COLLABORATING ACROSS COMMUNITIES TO CO-CONSTRUCT SUPPORTS FOR INDIGENOUS (AND ALL) STUDENTS by Nikki Lynne Yee B.A., University of Saskatchewan, 1998 B.Ed., University of Saskatchewan, 1999 M.Ed., University of Saskatchewan, 2010 A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Special Education) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) July 2020 © Nikki Lynne Yee, 2020 ii The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the dissertation entitled: Collaborating across communities to co-construct supports for Indigenous (and all) students submitted by Nikki Lynne Yee in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education Examining Committee: Dr. Deborah Butler, Human Development, Learning, and Culture & Special Education Supervisor Dr. Nancy Perry, Human Development, Learning, and Culture & Special Education Supervisory Committee Member Dr. Michael Marker, Educational Studies Supervisory Committee Member Dr. Kim Zebehazy, Special Education University Examiner Dr. Jim Anderson, Language and Literacy Education University Examiner iii Abstract Colonialism is a significant problem that impacts how Indigenous (and all) students engage with learning, and how teachers create learning contexts. In this dissertation study, I examined how a Community of Inquiry (CoI), comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators, parents, academics, and community members came together to (re)imagine educational contexts that could better support Indigenous (and all) students. Although much of the research was co-constructed with members of the CoI, the research design, activities, and interpretation were informed by literature discussing colonialism, decolonization, and collaborative inquiry focusing on CoIs. I used a four-dimensional model of colonialism to clarify challenges in the educational system. Decolonizing perspectives were used to critically confront colonialism, and (re)imagine ethical relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. CoI models offered a way to build on the strength of diverse perspectives. These theoretical considerations were a springboard for investigating how the CoI came together, what they identified as key challenges students and teachers navigated, and the pedagogical principles and practices they co-constructed to support Indigenous (and all) learners in a small school district in British Columbia, Canada. This research was conducted using a critical ethnographic case study methodology, grounded in decolonizing perspectives. Within this approach, research methods were co-constructed with participants to ensure that the research undertaken was situated and responsive to the needs of Indigenous students. Findings from this study highlighted specific CoI structures, such as facilitation, context, communication, and goals that opened possibilities for reflection and transformation among CoI participants. Using these structures, participants co-constructed understandings, grappled with pedagogical questions, and (re)imagined a shared future. iv Participants built from this foundation to create a set of seven principles and practices that could cultivate supportive learning environments. The principles and practices they co-constructed were designed to inspire educators’ self-reflection, create a space that accepts and builds from the strengths of Indigenous and decolonizing perspectives, and bolster supports for Indigenous (and all) students. Lastly, I discuss how these findings contribute to the literature on CoIs, decolonizing possibilities, and pedagogical practices, and provide suggestions educators may use to open decolonizing possibilities within their own contexts. v Lay Summary Colonialism is a key challenge facing Indigenous (and all) students and teachers. In this research, I explored how decolonizing possibilities in education could be opened when diverse people met in a Community of Inquiry (CoI). In particular, I looked at three questions asking about how people came together, the content of their conversations, and principles and practices educators could use to support Indigenous (and all) students. My research indicated that facilitation, context, communication, and goals were valuable CoI structures. They helped create a space for participants to talk about their ideals, experiences, and identities. In this space, participants could together imagine a better relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples, and a vision of education that might flow from that. From this point they worked together to create seven suggestions for teachers, schools, and systems meant to inspire positive learning environments for Indigenous (and all) students. vi Preface This dissertation is an original intellectual product of the author, Nikki Lynne Yee. The research reported herein was covered by UBC Ethics Certificate number H16-00352. vii Table of Contents Abstract ......................................................................................................................................... iii Lay Summary ................................................................................................................................ v Preface ........................................................................................................................................... vi Table of Contents ........................................................................................................................ vii List of Tables ................................................................................................................................ xii List of Figures ............................................................................................................................. xiii Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................... xiv Dedication ................................................................................................................................... xvi Chapter 1: Introduction ............................................................................................................... 1 Research Purpose................................................................................................................... 1 Positionality ........................................................................................................................... 3 Student Challenges ................................................................................................................ 5 Teacher Challenges .............................................................................................................. 12 Context for this Research .................................................................................................... 17 National context. ....................................................................................................... 18 Provincial context. .................................................................................................... 19 District context. ......................................................................................................... 20 Bringing People Together .................................................................................................... 21 Research Questions ............................................................................................................. 22 Summary and Dissertation Overview .................................................................................. 23 Chapter 2: Literature Review .................................................................................................... 25 Colonialism.......................................................................................................................... 26 Four dimensions of colonialism. ............................................................................... 26 Colonialism and non-Indigenous Peoples. ................................................................ 32 Decolonization ..................................................................................................................... 35 Decolonizing processes. ............................................................................................ 36 Partners in decolonization. ........................................................................................ 37 Potential impacts for non-Indigenous Peoples. ......................................................... 39 Exploring Decolonizing Possibilities in Education ............................................................. 40 Critical reflection. ..................................................................................................... 41 (Re)imagining education. .......................................................................................... 45 Enacting Decolonization in a Community of Inquiry ......................................................... 63 Professional development. ........................................................................................ 64 viii Collaborative inquiry. ............................................................................................... 66 Communities of Inquiry (CoIs). ................................................................................ 69 Chapter Summary ................................................................................................................ 72 Chapter 3: Methodology ............................................................................................................. 74 Study Overview ................................................................................................................... 74 Critical Ethnographic Perspective ....................................................................................... 75 Epistemological orientations. .................................................................................... 77 Ethical considerations. .............................................................................................. 80 Case Study Design ............................................................................................................... 82 Credibility. ................................................................................................................ 83 CoI case. .................................................................................................................... 84 Overview: Research Questions in Relation to Evidence ..................................................... 93 Analysis and Interpretation.................................................................................................. 96 Summary............................................................................................................................ 104 Chapter 4: Results Overview and CoI Processes ................................................................... 106 CoI Meeting Description ................................................................................................... 106 Overview of Results .......................................................................................................... 108 Research Question 1: CoI Structures "a really nice way to move forward and work together" (Tristan Crowther, Final Interview, 2017-06-09) ......................................110 CoI structures: “We’re not in a circle right now, but maybe we’re in a circle?” (Setlakus, Post-CoI 10, 2018-04-04) ......................................................................................... 111 Facilitation: “It takes a certain person to pull this off” ............................................ 111 Context: “super productive and super supportive” ..................................................117 Communication: “…I felt people were understanding and they would have corrected me…” ............................................................................................................. 129 Goals: “I'm sure we all want the best for our kids” ................................................ 134 Summary. ................................................................................................................ 140 Impacts of CoI Structures: “What’s the bigger purpose?” ................................................ 140 Participant engagement: “… talk from [the] heart [about] what you witnessed today.” ............................................................................................................. 141 Limitations: “…there’s only so much we can do …” ............................................. 149 Summary: “The dialogue was helpful” ................................................................... 151 Chapter 5: Content Enabled .................................................................................................... 153 Co-constructed Truth: “truth in itself is a gift” .................................................................. 154 Individual experiences: “I am an intergenerational survivor of … residential school, and … poverty, and … marginalization” ........................................................ 157 ix Inner journey: “I started to come to a place of … understanding that maybe my schooling had played a role in my self-loathing” ........................................... 160 Systemic truths: “We’re given a closet rather than a classroom” ........................... 162 Identity Narratives: “no no no no, you’re not fractions. That’s the math lesson … it’s [what’s] in your heart” ............................................................................................. 165 Definition of identity: “that’s who I am … No one can take that away from me” . 165 Factors that shape identity: “… all of my teachings come from the longhouse ... That's where I belong, and that’s where my family belongs …” .................... 167 Trickster narratives: “It's this whole grey area. All of this, are we getting the grey area or is the grey area still kind of floating around like a trickster?”..................................... 169 Challenging colonial logic: “an active struggle” .................................................... 170 Decolonizing classroom practice: “we can only teach what we've learned in our own life experiences” ............................................................................................. 174 Working together: “it's not the crabs in the bucket … There's no bucket. It's just working together on the beach … working off the land” ............................... 179 Existing potential: “… the experience I've had with the education system currently … is that it's changing …” .............................................................................. 181 Respectful Relationships: “we have to change the status quo” ......................................... 184 Common Vision: “So we kind of have [a] shared vision, shared understanding of where we want the child to get to” ........................................................................................... 187 Envisioning education: “I … hope that our school system would … create a space for students to experience their own culture regardless of what it is …” ....... 187 Roles of teachers and students: “I'm just sort of understanding education as an interdependence between student and teacher” .............................................. 193 Summary: “we’ve had some pretty deep discussions” ...................................................... 195 Chapter 6: Principles and Practices ........................................................................................ 197 Pre-amble to Principles and Practices: “how do we empower teachers so they don't feel threatened or inadequate?” ....................................................................................... 199 Starting with our own Thoughts and Ideas: “…it is a process, right? And it starts with self first …” .................................................................................................................... 200 Acknowledging Indigenous Diversity: “A spectrum of Indigeneity” ............................... 203 Prioritizing Local Indigenous Perspectives: “where we teach has history, on this land. The people coming into your building, they [are] ... that history [since time immemorial].” .......................................................................................................... 206 Creating and Maintaining Positive and Meaningful Relationships: “how do we authentically teach First Nations’ perspectives if the people that we are teaching about are not comfortable being in our own building?” .......................................... 214 x Honouring the Complex, Integrated Nature of Humanity: “… education is a dance. And sometimes I think … we're so busy trying to produce a product without really engaging in a dance” ................................................................................................ 218 Using Student-Centred Teaching Practices: “it's fascinating to see what they come up with when they're capable of pursuing their own passions” ............................................ 223 Respectfully Engaging with Authentic Resources: “you have to go deeper … there has to be more than one bangers” ....................................................................................... 229 Summary: “Teaching does not come with instructions” ................................................... 235 Chapter 7 Discussion ................................................................................................................ 239 Research Question 1: How can a CoI Create a Context for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Participants to come Together in Support of Indigenous (and all) Students? .......... 240 Facilitation. ............................................................................................................. 240 Context .................................................................................................................... 243 Communication. ...................................................................................................... 246 Goals. ...................................................................................................................... 248 Implications............................................................................................................. 250 Research Question 2: What is the Content of Discussions Enabled by CoI Structures?... 251 Co-constructed truth................................................................................................ 251 Identity narratives. .................................................................................................. 255 Trickster narratives ................................................................................................. 257 Respectful relationships. ......................................................................................... 261 Common vision. ...................................................................................................... 263 Research Question 3: Based on CoI Members’ Perspectives, What Principles and Practices Could non-Indigenous (and all) Teachers use to Provide Locally Relevant Support to Indigenous (and all) Students in Inclusive Classrooms? ......................................... 267 Starting with our own thoughts and ideas. .............................................................. 268 Acknowledging Indigenous diversity. .................................................................... 269 Prioritizing local Indigenous perspectives. ............................................................. 270 Creating and maintaining positive and meaningful relationships. .......................... 270 Honouring the complex, integrated nature of humanity. ........................................ 271 Using student-centred teaching practices................................................................ 272 Respectfully engaging with authentic resources. .................................................... 273 Implications............................................................................................................. 274 Chapter Summary .............................................................................................................. 275 Chapter 8 Conclusions, Limitations, Future Directions ........................................................ 277 Overarching Implications .................................................................................................. 278 xi Research. ................................................................................................................. 279 CoIs. ........................................................................................................................ 279 Educators and schools. ............................................................................................ 281 Systems and communities. ...................................................................................... 282 Limitations ......................................................................................................................... 283 Future Directions ............................................................................................................... 285 Conclusion ......................................................................................................................... 287 References .................................................................................................................................. 288 Appendix A: Initial Semi-structured Interview ..................................................................... 314 Appendix B: Check-in/Check-out ........................................................................................... 315 Appendix C: Final Semi-structured Interview ....................................................................... 317 xii List of Tables Table 1. Social Disparity in Canada ................................................................................................ 8 Table 2. Educational Disparities Across Grades ............................................................................. 9 Table 3. Representation in Special Education Programming .........................................................11 Table 4. Background of Participants ............................................................................................. 88 Table 5. Community Affiliation .................................................................................................... 89 Table 6. Relationship Between Research Questions and Evidence .............................................. 94 Table 7. Attendance at CoI Meetings .......................................................................................... 107 xiii List of Figures Figure 1. Exploring Decolonizing Possibilities in Education. ...................................................... 41 Figure 2. Original Conception of Research Activities. ................................................................. 85 Figure 3. Enactment of Research Activities. ................................................................................. 86 Figure 4. CoI Activities and Evidence. ......................................................................................... 91 Figure 5. Abductive Analysis Across Research Activities. ........................................................... 98 Figure 6. Power Point Slide from CoI Mtg 5-1 Showing Points Important to Participants, out of the Range of Issues Discussed. ............................................................................................ 99 Figure 7. Growing Principles and Practices to Support Indigenous (and all) Students: Organizing Framework. ........................................................................................................................ 109 Figure 8. Growing Principles and Practices to Support Indigenous (and all) Students: CoI Structures. ...........................................................................................................................110 Figure 9. Group Norms, CoI 2 Mtg PPT slides, 2017-02-16. ......................................................118 Figure 10. Co-constructed Goals. ............................................................................................... 120 Figure 11. Growing Principles and Practices to Support Indigenous (and all) Students: Content Enabled. ............................................................................................................................. 153 Figure 12. Growing Principles and Practices to Support Indigenous (and all) Students: Principles and Practices ...................................................................................................................... 197 xiv Acknowledgements I wish to extend my gratitude, first to my supervisor, Dr. Deb Butler, who opened the door to this research and helped me walk through it. Because of her mentorship I have become a better thinker, a better writer, a better teacher, and a better person. I wish to thank Dr. Nancy Perry, who provided me with an academic ‘home’ in her lab and walked me through opportunities to grow as a scholar within the academic community. I also thank Dr. Michael Marker who helped me push the boundaries of my imagination and begin to see where I could fit within decolonizing scholarship. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with so many distinguished professors and mentors, also including Dr. Ido Roll, who both supported me and challenged me to reach higher. I thank UBC; the family and friends of Jospeh Katz; and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for their generous support in terms of scholarships and awards over the course of my Ph D program. I thank the participants of this study who so generously contributed their time, energy, and insights to make a meaningful difference, not only for scholarship, but for kids. I would be nowhere without the advice, encouragement, and commiseration of my friends and colleagues over the years, especially Dr. Sara Davidson, Silvia Mazabel, and Xinke Wan. Thanks also to Lynn Wainwright and Dr. Candace Galla who helped to shape my ideas and grapple with difficult questions. xv I also want to thank my mom, Geri Yee for being my first and enduring role model of a smart, beautiful, and socially sensitive person in the midst of racially charged discussions. Thank you for showing me how to talk about race and racism, and normalizing love and acceptance for all people. I thank the late Delphine Crain for showing me another way to be in the world, and how to live with dignity, grace, love, and laughter. And to Amanda, Tiffany, and Dacy for inspiring me with your determination and resilience. Special thanks to my partner, John, for tiptoeing around my desk on weekends, for musical interludes, and late-night poems. Your support has always been the key to this adventure. Thanks also to Sylvie and Susana for pulling me out of my head when I felt like I was drowning. Last but not least, thanks to Emma, Caper Jean, Olivia, Ginger, and Shivers for patiently taking shifts by my side through this process. xvi Dedication This dissertation is dedicated to the Nêhiyawak, xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and Səl̓ílwətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh Peoples and other Indigenous Peoples whose traditional, ancestral, and in some cases unceded territories have provided a home to me and my family over the generations. I especially wish to dedicate it to the students of these and other Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis Nations that have been let down by Western educational systems. May we find a way forward together.1 Chapter 1: Introduction Yesterday Kyle handed in his test. It was Blank. Today I gave him another chance to trace white-eyed textbook visions of evolving colonial choreography. He sat there for an hour. The space between each second a growing chasm between us. “Just write anything, you know more than you think.” He knew more than I thought. Today Kyle handed in his test. It was Blank. Tomorrow has got to be a new day for Kyle and me1. Research Purpose As suggested in the opening poem, this research is about finding ways for teachers, and particularly non-Indigenous educators like myself, to overcome colonial influences in teaching to better support Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. As a teacher and a student, I found that the dominant perspectives embedded in the educational system did little to prepare me to enact a society that is just, equitable, and loving towards all people. I have come to understand that this kind of society can be developed through decolonization and the creation of respectful relationships with Indigenous Peoples on whose traditional, and often unceded, land Canada is established. These understandings, emerging from my personal and familial experiences in Canada, gave rise to the research interests behind this study. 1 All poems in this dissertation were authored by Nikki L. Yee. 2 Working towards decolonizing possibilities requires careful scrutiny of language. Here I have chosen to use the word Indigenous inclusively, in line with contemporary Indigenous scholars (Archibald, 2008; Hare & Davidson, 2020; Justice, 2018; Younging, 2018). I recognize the immense cultural difference among Indigenous Peoples of North America, and the danger of trivializing or racializing this diversity by using a common term (Maracle, 2017). In this dissertation I use the term Indigenous to refer to the Original Peoples of the land commonly known as Canada, who have a common history as environmental stewards, and as resilient survivors of ongoing and systemic colonial violence (Cote-Meek, 2014). As such, Indigenous students across cultures and nations, may bring distinct contributions, and face unique challenges in the education system. At the same time, I acknowledge that decolonizing possibilities hold promise for all people (Donald, 2012; Regan, 2010), and that pedagogical approaches that work for Indigenous students are likely to benefit all students (Hare & Davidson, 2020; Pewewardy & Hammer, 2003). Thus, I use the term Indigenous (and all) students as a way to prioritize Indigenous students’ needs, while acknowledging impacts across communities. Lastly, I study the decolonizing possibilities in inclusive learning environments, by which I mean classrooms in publicly funded schools that fall under provincial jurisdiction and that are intended to address the needs of learners across lines of difference, including but not limited to culture, Indigeneity, gender, and ability (BC Ministry of Education, 2015). In this chapter I introduce the context of this study by first discussing how this research was shaped by my own histories and experiences, in order to be transparent about my positionality within this work (Chilisa, 2012; Davidson, 2016; Donald, 2009; Madison, 2012). I then go on to discuss my understanding of student and teacher challenges within a colonial 3 educational context. I briefly describe the specific context of this study before giving an overview of this research and its potential contributions. Positionality My journey to this research is rooted in my identity as a Chinese and Mennonite settler scholar growing up in colonial Canada. Specifically, I was raised on the traditional and ancestral territory of Cree People in Treaty 6, which also includes the traditional territories of the Dene, Nakota, Saulteaux, and Ojibwe, and is the homeland of the Métis Nation. My great-grandfather came from China to British Columbia to work on the Trans-Canada railway, which helped legitimize Canada as a settler nation, and accelerated EuroCanadian encroachment on Indigenous territories. My Mennonite family came to Canada fleeing persecution in Europe and farmed in the prairies over generations to establish themselves within the Canadian social hierarchy. This opportunity was likely due to land grants made possible by Indigenous land dispossession through treaties around the turn of the century. After leaving the family farm, my mother volunteered with community groups involved in equity and anti-racism. She brought home with her the discussion of race and racism in Saskatchewan. I acknowledge that within a racially constructed society my family and I have experienced many of the privileges accorded to ‘white’ people, and also the systemic challenges of racialized and marginalized peoples. I did not grow up with a lot of financial resources, so I found identity, power and social status through education. I tended to do well in a system that divided and ranked students according to proficiency with Eurocentric rules, procedures, and knowledge, or what Mi’kmaq scholar Marie Battiste (2002; 2013) calls cognitive imperialism. Perhaps because of my success as a student in this system, I became a teacher. As a teacher, I likewise found that I was able to leverage power by developing expertise. Although I adamantly supported equity and social 4 justice, I never thought about how my own success in education was a part of individual and systemic privilege and marginalization. I have and continue to benefit from the inequities inherent in the socio-cultural systems in Canada, and the Western cognitive imperialist education system specifically. None of these experiences helped me understand how to be the person and teacher that could support the education and growth of Indigenous students. The opening poem is based on an incident that happened when I was working as a teacher in Saskatchewan. I taught Indigenous learners both in my Native Studies classes, and as part of my special education responsibilities. At the time, I wanted to be a good teacher, but was not grasping the full extent of colonial dynamics at play in the education system. In retrospect, this is likely why I struggled to address the core challenges facing many of the Indigenous students I taught. I had always drawn my own success and power from demonstrating proficiency with Eurocentric knowledge and pedagogies, so I struggled to imagine and implement other ways of being, in education and in the world. The poem encapsulates how I now see my challenges as a non-Indigenous teacher within the Western education system. The most recent leg of my educational journey has taken place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. I wish to acknowledge the way that this place and these people have brought my complicity and complacency into sharp relief and led me to question the legitimacy of my presence in British Columbia (BC) and Canada. Being here has cultivated a heightened dedication to a just relationship with Indigenous Peoples, especially within educational systems. 