Professional Growth

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Professional Growth 2023

Iyinisiwin Story Institute Incorporated - Gail 

Indigenous Motherhood Class

The Goal of the Language Course is to awaken the Indigenous spirit of storytelling.  It is imperative to allow our child caregivers as well as myself to learn of the teachings utilized in the ancestral child rearing.  This program immersed all learners in intergenerational learning and cultural revitalization.  In this course we learned about story usage to move knowledge from generation to generation.

As a learner I get to:

Why is this valuable to me?

Identity is built from the stories we are told as children.  If you work with or raise nehiyaw children and youth in their own stories, they will grow into their identity as nehiyawak. 

Becoming an Anti-Racist Educator  - Darrel 

December 8-9, 2022 

We began the journey of becoming anti-racist educators by examining “The Change Curve," on the emotional journey. 

We explored the six layers of racism: 

Sociohistorical Racism, the way we're socialized to make meaning of race. 

Ideological Racism, the result of socio-historical racism is ideological racism, informing world views and belief systems. 

Individual Racism, the result of ideological racism informing interpersonal interactions. 

Institutional Racism, the implications of ideological racism operating in an institution, like a school, division, board, or university. 

Cultural Racism, messaging about white superiority through sources that control the means of perception. 

Structural Racism, the network of unjust distribution of access and opportunity built into all systems and structures in society. From here we then examined the three zones that we travel through on the journey to becoming anti-racist. The Fear zone where we deny and avoid there may be a problem. The learning zone where we recognize racism as a present and current problem and the growth zone where we identify how we may unknowingly benefit from racism to speaking out when we see racism in action. 

We looked at Deficit and Grit Ideologies and how they are used to inform the lenses through which we view students and families. Deficit Ideologies take a deficit perspective that focuses on people's weaknesses rather than their strengths. Grit Ideologies, meanwhile attributes disparities to shortages of resilience and grit within Indigenous communities and communities of colour, so solutions focus on strengthening their grit or resilience.

Canoe Wilderness Camping Skills - Oladiran Akanni

Being an outdoorsy person who enjoys the great outdoors, I felt the need to take the canoe wilderness camping skills & lake canoe intermediate tandem instructor workshop when the opportunity came. 

The workshop was a great opportunity for participants to meet other teachers within the division, learn about series of canoeing maneuver, strokes, skills and their purposes, wilderness navigation, and most importantly, safety while in the wilderness and on the water.

This experience provided me with all what I need to know and how to safely take student at my school out when the time comes.

VIRISTAR’s Risk Management online course for Outdoor Education - Derek Konga

This March I took part in VIRISTAR’s Risk Management online course for Outdoor Education.  This course was suggested and endorsed by the Outdoor Council of Canada.  We had 12 students from all over the world, in various settings from Universities, Nature Therapy Schools and Private contractors participate in weekly discussions and projects.  We developed an understanding of the domains, instruments and protocols around managing risk and what is acceptable for our clients.  The course will help me in teaching outdoor concepts and leading excursions while keeping students within manageable risk.  Thank you NATA for this opportunity.  For more information on this course visit 

Little Green Thumbs - Lisa Hill

Little Green Thumbs is an indoor gardening program that brings your classroom to life.

Teachers are equipped with the tools, skills and training to grow classroom gardens. A Little Green Thumbs Garden supports inquiry-based, hands-on and cross-curricular learning. It is a program that unlocks the magic of food and agriculture in education and explores the connections between our health, environment and food system.

In the training workshop we explored the website that has printable teaching materials available to use with the green thumbs program. We then had the opportunity to unpack an actual garden system that each of the participants would be receiving. We went through the binder manual and all the resources we need to get the program off the ground.  We did a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up each part of the indoor green house from the garden boxes to putting the led lighting together. There was also a retired teacher that did the green thumbs garden in her classroom, and she offered advice and tips to all the new teachers in the program. We went through maintenance issues that we could possibly have with the garden.

We spent some time of the teaching aspect of the garden and how important and impactful it could be on our students. The participants aka teachers all over Saskatchewan brainstormed and shared ideas on how to implement it into each subject of the curriculum. We then viewed some videos and pictures of green thumb gardens in classroom and possible ways to set it up and how we can share it with the whole school community. Each year we will be given replacement items that we need to continue to implement the garden in our classrooms. To wrap up the program each year we will be given funds to have a small garden celebration with our students and their families.

The Zones of Regulation - Laura Park

I attended this day long webinar training to refresh and increase my knowledge regarding regulation, which is something everyone continually works on whether we are aware of it or not. We all encounter trying circumstances that can test our limits. If we can recognize when we are becoming less regulated, we are able to do something about it to manage our feelings and get ourselves to a healthy place. This comes more naturally for some, but for others it is a skill that needs more attention and practice. This is the goal of The Zones of Regulation​.

