers and leaders​
  • What is known in one context should be known in another​
  • Feedback is critical to student achievement​
  • All students can and should learn​
  • Leading and learning together

(CBE, 2015)

and the questions:

  • How do these principles align with the Indigenous perspective of our students?
  • How does these principles impact our practice and our students?
  • What are some examples of how this principle is lived in our classroom and school community?

This educator’s story is not alone. Learning leaders shared inspiring stories of how they were coming to know their students. We heard heartfelt accounts of the importance of storytelling, holistic education, and a collaborative project to build school garden boxes. By building relationships and understanding our learners, we are helping each Aboriginal student to set and work towards learning goals with the support of educators, administrators and learning leaders.


The goal? Intentionally building resilience, perseverance, and critical thinking skills of all students in relation to stories and the land.


Calgary Board of Education (2015) Iris | Key Pedagogical Considerations. Retrieved from:

Regan, P. (2010). The Power of Apology and Testimony. In Unsettling the settler within: Indian residential schools, truth telling, and reconciliation in Canada, pp. 171-192. Vancouver/Toronto: UBC Press.





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