5 The educational challenges addressed through this research emerged from my own observations and experiences as a teacher. First, I saw that many of the Indigenous students I worked with tended not to be involved in the academic or social life of the school. Special education supports available to students did not seem to address the challenges that confronted Indigenous students. This alienation and miscalibrated intervention seemed to make the public education system a rather punishing experience to endure, which impacted the options available to students within and beyond high school. Second, although I was able to establish a connection with some of the students, I did not feel like I was making a great enough impact on their learning, experience of school or life, or future opportunities. These challenges are not limited to my own observations. Administrators, teachers, and government officials in educational systems throughout Canada recognize the pressing need to improve outcomes for Indigenous students (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2019; Government of the Northwest Territories, 2013; OECD, 2017; Steeves, Carr-Stewart, & Marshall, 2010). Thus, the purpose of this dissertation is to better understand and address the needs of Indigenous students, like those I have encountered during my career. In particular, I wanted to know how I, and other teachers in the educational system, could provide more effective supports for Indigenous students who face complex challenges at school. Student Challenges Understanding why and how Indigenous students experience challenges within the education system is essential to creating effective supports in classrooms and schools, as the focus of this study. Lorenzo Cherubini and John Hodson (2008) noted that “… Aboriginal academic achievement is influenced by a complex mix of socioeconomic, sociohistoric, and sociocultural realities that are the residue of the colonizing efforts that continue to underscore the 6 contemporary reality of Aboriginal peoples in Canada” (p. 5). This view of colonialism as the source of numerous challenges within the Western education system is echoed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars (Barman, 1995; Battiste, 2013; Cote-Meek, 2014; Deyhle, 1995; Iseke-Barnes, 2006; Marker, 2000b). Similar to my observations as a teacher, Verna St. Denis (Cree/Metis) and Eber Hampton (Chickasaw; 2002) found that Indigenous students do not feel they belong in schools, and furthermore, that their teachers do not care about them. These perceptions coincided with feelings of low self-esteem, low self-worth, and low motivation (Cooper, 2012; Cote-Meek, 2014; St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). From their review of literature, St. Denis and Hampton (2002) concluded that Indigenous students experience six different types of racism within schools, including verbal abuse, psychological abuse, self-fulfilling prophecies of low expectations, social marginalization/isolation, lack of professional support and/or attention, and rules and procedures that facilitate failure for Indigenous students. Sadly, more recent research throughout BC, where the present study took place, has found that Indigenous students still experience racism (Davidson, 2016; Hare & Pidgeon, 2011; McGregor, 2019) across all six of these areas (Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, 2016). For example, Haida scholar Sara Davidson (2016) found that assumptions about the intellectual capability of Indigenous students continue to be informed by deficit narratives. Courses with Indigenous content are often considered less academically rigorous than other content areas (Cote-Meek, 2014; Davidson, 2016). As part of the colonial paradigm that influences education, these experiences of racism can have far-reaching effects on students, families, and communities. Research suggests that students react to and resist racism in different ways. Unprepared for hostile encounters, some students internalize low self-worth, or become angry and act out 7 (Cooper, 2012; Cote-Meek, 2014; St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). Some students distance themselves from their Indigenous identity to minimize racist experiences (Cote-Meek, 2014; Davidson, 2016). Research has found that active resistance to racist encounters tends to result in disproportionate school suspension, since rules are often applied more rigorously to Indigenous students (St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). Students have also reported that they leave school prior to graduation because they are bored (O’Donnell & Ballardin, 2006), or as a more passive resistance to racism in their environment (Hare & Pidgeon, 2011; Kohl, 1991; St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). These reactions may be interpreted as a response to systemic forms of colonialism such as cognitive imperialism students encounter through school policies, practices, and content (Battiste, 2013; Dion, Johnson, & Rice, 2010). Importantly, Indigenous students operate within a broader colonial social context that impacts how they are able to take up educational opportunities (See Table 1). Research has demonstrated that Indigenous students are often required to take on more adult roles in their families such as family caregiver or breadwinner (Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, 2010; Dion et al., 2010). For example, in 2001, 34% of Indigenous young men left school because they wanted to work (O’Donnell & Ballardin, 2006). In some instances, the intense intergenerational trauma flowing from historic and ongoing colonial encounters may cultivate an environment where more basic emotional, physical, or cultural needs take priority over academic success (Bombay, Matheson, & Anisman, 2009; Hackett, Feeny, & Tompa, 2016). In households where families typically have a lower income, greater unemployment, and more health problems than the Canadian population on the whole (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2005; Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996), Indigenous students may need to take on a greater 8 burden of responsibility. These household responsibilities may severely limit the time and energy students have left for engagement with school. Table 1 Social Disparity in Canada Social Condition Registered First Nations Total Canadian Population Average income $16,935 $29,769 Unemployment 23.3% 7.4% Life expectancy - males 70.4 years 77.0 years Life expectancy - females 75.5 years 82.1 years Infant mortality 7.2/1000 live births 5.2/1000 live births Source: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2005 This colonial context has been found to impact other areas of Indigenous students’ lives in a way that may affect educational experiences. Most notably, research suggests that parental and community involvement in schools can be a source of support for students (Friedel, 1999; Ledoux, 2006). However, Indigenous parents and communities tend to face multiple barriers to meaningful engagement with schools (Friedel, 1999; Lowe et al., 2019; Milne, 2016). Some scholars attribute a lack of involvement to mistrust of the educational systems arising from traumatic associations with residential schools (Cherubini & Hodson, 2008; Milne, 2016), or to continued experiences of colonialism in interactions with the education system (Battiste, 2013; Friedel, 1999; Lowe et al., 2019). Although Indigenous parents have been recognized for their resilience in advocating for their children’s education, many still experience schools as unwelcoming institutions (Canadian House of Commons Sub-Committee on Children & Youth at Risk, 2003; Milne, 2016), making meaningful parental involvement difficult. Achievement and graduation rates seem to reflect this colonial context. In general, achievement and graduation rates are found to be lower for Indigenous students than non-Indigenous students (see Table 2). In BC, students across the province are asked to complete the 9 Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA), an assessment conducted in grades four and seven to monitor the development of student learning. As Table 2 illustrates, fewer Indigenous students across subjects and grades were meeting or exceeding expectations for their grade levels in 2018, as compared to their non-Indigenous peers. This pattern of low achievement has been consistent over time across Canada (Battiste, 2013; Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996), and has been observed in other colonial countries as well (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Hynds et al., 2016). Although it is but one measure of student success, the pervasive under achievement of Indigenous students in BC schools demonstrates how educational environments continue to fail Indigenous students. Table 2 illustrates further disparities in outcomes that may point to specific challenges in education. Indigenous students continue to be under-represented among graduates, although the gaps in graduation rates are closing (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2019; BC Ministry of Education, 2018). However, of those students who completed grade 12, a disproportionately Table 2 Educational Disparities Across Grades Educational Outcome Indigenous Students Non-Indigenous Students Gr. 4 FSA Reading: Meeting/Exceeding* 60% 78% Gr. 4 FSA Writing: Meeting/Exceeding* 63% 79% Gr. 4 FSA Numeracy: Meeting/Exceeding* 46% 69% Gr. 7 FSA Reading: Meeting/Exceeding* 63% 80% Gr. 7 FSA Writing: Meeting/ Exceeding* 82% 92% Gr. 7 FSA Numeracy: Meeting/ Exceeding* 41% 68% Gr. 12 Completion Rates 70% 86% School Completion Certificate (Evergreen) 4% 1% Standard Graduation Certificate (Dogwood) 51% 74% Adult Graduation Certificate (Adult Dogwood) 10% 4% Source: BC Ministry of Education, 2018 *Refers to the percentage of students that met or exceeded expectations for their grade level, out of those who wrote the BC Foundation Skills Assessment. 10 higher rate of Indigenous students leave with a completion, or “Evergreen” certificate (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2019; BC Ministry of Education, 2018). These certificates were intended to recognize students with profound learning needs who are not able to meet the criteria for the standard grade 12 “Dogwood” diploma (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2019), and thus severely limit post-secondary options. The Auditor General of BC (2019) found that Indigenous students were more likely to be granted the Evergreen diploma even when they lacked a special education designation. This situation persists despite current Ministry policies that limit Evergreen certificates to students with special needs (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2019). In this case, programming intended to support students with special needs may be needlessly limiting future options for some Indigenous students. Across Canada, Indigenous students have been over represented in special education programs, especially in the mild disability category that includes learning and behavioural disorders (Auerbach, 2007; BC Ministry of Education, 2018; Michell, 2012; Vancouver Board of Education, 2010). As shown in Table 3, more than one in five Indigenous students were identified as having a disability in BC in 2018. Rates for learning disabilities among Indigenous students were nearly twice that of non-Indigenous students, while rates for behavioural disabilities were almost three times as high. At the same time, a nearly negligible percentage of Indigenous students were identified for gifted programs (calculated based on statistics reported by BC Ministry of Education, 2018). Special education programs seem to reflect the impacts of individual and systemic racism but may also be considered as another avenue for continued colonization as students become separated or judged as academically inferior to their non-Indigenous peers (Bailey & Betts, 2009; Mallett, 2008). 11 Table 3 Representation in Special Education Programming Special Education Category Indigenous Students Non-Indigenous Students Total designated students across categories 19.8% 9.8% Learning Disabilities 5.2% 3.1% Behavioural Disabilities 5.9% 2.1% Gifted 0.2% 1.0% Source: Based on statistics taken from BC Ministry of Education, 2018 Colonialism evident in the education system may intensify in special education programs and services. Special education services are often built on approaches that require adherence to intervention protocols (e.g., Clay, 1994), or externally-rewarded behavioural systems (e.g., Bondy & Frost, 2001) that do not consider the implications of diversity (Bailey & Betts, 2009; Mallett, 2008). Educators may be reluctant to try innovative or culturally sustaining pedagogical approaches with struggling learners, because they want to optimize student growth, or because they are obliged to implement recommendations from other professionals. However, the lack of culturally sustaining pedagogy may actually work against the objectives of teachers and students (Bailey & Betts, 2009; Mallett, 2008). A cycle may emerge where Indigenous students experience racism, which some respond to by acting out or under achieving. This resistance behaviour may result in a designation of learning or behavioural disabilities. In special education programs some Indigenous students may struggle to find relevance and personal meaning until they finally leave the school system early, or with a completion certificate. In cases like this, the inability of the system to recognize and address colonialism in educational settings could directly contribute to the considerable challenges Indigenous students face in school and in their lives. In summary, Indigenous students, along with their parents and communities, experience colonialism through multiple levels of the educational system, from individual interactions that 12 make them feel a lack of belonging or safety, through to systemic biases that have the potential to significantly impact their life trajectories. Due to the pervasive and embedded nature of these colonial challenges within and beyond school, Indigenous students may not benefit from targeted assessment or intervention found to support other students. Instead, Indigenous students might experience more success if educators shift focus to disrupting colonial structures present in school contexts. This point is key when considering how to best support Indigenous (and all) students, which is the focus of this study. As arbiters of the classroom context, teachers are uniquely positioned to change the schooling experience for Indigenous students. Teacher Challenges Educators may need to address their own challenges arising from entrenched colonial narratives to create environments that address the needs of Indigenous (and all) students. Scholars within the field of education have recognized that many teachers lack the capacity to meet the needs of Indigenous students (Battiste, 2013; Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Dion et al., 2010; Milne, 2017). Non-Indigenous educators themselves have reported that they feel ill-prepared or apprehensive about engaging with Indigenous perspectives in the classroom (Deer, 2013; Hunter, 2015; Mason, 2008; McGregor, 2019). A teacher’s sense of self-efficacy has been found to be key for the successful implementation of culturally responsive programs (Kanu, 2011). Thus, if non-Indigenous teachers themselves are noting a lack of self-efficacy for connecting with Indigenous learners, creating supportive contexts for Indigenous students may be problematic. This lack of understanding and efficacy can be understood as occurring within the domains of both the head and the heart (as components of the good mind described by Newhouse, 2008; van Veen & Lasky, 2005). In the realm of the head, many non-Indigenous teachers and teacher 13 candidates have suggested that they do not have an adequate knowledge base from which to teach about Indigenous perspectives (Deer, 2013; Dion et al., 2010; Hunter, 2015; Milne, 2017). This lack of knowledge may limit the curricular connections teachers are able to make, or the kinds of activities they are able to imagine for their students (Cherubini & Hodson, 2008; McInnes, 2017). Indigenous perspectives may be absent from curricular content because little is known about local Indigenous cultures and colonial experiences. Even more troubling, some teachers’ knowledge about Indigenous Peoples may be based on stereotypes, or colonial narratives around deficiency or divisions (Cherubini & Hodson, 2008; Davidson, 2016; Donald, 2009). Perhaps because of this fundamental insecurity in their knowledge base, teachers often cite a lack of resources as one of the main barriers to their engagement with Indigenous perspectives in the classroom (Deer, 2013; Hunter, 2015; Kanu, 2011). Furthermore, teachers may understand that resources exist but do not have the time to locate them, or do not feel confident in using them (Kanu, 2011; Nardozi, 2016). In more recent years, organizations like the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and the First Nations Schools Association (FNSA, FNESC & FNSA, 2016; Grass, 2017) have compiled and expanded resources in BC; however, many teachers still struggle with implementation (Grass, 2017; Milne, 2017), or with locating resources that are specific to the cultural context of local Nations. Some teachers may have both knowledge and resources, but may lack key understandings that prevent them from transforming classroom contexts. They may not be sure how to position themselves in relation to Indigenous perspectives in a way that is authentic to their own identities and paradigms. Furthermore, if teachers think of themselves as experts, or are seen as experts, they may not feel comfortable giving up what Stó:lō writer Lee Maracle (2017) describes as “the 14 Knower’s chair”, or the position of authority and expertise within the classroom (Cherubini & Hodson, 2008). Exploring decolonizing possibilities in the classroom requires a re-consideration of power hierarchies (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008). Teachers who have had limited exposure to these kinds of educational contexts may struggle to confidently structure learning opportunities related to unfamiliar Indigenous perspectives. In particular, cultural appropriation is a key concern for many teachers, including myself, who wish to respectfully support Indigenous students’ cultural development in the classroom (Deer, 2013; Smith-Brillon, Hooper, Hunt, Smith, & Hill, 2012). Cultural appropriation is the decontextualized use of Indigenous symbols by non-Indigenous people such that cultural meaning and significance of the symbols may shift and become re-inscribed in a way that is colonizing or harmful to Indigenous Peoples (Haig-Brown, 2010; Iseke-Barnes, 2009; Shand, 2000). Appropriation is tied to cultural authority. Stó:lō scholar Jo-Ann Archibald (2008) notes that even if people develop expertise with a particular culture, they may still lack the cultural authority that is gained according to the protocols of a community. Concerned about inflicting harm on students through cultural appropriation, teachers may avoid Indigenous content altogether (Davidson, 2016). These gaps in knowledge, experience, or understanding may represent considerable challenges to creating environments that address the learning needs of Indigenous (and all) students. Barriers to implementation may stem from the even greater challenges teachers may face in the realm of the heart, conceptualized as passion or emotion (Newhouse, 2008; van Veen & Lasky, 2005). Onondaga scholar David Newhouse (2008) described the strong influence of emotion recognized by Iroquoian philosophers in the adage “passion drives reason from the table” (p. 189). Many teachers may want to support their students, including Indigenous students; 15 however, as with any educational innovation, teachers may feel a sense of vulnerability which could restrict their ability to learn and change (Twyford, 2016; Twyford, Le Fevre, & Timperley, 2017). Thus, teachers’ emotional reactions to pedagogical perspectives or shifts cannot be discounted or trivialized. The role of emotion in developing professional capacities may be particularly pronounced when it comes to Indigenous education. In the case of Indigenous education, teachers have reported intense and uncomfortable emotions on many fronts. To begin with, the colonial content educators are asked to teach, in itself, may cause a sense of profound discomfort, guilt, or defensiveness (Bacon, 2017; Deer, 2013; Milne, 2017). Furthermore, if teachers are personally invested in colonial narratives or the system of cognitive imperialism, they may become intensely uncomfortable when these stories and systems are challenged. If educators can work past these initial reactions, they may feel anxious about being called out for teaching contested perspectives, or about their classroom materials or methods being viewed as offensive (Deer, 2013; Hunter, 2015; Milne, 2017). This fear is not entirely unfounded as many teachers do make mistakes in their attempts to address Indigenous perspectives (Dion et al., 2010; Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, 2016; Milne, 2017; St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). Challenging entrenched narratives and practices is not easy work (e.g., Davidson, 2016). It demands humility and resilience. For some teachers, this may be a significant impediment to their commitment to Indigenous education. They may feel more comfortable distancing themselves from Indigenous culture, or colonial history, becoming what Potawatomi-Lenapé scholar Susan Dion (2007) calls “the perfect stranger” (p. 330). Teachers may be more willing to advance Indigenous education initiatives with adequate supports, however if this support is lacking or inconsistent, they will continue to struggle. Some 16 teachers may fear being put in a position of defending a practice they are just beginning to develop or understand (Deer, 2013; Milne, 2017). Development of Indigenous education practices might be stifled with limited professional development opportunities or in a school culture where Indigenous education is not considered a priority. Conversely, educators may feel pressure from school, district, or Ministry mandates that ask them to implement Indigenous perspectives even if they do not feel adequately prepared (Davidson, 2016). In other cases, educational systems may send mixed messages as they struggle to decolonize their own policies and practices while at the same time mandating Indigenous perspectives be implemented at other points in the system (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2019). In these kinds of situations, teachers’ feelings of insecurity, resentment, and/or frustration may overwhelm initiatives they understand support Indigenous (and all) learners. Beyond insecurities with curricular content and pedagogical practices, teachers may have to confront their own biases to create meaningful connections with Indigenous students. In order to reach Indigenous students, teachers need to recognize and avoid culturally embedded colonial practices and ways of interacting (Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, 2016; St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). This means that deep introspective self-examination may be needed (Cote-Meek, 2014; Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, 2016; Rosborough, Halbert, & Kaser, 2017) that may impact who they think they are as teachers, as Canadians, and as people (Michie, 2014; van Veen & Lasky, 2005). The flood of challenging emotions provoked by this kind of critical self-examination may prove to be a barrier for many teachers, or as in my case, require a greater personal investment than anticipated. 17 Although implications for the two groups are quite different, non-Indigenous teachers and Indigenous students may similarly feel overwhelmed by the colonial context of schools and society. As Herbert Kohl (1991) acknowledges: no amount of educational research, no development of techniques or materials, no special programs or compensatory services, no restructuring or retraining of teachers will make any fundamental difference until we concede that for many students the only sane alternative to not-learning is the acknowledgement and direct confrontation of oppression - social, sexual, and economic - both in school and society. Education built on accepting that hard truth about our society can break through not-learning and lead students and teachers together, not to the solution of problems but to direct intelligent engagement in the struggles that might lead to solutions (Kohl, 1991, p. 47) Teachers and students may share frustration about the many challenges to implementing Indigenous education in schools. The depth and breadth of the problem is currently both requiring and motivating educators and community members alike to come together in support of Indigenous students (Benwell, Child, & Walkus, 2017; Grass, 2017; McGregor, 2019). Context for this Research In Canada, many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples have become interested in coming together to work past colonialism and racism in learning environments by co-constructing a new relationship based on mutual respect across multiple levels. This perspective is consistent with literature that considers how Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples are, or could be positioned in relation to one another (e.g., Christian & Freeman, 2010; Donald, 2016; Lamoureux, 2018; Llewellyn, 2008; Mawani, 2009; Regan, 2010; Truth and Reconciliation 18 Commission of Canada, 2015a). Processes to support the co-construction of new relationships have been initiated in the national, provincial, and district contexts where this study took place. National context. Truth and reconciliation have emerged as key concepts in the Canadian narrative of Indigenous - non-Indigenous relationships, especially after the release of the Final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) in 2015. The TRC (2015) talked about reconciliation in terms of “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship” (p. 6) between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. Several scholars underscore the importance of understanding truth and reconciliation as fundamentally relational concepts (Corntassel, Chaw-win-is, & T’lakwadzi, 2009; Lamoureux, 2018). According to this view, mutual respect springs from an on-going process that focuses on deepening complex understandings of the past, recognizing harm that occurred, atoning for causes of harm, and acting to create change in society (Amagoalik, 2008; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015a). However, the concept of reconciliation has not been universally embraced (Manuel, 2017; Maracle, 2017; Tuck & Yang, 2012). Most notably, the inequities Indigenous Peoples continue to experience (like those outlined above), is seen by scholars as contradicting the stated aims of reconciliation (Corntassel et al., 2009; Coulthard, 2014; Maracle, 2017; McKay, 2008). Some do not believe that the discussions around reconciliation go far enough to address the depth of intergenerational trauma and barriers Indigenous Peoples face, or do enough to bring about substantive justice for Indigenous Peoples (Corntassel et al., 2009; Daigle, 2019). In this light, the reconciliation narrative looks a bit like platitudes, rather than a radical departure from the racist and colonial structures and systems that continue to mark the experience of Indigenous learners. 19 Despite these critiques, reconciliation has been taken up by many educators who are striving to do better by Indigenous students (Hare & Davidson, 2020). Although this concept may not be perfect, narratives of reconciliation have opened spaces where Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples can engage with one another (Cherubini, 2018). The TRC has provided people with a shared understanding, vocabulary, and objective so that we can find new ways to work together. As such, this national context of reconciliation can support non-Indigenous systems and individuals to begin entering into relationship with Indigenous Peoples to address challenges in the educational system. Provincial context. In BC, where this study took place, the national reconciliation narratives seem to have energized existing government initiatives to support the education of Indigenous students in partnership with Indigenous communities. Most notably, the government of BC has been involved in the BC Tripartite Education Agreement (BCTEA), made between BC, Canada, and FNESC (a provincial level organization that operates with the support of the First Nations Leadership Council), as equal partners (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2019). This agreement sets out a vision of education and the roles and responsibilities of each of the partners within this vision (Canadian Ministry of Indigenous Services, BC Ministry of Education, & FNESC, 2018). More specifically, the province and FNESC have collaborated to provide supports for Indigenous students through co-constructed curriculum development, district level Aboriginal Enhancement Agreements, local education agreements, and recognition of Indigenous languages and teachers (BC Ministry of Education & FNESC, 2015). Through this collaborative relationship, BC and FNESC have created a context within the province that prioritizes the learning needs of Indigenous students, and the needs of teachers hoping to support them. 20 To help implement a common vision of education, the partners have been working to expand the pedagogical capacity of teachers in BC. FNESC has created supplementary curricular documents, literature reviews, workshops, and other materials that explicitly address the integration of Indigenous perspectives in the classroom (Grass, 2017). Most notably, FNESC has come out with the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning (Smith-Brillon et al., 2012) which centre learning in Indigenous knowledge systems, memory, story, and history to support well-being, connectedness, responsibility, and identity. These principles are integrated throughout provincial curriculum (e.g., BC Ministry of Education, 2019b). In this way, the work of one partner integrates the work of the other to create a supportive context for curricular mandates around Indigenous education. District context. This study took place in a small school district that includes students from two neighboring Indigenous Nations. There are 32 schools in this district, including schools that support International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, arts, French immersion, etc. Approximately 1,200 teachers work in this context to support the learning needs of nearly 16,000 children, nearly 650 of whom self-identified as Indigenous. Similar to provincial data, the FSAs in this district has indicated a significant gap in academic achievement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students across subject areas and grades. To meet the needs of Indigenous students, the district has worked closely with the local communities and Indigenous personnel to co-construct a shared vision of positive student growth and success, as articulated in the local Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement. Although these Agreements are no longer required by the BC Ministry of Education (Kitchenham, Fraser, Pidgeon, & Ragoonaden, 2016), the district and Indigenous communities have continued to uphold and build on the positive relationships established through this process. 