Feelings are complicated. They come in different sizes, intensities, and levels of energy that are unique within our brains and bodies. To make them easier to talk about, think about, and regulate, The Zones of Regulation organizes our feelings, states of alertness, and energy levels into four colored Zones – Blue, Green, Yellow, and Red. The simple, common language and visual structure of The Zones of Regulation helps make the complex skill of regulation more concrete for learners and those who support them. We learn to regulate our Zones to meet our goals and task demands, as well as support our overall well-being.  

Understanding and finding our way: Decolonizing Canadian Education - Norma A. Bear

This professional growth workshop really helped me in understanding how the Canadian education was built through the lens of European descendants. It brought back my memories of how education system did not teach about First Nations History. I spoke about my experience attending a school in the city, that I didn’t know I was First Nation, I only knew I was different and brown skin from other students. I was an outsider, living in poverty from the rest of my class. I lost my Cree Language because they only used English. I was never smart enough. 

In the workshop, the facilitator allowed us to have a safe place to speak and really look at the education system today on how we can begin to start talking about the disadvantages it has for First Nations students. All the disadvantages I had as a student in the education system. Being a girl, First Nations, and Language. The inequalities historically.

Last part we discussed what suggestions on how to decolonize the Canadian Education.

I suggest that if we are going to change the system there must be justice brought up, and truth before reconciliation can happen. That Canada must ensure that they recognize the First Nations people are the true owners of this land, we have our own languages, culture, and identities. To allow First Nations people to have a voice in making decisions in the education system. 

It was a very intense workshop; I would like to see this offered to all teachers in Saskatchewan. It is much needed for people to have a safe place to talk about truths and bring own suggestions on how we can improve the Education system to fit the needs of all students regardless of ethnicity, culture, language, gender, and religion.

Thank You,

Ms. Norma A. Bear

Combining the Strengths of Indigenous/Western Knowledges and Ways of Knowing for Effective Writing Instruction - Shawn Walker

Resource: Arnolda Dufour Bowes – 20.12 m (book, high school age), Apples and Train Tracks (play)

“When you model vulnerability for students, you teach them how to be vulnerable. These are the moments the teacher becomes a living breathing anchor chart.” -M. Rodriguez


Interesting Thought: Kids have a superpower: imagination. Natural story tellers in play. This superpower can be lost as we age, so it is important to foster it through reading/writing/thinking.

Resource: Brain Vomit Cards – Colour-coded Element Cards: Genre, Character, Setting, Conflict, Tension, Conclusion

Etuaptmumk: Two-eyed seeing – Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall

Writing Discourses

"constellations of beliefs about writing, beliefs about learning to write, ways of talking about writing, and the sorts of approaches to teaching and assessment which are likely to be associated with these beliefs." (Ivanic, 2004, p. 224)

SKILLS – teaching punctuation and grammar through texts, but also through the students own writing.

CREATIVITY – main focus is content and style. Many opportunities for writing. Interesting, inspiring, personally relevant topics.

PROCESS – writer’s mental processes during writing (decisions about what to write, word choice). Writing process stages.

GENRE – learning characteristics of different types of writing.

SOCIAL PRACTICES – real-life contexts, real purposes for writing, real-life audience (authenticity)

SOCIOPOLITICAL – backgrounds, culture, society, world. 

Comprehensive Approach

1. Skills (e.g., writing conventions)

2. Creativity (e.g., writing on topics of interest, creative self-expression)

3. Process (e.g., drafting, editing)

4. Genre (e.g., characteristics of different types of writing)

5. Social Practices (e.g., real purposes for writing)

6. Sociopolitical (e.g., writing on issues of social justice)


“Good Indigenous pedagogy is right for all students…” (Fraser, 2004)

Not only teach Indigenous content, but within/through Indigenous perspectives and processes of knowledge transmission. 

8 Ways Indigenous Learning & Pedagogical Framework

Include Indigenous Perspectives by using Indigenous learning techniques. Teaching through Indigenous processes and protocols, and not just Indigenous content, validates and teaches through Indigenous culture and can enhance learning for all students.

The 8 Ways shows the common ground between mainstream and Indigenous pedagogies

Story Sharing & Writing – learning through narrative

Learning Maps – planning and visualizing explicit processes

Non-verbal – working non-verbally with self-reflective, hands-on methods

Symbols and Images – learning through images, symbols and metaphors

Land Links (Take it Outside) – learning through place-responsive, environmental practice

Deconstruct/Reconstruct  - modelling and scaffolding by working from parts to wholes

Community Links – connecting learning to local values, needs and knowledge

Non-linear Learning – using indirect, innovative and interdisciplinary approaches

The Writing Process

The writing process is recursive.

Each step feeds into the other steps.

Not necessarily linear.

Writing activity: Writing is NOT scary.

1 minute to write: 

Story Building: Instead of plot diagram triangle, think of waves. Stories have ups and downs for the characters, not usually a straight-forward triangle shape.

Resource: “Once Upon a Picture”: website of images to use as reference as story starters.


Culturally Responsive Assessment:

Triangulation of evidence (a few examples/ideas for each)