Education Information Gathering held at Red Lake Nation College - P6
RED LAKE, MN - An Education Information Gathering was held on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at the Red Lake Nation College Cafeteria.
Facilitated by Sam Strong, Red Lake Economic Development Director, about 35 people attended the two hour session, which started at 6 PM with supper.
Also speaking was Red Lake Chairman Darrell Seki Sr., Red Lake Schools Superintendent Anne Lundquist, Red Lake Nation College President Dan King, Red Lake ECFE Principal Susan Ninham and Kimberle Nagle of the LaSalle Group.
All community members were welcome at the meeting, where thoughts and ideas about the current school system was shared, suggestions were made for improvement and the future vision of Red Lake Schools?
Breaking up into groups of five person, discussions were held about "How can we as a community provide the very best educational environment?" "What are our educational aspects?" "How do we define being educated?" and "The ideal learning environment from Pre-K - High School."
The groups came up with several ideas and suggestions and a report will be forthcoming about the meeting to share with educators, students and community members.
A second meeting is being planned.
For further information on these meetings and the outcomes, contact Anne Lundquist or Susan Ninham at 679-3353 and Sam Strong at 679-1455.
World Café Discussion Notes
Develop a Vision for Ojibwemowin Teaching and Education
By Kimberle Nagle
On Thursday April 7, 2016 25 community members participated in a two-hour world café discussion. The purpose of this gathering was to address one question:
How we as a community can provide the very best education for all children regardless of learning style, cultural grounding, or ability?
This opportunity for community members to share their beliefs and desires concerning education from cradle to grave was hosted by the Red Lake School District and Red Lake Economic Development and Planning. Chairman Seki gave opening remarks in support of a strong educational system built around language and cultural traditions. Anne Lundquist, RL School District Superintendent and Sam Strong, Economic Development and Planning Director provided insight and invited continued conversation between the school district and the Band in support of Education and ensuring that each child has access to the very best education on Red Lake. Every child must have access to a quality education in an environment that is safe and focused on learning. Lundquist suggested that as an asset, the school district has the financial capability to support "academies or schools within the school" including immersion programs.
To begin the world café discussion Kimberle Nagle, facilitator from LaSalle Group (contractor with Economic Development) shared that this is the beginning of a journey of discovery. This is an opportunity for the community members to engage and assume responsibility and authority for the educational system on Red Lake. A brief discussion of world café etiquette and format was provided. World Café Etiquette:
o Participate - Share
o Speak your truth in kindness
o No right or wrong thoughts or responses
o Everyone's ideas matter
Participants engaged each other in response to the following questions to setting a tone that Red Lake possesses many educational assets and a rich history of teaching its own.
Thinking about your best learning experiences – how do people learn best?
Responded that the learning experience is stronger when
• education starts at home
• education and subject matter is relevant to the student, daily life and the culture
• parents are involved in the school and share a positive attitude toward education; traditionally, parents taught/teach right from wrong; mom is the best and first teacher
• teachers are connected/involved in the community and have a clear understanding of the students; supportive to students and families
• there is a strong level of trust between student and teacher
• education includes gaining self-knowledge and individual interest/purpose/gifts
• is strength based; value-based
• teaching is creative, hand-on, project based and multi-sensory building off the strengths of the student
• teaching is sequential and provides a step-by-step approach ensuring that each student has reached an appropriate level of accomplishment at each step before advancing
• instruction is based on traditional experiences and living within the natural environment
• a high-quality education is provided that allows the student to transfer and be accepted at any institution of higher learning - educational mobility
• the education received opens doors and opportunities everywhere, not just on Red Lake
• teaching is conducted in small groups/ small classrooms; relaxed and safe environment; the students basic needs are met
• the teacher is passionate rewarding accomplishment in the students along the way
Thinking about ways people learn - what are Red Lake's Educational Assets?
Responses to this question revealed a significant number of assets that can be enhanced or used to support education: language, our own school, elders, college, library, natural environment, immersion head start, high-speed technology, teaching lodges, historical archives, local Band members, ceremonies, strong cultural foundation, family, hereditary chiefs, parents, grandparents, humor, government support, churches, transportation, holistic thinking, resilience, hospital / healthcare, sovereignty, one cultural room, court system, world understanding, discipline, facilities, Oshkimaajiitahdah, elders, elder speakers, kids, Red Lake Warriors - Boys and Girls.
The assets identified are in no particular order and are an expression that Red Lake is rich in assets for teaching. A further discussion on the value of being educated included points such as being educated provides people with freedom of choice, self-sustainability and able to live the good life. Education opens opportunity and increases financial stability and community safety. Those children and families who actively and successfully engage in the education are role models to the rest of the community and generations to come. Knowledge leads to wisdom, understanding of the world, humility, dedication and commitment to living the good life.
With this in mind, the group discussed what it meant to be educated. Being education was defined as
• having a "full tool box" to live a good life - Mino bimaadiziwin
• a lifelong journey that is built from life experiences
• being "individual" a deep broad knowledge of the world and how we fit in based on our gifts; awareness of our purpose
• having a broad world view and a clear understanding of right and wrong; holistic viewpoint
• life skills - skills to sustain ourselves and our families
• being empowered and self-sustainable.
Finally, taking into consideration the educational assets available, our definition of a quality education and its value, the groups were asked to begin describing the ideal learning environment for themselves and their families. The consensus of the groups was that the culture and language must be the foundation from which education and instruction are built as opposed to "making the language and culture" an add-on or elective. The following responses provide guidance for planning and are in no particular order:
• language, our own history and culture in every grade
• service projects; engaging students in community activities; volunteering to support their communities
• fun and educational trips and activities; world view exposure
• apprenticeships / job experience learning for grades 11-12; career center; job training; employment opportunities before graduation to gain experience
• college prep
• Big Brothers/Sisters and mentoring programs; regular exposure to positive role models
• Late start - Late finish
• No 3 months off - give 3 week breaks to increase learning retention; year-round school
• Seasonal teaching, traditional practices and community gardens
• No more than 10 children per class
• ZERO tolerance for bullying, alcohol and drugs; safety; sponsor regular (weekly) activities that provide positive activities and address the negative impact of violence and drugs
• Suicide prevention activities regularly - everyday 24/7
• Parent involvement; teachers and parents working as a team for the child; hold parents accountable
• An environment that focused on teaching and allows the students to focus on learning the culture, respect for ourselves and others where each child's basic needs for food, safety and shelter are met
• A family environment; home away from home
• Strong after school activity programs for all kids - athletes and non-athletes
• Language immersion
• Drum & dance to start and end the day
• Math and science continuing throughout the day and in all grades; relevant instruction of math and science; natural world teaching
• Put tutors on the buses with kids, especially athletes
• System that promotes healing and resilience to overcome life challenges; intergenerational healing
• Parenting program for teen and adult parents
• Leadership - entire community clearly articulating and enforcing the importance/value of education
Each of the 25 participants was asked to invite others to the table. A follow-up session hosted by RL Economic Development and Planning will be scheduled within the next month. Groups will break-out to answer the following about each of the defining requirements:
• Does the programming exist? If so, who is responsible for delivery or programming? How effective is it? How can we improve? Specifics such as cost, capacity and outcomes required to be successful will be defined in a planning/financial/human capacity format.
Prior to the next session, a report / analysis of the current education environment - opportunities and constraints - would add significant value to the discussion.