21 Furthermore, at the time of this study the district’s systemic structure included a number of supports for the implementation of Indigenous perspectives. There was a network of personnel dedicated to Indigenous Education, including a District Principal, and district-wide Indigenous Education Support Teachers, as well as school-based Indigenous Support Workers. At that time, there was also advocacy provided to students and involvement with the district through positions created by the local Nations. These support structures resulted in a number of district-sponsored events, professional development opportunities, and individual supports offered to educators and students to expand understanding of Indigenous perspectives and decolonizing possibilities. Consistent with the literature, many educators in this district seemed to be motivated and capable of taking steps to connect with Indigenous students, families, and communities (Benwell et al., 2017; Dion et al., 2010; Lowe et al., 2019; Michie, 2014); however, they were still sometimes challenged in how they were able to translate these visions of education into practice across systems (Kitchenham et al., 2016; McGregor, 2019; Rosborough et al., 2017). In sum, this study took place in a context where national narratives of reconciliation supported by and through provincial agreements and curricular partnerships could be taken up by teachers in a supportive district culture. This supportive environment provided an important starting point in this study, but teachers still seemed to require further examples of decolonizing or Indigenous pedagogical approaches that could be easily implemented, and a process of professional development that would encourage and motivate educators. Bringing People Together In this context, I brought people together using a CoI model as a form of collaborative inquiry focused on supporting Indigenous (and all) students. Collaborative inquiry builds from the diverse contributions of participants in order to co-construct situated knowledge about a 22 shared topic (Butler, Schnellert, & MacNeil, 2015; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Schnellert, 2011). As one form of collaborative inquiry, CoIs provide an inviting and respectful structure for participants to share diverse and sometimes challenging perspectives (McGregor, 2019; Palmer & Scribner, 2017). A CoI model was used in this study because it affords a particular focus on inquiry, deep reflection, and intellectual discourse in a supportive environment where participants can be vulnerable and take risks (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Horn, Garner, Kane, & Brasel, 2017; Palmer & Scribner, 2017; Timperley, Kaser, & Halbert, 2014). The CoI model was a particularly good fit to overcome head and heart challenges of colonialism in a way that could build mutually respectful connections. Learning in community with others had the potential to surface and challenge colonial paradigms to co-create ideas for classroom environments that could address the needs of Indigenous (and all) learners. Research Questions This research was designed to inform understanding about how educators and community members might come together within a CoI to imagine ways to better support Indigenous (and all) students in schools. To that end, this research study addressed the following questions: 1) How can a CoI create a context for Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants to come together in support of Indigenous (and all) students? 2) What is the content of discussions enabled by CoI structures? 3) Based on CoI members’ perspectives, what kinds of principles and practices can educators use to provide locally relevant support to Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms? 23 Summary and Dissertation Overview Arising from my own questions as a non-Indigenous teacher committed to addressing the needs of Indigenous students, the purpose of this research is to examine how teachers can support Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. In this chapter, I have outlined how the colonial challenges Indigenous students face can lead to a lack of engagement with school, low achievement and graduation rates, and disproportionate representation in Special Education. Furthermore, I have described some of the head and heart obstacles teachers face in creating environments that would better support Indigenous (and all) students. To address these challenges, this study explored how people in a CoI might work across diverse perspectives, experiences, and histories to co-construct situated supports for Indigenous (and all) students. In Chapter 2 I provide an in-depth description of colonialism, decolonization, and CoIs as the theoretical perspectives that shaped this study. In particular, I describe a four-dimensional view of colonialism and its implications for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. I then turn to a discussion about decolonization, where I build from the four-dimensional perspective to examine how colonialism may be unknowingly perpetuated in a typical classroom activity. Flowing from this critique, I focus on the possibilities offered by research in culture and language, resources, and promising pedagogical practices that might support a generative (re)imagination of education. Lastly, I describe the literature on the role of professional development in changing outcomes for students, and CoIs as a form of professional collaborative inquiry that provided the grounding structure for our work. These theoretical perspectives provided the springboard for the specific research methods undertaken in this study, as described in Chapter 3. I begin by considering my own subjectivities and socio-constructivist orientation to the research. Within this framework, I identify the 24 advantages of using an ethnographic case study to examine the research questions. I then describe the procedures used in this study to give a detailed picture of the research enacted. Organized according to research questions, Chapters 4, 5, and 6 report the results of the ethnographic case study enacted in this research. In Chapter 4 my analysis relates to how members of the CoI, including myself as facilitator, co-constructed structures that opened generative spaces to engage with our shared purpose. In Chapter 5, I report on the content of discussions that was enabled through the CoI structures. Chapter 6 includes findings associated with the specific pedagogical principles and practices participants developed within the CoI for the purpose of supporting Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. My report of findings is grounded in participants’ concrete examples that show how diverse people might come together to students, and to explore decolonizing possibilities for themselves. In Chapter 7 I interpret these findings in relation to existing literature. I discuss the implications of how the CoI worked, the content discussed, and the emergent principles and practices for research and education. I discuss how the findings from this research might shape collaborative inquiry through CoIs to support shared understandings that can serve as a foundation for creating supportive learning environments for Indigenous (and all) students. Chapter 8, the final chapter, outlines the main contributions this study offers to the fields of research, professional development, and education. I discuss conclusions about considerations in working across diverse experiences of colonialism to create supports for Indigenous (and all) students. In addition, I consider limitations of this study and future directions for research. 25 Chapter 2: Literature Review I floated on an ocean of words. As the swell rose beneath me I opened to the flow until the wave brought me to shore. It left saltwater fingers weaving through rounded rocks chattering back to the ocean. In this study, I investigated how educators and community members might come together to co-construct principles and practices in support of Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. Given this focus, the structure, content, and interpretation of research conducted in this study was fundamentally shaped by my theoretical perspectives on colonialism, decolonization, and collaborative inquiry. As suggested in the opening poem, I drew extensively from the literature to support how I engaged in the research, and echoes of these perspectives may be heard ‘chattering’ throughout this research report. In this chapter, I first surface the theories of colonialism that have shaped how I understand the historical and contemporary Canadian educational context, and how I understand racism in the education system today. I then outline perspectives on decolonization as a framework for recognizing colonial influences in day to day teaching practices, and then for considering how education might be (re)imagined to better address the learning needs of students. Lastly, I examine how professional development can support student outcomes, and review key features and processes of CoIs as a method of collaborative inquiry that informed how this research was structured to support participants to engage in the study, and with one another. 26 Colonialism Nuanced understandings of colonialism emerge from a vein of critical literature that asserts Indigenous rights through legal or philosophical discussions (e.g., Battiste & Henderson, 2009; Cote-Meek, 2014; Coulthard, 2014; Deloria, 1999; Manuel, 2017; Marker, 2009; Tuck & Yang, 2012). My understanding of colonialism was informed by this literature, and in particular, the four-dimensional view suggested by Anishnaabe-Kwe scholar, Sheila Cote-Meek (2014). According to this view, colonialism may be understood as the dispossession of Indigenous lands through ongoing and culturally embedded violence and inequity (Battiste, 2002; Coulthard, 2014; Manuel, 2017; Pidgeon, 2009; Tuck & Yang, 2012; Wolfe, 2006). Colonialism has been a way of thinking, being, and acting that displaces Indigenous Peoples from their lands, to create a homeland with privileges for primarily European people who stayed in Canada (King, 2012; Maracle, 2017; Tuck & Yang, 2012; Wolfe, 2006). The four intertwined dimensions of colonialism provide the foundation for my understanding of educational contexts that create barriers for students and teachers, and for (re)imagining more supportive education systems and structures (Marker, 2000a). Four dimensions of colonialism. Cote-Meek (2014) describes the dispossession of Indigenous lands as the first, and central, dimension of colonialism. By appropriating and exploiting land, particular members of colonizing nations are able to access national, individual, and corporate wealth (see also King, 2012; Manuel, 2017). From this perspective, Indigenous political, cultural, and spiritual connections to the land are impediments to the wealth and sovereignty of Canada (Tuck & Yang, 2012). Glen Aikenhead and Nîhîthewâk scholar Herman Michell (2011) argue that this colonial system has facilitated resource exploitation with 27 devastating impacts on humanity’s social, economic, and environmental contexts (see also Willow, 2018). Thus, the main purpose of colonialism is to open land to exploitation by eliminating Indigenous connections to and interest in the land through structured injustice and violence (Manuel, 2017; Wolfe, 2006). Indigenous students’ experience of schooling can be understood as part of the structural inequities that that ultimately work to alienate Indigenous Peoples from their lands (Barman, 1995). As a result of these types of structures and systems, non-Indigenous Peoples currently control the fate of 99.8% of lands that had been 100% occupied and cared for by Indigenous Peoples prior to the colonial encounter (Manuel, 2017). Economic benefits drawn from oil and mineral extraction, agriculture, timber and fisheries have also flowed into non-Indigenous communities, while Indigenous communities continually face social and economic challenges (Manuel, 2017). However, colonialism is about more than economic dis/advantage. The second dimension of colonialism is that it is a culturally embedded structure in colonial societies, where land facilitates sovereignty and power within a culture that is hierarchically structured to privilege colonizers (Cote-Meek, 2014; Stoler, 1989; Tuck & Yang, 2012; Wolfe, 2006). Within a Foucauldian framework, power may be seen as “a shifting and changing interactive network of social relations among and between individuals, groups, institutions and structures that are political, economic and personal. Power is not something that can be possessed, it is not tangible …” (Ball, 2013, p. 50). From this perspective, power occurs in public, political arenas as well as personal spaces such as home, work, and school where people, in relationship with others, continually negotiate a sense of power in society and control over the definition of knowledge and reality (Dirks, Eley, & Ortner, 1994). In many educational contexts, power operates in a way 28 that continues to uphold cognitive imperialism and Eurocentric perspectives (Battiste, 2013), as seen in the experience of students described in the previous chapter. Those in power may have the influence to solidify and reinforce their power using cultural symbols to embed these logics into social narratives (Stoler, 2008). Culture may be understood as a system of symbols through which people are able to make sense of the world (Geertz, 1973). Many of these symbols are embedded in stories, sometimes referred to as metanarratives, that people in a culture tell about themselves to preserve and pass along ways of understanding the world (Bruner, 2002; Donald, 2009; Gottschall, 2012; Justice, 2018; King, 2003; Maracle, 2017). Rather than a static pattern or framework, culture can be conceptualized as both fluid and fixed (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008), as a “porous array of intersections where distinct processes crisscross from within and beyond its borders” (Rosaldo, 1993, p. 20). In the case of colonial societies, cultural symbols and stories (such as narratives around race) have been used to create a divisive and hierarchical system of privilege and oppression to justify appropriation of Indigenous lands (Donald, 2009; Stoler, 1989). In schools, culture and power may become apparent through curriculum, pedagogy, and classroom routines (Battiste, 2013; Donald, 2009). For example, centering the story of European ‘explorers’ or ‘pioneers’ prioritizes Western perspectives and experiences, largely to the exclusion of other perspectives (although this practice may not be as common under more recent curricular mandates, e.g., BC Ministry of Education, 2019b). These historic heroes become cultural symbols used to enact a common rationale for non-Indigenous presence on Indigenous lands, and the creation of a society where previously marginalized settlers could access power and status that would have been denied them in their homelands (Manuel, 2017; Stoler, 1989). As such, cultural symbols may be perpetuated through educational practices to support 29 inequitable structures of power. Moreover, using cultural symbols and stories to allocate privilege has the effect of seeding tension, distrust, and conflict within groups of people that might otherwise contest this unbalanced power structure (Deloria, 1970; Smith, 2012; Stoler, 1989). Colonial and racial metanarratives are so deeply embedded as cultural structures (Wolfe, 2006), that they become normalized to the point of being invisible to members of that society (Tuck & Yang, 2012). Papaschase Cree scholar, Dwayne Donald (2012) suggests that these narratives become culturally embedded through the development of a socially constructed logic: “Colonial frontier logics are those epistemological assumptions and presuppositions, derived from the colonial project of dividing the world according to racial and cultural categorizations, which serve to naturalize assumed divides and thus contribute to their social and institutional perpetuation.” (p. 93). This normalization maintains colonial structures throughout our society even among those who may ideologically oppose it (Stoler, 2008). Just as I was not able to see how my own success within a cognitive imperialist educational system helped to uphold a system of privilege and oppression, colonial structures may not be immediately apparent, especially to those benefitting from inequities. However, once identified, colonial structures and their impacts are not impervious to change. Despite the pervasive nature of culturally embedded inequities, the resilient and adaptable nature of culture suggests real possibilities for both resurgence and (re)imagination. The third dimension of colonialism emphasizes the role of physical and symbolic or psychological violence in reinforcing divisions between people, and disconnecting people from land and cultures that tie people to the land (Cote-Meek, 2014; Coulthard, 2014; Fanon, 1963; Tuck & Yang, 2012). Some describe this kind of violence as state sanctioned genocide (Maracle, 30 2017; National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 2019; Wolfe, 2006). Physical violence has been well documented as part of residential school history (Barman, 1995; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015a). However, physical violence has continued to impact the educational experience of Indigenous children. For example, Anishinaabe journalist Tanya Talaga (2017) has documented the ongoing violence Indigenous students experience when they are required to leave their home communities to attend school in urban centres. Research across Canada suggests that Indigenous experiences of education continue to be marked by physical violence (Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, 2016). However, violence is not limited to the physical realm, but may extend into symbolic or psychological aspects as well. This could include explicit verbal attacks, or trivializing or invalidating Indigenous ways of being (ontologies), ways of knowing (epistemologies), and values (axiologies; Brayboy & Maughan, 2009; St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). According to Michelle Pidgeon (2009), “… covert and overt efforts to purport mainstream values and beliefs results in various acts of ‘symbolic violence’, the elimination of others from the educational system, the exclusion of different ways of knowing, alternative sets of rules, and ‘Other’ voices” (p. 342). Historically, this kind of psychological violence may have been inflicted by criminalizing Indigenous ceremonies as cultural symbols used to make sense of the world (Davidson & Davidson, 2018; Maracle, 2017). In contemporary educational systems individual experiences of exclusion, abuse, and professional indifference are well documented (Cooper, 2012; Deyhle, 1995; Hare & Pidgeon, 2011; St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). Even in institutions of higher education, Indigenous students may find the psychological violence to be a considerable barrier (Cote-Meek, 2014; Pidgeon, 2009). 31 Importantly, the fourth dimension of colonialism is that it is ongoing (Cote-Meek, 2014; Manuel, 2017; Maracle, 2017; Tuck & Yang, 2012). Patrick Wolfe (1999) demonstrated how the colonial paradigm endures in contemporary times as embedded in systems and structures. In this way, colonialism is able to transcend the time-bound event of establishing a settler community or nation (Wolfe, 1999). The previous description of cultural stories and symbols serves as an example of how metanarratives operate in a colonial society. These metanarratives then inform how systems, such as the education system, were set up and evolved over time. For example, many would condemn the assimilationist policies of the past; however, cognitive imperialism means that schools continue to emphasize and validate Western knowledge and definitions of reality, while often relegating Indigenous perspectives to ‘folk’ knowledge or enrichment that is peripheral to curricular content (Battiste, 2013; Maracle, 2017; Marker, 2004). In this way, the colonial structures that maintain privilege and oppression endure, even if the era of contact is in the past (Wolfe, 2006). Although strategies have changed over time, racial and colonial systems still exist and operate (Manuel, 2017), a small piece of which can be seen in the educational context I described in Chapter 1. This four-dimensional view of colonialism that includes factors relating to land, culture, violence, and contemporary society, provides a lens for understanding how Indigenous students’ individual and systemic experiences of racism fit into a broader historical and social context of deliberate and on-going oppression of Indigenous Peoples and interests. Considering the broader context of colonialism, the role that education systems have played in the elimination of Indigenous cultures and peoples, and the enduring structures that continue to disadvantage Indigenous students, it is not surprising that students might become disengaged from their schooling experience. Rather than seeing Indigenous students as operating from a deficit of skill 32 or experience, this lens highlights how profoundly resilient, innovative, and resolute Indigenous Peoples and students have been and continue to be, in finding ways to thrive in the face of deeply traumatic, inter-generational, and trans-national colonial forces. Colonialism and non-Indigenous Peoples. This understanding of colonialism sets a context for thinking about how its detrimental effects also extend into the non-Indigenous community. I first acknowledge that experiences of colonialism, injustice, and racism are fundamentally different and are inherently more severe and traumatizing for Indigenous Peoples than others. As such, literature examining colonial impacts has understandably focused on the experiences of Indigenous Peoples. However, there is a small, but parallel vein of literature that critically considers colonialism from a non-Indigenous perspective as well (e.g., Freeman, 2000; Mawani, 2009; Stoler, 1989; Wolfe, 2006). Since colonialism at its core is about how groups of people relate to one another (Donald, 2012; Mawani, 2009; Stoler, 1989), it affects all people in interconnected ways. Problematizing colonialism as an organizing social structure for all people opens important opportunities for unification around a common goal, a key objective in this study. As Martinique poet and politician Aimé Césaire suggested, “[t]urning the tables on the supposed advantages of dominance means viewing colonialism itself through a deficit prism and bringing to light that whatever the short term benefits supremacy bestows over others, oppression ultimately works to diminish and dehumanize everyone” (2000). Understanding how colonialism extends into non-Indigenous communities may help bind people together in respectful recognition of differences and bring us into relationship with one another (Donald, 2012). Non-Indigenous people may see how colonialism negatively impacts their own experiences to prompt the creation of an authentic 33 space for engagement in important decolonizing work (as I discuss in the following section, Marker, 2011). The four-dimensional perspective of colonialism can provide a framework for understanding impacts among non-Indigenous Peoples as well. As the main driver behind colonialism, land and nature figure prominently in this discussion. The current rate of intensive environmental destruction, facilitated by colonialism, calls into question the future of all of humanity (Aikenhead & Michell, 2011; Orr, 2009; Willow, 2018). Overcoming colonial divides could significantly expand global capacity for environmental stewardship and the potential for diverse scientific perspectives to address the most pressing challenges to humanity (Aikenhead & Michell, 2011; Cajete, 1994). Exploitation of the natural environment is only made possible when people are disconnected from the natural world. Thus, colonialism is part of a systemic and cultural force that serves to distance all people from their natural setting (Orr, 2011; Willow, 2018). On an individual level, the quality of peoples’ connections to the natural world has been shown to significantly impact social, mental, and physical health (Cox et al., 2017; Wells & Evans, 2003). Maracle (2017) expresses her wish for all people to nurture these connections with the land: “… I hope they [Canadians] fall in love with the land the way I have: fully, responsibly, and committed for life” (p. 85). By developing relationship to one another and to land we can transcend colonial limitations and rise to the challenges of life in the 21st century. The second dimension of colonialism involves the culturally embedded structures that, among other things, serve to divide people along lines of difference (Deloria, 1970; Donald, 2009; Stoler, 1989; Willinsky, 1998), and severely curtail our ability to learn and build from diverse perspectives. Divisive paradigms may impede connections that have the potential to 34 benefit all people in society (Christian & Freeman, 2010; Maracle, 2017; Struthers, 2010), but also may serve to alienate creative and concerned thinkers by placing them outside of desirable categories (Deloria, 1970; Maracle, 2017). In education, curricula have been organized according to divisive imperialist paradigms used to categorize and catalogue knowledge (Willinsky, 1998). This divisive approach may weaken content understanding and learning strategies by limiting exposure to diverse and relational ways of thinking (Aikenhead & Michell, 2011; Donald, 2009). If people are not able to build strong, adaptable, creative, and resilient communities through the strength of diversity, they can become diminished in their capacity to re-create themselves in response to changing contexts (Aikenhead & Michell, 2011; Deloria, 1970; Donald, 2009; Lamoureux, 2018). The third dimension of colonialism centres on physical and psychological violence. The targets of violent acts suffer the greatest harm, but the repercussions of these acts can weigh down an entire community. For example, Marilyn Struthers (2010) describes how racist acts towards the local Indigenous fishermen in her small town diminished her own sense of identity and dignity as a Euro-Canadian woman (consistent with Césaire, 2000). Likewise, educators who witness racially motivated actions, or colonial influences within educational systems, may encounter a peripheral sense of diminished integrity and frustration (e.g., Mason, 2008). Colonial paradigms can have far-reaching effects, especially among people who are against such hierarchies but operate in systems or environments that uphold them (Barker, 2010). The fourth dimension of colonialism suggests that it is ongoing. In some ways, this dimension presents the greatest challenge for many non-Indigenous Peoples, but also holds the greatest potential. Understanding colonialism as an ongoing structure implies a sense of complicity and responsibility for injustices enacted against Indigenous Peoples (Cote-Meek, 35 2014; Regan, 2010; Snelgrove, Dhamoon, & Corntassel, 2014). However, the ongoing nature of colonialism means people currently have an opportunity to create more positive relationships (Lamoureux, 2018; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015a). Education systems and educators are uniquely positioned within these opportunities. Through education, new social realities become possible (Battiste, 2013; Freire, 1970; Lamoureux, 2018; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015a). As Adam Barker (2010) notes, “settlers are not destined to be colonial” (p. 328). Accepting colonialism as an ongoing structure opens opportunities for people to engage in imagining new ways of thinking and being in the world that draws them together across communities, cultures, and experiences of colonialism. Decolonization Since colonialism poses such a pervasive challenge for students and teachers, decolonization is the main overarching lens I use to consider the transformative potential of educational systems. Scholars position decolonization, or the challenging of the colonial enterprise, as a process that has the potential to offer greater benefits than colonialism to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples (Aikenhead & Michell, 2011; Biermann, 2011; Césaire, 2000; Lamoureux, 2018; McKay, 2008; Regan, 2010). This understanding is a foundational premise in this study, and in part informs the objective of bringing together both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples to discuss how to more effectively support Indigenous (and all) children. Furthermore, this view shaped how I saw the potential of decolonizing pedagogical practices as being able to create better learning contexts for Indigenous students, and that would also benefit all children and educators. Scholars have developed diverse visions of what it means to think and act in a decolonizing way. At its core, colonialism and decolonization are about how Indigenous and non-Indigenous 36 Peoples relate to themselves and to one another (Donald, 2016; Lamoureux, 2018; Tanaka, 2016). For example, Michele Tanaka describes decolonizing acts as “tender resistance … social justice that is simultaneously caring, vulnerable, mindful, and dialogic” (2016, p. 24). For purpose of this research, I define decolonization as an ongoing, active process, foreign or abnormal to colonial culture, that builds from ethical relationality across communities to restore Indigenous lands, sovereignty, and health (Deloria, 1970; Donald, 2016; Regan, 2010; Smith, 2012; Tuck & Yang, 2012). Importantly, this process becomes enacted through distinct, but related processes for diverse communities, depending on how individuals are positioned within colonialism (Haig-Brown, 2009; Mawani, 2009; Snelgrove et al., 2014). In this section, I examine how decolonization might be enacted through the complementary processes of critique and (re)imagination. I then explore the ways in which decolonization may be understood as a shared process between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. I close by considering potential impacts for non-Indigenous people and society. Decolonizing processes. Many scholars conceptualize decolonization as a process of critique and generative (re)imagination that facilitates the recognition and disruption of power imbalances ingrained in colonial structures (Battiste, 2013; Smith, 2000; Smith, 2012; Smith, Tuck, & Yang, 2019). Critique can reveal how colonial influences are systemically embedded in taken for granted attitudes, routines, and structures (Smith, 2012). This critique can emerge from the sharing of individuals’ experiences of colonialism, or what is sometimes referred to as the truth of their experience. In this study, truth is defined from a relational perspective that extends beyond a factual account of events to consider what these experiences mean in the context of human relationships and how they might weave a new social narrative about history and identity (Llewellyn, 2008; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015a). This notion of truth 37 runs parallel to Anishinaabe conceptualizations that Newhouse (2018) described as complex understandings that emerge from interplay between diverse perspectives and individual experiences. Truth is not considered as objective fact, but as a subjective and changeable understanding that emerges from multiple perspectives and the relationship between these perspectives (Newhouse, 2018). Acknowledging the truth of students, parents, colleagues, and communities traumatized by colonial and educational policies highlights key areas that require (re)imagination and transformation. Critique, developed by sharing the truth of colonial experiences, can be used as a springboard for a complementary process, the creative (re)imaginings of more humanizing systems and structures in relationship with Indigenous Peoples (Battiste, 2013; Donald, 2012; Smith, 2000). I use the term (re)imagination to describe this process in reference to the reconceptualization of existing social structures, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of opening space for new ideas, understandings, and visions of what society could be, working across communities. (Re)imagination is a hopeful, generative, and productive process that supports the purposeful (re)creation of just and equitable relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples (e.g., Lamoureux, 2018). Partners in decolonization. This decolonization process affords different possibilities for diverse peoples. Indigenous scholars talk about the importance of resistance to colonial paradigms through cultural and linguistic resurgence, or centering Indigenous Knowledge Systems (Atleo & Fitznor, 2010; e.g., Brayboy & Maughan, 2009; Cajete, 1999; Corntassel, 2012; Marker, 2011; Smith, 2012). Non-Indigenous Peoples may be considered as allies, or good neighbours in supporting local Indigenous self-determination (Snelgrove et al., 2014; Struthers, 2010), and this is a key sensitivity of this research. 38 However, allyship carries the danger of replicating colonial relationships, even if well-intentioned (Christian & Freeman, 2010; Davis & Shpuniarsky, 2010; Regan, 2010; Snelgrove et al., 2014). To mitigate this risk, non-Indigenous people might become engaged with their own exploration of decolonizing possibilities for their own benefit, as equal partners with Indigenous Peoples; like two friends with different hopes and fears, walking the same path (e.g., Christian & Freeman, 2010). Since colonialism is detrimental across communities, non-Indigenous Peoples can become personally invested in a decolonizing process and the subsequent possibilities for healthy communities and the environment (Biermann, 2011; Regan, 2010; Snelgrove et al., 2014). Decolonization then, may become less about helping others in a potentially one-sided way, and more about diverse people supporting one another to recognize and resist colonial influences in and through relationship, for the benefit of all. Just as colonialism is a shared context, decolonization may also be understood as “shared endeavour” (Donald, 2012, p. 93). (Re)imagining the colonial relationship in an ethical way requires full and equitable participation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples as equal partners, in relationship with one another (Donald, 2016; Regan, 2010; Smith et al., 2019). Furthermore, Indigenous perspectives are crucial in identifying colonial symbols and narratives that have been normalized in Western culture (Barker, 2010; Regan, 2010; Smith, 2012). Indigenous cultural paradigms, maintained in resistance to colonialism, may also help facilitate possibilities beyond colonial constraints (Brayboy & Maughan, 2009; Smith, 2012; Snelgrove et al., 2014). Working in collaboration across communities and experiences of colonialism can begin to cultivate a counter-narrative to colonialism that enables people to work together in a coordinated way towards a more humanizing and mutually beneficial vision of society (Christian & Freeman, 2010; Davis & Shpuniarsky, 2010; Wallace, 2011).This study aimed to enact this 39 kind of collaboration to (re)imagine a better educational context for 9Indigenous (and all) students.0 Potential impacts for non-Indigenous Peoples. Since many colonial narratives are foundational to the collective Canadian experience and identity in ways that are difficult to distinguish, profound discomfort may emerge when these narratives are called into question (Dion, 2007; Iseke-Barnes, 2008; Regan, 2010; Snelgrove et al., 2014; Tuck & Yang, 2012). Connecting family history to colonial policies, for example, can severely challenge or disrupt personal understandings of identity (e.g., Freeman, 2000; Raibmon, 2014). This kind of deep questioning may put educators on shaky ground, increasing their sense of vulnerability and diminishing their self-efficacy, not only in their teaching, but in their day to day interactions with students, parents, and colleagues. At the same time, gaining an awareness of the presence and function of colonial narratives opens opportunities for healing colonial wounds and intentionally (re)imagining an identity in line with personal values. Much of the literature focuses on the value of healing for Indigenous people and communities (Llewellyn, 2008; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015). However, Cree educator and spiritual leader Stan McKay (2008) suggests that non-Indigenous communities are also damaged from their role in colonialism: “the perpetrators are wounded and marked by history in ways that are different from the victims, but both groups require healing” (p. 107; see also Césaire, 2000). Part of this healing may involve an opening to other ways of being (Tanaka, 2016), allowing people to (re)imagine an identity more in line with personal values (Christian & Freeman, 2010; Regan, 2010; Struthers, 2010). From this perspective, engaging with decolonization, and supporting this engagement for others, requires a constant push into discomfort, but in a way that honestly speaks to authentic identity, and that 40 feeds commitment and relationality. Likewise, educators who begin to question their own assumptions may be better positioned to work across diverse perspectives and pedagogies (Dion, 2007; Iseke-Barnes, 2008; Strong-Wilson, 2007; Tanaka, 2016), in a way that is consistent with their ideals. Extending beyond personal identity, decolonization challenges and complicates society. Biermann (2011) calls decolonization “the active unraveling of assumed certainties and the (re)imagining and re-negotiating of common futures” (p. 394). Colonialism provides a predictable organization, security, and reliability to Western society, albeit unjust (Snelgrove et al., 2014). Decolonization is about disrupting and challenging this order to address contemporary challenges and injustices by appreciating and building from the strength of diversity, and Indigenous perspectives in particular (Iseke-Barnes, 2008). Thus, although decolonization suggests a destabilization of the foundational structures of Canadian society, it also opens up new opportunities for innovative, effective, and hopeful social possibilities (Davis & Shpuniarsky, 2010; Regan, 2010). These possibilities are particularly salient within education where significant social transformation can be initiated (Battiste, 2013; Pidgeon, 2009; Smith et al., 2019). Exploring Decolonizing Possibilities in Education In this section I go into greater detail about decolonizing processes by applying a critique and (re)imagination to the Western educational system. While there are many ways to support Indigenous students through decolonizing pedagogies (Battiste, 2013; Donald, 2009; Iseke-Barnes, 2008), in this study I focus on a subset of approaches that have promise for removing colonial barriers for Indigenous (and all) students in an inclusive Western educational setting. As shown in Figure 1, I explore decolonizing possibilities in education by describing processes of 41 critical reflection and (re)imagination in greater detail. To that end, I first use a decolonizing lens to critique an example of a common classroom lesson. I then describe literature that supports three ways to (re)imagine educational systems and structures by: focusing on Indigenous perspectives (through culture and language, resources, and relationships), re-storying colonial narratives, and enacting promising practices in education (with an emphasis on self-regulated learning). The decolonizing possibilities depicted in Figure 1 are perspectives that run throughout my study, from the views I brought to the CoI, to the theoretical subjectivities that shaped my interpretation of participant contributions. Critical reflection. As noted in Figure 1, one of the key processes of decolonization is a critical reflection on current ways of understanding and operating in the world, and on how colonial paradigms may inadvertently shape classroom instruction and dynamics (Battiste, 2013). To help educators critique their pedagogical practice, Cherubini and Hodson (2008) suggest starting with question such ‘what am I doing? Why am I doing it? How do my day-to-day attitudes, actions, and assumptions promote a colonial or decolonizing understanding of the Figure 1. Exploring Decolonizing Possibilities in Education. 42 world?’ (Cherubini & Hodson, 2008). This kind of critical reflection involves a deep examination of the perspectives typically taught or prioritized through pedagogical routines (Battiste, 2013; Donald, 2012), which can be vital in making changes that have significant impacts for Indigenous students (Cote-Meek, 2014; Hare & Pidgeon, 2011; Mallett, 2008; Pidgeon, 2009). This level of critique can set the basis for contemplating how educational contexts might be transformed, and can also create opportunities for students to understand their own learning needs in relation to systemic barriers in the environment. I have already discussed many of the challenges of the educational system based on the colonial and racist experiences, or truths, of students and teachers. In this section, I elaborate on that discussion by presenting an example from published literature to illustrate how educators could undertake a decolonizing critique to reveal strengths, and potentially problematic content, pedagogy, and routines ingrained in Western educational approaches. For this example, I use an activity that falls within the curricular guidelines for the jurisdiction involved in this study (BC Ministry of Education, 2019c) . The example comes from Bryan Brayboy (Lumbee) and Emma Maughan (2009), who talk about Indigenous epistemologies as differing from Western ways of knowing in the context of an Indigenous teacher candidate’s practicum experience. The teacher candidate was supporting a science lesson which asked students to observe variable soil and watering conditions that were more or less optimal for growing a bean plant. The lesson had interdisciplinary goals involving literacy, numeracy, and scientific content and method (Brayboy & Maughan, 2009). An educator’s critique of this lesson might start with positive possibilities for decolonization by examining the lesson in relation to Indigenous and decolonizing perspectives. The lesson aligns with Indigenous pedagogical perspectives around purposeful and experiential 43 learning as connected to the natural world (Battiste & Henderson, 2009; Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Newhouse, 2008) by offering students an (albeit limited) opportunity to connect to the natural world through practical experience with the bean. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary approach created opportunities for a deep and multi-faceted consideration of the bean and teachings the activity provided, consistent with holistic Indigenous pedagogies (Archibald, 2008; Cajete, 1994). If educators use these kinds of lenses to critique lessons and routines, their attention may be drawn to decolonizing possibilities within existing practices and may make the decolonization process seem more manageable. From a more critical stance, an educator could also reflect on how this lesson might be perpetuating colonial understandings of the world. For example, the bean lesson could be interpreted as facilitating environmental exploitation by reinforcing the notion that people have a right to manipulate the land and natural resources for their own purposes (Tuck & Yang, 2012). The implicit message in the experiment may be that the seed, as a living being, a food source and natural resource, is expendable, not worthy of respect, and only exists to teach lessons about knowledge that are already collectively known. Although students have an opportunity to connect with the natural world through the bean, this connection may be objectified and decontextualized if the bean is planted indoors, using the parameters of scientific inquiry. Scientific method favors objectivity, which creates distance between researchers, the objects of research, and the contextual subjectivities that give that object value and meaning (Aikenhead, 2008; Deloria, 1999). In this way, the quality of the connection may remain squarely within cognitive imperialist parameters. In this example, the content and procedures embedded in daily lessons may carry implicit colonial perspectives that a deep critical reflection can surface. 44 Furthermore, teachers engaged in critical reflection might consider how their lessons or pedagogical approaches might limit decolonizing possibilities or even be perceived by students as coercive. For example, the lesson of the bean seems to build from Western understandings of what counts as valid knowledge that have been normalized and prioritized in cognitive imperialist systems (Aikenhead & Michell, 2011; Battiste, 2013). This approach may limit students’ opportunities to deeply engage with non-Western cultural perspectives. Thus educators may be unintentionally asking students to act in ways that contradict their cultural teachings, and disregard understandings about respect and interconnectivity with other living things (Cajete, 1999; Deloria, 1999; Marker, 2011). Indigenous (and all) students who have diverse values and paradigms may not thrive in schools where they feel they must conform to an imposed epistemology (Battiste, 2013; Kohl, 1991; St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). In addition, this omission may impact the decolonizing potential for all students. Indigenous perspectives can provide vital insights to all people about how to decolonize interactions with the world (e.g., Cajete & Pueblo, 2010; Dion, 2009; Justice, 2018; Marker, 2011). The lesson of the bean may perpetrate the colonial experience for Indigenous (and all) Peoples, and limit the ability of all students to think beyond the colonial status quo. By critically reflecting on the possible implications of lessons like this one, educators may come to better understand the limitations of lessons or pedagogical approaches that are otherwise normalized in Western educational contexts. By engaging in a critical reflection on lessons and pedagogical approaches, educators may build their capacity for understanding how colonialism plays out in educational contexts. A decolonizing critique reveals many potential problems with the lesson around the bean. The lesson appears to re-inscribe colonial narratives around land and the natural world as disconnected from humans. Practices and routines around the activity may point to culturally 45 embedded assumptions that elevate Western knowledge, and processes of constructing knowledge, while marginalizing Indigenous perspectives. Unfortunately, the colonial challenges surfaced here could be the same forces at work in BC classrooms. As disconcerting as it may be, this type of analysis helps educators recognize key areas for reflection and transformation on an individual and systemic level. (Re)imagining education. Moving towards decolonization requires more than just critical reflection. Māori academic Graham Hingangaroa Smith (2000) cautioned that "within the postmodern analysis, there is often an emphasis on the critique - that is, on what has gone wrong - at the expense of providing transformative strategies and outcomes" (p. 213). Thus, in Figure 1, I positioned a (re)imagination of structures and relationships as the second key component of decolonizing possibilities in education (e.g., Corntassel, 2012; Regan, 2010; Smith, 2012). In this section, I describe literature on three kinds of decolonizing processes that might support re-imagination of systems and structures, including: emphasizing Indigenous perspectives; re-storying colonial narratives; and enacting promising pedagogical practices to support Indigenous (and all) students. Emphasizing Indigenous perspectives. (Re)imagining educational practices and systems within a decolonizing framework begins with Indigenous perspectives (see Figure 1). This suggestion is often grounded in literature that addresses specific cultural paradigms and perspectives (e.g., Archibald, 2008; Cajete, 1994; Davidson & Davidson, 2018; Donald, 2003; Kirkness & Barnhardt, 1991; Newhouse, 2018; Wilson, 2008). As discussed previously, decolonization is a shared journey in transforming the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples, which is strengthened by the contributions of Indigenous perspectives that have existed outside of colonial frameworks (Donald, 2009; Smith, 2012; Snelgrove et al., 2014). 46 As such, local Indigenous land-based histories, values, and paradigms play a critical role in (re)imagining educational approaches and systems (Archibald, 2008; Barnhardt & Kawagley, 2005; Bartlett, Marshall, & Marshall, 2012; Bishop, 2008; Lipka, Wong, & Andrew-Ihrke, 2013). Furthermore, as Lumbee scholar Bryan Brayboy and Emma Maughan (2009) illustrate in their story of the bean, building Indigenous perspectives into classroom activities can create an inclusive, engaging, and relevant classroom context for Indigenous (and all) students (see also Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Hynds et al., 2016; Lipka et al., 2005; Tanaka, 2016). Thus, I consider how educators might emphasize Indigenous perspectives as a way to support Indigenous (and all) students through decolonizing frameworks. In this section, I discuss three prevalent approaches, emerging from the literature, that suggest how educators may embed Indigenous perspectives into the classroom through cultural and language learning, resources, and relationships (see Figure 1). Cultural and language learning. Cultural and language learning are perhaps the most critical components of emphasizing Indigenous perspectives. Cultural retention or resurgence and language revitalization have been identified as key strategies in resisting colonial policies and practices for Indigenous Peoples (Battiste, 2013; Brayboy & Maughan, 2009; Corntassel, 2012; Hare & Davidson, 2020; Meyer, 2001). These two priorities are intimately connected, with research suggesting that language learning could be one of the best ways to facilitate student access to Indigenous cultural knowledge (McCarty & Lee, 2014; Reyhner, 2017). Furthermore, research suggests direct and indirect relationships between critical, culturally based education programs and students’ academic performance, socio-emotional well-being, identity formation, and motivation (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Demmert & Towner, 2003; Deyhle, 1995; Kana’iaupuni, Ledward, & Jensen, 2010; Powers, Potthoff, Bearinger, & Resnick, 2003; Reyhner, 47 2017). Angelina Castagno and Bryan Brayboy (2008) further noted that culturally responsive classrooms support additional student outcomes, such as intergenerational respect and community involvement, that may contribute to community social objectives. A strong cultural background not only affirms and maintains Indigenous culture and identity, but also leads to greater success in Western schools and workplaces (Deyhle, 1995). As such, cultural and language educational programming is a key consideration in designing programs focusing on Indigenous students. Given the strong connections to student outcomes, language and cultural education have taken priority in the research as pedagogical approaches that best address the needs of Indigenous (and all) students (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Hare & Davidson, 2020). Published literature includes both broad pedagogical perspectives that can be implemented as an overarching approach to curriculum and school culture (Akan, 1999; Archibald, 2008; Brendtro, Brokenleg, & Bockern, 2014; Canadian Council on Learning, 2007; Davidson & Davidson, 2018), and more specific, discipline based approaches (Barnhardt & Kawagley, 2005; Iseke-Barnes, 2009; Marker, 2011; Nicol, Archibald, & Baker, 2013). Although Indigenous language and culture may be taught in a variety of ways, they are not generally meant to entirely replace Western perspectives but to enrich education for Indigenous (and all) students (Battiste, 2013; Castagno & Brayboy, 2008). To gain a better understanding of the affordances and limitations of cultural education, I provide an example from Archibald’s (2008) book, Indigenous Storywork, where she describes her work with Elders to learn about stories and storytelling in research and education. This literature was critical in supporting my ongoing interpretation of participants’ contributions to this study. Furthermore, it is rooted in Indigenous cultures in close proximity to the context of 48 this study, making it more culturally relevant than approaches from dramatically different cultural and territorial contexts. Teachers and researchers have used principles offered by Archibald as a guide to making meaning from and working with Indigenous stories and storytelling (Archibald, 2008; Davidson, 2019; Lee-Morgan, 2019; Steffensen, 2019). As such, this perspective not only informed my thinking about how education could be (re)imagined, but also how I could understand and honour the stories of participants. Archibald (2008) suggests Indigenous Storywork as one approach to implementing Indigenous cultural values and teachings in the classroom that demonstrates respect for cultural authority and sanctity. Like other local and global Indigenous scholars (Cajete, 1994; Justice, 2018; King, 2003; Lee-Morgan, 2019; Maracle, 2017), Archibald’s (2008) work recognizes story as an integral to Indigenous cultures. She wrote: “I believe that Indigenous stories are at the core of our cultures. They have the power to make us think, feel, and be good human beings” (Archibald, 2008, p. 139). Storytelling in the classroom is a practical way for teachers to bring in Indigenous pedagogical approaches to expand students’ thinking and learning strategies, while building on students’ unique social and cultural contexts, and fostering respectful relationships (Battiste, 2013; Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Eder, 2007; McKeough et al., 2008). Building from the work of Cree scholar Verna Kirkness and Ray Barnhardt (1991), Archibald (2008) described seven principles of Indigenous Storywork she brought together from her discussions with Elders: respect, responsibility, reciprocity, reverence, holism, interrelatedness, and synergy (Archibald, 2008). Many of these principles are consistent with those which diverse Indigenous scholars have discussed as key components of culture (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Corntassel, 2012; Davidson & Davidson, 2016; Donald, 2016; Smith, 2012). For example, Archibald (2008) talks about the responsibilities that storytellers have to the owner 49 of the story, the story itself, and to the audience. These kinds of guidelines have potential to alleviate anxiety teachers may have about working across cultures, while supporting them to be respectful of and responsible to Indigenous cultural values. Archibald’s (2008) work further exemplifies how educators can form relationships with local Indigenous communities/community members to ensure local perspectives are represented, another key feature highlighted in literature about cultural education (Benwell et al., 2017; Ledoux, 2006; Lipka et al., 2005; McCarty & Lee, 2014). In this case, Archibald (2008) and those following her lead (Davidson, 2016; Nicol et al., 2013; Steffensen, 2019) have demonstrated how to enact the Storywork principles by using them to humbly privilege and recognize the knowledge and expertise of Elders, students, parents, educators, and community members in their research and/or curriculum development. As previously recognized, community knowledge is key for shaping both content and pedagogical approaches (Bartlett et al., 2012; Kanu, 2011; Lipka et al., 2013), but it also teaches educators and researchers additional ways of engaging with learning (Tanaka, 2016). By adopting a learner’s stance, educators and researchers can work beyond colonial narratives to create equitable and respectful relationships with local Indigenous communities. In her 2008 research, Archibald gave a detailed description of how researchers and teachers might work with the prevalent cultural practice of storytelling. Her guidance not only supports researchers and teachers to implement the principles in practice, but also models how they might approach and work with communities to strengthen pedagogical practices and relationships. Furthermore, Archibald’s (2008) work demonstrates how learners might make sense of a story, through transferable learning and thinking skills. Far from the only method of teaching 50 Indigenous culture and language, storytelling may provide a comfortable entrance for teachers lacking a strong cultural basis in Indigenous perspectives. Choosing authentic Indigenous resources. A second approach to emphasizing Indigenous perspectives in the classroom is through choosing and integrating authentic Indigenous resources into curricula and classrooms (as shown in Figure 1). Choosing authentic resources is one way for educators to develop understandings around Indigenous perspectives and cultural values and to share those with their students (Grass, 2017; Kanu, 2011; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015a; Whitley, 2014b). Furthermore, Indigenous resources can help teachers feel more confident about teaching unfamiliar content (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2015; Deer, 2013; Kanu, 2011). Organizations like FNESC and FNSA (2016) have created lists of authentic Indigenous resources to help expand educators’ understanding of Indigenous perspectives and extend the possibilities of classroom activities. In this study, I define resources broadly to include not only print, but also multi-media sources of information, as well as those people who have the cultural authority to share expert knowledge, stories, or firsthand accounts. The involvement of community members as speakers in the classroom is highly recommended in the literature (BC Ministry of Education, 2010; Castagno & Brayboy, 2008). However, negotiating this kind of participation may be difficult for teachers who lack connections with the local community (Davidson, 2016), and may unduly stress community resources (Smith, 2012). Embedding Indigenous resources at the curricular level can help address many of the colonial challenges Indigenous students experience in schools. When Indigenous Peoples, perspectives, and stories are included regularly in the curriculum, educators can cultivate an appreciation of diversity and a sense of belonging for Indigenous students (Kanu, 2011). In 51 addition, Indigenous Peoples are more likely to be seen as diverse intellectuals with important understandings to contribute about life and the world (Battiste, 2013; Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Donald, 2009; Kanu, 2011). Research suggests that Indigenous authored resources has been connected with positive academic and motivational outcomes for Indigenous students (Kanu, 2011), cultivating a critical engagement with school that extends beyond interaction with that resource (Cooper, 2012; San Pedro, 2017). Thus, authentic Indigenous resources are a key tool in supporting Indigenous (and all) students. Selecting appropriate Indigenous content still requires educators’ critical engagement with decolonizing frameworks, given the prevalence of colonial narratives that often appear in text. Thus several organizations and scholars have offered guidelines on how teachers might choose authentic Indigenous resources (FNESC & FNSA, 2016; Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2013; Seale & Slapin, 2005). According to FNESC and FNSA (2016), authentic resources have Indigenous authors or significant Indigenous contributors; depict themes deemed important to Indigenous communities; and may use Indigenous storytelling frameworks. These guidelines may support educators in thinking critically about how the images and language in a particular resource represent a narrative about Indigenous Peoples (St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). Other guides offer more specific direction in terms of how teachers may determine if resources portray respectful narratives about Indigenous Peoples. For example, educators are encouraged to move beyond stereotypes and choose resources that portray Indigenous Peoples as diverse, contemporary peoples with complex social and political organization (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2013; Seale & Slapin, 2005). These kinds of suggestions can provide further support for teachers who may be uncertain about incorporating Indigenous perspectives. 52 Authentic Indigenous resources are critical to creating supportive learning environments for Indigenous (and all) students, especially when teachers lack relevant cultural knowledge. These resources not only inform students and teachers about Indigenous perspectives, but elevate Indigenous contributions as critical for inclusion in curricular content. By attending to the authenticity of resources and the narrative represented therein, educators can ensure the integrity of their practices. Re-imagining Relationships. A third major theme in the literature describes how to emphasize Indigenous perspectives in the classroom by (re)imagining relationships (as shown in Figure 1). (Re)imagining relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples and institutions is crucial to a new vision of education. The literature in this vein emphasizes the importance of relationships schools or educators build with parents and the community (Benwell et al., 2017; Demmert & Towner, 2003; Friedel, 1999; Ledoux, 2006; McCarty & Lee, 2014; Powers, 2006), and between educators and students (Baskerville, 2009; Hynds et al., 2016; Lipka et al., 2005; McGregor, 2019; Noddings, 2012). Some research describes the quality of relationships holistically, as a general approach guiding human behaviour and interactions (Archibald, 2008; Bishop, Ladwig, & Berryman, 2014; Donald, 2016; Wilson, 2008). In this study, I focus on Donald’s discussion of ethical relationality (2009; 2012; 2016) as a broad approach to understanding multiple and complex relationships that occur across the educational system. Specifically, Donald (2016) has provided a detailed description of what an ethical, decolonizing relationship entails. His perspective on relationships can support positive interactions in both research and educational contexts. I drew on Donald’s description of ethical relationality as a sensitizing lens to inform both the content and context of discussions in my work with the CoI, and in my interpretations of participant contributions. 53 Donald has explained his notion of ethical relationality as emerging from his work with Cree Elders (2009; 2012; 2016). He invoked a notion of relationship as “the life-giving energy that is generated when people face each other as relatives and build trusting relationships by connecting with others in respectful ways” (Donald, 2016, p. 10). Many scholars likewise discuss dedication to common good, human dignity, and interpersonal respect (e.g., Chomsky, 2000; Denzin, 1997; Paris, 2011). However, Donald’s (2016) familial conception of relationship further suggests the devotion and responsibility people might feel towards those who are relatives (see also Bishop et al., 2014; Wilson, 2008). In addition, like many Indigenous scholars, Donald extended the notion of relatives to include more-than-human beings, such as the water, sky, animals, etc. (Deloria, 1999; Donald, 2016; Marker, 2011). Thus, Donald’s (2016) conception of ethical relationality builds on existing notions of respectful relationships to include a deep interconnectedness and respect between and among humans and the natural world. Importantly, Donald’s (2016) view of ethical relationality builds on the strength of differences. Donald (2016) drew on an ecological understanding to clarify the value of diversity from a relational perspective: Ethical relationality does not deny difference nor does it promote assimilation of it. Rather, ethical relationality supports the conceptualization of difference in ecological terms as necessary for life and living to continue. It guides us to seek deeper understandings of how our different histories, memories and experiences position us in relation to one another (Donald, 2016, p. 11) Ecosystems with low levels of biodiversity tend to be weak and unstable (Donald, 2009). In the context of learning, Donald (2009) suggests that groups with high levels of diversity may be better positioned to co-create or share diverse strategies for learning, thinking, or being in the 54 world. Diversity in the context of ethical relationality holds potential for a rich and informative exchange of ideas. Ethical relationality in the educational system means creating an environment where loving and supportive, family-like relationships are normalized and supported (Bishop et al., 2014; Donald, 2009). Furthermore, ethical relationality works from the premise of an intimately connected future which underscores a responsibility to one another moving forward (Donald, 2016).These kinds of relationships may encourage educators to consider students’ interests when making pedagogical decisions (Bishop et al., 2014). All that educators think and do, including curricular, pedagogical, and day to day thoughts and actions, may be informed by the way they engage with ethical relationality. Furthermore, this conception of relationships could be extended to parents and communities to create an environment where parents would feel comfortable participating in the educational journey of their children (Ledoux, 2006). Moreover, cultivating ethical relationality could open generative spaces for creative solutions to challenges and barriers for Indigenous students. To guide this study, I used this literature to define optimal relationships as ethical and as entailing the kind of responsibility, respect, and consideration that flows from relationality. Ethical relationality informed how I built relationships throughout the research procedures as well as how I structured the research to build from the strength of diversity. In addition, I used the understanding of ethical relationality in CoI meetings as a springboard for discussions and interpretations about practices that might support Indigenous (and all) students. In sum, emphasizing Indigenous perspectives is key to the (re)imagination of decolonizing possibilities in education through their influence on educators and educational contexts. In particular, it is key for educators to consider cultural and language learning, choosing authentic 55 Indigenous resources, and (re)imagining relationships based on Indigenous perspectives. These approaches offer a strong starting point for considering how to create situated and effective supports for Indigenous (and all) students. Re-storying colonial narratives. Re-storying colonial narratives appears in Figure 1 as the second pertinent strategy for (re)imagining education. I define re-storying as a process that builds from Indigenous perspectives to support personal examination of stories people tell about their own positionality within colonial narratives, which, through critical reflection and consideration of Indigenous perspectives, may transform to new stories around identity and responsibility (Dion, 2007; Strong-Wilson, 2007). As I have previously noted, the stories people tell about themselves and others can profoundly impact their sense of reality and interactions with the world (Archibald, 2008; Gottschall, 2012; Justice, 2018; King, 2003; Maracle, 2017). In this way, Indigenous (and all) students’ experiences of education can be profoundly shaped by the stories educators tell about themselves, and their students, schools, and systems (Bailey & Betts, 2009). Re-storying colonial narratives can nurture an understanding of colonial implications for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and allow an opening of the heart for transformation and change (Battiste, 2013; Maracle, 2017; Newhouse, 2008; Regan, 2010). Furthermore, it can facilitate a deep transformation in terms of the orientation and disposition of educators towards Indigenous students, communities, and perspectives (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Pewewardy & Hammer, 2003; Tanaka, 2016). The impact of colonial stories can be seen in the self-fulfilling prophecy of teacher expectations. Research suggests that students tend to work towards teacher expectations (de Boer, Timmermans, & van der Werf, 2018; Rubie-Davies, Peterson, Sibley, & Rosenthal, 2015; Shields, Bishop, & Mazawi, 2005). However, expectations for Indigenous students have often been found 56 to be low in terms of academic achievement, whether due to empathy or stereotype (Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, 2016; Riley & Ungerleider, 2012; Shields et al., 2005; Whitley, 2014a). Beyond this, research has shown that some educators may act based on biased or stereotypical stories about Indigenous Peoples, negatively impacting not only day to day interactions, but the curricular options and overall educational experience of students (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2019; Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, 2016; Hare & Pidgeon, 2011; Whitley, 2014a). In contrast, re-storying the narratives educators tell about Indigenous Peoples and students may significantly transform pedagogical practices and contexts (Hynds et al., 2016; McGregor, 2019; Strong-Wilson, 2007). For example, Anne Hynds and colleagues (2016) described a study wherein learning environments significantly changed after educators considered the voices of Indigenous students and actively involved them and their families in addressing challenges in the classroom. Tanaka (2016) discussed the significant changes in pedagogical orientation that teacher candidates experienced after working with Indigenous knowledge keepers. Changes in educators’ stories may also lead to corresponding impacts on body language, tone of voice, or the ways teachers handle the discretionary decisions they need to make from moment to moment (Loewenberg Ball, 2018; St. Denis & Hampton, 2002). Furthermore, changes in personal orientation may have systemic implications when individuals throughout the educational system enact new stories about themselves and the students they serve (e.g., Benwell et al., 2017; McGregor, 2019). Research has suggested several ways that teachers can be supported to transform stories they tell about students (de Boer et al., 2018; Rubie-Davies et al., 2015), and Indigenous students in particular (Bishop, Berryman, Wearmouth, Peter, & Clapham, 2012; McGregor, 2019), with 57 findings that these changes are related to improved student outcomes (Bishop et al., 2012; de Boer et al., 2018; McGregor, 2019). More specifically, research has indicated that teachers and teacher candidates can transform how they think about their own positionality in colonial history (Dion, 2007; Iseke-Barnes, 2008; Strong-Wilson, 2007). Susan Dion (2007) and Teresa Strong-Wilson (2007) supported teachers or teacher candidates to self-examine using a prompt such as picture of their childhood, or a story that was formative in their understanding of the world. The artifact they identified was then placed within the context of colonial history. Strong-Wilson (2007) took the exercise one step further by replacing the original colonizing text with a text that represented an Indigenous perspective of a similar time period or event to prompt educators to think about their own stories and identities in relation to colonialism. In this way, the colonizing narratives educators had come to be invested in were replaced or challenged with a more inclusive alternative story. Archibald’s (2008) work, described earlier, can also be applied here as another example of how Indigenous perspectives might support the re-storying of colonial narratives. Archibald (2008) discussed how stories encourage the kind of introspective thinking that may be required to examine and re-story personal narratives. From this perspective, stories can fundamentally alter a learner’s engagement with the world by changing thoughts and approaches. Archibald (2008) gave specific stories or practices a rich context, background, and framework for understanding so that the listener or reader could better understand how to do their own work with the stories. In this way, Archibald shared important cultural information to help readers engage with Indigenous stories in a meaningful way, so that stories could be used to “overturn old colonial stereotypes and to heal their damage” (Raibmon, 2014, p. 20), and cultivate deeper 58 connections and self-understanding. In this way, Indigenous cultural values and pedagogical practices can help educators examine and re-story colonial narratives. Although specific methods may differ somewhat, research suggests that re-storying at the school, district, and systems levels can prompt significant change for students (Bishop et al., 2012; Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, 2016; McGregor, 2019). Educators who challenge their colonial narratives may open possibilities for transformation in pedagogical practice or curricular content choices, or in ongoing interactions between teachers and students. As individuals change, systems become more likely to follow. This study built on the transformational potential of stories and re-storying narratives, and the role they can play in (re)imagining educational systems. Enacting promising practices in education. The third approach to (re)imagining education, shown in Figure 1, is to build from Indigenous perspectives, such as those described in previous sections, by enacting promising practices emerging from a Western education, especially those practices which align well with decolonizing perspectives. One vein of scholarship on Indigenous education calls for the deconstruction of binaries to create a third way (Bhabha, 1994) that brings together ideas from both Indigenous and Western epistemologies while maintaining the integrity of both (e.g., Barnhardt & Kawagley, 2005; Battiste, 2013; Donald, 2012; Hatcher, Bartlett, Marshall, & Marshall, 2009; Lipka, Sharp, Adams, & Sharp, 2007). To identify compatible practices, I first examined previous studies which suggest pedagogical practices found to be consistently effective among Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners (Froiland, Davison, & Worrell, 2016; OECD, 2017; Powers, 2006). These promising practices include creating safe and positive school environments; forming strong relationships among educators, students, parents and communities; and fostering high levels of capability and 59 commitment among educators (Froiland et al., 2016; McGregor, 2019; Powers, 2006). Some schools have used promising practices like these, overlaid with Indigenous teachings, to support school transformation focused on the needs of Indigenous learners (Benwell et al., 2017; Coughlin, 2017). However, there are considerable connections between some Indigenous and non-Indigenous pedagogical perspectives, which might come together as a third way of thinking about pedagogy. For example, holistic education that approaches learning from multiple dimensions is a pedagogical approach advanced by Indigenous scholars, who consider student learning from emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental dimensions (Archibald, 2008; Cajete, 1994; Canadian Council on Learning, 2007; Pewewardy & Hammer, 2003; Pidgeon, 2008). Likewise non-Indigenous theory and practice have tended to move beyond a purely academic emphasis to embrace a more holistic understanding of education that includes student skills, attitudes, and social and emotional needs (BC Ministry of Education, 2019b; Diamond, 2010; Dickson, Perry, & Ledger, 2018; Noddings, 2015). Diverse perspectives on place-based learning and outdoor education also share connections to the land and natural world as a starting point for deeper integration (Aikenhead & Michell, 2011; Calderon, 2014; Root, 2010; Scully, 2012). Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars have further noted that cultivating strong positive relationships within schools has a positive impact on student well-being and achievement (Bishop et al., 2014; Cote-Meek, 2014; McGregor, 2019; Noddings, 2012). In addition, the two perspectives seem to similarly value a strengths-based approach to education that sees students’ strengths as the foundation of learning (Kana'iaupuni, 2005; Phillips, 2010). These kinds of connections across cultural paradigms can serve as a starting point for educators exploring decolonizing possibilities in education. 60 In this study, I focused on self-regulated learning (SRL) as a promising practice and as a theoretical orientation that appears to share connections with Indigenous and decolonizing perspectives (Perry, Yee, Mazabel Ortega, Määttä, & Lisaigno, 2017; Yee & Gallon, 2016). Literature on SRL informed the ideas I raised in the CoI about potentially promising practices, how I structured the CoI, and how I conducted my research. As a significant influence, I briefly outline the theoretical perspectives I adopted with respect to SRL, and the connections to the work being undertaken here. SRL can be defined as the knowledge and processes learners use to initiate and maintain the thoughts, emotions, and behaviours needed to achieve their own (and others’) learning goals (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011). Theoretical perspectives on SRL tend to agree on the importance of three components: metacognition, emotion and motivation, and strategic action (Greene, 2018; Zimmerman, 2001). Metacognition refers to learners’ knowledge about the world, themselves, and their own cognitive processes and the ability to make deliberate choices to facilitate particular outcomes (Bryce & Whitebread, 2012; Flavell, 1976; Pressley, 2002). Metacognition is key to the growth and learning of teachers and students, and thus offers potential as both a pedagogical approach and as an orientation to professional development (Butler, Schnellert, & Perry, 2017; Duffy, Miller, Parsons, & Meloth, 2009; Pressley, 2002; Prytula, 2012). People engaging with decolonizing potentials may use and develop their metacognition by critically reflecting on their own understandings of the world and their agency within it. Motivation is the will to engage in learning (Pintrich & Schunk, 2008; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2008). Emotions can facilitate processes essential for motivation and learning, but likewise have the ability to override rational thoughts, goals, or considerations of future 61 consequences (Boekaerts, 2011; Frijda, 1988; Gross, 2013; Newhouse, 2008). Motivation and emotion may play a significant role in the opening or closing of decolonizing possibilities, given the deeply personal connections or experiences people often have with colonialism or colonial narratives. Strategic action, often conceptualized as iterative and cyclical (Butler & Cartier, 2004; Winne & Hadwin, 1998; Zimmerman, 2002), involves the purposeful choice and enactment of strategies to achieve learning goals (Zimmerman, 2001). Given the pervasive nature of colonialism, strategic action is critical for substantive engagement across diversity to open and enact decolonizing possibilities in classroom or professional learning environments. In these kinds of ways, self-regulation, as a Western perspective on goal-directed behaviour, has potential to inform efforts that facilitate learning, for teachers and students, especially within a context intended to build decolonizing capacities. Deborah Butler and Sylvie Cartier (2018)’s socio-constructivist model of SRL builds on these three components to describe the processes diverse learners use to engage with learning. Useful for the present study, this model also draws attention to how schools and learning are embedded in historically, culturally, and socially-situated contexts. The model first recognizes that learners come to the educational context as whole beings with diverse and ever-changing knowledge, beliefs, experiences, and values, embedded in and impacted by multiple layers of context within the home, community, and school environment (Butler et al., 2017; McCaslin & Burross, 2011; Vygotsky, 2012). Diverse learners working within and across multi-layered contexts ideally engage in their own iterative cycles of strategic action that lead to learning. Because of its focus on diversity and the socially-situated nature of learning, Butler and Cartier’s (2018) view of SRL opens opportunities for deep epistemic discussions around how and why 62 diverse students construct or co-construct knowledge in a particular way. In this way, students may cultivate a more nuanced appreciation of diverse epistemologies, in the context of relevant cultural paradigms, like the lesson of the bean based on Indigenous perspectives described by the teacher candidate in Brayboy and Maughan (2009). Although models of SRL do not explicitly address Indigenous or decolonizing paradigms, they show potential as a pedagogical approach for diverse learners (Anyichie, 2018; Butler & Schnellert, 2015; Perry et al., 2017; Yee & Gallon, 2016). For example, supports for SRL have potential to address some of the concerns raised in the analysis of the bean lesson in that students may choose and benefit from diverse learning strategies to expand their understandings of the world. If learners discuss the implications of different learning strategies, deep reflection and metacognition can be fostered for all. Diverse cultural and decolonizing paradigms may come to light and colonial influences may be diminished. In addition, these kinds of discussions may help students understand when and where different conceptions of knowledge, or different kinds of learning strategies might be more or less advantageous. This conceptualization of learning and contexts can help educators build on the unique strengths and challenges of Indigenous (and all) learners in a way that is somewhat consistent with Indigenous pedagogical approaches, while acknowledging the constraints of colonial environments. In addition to bringing ideas from SRL to the CoI as potential practices to support Indigenous (and all) learners, I used SRL as a foundational concept in structuring processes in the CoI. Many of SRL’s key principles and practices have been found useful in supporting educators’ professional development through collaborative inquiry (Butler & Schnellert, 2012; Butler & Schnellert, 2020; Lasky, 2005; Perry, Brenner, & MacPherson, 2015). For example, as with students, educators also need to understand themselves as learners and teachers embedded 63 in social and historical contexts. Like students, educators also benefit from opportunities to exercise agency, set personalized and contextualized goals, co-construct learning about pedagogical approaches, and engage in rich forms of critical reflection that push their thinking forward. These sensitivities informed how I constructed my work with the CoI in this study (see below for more details). Finally, I built from SRL theories to guide research activities. To respectfully support participant engagement across diverse social and cultural contexts, I used a responsive and adaptable approach that could meet the needs of research participants, while simultaneously addressing the research questions (see Yee, Mazabel, MacNeil & Butler, 2019). For example, I designed this research to build from the diverse experiences, knowledge, values, and beliefs participants brought to the research from their own cultural and community contexts. During our activities, I prioritized opportunities for participants to exercise autonomy, engage in metacognitive processes, attend to emotion, and actively co-construct knowledge related to the research questions. Overall I drew on SRL as a promising practice, emerging from Western educational thought, that could potentially support the (re)imagination of educational environments in these three ways. Enacting Decolonization in a Community of Inquiry The goal of this study is to facilitate educators’ exploration of decolonizing possibilities to support Indigenous (and all) learners. In this section, I situate this research in literature examining the relative influence of professional development as an approach for improving teaching and learning. I then focus more specifically on the properties of collaborative inquiry that have key affordances for the kind of transformative work inherent in decolonizing approaches. Lastly, I build from literature on Community of Inquiry (CoI) models to describe the 64 more specific structures and features of professional development I used for the purpose of investigating how educators and community members might best co-construct strategies for supporting Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. Professional development. Research has shown that some types of professional development have the potential to prompt significant transformation for teachers, which in turn impacts student outcomes (Hynds et al., 2016; McGregor, 2019; OECD, 2017; Yoon, Duncan, Lee, Scarloss, & Shapley, 2007). These professional development approaches tend to be goal-oriented, sustained over time, collaborative, and involve active learning on the part of teachers (Butler & Schnellert, 2012; Hynds et al., 2016; McGregor, 2019; Schnellert, 2011; Timperley et al., 2014). Professional development that supports deep reflection by teachers is typically aligned with more transformative outcomes (Ball, A. F., 2009; Butler & Schnellert, 2012; DeLuca, Bolden, & Chan, 2017; Horn et al., 2017; McGregor, 2019). Initiatives that are contextually embedded and responsive to the specific needs of students are thought to have the greatest potential for creating tangible change (OECD, 2017; Timperley et al., 2014). Furthermore, professional development can support large scale systemic change if implemented broadly (Butler et al., 2015; Hynds et al., 2016). In addition to these general design features, professional development intended to support educators in teaching culturally diverse and Indigenous students has often included elements that match decolonizing objectives (Hynds et al., 2016). These initiatives tend to incorporate connections to Indigenous values and/or communities (Bishop et al., 2012; Lowe, 2017; McGregor, 2019). For example, Russell Bishop and colleagues (2012) describe a large-scale New Zealand professional development initiative centred on local Māori principles of self-determination, reciprocal teaching, and relationships. An effective teaching profile built from 65 Māori students’ narratives guided changes to classroom practices (Bishop et al., 2012). In this case, professional development was closely tied to local cultural communities. In addition, professional development focused on Indigenous perspectives may also attend to power hierarchies, colonialism, and/or social justice by encouraging educators to engage with challenging perspectives (Ball, A. F., 2009; Dion, 2007; Iseke-Barnes, 2008; Jacobs, Assaf, & Lee, 2011). These approaches may focus even more strongly on examining and (re)imagining colonial influences on individual thinking. For example, several initiatives have included some combination of both culture and decolonization (e.g., Hynds et al., 2016; McGregor, 2019). Professional development in these cases has been shown to support culturally responsive pedagogical approaches, and positive outcomes for marginalized (Ball, A. F., 2009) and Indigenous students (Hynds et al., 2016; Lowe, 2017; McGregor, 2019). Although these design features can provide important touchstones, several scholars argue that educators’ positioning in the context of professional development can actually be more influential than program design (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Kennedy, 2016). From this point view, it is argued that educators should be understood as “deliberative intellectuals” (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009, p. 2) that combine scholarly theory and reflection with innovative educational practice to support the holistic development of students (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Giroux, 2002; Kennedy, 2016; Nieto, 2003). Effective professional development supports educators to be efficacious and agentic in exploring and implementing specific pedagogical approaches (Butler et al., 2015; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Duffy, 2005; Timperley et al., 2014). This focus ties professional supports more authentically to educator motivation, learning, and identity (Duffy, 2005; Kennedy, 2016). In this study, I likewise built from an assumption that educators are intellectuals, so that our 66 professional development could become an opportunity for educational theorizing and contextually embedded inquiry, guided by design features meant to inspire educators to investigate their own questions, as connected to a shared purpose (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Timperley et al., 2014). Collaborative inquiry. Collaborative inquiry approaches fit well with this view of educators and professional development. Collaborative inquiry involves an iterative co-learning process (DeLuca et al., 2017), occurring in similar fashion to a cycle of strategic action within SRL perspectives (Butler & Schnellert, 2012; Perry et al., 2015). This process includes setting a goal to be addressed through planned and deliberate action, based on contextually-appropriate strategies (Butler & Schnellert, 2012). Results are measured against criteria and adjusted or changed based on self-assessment and feedback from the environment. This process occurs cyclically, supported by reflective thinking, and may lead to new or refined goals or questions (Butler & Schnellert, 2012; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Timperley et al., 2014). Collaborative inquiry creates space for educators to be inquisitive as they work between theory and practice to extend their understanding of education, and how to best meet the needs of students (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Timperley et al., 2014). A distinguishing feature of collaborative inquiry is that it is agentic, building from the autonomy of individuals and the group (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009). Butler et al (2015) described a cross-district collaborative inquiry initiative where interested educators came together and set inquiry goals around adolescent literacy relevant to their teaching contexts (see also Butler & Schnellert, 2020). Educators co-constructed assessment practices in order to monitor how students were doing at the start of the project, as well as the students’ responses to changes in the classroom. Members of the group chose instructional practices they wished to 67 take up, and decided how the data they collected would be shared and interpreted (Butler et al., 2015). In this scenario, educators were able to act as intellectuals and sustain engagement with the inquiry process through agentic action. Supporting a sense of agency is particularly key for decolonization and decolonizing pedagogies since colonial structures can often seem so ingrained as to be insurmountable. Structuring inquiry in a way that positions an educator as having the responsibility and ability to make an impact not only demonstrates respect for the capacity of educators, but also positions them in an agentic role in decolonizing education (Butler et al., 2015; Horn et al., 2017). Another key feature that sets collaborative inquiry apart from other professional development approaches is that learning is socially mediated. Collaboration can lead to a synergistic engagement with diverse perspectives, which results in a more expansive understanding of ideas and issues than could have been gained in isolation (Ball, A. F., 2009; Butler & Schnellert, 2020; Horn et al., 2017). For example, Ilana Seidel Horn and colleagues (2017) demonstrated how collaborative inquiry groups can provide an opportunity for teachers to explore and rehearse alternative solutions to classroom challenges using the insight and feedback of experienced peers. Collaboration is particularly important when educators work with students from communities that differ substantively from their own (Jacobs et al., 2011). As I described in the section on colonialism, oppressive structures are often normalized to the extent that they are unrecognizable, especially for those with privilege. Thus, the incorporation of diverse perspectives can help educators grasp the range and depth of colonial experiences students may be facing, and understand those experiences as part of a larger sociological phenomenon. Collaborative assessment of educational practices can surface areas of concern that may otherwise be invisible to the practitioner (Hynds et al., 2016). 68 Furthermore, collaboration can support motivation and persistence through the more challenging aspects of inquiry and decolonization processes (McGregor, 2019; Timperley et al., 2014). Questioning pedagogical practice and exposing professional uncertainties requires a high level of risk for educators, one that often derails professional development efforts (Lasky, 2005; Twyford et al., 2017). Adding a decolonizing lens may heighten the risk, as failure within this domain may lead educators to perceive personal or moral shortcomings (Bacon, 2017). Research suggests that collaborative environments can mitigate the risk associated with pedagogical change (Twyford, 2016). Trusting and supportive relationships are seen as key to creating an environment where educators are comfortable enough to open their ideology and practice to scrutiny and transformation (Christian & Freeman, 2010; McGregor, 2019; Palmer & Scribner, 2017; Twyford, 2016). Donald’s (2016) concept of ethical relationality also provides an ideal framework for defining the kind of supportive relationships that would foster collaboration and vulnerability. In an environment that is highly supportive and collaborative, educators are more likely to try new ideas, take risks, and be vulnerable so that learning and pedagogical change can occur (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; McGregor, 2019). Collaboration may occur among people with different roles and interests within and beyond the education system. Research on schools that opened collaborative inquiry to people in diverse roles within the school (i.e., administration, teachers, Aboriginal support workers, youth support workers, etc.) showed that those schools were able to address student needs using a holistic, systemic approach where structural changes were required (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; McGregor, 2019). Several studies have also extended collaborations to include parents, students, and/or community members (Benwell et al., 2017; Ginsberg, Shapiro, & Brown, 2000; Lytle, Portnoy, Waff, & Buckley, 2009). This spectrum of diversity can open up possibilities for 69 social transformation both in schools and communities (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009). From a decolonizing perspective, Indigenous community involvement could be key in illuminating colonizing structures, and could meaningfully bring local Indigenous voices to pedagogical considerations within the school (Hancock, 2017). Furthermore, community involvement in educational approaches could be beneficial to Indigenous communities by supporting their collective agency (Hynds et al., 2016), and by addressing policies and practices that serve to limit Indigenous parental involvement in schools (Cherubini & Hodson, 2008; Friedel, 1999; Ledoux, 2006). Extending collaborative inquiry groups beyond the school context could help re-frame challenges, and push thinking outside any locally-dominant Western educational narratives (Cochran-Smith, 2015). In sum, working from a notion of teachers as intellectuals, collaborative inquiry can be enacted using a cyclical model of inquiry to support the agency and co-construction of knowledge within a supportive environment. Collaborative inquiry accommodates heightened diversity to support the deep reflection and transformative potential of decolonizing approaches. Communities of Inquiry (CoIs). Building on these features of collaborative inquiry, the CoI model helped guide the shape and structure of specific research activities in this study. In general terms, a Community of Inquiry (CoI) involves a group of people that voluntarily comes together around a shared curiosity, grounded in practical contexts (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009). Literature about CoIs emphasizes the importance of creating specific conditions for inquiry and deep reflection. As a first step, research suggests that sustained attention to common goals can support student outcomes (Butler et al., 2015). This focus can provide time and space for the in-depth critique and self-reflection that opens up transformative potential (Ball, A. F., 2009; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; McGregor, 2019; Palmer & Scribner, 2017). However, merely 70 having the time and space does not guarantee that transformative discussions will occur. Several scholars suggest that facilitation is a key, and often overlooked (Kennedy, 2016) feature of effective collaborations (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Palmer & Scribner, 2017). In particular, research suggests the importance of facilitating generative conversational routines to promote transformative reflection and the agency of educators to change their practices (Ball, A. F., 2009; Horn et al., 2017; Kennedy, 2016). These conversational routines are seen as emerging from common goals and language flowing from shared views of learning and teaching (Ball, A. F., 2009; Horn et al., 2017; Kennedy, 2016). Furthermore, literature on CoIs (and similar models, like Palmer’s  Communities of Truth) suggest transformative discussions may be cultivated by structuring space. Specifically, Parker J. Palmer (2017) described several paradoxes of space. He noted that space should be bounded by structure, but open to meet the needs of participants (Palmer & Scribner, 2017). The space should be welcoming and valuing of all people, but charged with purpose and the significance of a task (Palmer & Scribner, 2017). Furthermore, the space should honour the voice of the group and individual in telling big social stories, or the smaller stories of individual experience (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Palmer & Scribner, 2017). Positioning these considerations as paradoxes points back to the intentionality that must accompany the structure and facilitation of groups that aim to open conversations and allow for transformation. These orientations can nurture social solidarity and inclusive participation so a CoI may become a space for non-adversarial co-construction of knowledge (Horn et al., 2017; Lipman, 2003; Palmer & Scribner, 2017). Beyond these commonalities, the CoIs discussed in the literature each worked a little differently because participants were able to set their own priorities, norms, and guidelines for 71 interactions (Horn et al., 2017; Jacobs et al., 2011; Nieto, 2003). These differences are key, especially within a decolonizing context, since the cultural context and diverse experiences of each participant may inform how an “atmosphere of dignity and regard” (Palmer & Scribner, 2017, p. 13) is enacted. For example, participants may agree that interactions should be respectful, but how respect is demonstrated may vary according to culture. Thus, CoIs present an opportunity to explore different ways people can relate to one another across cultures, histories, and experiences of colonialism, as a departure from colonial power hierarchies. Specific CoI tasks and activities described in the literature vary, and there does not appear to be one approach that is more or less effective for supporting professional development (Kennedy, 2016). Research on CoIs has made use of diverse activities such as book clubs (Jacobs et al., 2011; Nieto, 2003), writing prompts (Ball, A. F., 2009), or check ins (Horn et al., 2017). More important than the specific activity seemed to be the need to trouble assumptions in a way that opened participants to critical reflection (Ball, A. F., 2009; Hynds et al., 2016; Jacobs et al., 2011). The troubling of assumptions has the potential to motivate a search for new ideas or lead to the creative co-construction of new understandings that feed back into a re-examination of thoughts. In considering Communities for Equity, Cochran-Smith (2015) noted that “while participants jointly build knowledge, they also push one another to interrogate their underlying assumptions and rethink much of what is taken for granted in teaching, learning, and schooling” (p. 113). Thus the nuances of a particular activity are less important than embedding a prompt for educators to examine their own practice and educational understandings so they can co-construct new meaning in an agentic way to address a particular concern (Butler et al., 2015; Horn et al., 2017; Hynds et al., 2016). 72 A CoI model thus provides key affordances important for this research. Importantly, CoI structures encourage deep learning and self-reflection. These structures may enable educators to overcome challenges of the ‘head and heart’ so they may transform their teaching practice as an integral part of students’ learning context (Hynds et al., 2016; Lowe, 2017; McGregor, 2019). Although research has not yet focused on the decolonizing capacity of CoIs, there are examples of CoIs with counter hegemonic orientations that lean towards social justice and equity (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009), which align well with the critical and creative objectives required for moving towards decolonization. Moreover, the CoIs discussed in the literature reviewed here have often been based on humanizing assumptions that value the contributions of diversity in relationship with others (Cochran-Smith, 2015; Palmer & Scribner, 2017). Thus, a CoI model seems to provide an ideal foundation from which to enact ethical relationality among educators, administrators, parents, and community members. For these reasons, I chose a CoI model to bring people together with the purpose of supporting Indigenous (and all) learners in inclusive classrooms. Chapter Summary This survey of literature has provided foundational theoretical orientations for the present research. First, I have described theories of colonialism, focusing on a four-dimensional model, to better understand Indigenous students’ individual and collective experiences of racism within a broader social and historical context, and to illuminate the inherent deficiencies of colonialism for all peoples. I then discussed decolonizing approaches, with a focus on how educators may critically reflect on current practices and (re)imagine pedagogical possibilities. Literature suggests that (re)imagining possibilities can be achieved by in part by emphasizing Indigenous perspectives, through cultural and language learning, choosing authentic Indigenous resources, 73 and (re)imaging relationships with others. Educators may use these perspectives to re-story colonial narratives in ways that may be supportive of Indigenous (and all) students. Furthermore, I discussed how educators can bring these understandings together with promising practices in education as a springboard for developing decolonizing pedagogy. Lastly, I explained how professional development using a CoI structure could help address challenges faced by Indigenous (and all) students, and could offer a supportive but challenging environment that enables the kind of transformation participants may need to address colonial contexts. I drew on these lenses to construct a study of how diverse people within a CoI could engage with one another to imagine a way forward for Indigenous (and all) students. 74 Chapter 3: Methodology The goal of my study was to advance understanding about how teachers can best support Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. I chose to frame my research as a critical ethnographic case study design, used as a decolonizing methodology, as per Ninomiya, Hurley, and Penashue (2018). This approach allows for in-depth understandings of dynamic phenomena (Butler, 2011; Merriam, 1998), associated with culture and power (Denzin, 1997; Rosaldo, 1993; Viruru & Cannella, 2006), embedded in colonial history (Denzin & Lincoln, 2008; Morton Ninomiya et al., 2018). These lenses fit well with my research questions: 1) How can a CoI create a context for Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants to come together in support of Indigenous (and all) students? 2) What is the content of discussions enabled by CoI structures? 3) Based on CoI members’ perspectives, what kinds of principles and practices can educators use to provide locally relevant support to Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms? Study Overview The case was a CoI I brought together to examine ways that teachers could better support Indigenous (and all) students. Our collective goal in the CoI was to develop principles and practices that might inform the work of classroom teachers. The CoI was comprised of 12 diverse Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and community members who met in various groupings over a period of six months (Phase 1), and then came back together after preliminary analysis had been conducted to continue co-constructing meaning based on our shared experience (Phase 2). Within this group, I acted as the facilitator and participant-observer. I used abductive qualitative analysis to address the research questions, focusing on transcripts from 75 Phase 1 and 2 CoI meetings, along with individual interviews that took place before and after Phase 1. By adopting this approach, I hoped to appropriately honour the contributions and insights of the CoI members, and our transformative process of coming together in support of students and one another. I begin this chapter with an explanation of how I used a critical ethnographic perspective as a decolonizing approach. Then I describe my epistemological positioning in this research, as well as the ethical commitments that formed the basis of this study. Next, I provide a rationale for adopting a case study methodology and provide more specific descriptions of participants, activities, data collection, and analysis. Critical Ethnographic Perspective I took up critical ethnography as a decolonizing methodology to address my goal of enacting research that could be “ethical, performative, healing, transformative, decolonizing, and participatory” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2008, p. 2). Ethnography is a “process of creating and representing knowledge (about society, culture, and individuals) that is based on ethnographers’ own experiences” (Pink, 2007, p. 22). Critical ethnography is an approach that specifically seeks social justice by bringing together multiple perspectives to negotiate meaning (Madison, 2012), and to raise public and private consciousness about hierarchical social systems that perpetuate injustice (Creswell, 2005; Denzin, 1997; Marker, 2003; Nader, 1974). Within this perspective the researcher is seen as an advocate for change, who works in respectful dialogue with participants with complementary objectives (Creswell, 2005; Denzin, 1997). However, Eve Tuck (Unangax) and K. Wayne Yang (2019) emphasize social justice is not necessarily synonymous with decolonization. Although the two concepts overlap considerably, decolonization focuses 76 specifically on counteracting colonial structures and influences. As part of this focus, Indigenous perspectives are more strongly centered. I attempted to draw together elements of critical ethnography and decolonization. Taking up a critical ethnographic perspective, I worked as a researcher, student, facilitator, former teacher, and participant with diverse Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and community members in the CoI. When I initiated the CoI, my hope was that together we could develop critical insights into the education system, based on the notion that obstacles experienced by Indigenous students were the result of systemic flaws or difficulties emerging from colonial paradigms. In keeping with Indigenous and decolonizing perspectives, the research process was intended to support ethical relationality (Donald, 2012; Wilson, 2008), while co-constructing understandings and possibilities across diverse roles and communities (Morton Ninomiya et al., 2018; Stanton, 2014; Tuck & Yang, 2019). Critical ethnography embedded in a decolonizing approach provided methodology with the potential to analyze pedagogical development within the context of cultural and colonial complexities. Considerations of culture and power as situated within understandings of colonialism and decolonization provided key interpretive lenses for this study. I expected this study to demand a high level of attention and sensitivity to cultural structures in order to broaden and deepen co-constructed understandings across cultural communities. My understandings of cultural context in this case drew from those sources discussed in Chapter 2, along with consultation with the participants themselves. Furthermore, my approach required attention to power, which I have previously discussed as an inherent part of being, rather than a tangible thing that may be possessed (Ball, S. J., 2013). This orientation helped to keep this research focused on processes that facilitated or enabled the participants to exercise of power within the CoI and their own lived 77 experiences, rather than on power as a commodity to be granted or taken away. As such, the objective of research activities was to open opportunities for diverse people to exercise power in ways that promoted ethical relationality. These understandings of power and culture shaped how I engaged with critical ethnography to undertake this research. Epistemological orientations. Positionality is vital within both critical ethnographic and decolonizing methodological traditions to provide a context that frames how research may be understood (Merriam, 1998). Making colonial biases explicit helps account for decisions in research design, analysis and interpretation (Chilisa, 2012; Denzin, 1997; Greene, & Caracelli, 1997; Madison, 2012). As Renato Rosaldo (1993) explains: The ethnographer … occupies a position of structural location and observes with a particular angle of vision. Consider, for example, how age, gender, being an outsider, and association with a neo-colonial regime influence what the ethnographer learns. The notion of position also refers to how life experiences both enable and inhibit particular kinds of insight (p. 19). In this section I discuss my own emerging epistemological orientations so that research design, enactment, and analysis might be more transparent to those considering the implications of this work. I begin with a poem that sums up how my approach to research had developed prior to this study. I found security in 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, … Math facts gave me access to teachers’ smiles, classmates’ envy, promotion and privileges denied to others. When a storm came 78 I hid in 6 x 7 until the worst had passed. But with promotion comes competition, with privilege, silence. 92 is never going to be any more than 81. Humanity > numerical parameters. So I checked my heart for a door a gate a fire exit. But my PIN didn’t work. It wasn’t until I knocked, and you You answered, the door began to open. My journey as a researcher has required considerable critical introspection and a steep learning curve. I have always excelled in the positivist maths and sciences and was not previously asked to confront the intersection between the notion of an objective truth and my understandings of injustice and marginalization. When I began my PhD program, I was firmly entrenched in a quantitative and post-positivist paradigm. Over the course of my program, I began to consider the implications of this orientation. Positivist claims to knowledge have the potential to marginalize other perspectives and perpetuate colonial power structures (Chilisa, 2012; Smith, 2012; Walter & Andersen, 2013), which brings into question the utility, validity, and ethicality of this perspective for the research I had planned. In addition, I have come to question the relationship between statistics and the positivist tradition. My expanded learning about statistical techniques has suggested that with the complexity of statistical procedures researchers may lose sight of the subjective nature of the analyses. These analyses might have 79 more in common with socio-constructivist paradigms than is usually acknowledged (Lincoln, Lynham, & Guba, 2011), and than I had originally thought. I have begun to understand how both quantitative and qualitative research methods could serve positivist or socio-constructivist paradigms, which makes an explicit epistemological stance critical. Recently I have experienced a fairly dramatic shift in thinking away from positivist views of knowledge towards a socio-constructivist perspective more in keeping with the major theoretical positions taken up in this study. A socio-constructivist epistemological orientation suggests that knowledge, teaching and learning are co-constructed in society with other people with respect for unique domains of experience and expertise (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Lincoln, et al., 2011; Pascale, 2011). Similar to the definition of truth I discussed earlier, this orientation assumes that there are multiple realities dependent on personal interaction and perception (Merriam, 1998). Crucial elements of research in this vein include a focus on process and meaning, researcher reflexivity, fieldwork, and description, and induction as research objectives (Merriam, 1998). I have found that many dimensions of socio-constructivist perspectives support or are similar to what I understand about Indigenous epistemologies (e.g., Deloria, 1999; Marker, 2011; Newhouse, 2018). Furthermore, a socio-constructivist epistemological orientation is consistent with the decolonizing aims of this study. Beyond disproving a null hypothesis, socio-constructivist perspectives open space for knowledge construction that transcends the original paradigm of the researcher and/or participants. Moreover, these perspectives tend to center research in humanity, which can be lost in de-contextualized numbers. By building on the strengths of subjectivity and diversity, socio-constructivist research may appropriately honour the unique perspectives and expertise a thoughtful individual develops over the course of a lifetime. I take seriously the 80 responsibility of working in ethical relationship with others for the on-going construction of a reality that will have practical impacts (Wilson, 2008). Fundamental change may be possible where we are able to create a reality that is markedly different from what has existed or continues to exist. For these reasons, I have strongly shifted towards socio-constructivist ways of conducting research, and of understanding the world. Ethical considerations. In this study, I used a critical ethnographic approach, embedded in decolonizing perspectives to think about how to support Indigenous (and all) students. As such, I felt it was imperative to enact supportive and ethical interactions within our CoI, and throughout the research process. These considerations are particularly salient for Indigenous peoples impacted by the research, as historically research has been used to appropriate, colonize, and denigrate Indigenous cultures (Smith, 2006; Walter & Andersen, 2013). Following, I describe how current Indigenous views on ethical research shaped this study. In this research I built from scholarship that emphasizes the importance of building ethical relationships within and through research, particularly with Indigenous Peoples. The development of strong research relationships with Indigenous Peoples has become a primary ethical consideration (Ball, J. & Janyst, 2008; Chilisa, 2012; TCPS-2, CIHR, NSERC, & SSHRC, 2014; Denzin, 1997; Smith, 2012). Donald’s (2016) model of ethical relationality, as described previously, was particularly useful for thinking about research relationships. I endeavored to embed this view of ethical relationality in my research design, implementation, and the formal and informal interactions I had with participants in my study. The perspectives I adopted in this study were also influenced by scholars who developed principles to guide research relationships with Indigenous community members. Importantly, in my interactions with participants I prioritized reciprocity, respect, and responsibility as key 81 ethical commitments (Archibald, 2008; Davidson, 2019; Kirkness & Barnhardt, 1991; McGregor & Marker, 2018; Piquemal, 2001). Consent to participate was taken as an entering into a “reciprocal trust relationship” (Smith, 2012, p. 137). I interpreted this to mean that participants could trust me to respectfully honour their contributions, time, and perspectives both during and after research activities. During this study, I relied on guidance from members of the CoI to help specifically shape ethical relationships according to local contexts. In addition to strong relationships, Māori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith (2012) provides other guidelines that impacted the design and implementation of this research. Smith (2012) notes that in research, as a knowledge-building endeavor, the process may be more important than the outcomes. Research processes are expected to be “respectful, to enable people, to heal and to educate. They are expected to lead one small step further towards self-determination” (Smith, 2012, p. 130). I took up this guideline by making the research responsive and adaptable at the onset. I could not presume to know what people might need in terms of healing or education, but by making the design flexible, I hoped that participants would shape activities to their own needs. Furthermore, Smith (2012) offers several considerations for community-based research with Indigenous Peoples. She first problematizes the notion of community as a singular or static entity. As is the case in the present study, Indigenous students may be of diverse backgrounds, or have varying connections to the culture and community. Thus, I invited input from culturally diverse individuals who were working in different roles across communities, including culturally diverse Indigenous people. In particular, I hoped to ground the research in local Indigenous perspectives, but to keep research attuned to diverse Indigenous understandings and experiences of the world. 82 Smith (2012) further notes that research needs to make a positive difference for communities. As a caveat, she urges researchers to consider how high levels of collaboration and participation may stress community resources in terms of energy and commitment. In response, I strove to create a study that benefited the local community, and a context where individuals felt welcome to participate at all levels but were not strained by the responsibilities of the research. I wanted to demonstrate respect for participants and their need to prioritize personal, family, or community obligations, so members of the CoI were invited to participate according to their own interest and availability. Furthermore, this research was designed to maximize community resources. Educators and community members collaborated within the CoI to create principles and generate classroom ideas that could be taken up by educators in their contexts, or inspire further innovation. I hoped to cultivate positive community outcomes while softening the burden of responsibility on individual participants through these approaches. My research process was approved by the University of British Columbia’s Behavioural Ethics Review Board (Certificate number H16-00352) and the research review process of the BC school district where it took place. School administrators approved all school-based activities. In addition to these more formal avenues of ethical review, I made a point of adhering to suggestions made by CoI participants in the course of our interviews or meeting discussions. Case Study Design I used a single case study design structured around the CoI to address my research questions. Sharan Merriam (1998) views case study as a procedure of inquiry involving “an intensive, holistic description and analysis of a bounded phenomenon such as a program, an institution, a person, a process, or a social unit” (p. xiv), based on multiple sources of data (Creswell, 2005; Yin, 2014). Case studies are distinct from other methods in their use of rich, or 83 thick, descriptions in examining a very specific phenomenon for the purpose of constructing new understandings (Merriam, 1998). The case study framework was well-suited to address the process-oriented questions in this study, which were grounded in a multifaceted, true-to-life environment (Butler, 2011; Merriam, 1998; Yin, 2014). The case study design also had great potential for studying the dynamic processes that might occur in the CoI, including the relationships between individual and social processes, and those contextual dimensions that might influence our work (Butler, 2011). Researchers across educational and decolonizing perspectives have demonstrated the usefulness of case study designs to further understandings of professional learning in relation to classroom practices (Boyer, 2002; Brayboy & Maughan, 2009; Butler, Beckingham, & Lauscher, 2005; Clouston, 2007; Perry & VandeKamp, 2000). Furthermore, case study affords the opportunity to investigate some of the lesser known aspects of phenomena (Yin, 2014), like decolonization. Decolonization, like the SRL processes enacted through collaborative learning, is a “moving target” (Butler, 2011), which can be best understood through the dynamic and probing methods offered by case study. Credibility. In this case study, I applied a socio-constructivist perspective to qualitative forms of evidence. Because of the very subjective nature of this research, and the multiple moving parts at play in authentic contexts, credibility may sometimes be questioned. A research design that is based on multiple intersecting and diverging perspectives can help establish credibility and legitimacy in qualitative work (Flick, 2006). Accounting for multiple subjectivities both supports a sense of consistency in areas where consensus among various perspectives can be reached (Pascale, 2011), and illustrates the interconnected and relational knowledge in which the research is subjectively situated (Deloria, 1999). John Creswell (2005) 84 and Robert Yin (2009) describe a triangulation approach to research, where convergence of data acquired through different methods and sources is used to warrant interpretations. However, Sandra Mathison (1988)’s interpretation of triangulation describes how not only convergence, but also inconsistency and contradiction of data help create a clearer picture of the complex social phenomenon under examination. This perspective mirrors Newhouse’s (2018) discussion about the importance of multiple perspectives in creating a complex understanding of the phenomenon under examination. Several concepts analyzed in this study are difficult to define and sensitive to interpretation based on subjective experience. Therefore, in my analysis I adopted the perspective that tensions among varied sources of evidence could be used to piece together a more nuanced understanding of the data. CoI case. My case study is based on the CoI I brought together in a diverse, urban school district in BC. Participation in CoI meetings was flexible so it operated as a fluid group of people who brought diverse perspectives into conversation with one another, depending on who was in attendance at a particular meeting. As such, the CoI began with 12 Indigenous, non-Indigenous, and racialized participants, including a participant from one of the local Nations whose children had attended school in the district. Two participants left the study early due to changing personal circumstances. The CoI met over the course of 15 months in two phases. Phase 1 opened with initial interviews. The CoI then met quite intensively with the shared goal of co-constructing supports for Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. During this time, the number and scheduling of meetings was determined in consultation with participants. To accommodate their schedules, I sometimes held two meetings around the same objective, and participants attended the one most convenient for them. Including these repeat meetings, the total number of CoI meetings for Phase 1 was 10, but only eight had unique objectives. This Phase concluded 85 with final interviews. After Phase 1 was complete, I worked with two of the classroom teachers to implement ideas discussed in the CoI. However, analysis of that data falls outside the purview of this research report. One year after Phase 1 meetings had started, I held Phase 2 meetings (three meetings with two unique objectives), which provided participants with an opportunity to provide input into my analyses and interpretations of Phase 1 evidence, and to discuss how our findings might be best shared beyond the CoI. All meetings across both phases rotated between participants’ schools. I suggested the location of the meetings based on who was able to attend and who might be able to volunteer a space for meeting. In one instance, one of the CoI members arranged to have our meeting held in the local Nation’s on-reserve primary school. Going into the research, I had proposed a set of processes (e.g., facilitation strategies, activities) to use as a starting point for collaborations with participants within the CoI (see Figure 2). I had initially thought that the CoI would work together to co-construct an integrated decolonizing-SRL pedagogical framework. I thought this could be achieved by having participants reflect on their own educational philosophies or theoretical conceptions, and then come together to create one or more integrated decolonizing-SRL pedagogical framework(s), from which a few ideas about classroom practices would likely emerge. I thought this Figure 2. Original Conception of Research Activities. 86 could happen using a fairly lock-step, albeit iterative process where participants would work between their own conceptions of education, theoretical constructs, and classroom-based practice. I envisioned discussion emerging from set activities and prompts, which I had planned to lead. Although all activities were subject to approval by the CoI, my recruitment and research activities were predicated on this conceptualization of the research. Because I entered into the research with this kind of collaborative mindset, the research goals and consequent activities changed from my original conceptions, although our purpose of supporting Indigenous (and all) students remained the same. Notably, participants’ stories, personal and professional experiences, and observations seemed to move us towards our goal more effectively than discussions around specific frameworks for learning, like SRL. Thus, instead of using the professional and theoretical frameworks as a foundation for pedagogy as depicted in Figure 2, participants worked up the spiral shown in Figure 3. This process helped them understand themselves and their own positionality, which formed a basis for co-constructing a common vision of education. From this foundation they were able to co-create principles and practices which could be used to enact this vision in ways that were consistent with their personal identities. These changes are detailed in later chapters. Figure 3. Enactment of Research Activities. 87 Recruitment and sampling. In this study, I conducted recruitment with the intention of building on the strengths of diversity. Keeping in mind the original conception of the study, my objective was to include Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals with expertise in Indigenous/decolonizing perspectives, SRL, Indigenous students’ home/family contexts, and/or education, who were interested in supporting Indigenous (and all) students. I hoped this level of diversity could expand the range of ideas discussed in the CoI with reference to the needs of diverse educators and students. I reasoned that a greater number of participants might result in a greater change for students, so I included all people who expressed interest. Specific recruitment procedures built from relationship and were intended to cultivate ethical relationality. My recruitment methods started from professional and personal contacts and expanded through snowball sampling. Through my contacts, I connected with a teacher who was interested in the objective of the research. Her school district approved the research and then provided critical support for recruiting school and district personnel, and in contacting the local Nation. A district administrator extended a general invitation to participate among educators in the district, and helped coordinate one recruitment meeting. One of the district Indigenous Education Support Teachers was instrumental in helping me coordinate another recruitment meeting, and connecting me to local community members. People who signed up for the study sometimes suggested additional potential participants that I contacted as well. In addition, I invited people I knew that worked in the local school district, or who had expertise in the frameworks I had hoped to discuss. People typically consented to participate after a face to face meeting, which was quickly followed by the initial interview. These personal interactions helped build relationships and extend the recruitment potential. By working from relationships, I hoped to build on the strength of respect and reciprocity and mitigate any pressure to participate. 88 I did not have any pre-existing relationships with people in the local Indigenous community, so I was particularly concerned about having these voices represented. Thus, I continued to follow up on participants’ suggestions for additional recruitment even after the first CoI meeting was held. Prior to the first CoI meeting (2017-01-31), initial interviews were completed for eight participants. Four participants joined the study during or following the initial meeting. Recruitment was stopped once all suggestions had been exhausted and there was at least one person to represent each of the perspectives listed earlier. CoI Participants. The CoI ultimately included 12 individuals, many of whom spoke from multiple perspectives within the CoI (see Table 4). One person, for example, spoke from their position as Special Education Support Teacher, Classroom Teacher, and parent, and had completed graduate work in self-regulated learning. Table 4 Background of Participants Description Number of Participants Demographics Number of Indigenous/non-Indigenous/Racialized Canadian participants 5/6/1 Female/Male 10/2 Roles* District Indigenous Education Support Teacher 3 School Administration or Leadership Role 4 Parents, as self-identified in meetings 5 Classroom teaching as part of current teaching assignment 5 Special education services as part of current teaching assignment 2 Identified having completed graduate work or specialized training in one or more of the identified frameworks 6 Total participants 12 *Note: several participants had intersecting roles Tables 4 and 5 provide more details on participant backgrounds and community affiliations, respectively. In Table 4, I have aggregated information about diversity among participants to help protect anonymity for those individuals who chose not to be identified. In Table 5 I have 89 indicated how participants identified in relation to cultural identity to give a context to their remarks in subsequent chapters. As part of the decolonizing lens in this study, I specifically asked participants how they would like to be identified in this research report. I offered this option in response to critiques about research that appropriates the voice and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples without offering recognition of intellectual property (Smith, 2012). Eight participants chose to use a form of their own name. Pseudonyms were used in four cases where participants either chose to remain anonymous, or if participants did not respond to queries about how they would like to be identified. The number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants was fairly balanced (five and seven respectively), with one person identifying as a Racialized Canadian. Sex ratios favor women (10:2), as is often the case in the field of education. *Pseudonyms Indigenous participants identified as having connections to five different Nations. Two participants identified as immigrants to Canada. In addition, participants came from different school and district contexts. Of the 12 participants, nine were associated with the main Table 5 Community Affiliation Participant Community Indigenous Non-Indigenous Racialized Canadian Charlotte Brenner ● Heather Myhre Cree Métis Jen Aragon ● Jill Blewman ● Julia* ● Rachel* ● Setlakus Tla’amin Nation Sophia* ● Spelexílh, Anjeanette Dawson Squamish Nation Susana ● Tim Ireland ● Tristan Crowther ● Total 5 6 1 90 participating district, with three coming from out of district. In total, participants came from three different districts, with teachers from five different schools. As described earlier, participation in the CoI was fluid and dynamic. One participant was able to attend meetings on the condition she bring back a tangible resource for the benefit of other teachers in her district. Two people, Rachel and Julia, participated in an initial interview and attended one meeting before personal circumstances changed and they had to leave the study. Overall, each meeting in Phase 1 was attended by three to eight participants, with an average attendance of four people. In Phase 2, five individuals participated across the two meetings, with an average attendance of four participants. One person was not able to attend either of the Phase 2 meetings and opted for an individual interview. Thus, the CoI was a loosely bound group that was open to diverse contributions and interpersonal dynamics which changed based on individuals in attendance. Researcher role in the CoI case. I had several roles with the context of the CoI. First, within meetings I understood my responsibility to be facilitating respectful discussion, and ensuring that our common goals were being addressed. Second, I participated by discussing ideas with other members of the CoI and offering my own perspectives and those based on literature as my contribution to the group’s objectives. I functioned as an equal CoI member, all the time being mindful of the generosity and expertise of participants. Lastly, as research observer, I took notes during meetings, audio recorded discussions, and reflected on meetings afterwards. This information was not only used for research purposes, but also fed back into the facilitation process to shape how future meetings were conducted. In preparation for the next meeting I reviewed recordings and summarized major themes of discussions to present to participants. The reflection and review process supported a responsive meeting structure and allowed me to 91 appropriately honour and build from the insights participants shared. Thus, my own role within the CoI was as an involved and interested facilitator, participant, and observer who reflexively shaped the research to support the needs of participants. Activities and evidence from the CoI case. My goal was to facilitate and study the process of working in a CoI in order to co-construct principles and practices to support Indigenous (and all) students. Figure 4 provides an overview of CoI activities, and associated research evidence, designed to help me achieve that goal. To begin, I conducted an initial individual interview where I asked participants about their diverse areas of expertise and started getting a sense of how they saw Indigenous and Western educational paradigms fitting together (See Appendix A). All 12 participants discussed their Figure 4. CoI Activities and Evidence. 92 experiences and ideas in the individual initial interviews. I asked participants to choose a location for the interview that was meaningful for their learning. These interviews helped me gain an understanding of the background and values that participants brought to the CoI. Perhaps most importantly, the initial interview helped me begin developing respectful and reciprocal relationships with participants. With consent, interviews were audio recorded and I made field notes as we spoke. I sometimes reflected on the interviews either in writing or through an audio recording afterwards. In Phase 1 of the study, the CoI met to more intensively address our main purpose, which was to develop principles and practices that would support Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. As part of this process, participants suggested that we first position ourselves in relation to truth and reconciliation in Canada. This was an essential component in our development of potential principles and practices. As depicted in Figure 4, I collected evidence from these 10 meetings in the form of audio recordings and field notes, along with documents, such as the check-in and check-out (see Appendix B), and artifacts, such as photos of educational models created by participants. I typically reflected on meetings by speaking into a recording device immediately after their completion. Evidence from meetings was used to inform both the content and activities of each subsequent meeting, and to help me better understand and support key processes in working towards our objective. After Phase 1 was complete, a final interview was conducted with each of the 10 CoI members still participating in the project (see Appendix C). This interview was designed to gain greater insight into participants’ experiences and perceptions of CoI processes. It also gave a sense of closure to Phase 1 and allowed me to express my gratitude for participants’ generous 93 contributions of time, energy, and expertise. Interviews were recorded using field notes and an audio recording device, with the permission of participants. In Phase 2, the refinement stage, members of the CoI came together again to consider how I had interpreted the data to that point, and to offer additional insights, especially in terms of sharing our work with others in a public way. During this meeting participants had an opportunity to consider salient themes and key evidence to hone principles and practices to their specific contexts. In this phase we had two meetings approximately four months apart, where we discussed themes, asked questions, and made plans to share our work via a website. In addition, I met individually with one participant who was not able to attend either meeting. As a participant-observer, I kept a reflexive journal, which I include in Figure 4 as part of the evidence running throughout the CoI case. Sometimes I journaled by writing text, but most often I created audio memos for myself that were approximately 15 minutes in length. In particular, the journal provided an opportunity to make meaning from participant stories and contributions. In addition, I could describe my experiences as a researcher and participant as I worked through changes in my own thinking as a result of working co-constructively in a CoI. Overview: Research Questions in Relation to Evidence In sum, I drew on and coordinated multiple forms of evidence to investigate my three research questions, which asked about the process of coming together across communities and roles to enable particular content and develop principles and practices to support of Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. The primary sources of evidence in this case were Phase 1 and Phase 2 CoI meeting audio recordings, which were transcribed and coded, along with detailed notes of the initial and final interviews which I coded using the same coding structures. Secondary sources of information included pictures of artifacts, such as visual 94 representations made by participants during meetings and resources they brought to share, in addition to documents participants completed at the meetings, such as question sheets and check-in/check-outs. Because this study involved just one case, all primary and secondary sources were considered in terms of how they could provide a rich understanding of the CoI’s work. However, some sources proved to be more central to specific research questions, as indicated in Table 6. Question 1 asked about the CoI structures. These structures could be directly observed in the Phase 1 meeting transcripts and notes, as participants worked out ways of interacting with one another. In addition, participants were asked to reflect on CoI structures in the final interview. This context provided an avenue for participants to share perspectives they may not have wanted to voice in the larger group. My reflexive journal was a secondary source for this question but was instrumental in helping me recognize processes as they unfolded. The second research question asked about the content of discussions that served as a bridge between the CoI structures and the principles and practices. This content surfaced early in the Table 6 Relationship Between Research Questions and Evidence Evidence Q1: CoI Processes Q2: Content Q3: Principles & Practices Primary Sources Initial Interviews Notes ● ● Phase 1 Meeting Transcripts ● ● ● Final Interviews Transcripts and notes ● Phase 2 Meeting Transcripts ● Secondary Sources Artifacts and Documents ● Reflexive Journal ● ● 95 initial interviews, but strongly emerged as a necessary bridge in the Phase 1 CoI meetings. The initial interviews provided a private forum where participants could discuss their ideas and experiences with teaching and learning. The CoI meetings, in contrast, were a more open context where people were able to share key information across communities. As such, interview transcripts and notes and CoI meeting transcripts were the primary sources of evidence for this question. Secondary sources for this question included artifacts and documents, which provided another modality of expression, and my reflexive journal. The reflexive journal helped me work through the deeper meaning behind participants’ comments. Altogether, these diverse sources of evidence supported a nuanced picture of content discussed in the CoI. The third research question asked about the principles and practices that could support Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. This question was addressed directly in Phase 1 meeting transcripts and notes, where this question formed our central purpose. However, the initial interviews also provided an opportunity for participants to contemplate our shared purpose and think about how they might contribute to it. Phase 2 meeting transcripts and notes were also important to this question since members of the CoI could consider the shape of the principles and practices with a view to how they might be received beyond the CoI. Sources of evidence for this question occur across multiple time points, which helped me see how ideas developed over time. Altogether, evidence across diverse participants, contexts, and time helped me understand what occurred in relation to my research questions where data sources converged, and helped me grasp the complexity of issues where ideas were divergent. This evidence formed the basis of both a formative and summative analysis and interpretation process. 96 Analysis and Interpretation I understand analysis and interpretation to be strongly intertwined processes that help to make sense of the evidence within a broader theoretical context (Tavory & Timmermans, 2014; Wolcott, 1994). All analysis requires some degree of inference to give meaning and connect pieces of data with one another, and to larger ideas. Thus, analysis necessarily involves some interpretation. Even the seemingly straight-forward task of coding requires an interpretative process that involves demarcating a passage, and inferring symbolic meaning which may become a coding category. Qualitative researcher Johnny Saldaña (2016) suggests that a code may be understood as a “short phrase that symbolically assigns a summative, salient, essence-capturing, and/or evocative attribute for a portion of language-based or visual data” (p. 3). As such, the researcher is often required to make an interpretation of the ideas, motivations, and emotion driving participants’ contributions (Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña, 2014). Coded data are used to infer patterns, creating coding structures researchers may use to shed light on a particular social phenomenon (Wolcott, 1994). I generally approached the analysis and interpretation of evidence in this study through an iterative top-down and bottom-up, or abductive, process that allows for a theory-driven analysis along with the emergence of unanticipated findings (Agar, 1996; Butler, 2011; Tavory & Timmermans, 2014). Iddo Tavory and Stefan Timmermans (2014) describe abductive analysis as: … one part empirical observations of a social world, the other part a set of theoretical propositions. In good research, these two parts of the story not only intertwine but amplify each other. The theoretical account allows us to see things in the empirical 97 that we would gloss over. The empirical description, in turn, pushes the theorization in unexpected directions”. (p. 2) During different stages of research, my analysis drew closer to either an inductive (data-driven) approach, or a deductive (theory-driven) approach. These different types of analysis were necessary to ensure the study was responsive to participants and honoured their contributions while simultaneously addressing the research questions in a trustworthy way. I used this abductive process throughout the study to shape how I engaged with the research questions. As I describe later in this section, I brought together theory and data to address my first research question which focused on dialogue signaling specific CoI structures to highlight how Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples might come together in support of Indigenous (and all) students. To address my second research question pertaining to the content of discussions enabled by CoI structures, I analyzed transcripts from CoI meetings and interviews with attention to the big ideas embedded in conversations. My final research question asked about the specific principles and practices that might support Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. I addressed this question by analyzing data with a focus on concrete examples and actionable ideas, and the rationale for these ideas. This coding structure helped distinguish how the data addressed each research question and surfaced important patterns in how participants thought about and enacted possibilities in education. Figure 5 illustrates the abductive approach I took to data analysis across research activities. In the early stages of data collection, I conducted holistic analysis of initial interview recordings and notes to help shape the CoI meeting structure, and how I understood and planned to interact with the study participants. Holistic analysis involves capturing an overall sense of the data and any emerging themes (Miles et al., 2014). This process was heavily influenced by overarching 98 theories from decolonization (e.g., Battiste, 2013), SRL (e.g., Butler, Schnellert, & Cartier, 2013), and CoI literatures (e.g., Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009) described in Chapter 2. As such, ideas from decolonization and SRL literature informed interview questions as they aligned with research objectives (see Appendix A). I holistically analyzed initial interviews using a theory-driven lens, but at the same time, was open to participants’ ideas and insights that did not neatly fit with these theories. This process helped me begin to shape the CoI meetings using both theory and the unique contributions of participants, as deliberative intellectuals (Butler & Schnellert, 2012; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Phillips, 2010). Once the Phase 1 meetings were underway, I continued with holistic analysis and interpretation to facilitate the process of co-constructing principles and practices to support Indigenous (and all) students (shown as the second step in Figure 5). My analysis at this point was exploratory, preliminary, and in-process. Although still informed by my research objectives, in this stage my focus shifted to prioritize the contributions of participants and ways they co-constructed diverse ideas and common understandings, so the analysis became much more inductive, or data-driven (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Miles et al., 2014; Saldaña, 2016). Ongoing inductive analysis was necessary to meet my goal of making research responsive to the ideas and Figure 5. Abductive Analysis Across Research Activities. 99 needs of participants, and to enact ethical relationality. Furthermore, this kind of analysis was crucial for me to establish my understandings of participant contributions in a diverse and cross-cultural context (e.g., Figure 6). This process is consistent with methods Corbin and Strauss (2008) outline, suggesting that researchers analyze data during data collection, so they can responsively change methods according to ideas emerging from the data. This stage of analysis and interpretation took place in the context of on-going dialogue with participants that led to the co-construction of principles and practices within the CoI. I holistically analyzed recordings of Phase 1 meetings in tandem with research activities so that I could draw out salient topics to shape meetings and present back to participants. I invited participants to add, change, or draw out the most relevant topics we had discussed. Based on this summary, participants were able to direct or re-direct the focus of our discussions towards ideas that may have warranted clarification or further investigation (as recommended by Miles et al., 2014; Wolcott, 1994; Yin, 2014). Figure 6 shows an example of one such summary (CoI Mtg 5-1, Figure 6. Power Point Slide from CoI Mtg 5-1 Showing Points Important to Participants, out of the Range of Issues Discussed. 100 2017-04-11), where I collected topics from the previous meeting’s discussion and highlighted key ideas participants emphasized. Despite this inductive focus, theory continued to shape how I interpreted and facilitated participants’ contributions, but became more of a sensitizing, rather than guiding, lens. I continued to rely on conceptions of ethical relationality (Donald, 2012) to shape how I interacted with participants and how I facilitated CoI structures that were moving away from my original conceptions. Donald’s notion of ethical relationality helped me trust my participants and work with them, even as they responded to my prompts in unanticipated ways. In this case, theory shaped my orientation to the research when more familiar structures had fallen away. Perspectives that emphasize Indigenous, cross-cultural, and decolonized communication patterns also became a critical sensitizing lens. Archibald’s (2008) description of Indigenous Storywork was essential to my understanding of interactions within the CoI. Importantly, Archibald talked about the “implicit meanings” (2008, p. 7) sometimes associated with stories, and the ongoing interpretive nature of listening to a story. “Another important principle of learning through storytelling is that since stories can be heard again and again, the meanings that one makes or doesn’t make from them can happen at any time” (Archibald, 2008, p. 24). Archibald’s (2008) work helped me develop patience and the interpretive ability to think about key meaning in the stories that participants shared. I considered the context of the individual telling the story or making the comment, and the context of our discussion, over time. I began to tune into the complexity and depth of both intellectual understanding, and heartfelt sharing of deeply personal experiences. My approach to the personal experience stories CoI members shared also changed based on Paige Raibmon’s (2014) introduction to Sliammon Elder Elsie Paul’s teachings. Raibmon (2014) 101 describes how settler scholars can best learn from Indigenous stories through “… transformational listening. By this I mean listening in ways and to voices that have the power to unearth sociopolitical assumptions and intellectual foundations” (p. 4-5). Listening to and reflecting on stories, in this way can support cross cultural understanding and relationships, and foster possibilities for decolonization. I began to listen to stories to think about the lessons that participants were offering CoI members and me, as the learner conducting the research, and as the one responsible for sharing the lessons I had learned. These key texts, combined with the stories of participants, opened my heart to an understanding of their discussion, and an understanding of colonialism I was not able to grasp prior to this experience. Thus, performing an ongoing, inductive analysis, using theory as a sensitizing lens, enabled me to iteratively co-construct understandings with participants in a way that built from their insights, and changed the possibilities for this research. As shown in Figures 2 and 3, the research in this study changed from introducing and mobilizing pedagogical frameworks (as in Figure 2), to facilitating discussions of identity that enabled participants’ exploration of decolonizing possibilities through pedagogical practice (as in Figure 3). This transformation, in response to participants’ contributions and co-construction of CoI processes, was only possible because of the abductive interaction between data-driven analysis and theoretical sensitivities. After Phase 1 was completed, I entered the third stage of analysis and interpretation (as shown in Figure 5), where I created transcripts for the 10 CoI meetings and continued with a data driven approach (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Miles et al., 2014; Saldaña, 2016) for the purpose of co-constructing meaning and action. Here I used a more formalized, layered coding system involving holistic and elemental coding methods layered over one another to build a nuanced understanding of themes through multiple readings and listenings of the evidence (Miles et al., 102 2014). Building on the ideas I had identified in the holistic analysis at previous stages, I used elemental coding strategies to flesh out an understanding of the ideas within the evidence (Miles et al., 2014). These strategies are more elemental in the sense that they are basic approaches that can be built upon to extend analysis (Miles et al., 2014). My analysis focused on a thematic approach that involved coding mainly the content, and to a lesser extent the structure of interactions recorded in transcripts. At this point, I generated formalized codes to condense, organize, and understand my data (Miles et al., 2014; Saldaña, 2016). Theoretical perspectives played a small role at this stage. Overarching theories involving decolonization (e.g., Snelgrove et al., 2014; Tuck & Yang, 2012) and contextual narratives around truth and reconciliation (e.g., Regan, 2010; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015a) likely shaped how I constructed meaning from the data. Literature about CoI practices (e.g., Butler & Schnellert, 2012; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009) also influenced how I saw processes unfolding in the CoI meetings. Although this literature played a role in this analysis, I relied most heavily on inductive processes at this stage. I presented the coding categories arising from this inductive analysis to the CoI in our Phase 2 meetings. These meetings provided an invaluable opportunity to co-construct preliminary analyses and interpretations with participants. In this case, the Phase 2 meetings were necessary for participants to check colonial biases or cultural blind spots as analysis and interpretation progressed. It also gave them a chance to reflect on how their ideas had shifted since Phase 1 and to provide additional insights and perspectives. During these meetings, I was able to consult with participants about how they would like to share the results of our meetings and create a plan of action moving forward. 103 With this input from participants, I entered a fourth and final stage of intensive analysis and interpretation. I started by completing inductive coding of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 CoI meetings (13 in total). I then reviewed the coding structure and attempted to gather together like codes into larger patterns and themes (Miles et al., 2014). However, these data-driven codes lacked cohesive meaning and did not seem to make sense from the standpoint of existing research. So, I brought this understanding of the data together with deductive frameworks that focused on social processes within CoIs (e.g., Ball, A. F., 2009; Horn et al., 2017; Kennedy, 2016), possibilities within decolonization (e.g., Biermann, 2011; Davidson, 2016; Smith, 2000; Smith, 2012), and specific classroom practices that support Indigenous (and all) students (e.g., Cajete, 1994; Donald, 2009; Smith-Brillon et al., 2012). In this way, I created a new coding structure based on abductive processes that moved between theory and data. Using this new structure, I re-coded all Phase 1 and 2 CoI meetings and created and coded detailed notes based on the 12 initial interviews and 10 final interviews with participants. In addition to the holistic and elemental coding I have already described, I drew on a type of elemental coding that focuses on social processes, sometimes referred to as dialogic (Miles et al., 2014; Riessman, 2008). Dialogic techniques look at how participants, together with the researcher, co-construct particular themes or messages that may be important to understanding underlying social and power dynamics at play (Bamberg, 2012; Riessman, 2008; Shuman, 2012). I used multiple processes to ensure that the new coding structure triangulated with available data, and could be considered trustworthy according to standards suggested by qualitative researchers (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). I adjusted the coding structure in response to evidence in the data sources, enacting what Timmermans and Tavory (2012) describe as “an inferential creative process of producing new hypotheses and theories based on surprising 104 research evidence” (p. 170). After coding was completed, I re-visited each theme and sub-theme to ensure the quality of coding and to draw out main ideas within each coding category. I matched one or more of the data-driven codes with a code in the new coding structure to ensure that all the ideas participants had considered important would be incorporated. Throughout this process I engaged in bi-weekly peer debriefing sessions to check the quality of my interpretations. Together, these procedures helped ensure the coding structure based on abductive analytical processes triangulated across evidentiary sources and coding approaches, was trustworthy, and honoured the perspectives of participants. Through these four stages of analysis and interpretation, I created a responsive meeting structure where our CoI was able to co-construct principles and practices to support Indigenous (and all) students in a meaningful way. I engaged in deep and protracted coding processes to address each of the research questions and ensure that findings may be considered as trustworthy. Summary In this chapter, I described my research design and detailed processes I used to enact a critical ethnographic case study using decolonizing methodology. I began by bringing together 12 Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals with diverse interests in education to discuss how educators could best support Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. After an initial interview, we met as a CoI over the course of 6 months to discuss our common purpose, after which I conducted final interviews. After a preliminary analysis of the data analysis, the CoI met again to discuss findings and interpretations of this study. Throughout these activities, I used an ongoing, abductive analytical process to respect and respond to the contributions of the participants spanning 12 initial interviews, 10 Phase 1 CoI meetings, 10 final interviews, and 3 Phase 2 CoI meetings. As the last stage in this analysis, an extensive coding process was 105 undertaken, that accounted for both possibilities arising from the data, and theory driven understandings of CoIs, decolonization, and pedagogical practices. This abductive analysis was able to surface important findings and considerations, which I discuss in the following three chapters. 106 Chapter 4: Results Overview and CoI Processes “… so just some thinking about that safe and comfortable environment … hopefully I didn’t undermine it” (Researcher Reflection Post CoI Mtg 2, 20017-02-16) The opening quotation encapsulates the intentions and trepidation I felt as the study began, especially in terms of CoI structures, where I had hoped to co-construct a CoI environment that enacted ethical relationality while at the same time focusing on research goals. This chapter begins with a brief description of a CoI meeting to provide a picture of how I implemented this idea. Then I give an overview of results pertaining to all three research questions using the concept of a tree, which Sophia suggested as a metaphor for my findings (Post-CoI Interview, 2018-01-25). This synopsis is followed by an in-depth description of findings related to the first research question about CoI processes. In Chapters 5 and 6 I discuss the results of the subsequent two research questions on content enabled, and principles and practices intended to support Indigenous (and all) students, respectively. CoI Meeting Description CoI meetings rotated among the schools of participating educators, with the exception of Meeting 10, which took place in the local Nation’s K-2 school located on reserve. As a small measure of reciprocity, I provided homemade snacks at each meeting. I consistently opened meetings with a territorial acknowledgement and reminder about our co-constructed group norms and goals. I then presented a proposed activity, typically using a PowerPoint presentation. Within this context, I structured the research activities, which evolved over the course of our engagement. In the early meetings, I introduced theoretical models to inform our discussions. However, I observed that this format led to a lot of talk on my behalf, and generated few ideas among participants. Activities meant to provoke conversation started to feel tangential to the 107 pressing issues that participants brought to the meetings. Therefore, I moved to a more relaxed format, beginning with a summary of the previous meeting accompanied by a few questions that participants could use as a springboard for discussion. Over the course of our meetings, participants started to feel more comfortable and gained a sense of their role within our discussions (as noted by Heather Myhre, Final Interview, 2017-06-24; Charlotte Brenner, Final Interview, 2017-07-05). Even with limited prompting, our conversations filled the full hour and a half, and typically had to be cut short to accommodate participant schedules. These rich conversations took place in the context of intermittent attendance, as shown in Table 7. *Letters refer to the different schools where meetings were held Although participants’ attendance at meetings fluctuated over time, as shown in Table 7, they demonstrated a sense of connection to one another (e.g., CoI 2, 2017-02-16) and, importantly, were comfortable in exploring decolonizing possibilities together. At no time did I feel uncomfortable tension or a sense of confrontation; a sentiment echoed by participants Table 7 Attendance at CoI Meetings Participant Meeting Number (School) 1(a) 2(b) 3.1 (c) 3.2 (b) 4(d) 5.1 (d) 5.2 (a) 6(a) 7(c) 8(e) 9(a) 10(d) Total Charlotte ● ● ● ● 4 Heather ● ● ● 3 Jen ● ● ● ● ● ● 6 Jill ● ● ● ● ● ● 6 Julia ● 1 Rachel ● 1 Setlakus ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● 9 Sophia ● ● 2 Spelexílh, Anjeanette ● ● ● ● ● 5 Susana ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● 8 Tim ● ● ● 3 Tristan ● ● ● ● ● 5 Total 8 5 3 4 4 3 3 5 5 4 5 3 108 (Charlotte Brenner, Final Interview, 2017-07-05; Jill Blewman, Final Interview, 2017-07-07). Overall, the CoI meetings seemed to have a feeling of friendly rapport and collegial support. Overview of Results The tree reached towards the heavens, its red limbs draped in a perfumed robe of green. Whispers of the past present future blew through its boughs as it called me. But everything I knew about xylology came from a book. The clouds became heavy and I tucked the my precious pages away as memories of life fell to the ground. I followed them down. The smell of my Mother’s garden overlaid with cedar welcomed me closer. I pressed my fingers into the cool dirt bringing with me the path of earthworms, and the chalky remnants of rusted out Swordferns, long forgotten bear scat, and hemlock twigs blown free by the wind. Each gift coming together to lovingly nurture deep roots a strong trunk and leaves that smiled on the sky. I leaned against the tree secure in its structure comforted by its growth. 109 In this study, diverse people came together in a CoI to think about how teachers could support Indigenous (and all) students in inclusive classrooms. Our work facilitated a nuanced understanding about my three research questions that asked about CoI processes, content enabled, and principles and practices to support Indigenous (and all) students. In Figure 7, I provide a visual metaphor of a tree, evoked in the preceding poem, as an organizing framework to think about the questions and findings from this study. The metaphor starts from the CoI structures, which I position at the base of the tree as the fertile soil that nurtures its growth, just as the CoI structures provided a rich and supportive environment from which discussions could emerge. Working upwards, the content of conversations enabled through CoI structures is represented by the tree trunk, which is the core of the tree and carries sustaining nutrients to far-off branches. Likewise, broad content served as the stabilizing foundation for pedagogy. The resultant principles and practices connect to the leaves and fruit, which are the detailed expression of the tree. Similarly, student-centred pedagogical principles and practices were the end goal of our CoI structures, and the actionable expression of core ideas. Using this framework, I now turn to the findings for the first research question, which asked about structures that helped people come together in the CoI. Figure 7. Growing Principles and Practices to Support Indigenous (and all) Students: Organizing Framework. 110 Research Question 1: CoI Structures "a really nice way to move forward and work together" (Tristan Crowther, Final Interview, 2017-06-09) The first research question asked, how can a CoI provide a context for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come together in support of Indigenous (and all) students? The answer to this question lies first in the structures participants co-constructed within the CoI, and second in the way these structures impacted participants’ thinking. I use the term ‘structure’ here to suggest that social structures, which Wolfe (2006) describes as inscribing colonialism, may also be (re)imagined as CoI structures that open decolonizing possibilities. Key Col structures that I found through an abductive analysis of meeting transcripts and participant interviews included: facilitation, context, communication, and goals. In the metaphor of the tree (see Figure 8), I Figure 8. Growing Principles and Practices to Support Indigenous (and all) Students: CoI Structures. 111 placed these structures as the deep, nutrient filled soil that cultivates healthy development. These structures impacted participants’ thinking by fostering participant engagement, and creating limitations, which I positioned closer to the tree because they may be thought of as the grounding and introspective roots that determine how decolonizing possibilities are taken up. Together these structures and impacts formed the foundation in this CoI for potential growth and expansion. CoI structures: “We’re not in a circle right now, but maybe we’re in a circle?” (Setlakus, Post-CoI 10, 2018-04-04) All CoI structures were meant to be flexible and at the same time inclusive and supportive, as per Setlakus’s comment where she noted that although we were not physically arranged in a circle, we still enacted the spirit and intent of the circle structure. She and other participants observed that although we had defined procedures (e.g., meeting times, topics of discussion), participation in the CoI was not based on adherence to these conventions, but rather by our guiding principle of respectfully relating to one another in support of students. This idea of not being in a circle, but being in a circle provides a good overview of CoI structures, as we often shed the formally planned activities in favor of authentic discussions that arose according to participants’ needs and interests. My analysis of CoI meetings and interviews suggests that these flexible structures included facilitation, context, communication, and goals. Facilitation: “It takes a certain person to pull this off” (Setlakus, Final Interview, 2017-06-13). Overall, participants talked about how facilitation was a valuable structure that helped support the objectives of the CoI (as shown in Figure 8). Meeting transcripts suggested that throughout the meetings, and especially early on, I emphasized a notion of support and vulnerability to open connections across personal and social histories. Perhaps my previous experiences facilitating sensitive conversations, and reflecting on my own challenges with 112 decolonization helped me to create a spirit of critical and hopeful co-operation within our CoI meetings. In the final interviews, participants expressed general appreciation for the way facilitation worked to bring people in our CoI together. Setlakus seemed to appreciate the positive relational context of our meetings (Final Interview, 2017-06-13). Heather reinforced this idea, adding that the types of connections created through facilitation helped move decolonizing possibilities forward: I really feel strongly that the work that you’re doing here is a real strong step to[wards] hope, and going forward … We need to be able to look each other in the eye and to be able to say what we need to say and to hear each other’s voices respectfully, and you’ve allowed that, at your table, our table, so I thank you for that”. (Final Interview, 2017-06-24) In the coming subsections, I discuss more specifically how I used my dual roles of facilitator and participant to enable decolonizing possibilities within the CoI. Researcher as Facilitator “These are conversations we need to have” (Heather Myhre, Final Interview, 2017-06-24). In addition to this general approach to facilitation, my analysis of transcripts revealed how I implemented particular structures and practices that opened decolonizing possibilities, as Heather’s quote implies. First, I used logistical organization to strategically bring together diverse views. For example, if one participant had not been able to attend for some time, I would try to hold a meeting at a location that was more convenient for that person so that contributions from all participants could be included. Typically, I worked with participants to schedule meetings in rotating locations convenient for the greatest number of diverse participants. Second, I introduced and maintained specific structures in our CoI. For example, I brought a goal-centred structure into the CoI meetings, by opening with a review of 113 goals and objectives. Thus, if our conversations strayed from constructive sharing, I could direct our attention back to our common goals. I also created activities that helped the CoI address our common goals, and maintain a sense of continuity across meetings with different participants in attendance. For example, in one of the early meetings I asked participants to create a plasticine model that represented their views on education (CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-17), which I subsequently shared through a Power Point presentation (e.g., CoI Mtg 3-2, 2017-03-09). In later meetings, I used a less structured summary of previous discussions to provide a starting point for conversation and maintain a sense of continuity. Regardless of the specific activity, each was meant to move discussion in the direction of our goals in a way that built on ideas expressed in previous meetings, across diverse participants. Lastly, I used adaptive facilitation to support the engagement of participants, in view of our common goals. In the previous example, I moved from more structured activities, like building plasticine models, to more open discussions because participants had plenty of questions, ideas, and reflections to share, and because discussions within the CoI seemed to be the most effective way to address our goals. Similarly, I initially offered theoretical frameworks like SRL and decolonization (CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31). These frameworks generally provided a constructive focus for discussions; however, participants seemed to resonate more strongly with sharing their practical experiences than building discussion based on theoretical models. Thus, I adapted my facilitation to encourage greater sharing of participants’ experiences. These kinds of facilitation strategies may have helped create a structure where participants could effectively explore decolonizing possibilities over time. The potential impact of facilitation noticeably surfaced in and after CoI Meeting 5-2. In setting up the meetings I aimed for a balance of Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants. 114 However, just prior to Meeting 5-2, two of the Indigenous participants were called away to attend to a pressing matter in the local community. Thus, only non-Indigenous participants attended the meeting. This setting provided an opportunity for non-Indigenous participants to ask sincere questions about colonial narratives or express concerns about decolonizing potentials that they thought may be perceived as confrontational by Indigenous participants. However, since the group did not include Indigenous participants, it was more difficult to challenge the colonial assumptions underlying some of their questions. Thoughtful facilitation in this meeting was critical to support challenging colonial narratives and opening decolonizing possibilities in the absence of people who could give voice to diverse experiences and perspectives. In this case, I used questioning that encouraged participants to self-reflect, offered or emphasized perspectives participants had discussed in previous meetings, and drew on my own experiences and reflections to introduce different ways of thinking or highlight decolonizing opportunities (CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). For example, participants voiced some frustration over their inability to establish positive working relationships with some Indigenous community members. In some cases, educators thought that their involvement was not as generative as hoped, or they perceived that Indigenous community members were reluctant to work with the school (CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). As a non-Indigenous facilitator and outsider to the Nation, I could not represent the perspective of Indigenous community members. Instead, I provided my own experiences working with Indigenous Peoples and models of community involvement that had been successful in other places. I also gently probed their thinking, asking questions like “what does that look like” or “so why do you think that is?” (CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). These questions helped participants conclude that Parent Advisory Committees are the main avenue of involvement for parents, but 115 may not be an inviting structure for Indigenous parents (CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). Furthermore, participants noted that there was a disconnect with Indigenous parents that created distance between them and the school (CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). In this meeting, participants discussed a few ways of addressing the problem, but because the voice of Indigenous parents was absent, it was difficult to fully imagine how to create effective connections between communities. During this meeting, some participants highlighted the challenges or difficulties of implementing particular initiatives at their schools. Others both recognized these challenges but also talked about enabling structures that worked in their particular situations. At one point, as the facilitator, I noted “it is work … but I mean, that’s the work we have to do” (CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). In this meeting, as they were thinking through responses to their ideas, participants often came to see decolonizing possibilities themselves. In some cases, participants were able to identify the colonial influence that was creating a barrier, but lacked the resources to dismantle it, reinforcing the need for Indigenous perspectives in our discussions. There were also a number of questions participants surfaced over time, and during this meeting that I could recognize as reflecting colonial assumptions or structures, but was unable to address as these were questions I grappled with as well. For example, participants questioned how Indigenous teachers and support workers could facilitate connections to local cultural when they did not belong to that culture (CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). They also suggested focusing on the successes in the system rather than just the critique (CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). In some cases, in my role as facilitator, I was able to bring these questions to later meetings to give the opportunity for others, including Indigenous participants, to offer their perspectives. Researcher as Participant: “I need decolonization of my own mind” (Researcher, CoI Mtg 3-2, 2017-03-09). My analysis of meeting transcripts suggested that through my role as a 116 participant I was also able to support people coming together within the CoI. As a participant, I worked to reduce power differentials, and modelled or reinforced the kinds of topics we might discuss, and how we might sensitively approach them. Presenting my perspectives on education and decolonization, as I initially did, seemed to create power differentials based on expertise, rather than creating an equitable space of engagement. However, other participants helped me construct my role as a fellow participant through the structures we adopted. As Jill noted: “that’s the beauty of the talking circle … we’re all equal. We all speak from our heart. You speak from your heart too” (CoI 1, 2017-01-31). Over time, I became better at sharing my ideas and questions as an equal participant. By CoI Meeting 5-2, I had gained a better sense of my role within the CoI and how I could facilitate and participate as a supportive peer, rather than as an expert. For example, in this meeting we began to discuss whether or not non-Indigenous teachers should teach Indigenous culture in the classroom. This discussion was prompted by my summary of the previous meeting (CoI Mtg Meeting 5-2 Transcript, 2017-04-12). When ideas from the summary were questioned, I struggled to answer in a way that honoured the ideas participants expressed in the previous meeting without taking ownership of their experiences. In the end, I followed processes established by other participants (Sophia and Setlakus, CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16; Spelexílh Anjeanette Dawson, Col Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28) and answered from my own experience: And I ... just my own personal belief. I don't want to ... I only speak for myself. I think we have to be creative ... I was a Native Studies teacher, and I have a background in Native Studies ... and I never did any cultural teachings … for me personally, I see Indigenous education as composed of two pieces. And one is the cultural teachings, which I feel need to be represented by Indigenous people, that's 117 my own belief ... And then the other piece to me, is the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. And to me, I have a stake in that, I am involved in that, and I own a piece of that, and I have responsibilities towards that as well. (Researcher, CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). In this passage, I spoke both as a facilitator and as a participant to share my own knowledge and experience. I hoped this could further the discussion in a way that built community and sensitivity. Rather than position myself as an expert, I applied the respectful norms other CoI members modeled to address participants’ questions. These examples illustrate how facilitation helped bring people together within the CoI through a constructive orientation, flattening power structures and modelling/reinforcing community-building approaches. Context: “super productive and super supportive” (Jill Blewman, Final Interview, 2017-07-07). Context is the second key structure of CoI meetings, as illustrated in Figure 8. Overall, participants described the environment of the CoI as positive and supportive. For example, Susana explained: … in this CoI, I have felt … we are welcoming each other here. And we’re respecting and admiring and appreciating and … in that sense I think it was a good experience for everyone who participated. I didn’t sense any discord … I felt like it was a safe environment. (Final Interview, 2017-07-04) My findings also suggested that there were several features of the context that came together to create a feeling of comfort and safety, where participants felt recognized, valued, and supported (as Jill’s quotation suggests). Specifically, the co-constructive nature of the CoI structures, the influence of particular people, and the place that meetings were held all contributed to generative engagement within the CoI. 118 Co-Construction: “things happen, things change, organic and fluid…” (Setlakus, CoI Mtg 5-1, 2017-04-11). I embedded opportunities for participants to co-construct CoI processes and content, which helped open generative possibilities within the CoI. Evidence from the meeting transcripts and final interviews suggested that participants influenced the CoI’s group norms, goals, discussion topics, and our understanding of place, which brought a sense of fluidity to our meetings that Setlakus referenced above. As an example, in the first CoI meeting I proposed norms to use as a starting point for participants to think about how we could ensure a safe and positive environment for everyone. In this case, Tristan talked about creating a space where people could explore ideas: Just to be mindful that we're doing this to push forward … so we just keep things … confidential and understand that taking risks and saying things that maybe don't come out … properly is going to be part of this process (CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31). Participants and I co-constructed the CoI norms shown in Figure 9. The red text denotes ideas that participants added, emphasized, or modified, based on the initial prompts. Figure 9. Group Norms, CoI 2 Mtg PPT slides, 2017-02-16. 119 To help enact these norms, the group suggested that we adopt the talking circle format (Jill Blewman and Heather Myhre, CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31). Heather described talking circles as follows: … for Indigenous people when we come to the [sharing] circle … we are all equal and equally valued. And there is great respect amongst us … no one's better than the other. And when somebody speaks, they’re speaking from their heart. Usually there's a talking stick which could be in the form of an eagle feather or something from Mother Earth … People can pass. It's a safe place. (CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31) We used a formal talking circle more or less in different meetings; however, the CoI remained true to the principles that Heather had described. Through these kinds of contributions, participants effectively shaped how we interacted within the CoI. Evidence from meeting transcripts also illustrated how we co-constructed common goals. Originally, my goal was to learn about theory and practice to support Indigenous students, but Heather recognized these goals were premature. She suggested that we situate ourselves in relation to colonialism before discussing pedagogy. Just thoughts on what takes place even before understanding teaching and learning and developing and trying out activities in classroom curriculum and that's our own place of understanding, our own place in [relation to truth and our colonial history]. It's personal. Because reconciliation is something that [doesn’t] … just happen here today right now. It's actually understanding the past to know where we are presently and where we are going in the future ... So I look inward first before I go there. Because we're all a different entry points of understanding… (CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31) 120 Participants agreed and extended Heather’s suggestion to create a ‘goal 0’, which I called understand ourselves. I brought together participants’ ideas and included them as objectives for goal 0 (see Figure 10). For understand ourselves, these included focusing on our learning needs, our place in reconciliation, and our educational philosophy and practice. This addition enabled the subsequent focus on theory and practice I had initially proposed. As shown in Figure 10, our two additional goals were to develop a framework for teaching and develop practices. The CoI approved objectives I suggested for these two goals and, as with all CoI structures, participants were invited to modify these goals and objectives in later meetings. This example demonstrates how participants built from a suggested idea to substantively influence both the research and the work of our CoI. Figure 10. Co-constructed Goals. Note: The goals/objectives in red were contributed by participants, others were suggested by the researcher (CoI Mtg 2 Meeting PPT Slides, 2017-02-16). 121 In addition to these structures, participants in the CoI often determined the more specific content of our discussions. For example, in CoI meeting 3-1 I had planned for us to look at different educational models, such as SRL and Indigenous learning models, to find points of connection. However, participants weren’t entirely comfortable with this activity. Tim: I don't know if I have a good enough awareness of the framework in order to make that ... [Anjeanette: Yeah] that's the challenge that I'm having right now. Jen: Yeah Nikki: Do we want to look at some? I can put some up ... Anjeanette: I'm not a teacher so I don't know what the frameworks are … (CoI Mtg 3-2, 2017-02-28) At this point, technology failed, and we were not able to look at theoretical frameworks as a group. Participants took advantage of this moment to begin exploring the more substantive experiences and questions they needed to share with one another. As a facilitator, I learned that transformative moments can and are perhaps are more likely to happen in the absence of structured activities, if the appropriate context is provided. Thus, participants played a substantive role in co-constructing effective CoI structures, expanding the goals of this research, and guiding the content and flow of discussions. People: “can you adopt me and show me the ways of the world?” (Susana, Final Interview, 2017-07-04). As part of the overall context, I further found that the unique contributions of particular participants played a considerable role in shaping the CoI and its possibilities. The experiences, beliefs, values, interests, and identities that participants brought to the CoI shaped both the content we engaged with, and how we engaged with one another. 122 Susana’s comment in the quotation above illustrates, in a playful way, how valuable she felt some of the participants were in terms of the wisdom they brought to our group. The participants in the CoI brought expertise, not only about decolonizing pedagogy, but also about social justice, culture, local history, and education. Susana talked further about the impact some of the other participants made on her: … I mean, these were amazing individuals with their own personal backgrounds, and in terms of their experience, and what they really see as their … duty, what they need to do as educators, what they need to focus on, and who they need to help first and foremost. It’s a weird one because I’m not a junior teacher anymore so I don’t sit there going ‘oh my gosh, I got so much to learn.’ I mean, I obviously do, but … most of these women, I mean, especially Anjeanette and [Setlakus]… Wow … they were really wise women. They have that steadiness. And it’s not just about… it’s not about working things politically. It’s not even about knowledge, it’s about wisdom, actually. So that was a privilege.” (Susana, Final Interview, 2017-07-04) Setlakus similarly reflected on the time spent in the CoI with Anjeanette. I was very honoured to be side by side with Anjeanette … I think she was a blessing that came for me because it reminded me that you don't need to be fighting for Aboriginal Education, you can come from that good place of heart, and I think that's the person she is, so she was a role model to me. (Final Interview, 2017-06-13) The personal expertise and perspectives of individuals within the CoI were inspiring, and germane to the kind of discussions and work that the CoI was able to do. Moreover, my analysis of meeting transcripts suggested that participants were able to build on their own diverse backgrounds to identify with one another in meaningful ways. In one of the 123 very early meetings, three participants explicitly connected with one another around a shared recognition of the complexity of identity in relation to culture and colonialism. For example, Jill came from a settler family but did not know her family’s ethnic background. She started the discussion by saying, “I'm always envious when I can hear folks talk about their heritage and their culture because I don't feel like I own a piece of anything distinct that I can sort of hang onto and call my own” (CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-28). This prompted Julia to share that she came from a mixed Indigenous and settler background but likewise had few explicit cultural teachings (CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16). Susana described how she had immigrated from overseas at a young age and did not feel strong ties to the culture of that country (CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16). This sharing helped establish the CoI as a supportive environment that enabled all participants to think about their own complex position in colonial narratives and the impact it may have for the development of respectful relationships. This example illustrates how people within the CoI were able to relate in a way that transcended communities and professional roles. Participants’ comments suggested they appreciated both the diversity of perspectives, and paradoxically, the like-mindedness of the other CoI participants. Analysis of final interviews suggested that some participants appreciated sharing a decolonizing journey with others. In particular, Jill surfaced her appreciation for similar underlying motivations for engaging in decolonizing processes (Final Interview, 2017-07-07). Setlakus noted the validation that came along with being with “like minds” (Final Interview, 2017-06-13). These kinds of connections may have been key in bringing participants together in the CoI. At the same time, participants also expressed deep appreciation for the diversity of perspectives that could be explored within the CoI context. Jen noted diversity as a real strength 124 of our group: “I think the variety of people that were involved made it really valuable…” (Final Interview, 2017-06-19). Charlotte expanded on the importance of diversity: I'm always going to go for diversity, a wide spectrum, because I think that, especially with the people that you did invite … these are all very knowledgeable people in their own field, and for people who are kind of specialists in a field, I think it becomes even more important that you open things up and get diverse viewpoints in. (Final Interview, 2017-07-05) These diverse perspectives opened crucial opportunities for learning. Tim talked about the perspectives that Anjeanette and Setlakus brought to the group as “… really important for me. That's the strongest thing that I got out of this...” (Final Interview, 2017-06-19). Although participants may have been on a similar path, the diversity of the group was able to provoke deep reflection and learning, making the CoI’s work meaningful and relevant for participants. Interestingly, strong connections, learning, and appreciation for one another were present in the CoI despite a lack of consistent attendance and time together (see Table 7). Jill observed this peculiarity when she stated, “I felt our relationships were really strong, even though we didn’t know one another very well” (Final Interview, 2017-07-07). In several instances, participants could not recall the names of people who had shaped their thinking. By virtue of their co-constructed ways of working, building from participants’ contributions over time (i.e., starting from summaries of past meetings), participants in the CoI were able to create respectful connections and a supportive context that enabled them to learn from and with one another even without close or enduring relationships. Place: “geographic literacy is key to our development, in terms of understanding who we are and what we do” (Susana, CoI Mtg 5-1, 2017-04-11). Place is another aspect of the 125 overall context that impacted how participants came together in the CoI. Evidence from the CoI meetings and interviews suggests that place may have supported discussion around local Indigenous cultures and protocols, colonial histories, and personal experiences. Much of our discussion focused on the importance of understanding local history and protocols, and was shaped by historical and contemporary experiences within that context. For example, Anjeanette and Setlakus helped educate the group about local history, including Indigenous Nations’ historical land use and political alliances within the Lower Mainland (CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27). Tristan noted that helping teachers learn local history and protocols can help facilitate relationships with Indigenous communities: “…if you ask the question here before you ask the question there, like that's it, you've already ruined the relationship ... so learning the local protocol and that sort of thing is important I think” (CoI Mtg 9, 2018-01-24). Participants seemed to agree about the importance of understanding local Indigenous history, culture, and protocol and seemed motivated to deepen their own knowledge in this regard. In many ways, place also seemed to shape participants’ thinking in relation to colonial history. Using a broad conception of place, Julia noted the complex relationship between identity and Canada, as a colonial state: I feel like that’s [identity] a problem in Canada. We are constantly seeking out who am I really? It's hard being part of this nation whose identity is … set in a bunch of turmoil … it's like all these different experiences of the same kind of nation and … everyone has a different perspective on the situation. (CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16) Julia seems to have suggested that questions of identity may be inherent in a place with diverse people engaging with a colonial national history. Building on this idea, Jill noted how colonial influences in the place she was raised had distanced her from Indigenous perspectives. 126 “I grew up in Ontario and my experience with reconciliation was zero. My experience with First Nations people and information was zero and so I'm really at a beginning stage of my entry on this journey of learning …” (CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16). Importantly, Jill not only surfaced how her formative experiences had been shaped by colonial influences that effectively distanced her from Indigenous Peoples and cultures, but also used this experience as a way to invite ideas, teachings, and support from the CoI. Thus, participants seemed to acknowledge how place might impact their understanding of themselves within a colonial framework which they could then use to open decolonizing possibilities. Personal experiences of place also shaped how participants understood and addressed the purpose of our CoI. For example, findings suggested that participants saw schools as having a complex role in colonialism and decolonization. On one hand, they recognized that schools have and continue to serve as sites for Eurocentric values and ideas. As Anjeanette pointed out: when I think of teaching Indigenous students in the classroom, being one myself in this school district for my entire education. It's kind of ... strange coming back and actually working in the district and nothing has changed since I came to school here. And I realized ... that nothing's really changed for our kids in the materials, the expectations, because we're all pooled into this curriculum that's designed by Europeans. (CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25) Participants further suggested that schools, as a site for Eurocentric curriculum, continued to be associated with anger, disappointment, and feelings of marginalization (Setlakus, CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). These experiences may have shaped participants’ motivations and strategies for sharing their experiences and providing support for one another within the CoI. 127 At the same time, participants described how schools have sometimes helped Indigenous students reconnect with their culture. Setlakus explained how cultural education in schools could help overcome colonial policies that made cultural practices illegal: The dichotomy in me has seen some people learning about their culture in the school system because of what's going on at home, or … because parents, for safety reasons did not want their children to know about their culture. (CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25) Julia in particular, identified the importance of post-secondary schooling in helping her understand her identity and connection to the teachings of her Indigenous matriarchs (CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16). School sites thus evoked both the problems and potentials that lay within education system, which may have shaped how and why participants engaged in pedagogical discussions within the CoI. In addition, most participants continued to have ongoing relationships with school sites, which fostered diverse and dynamic, emotions or associations. Our CoI took place within schools, rotating between the different schools where participants worked. For some participants, like Tristan, this may have contributed to a feeling of security: … we're in a place of comfort for me … I feel like speaking about topics in education … they're so diverse and complex that I need a feeling of safety, if I'm going to address, especially things that … can be challenging and fumble my way through my responses ... (Initial Interview, 2017-01-27) At the same time, other participants suggested that schools might be alienating for some Indigenous students or even staff. In one instance, Anjeanette contrasted places to explain the attitudes she experienced with educators, and to illustrate how the students from the local Nation may experience a sense of marginalization in schools. 128 … we hosted the welcome back dinner in our … Longhouse this year and we had, like, 300 people there. District people and community. And then we hosted your [Tristan: staff] meeting down at [name] Longhouse in the kitchen as well … having all of the sessions in a [school] district building with some of the people that I work with, the attitudes and the manner are really uppity towards me. That that's the feeling that I get, so bringing them into our space … you can really see how it humbles them in our building and in our territory. Their manner and their attitudes change a lot. And I can imagine how the kids feel when things and events are hosted in our buildings, because it's their space. They feel comfortable and they feel safe there. (CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25) In response to these kinds of comments, that associated schools with colonial histories and relationships, I asked Anjeanette if we could hold our Phase 1 final meeting in a facility at the local Nation (CoI Mtg 7, 2017-05-09). To me, this was a way to directly apply the lessons Indigenous participants seemed to be offering about how decolonizing possibilities could be opened by locating activities in spaces that suggested positive associations with culture and community for Indigenous Peoples. In general, findings from this case study suggested that specific places, like schools, could evoke colonial histories and relationships, whereas places more closely associated with Indigenous Peoples may be more conducive to alternative possibilities. In sum, findings suggested that context was a key CoI structure in this study that brought people together across diverse experiences of culture and colonialism in support of Indigenous (and all) students. Specific features of the context including opportunities for co-constructing CoI structures and content, and participants’ diverse expertise and experiences helped create a 129 safe and supportive environment for participants motivated to explore decolonizing possibilities in education. Sensitivity to the past, present, and possible implications of place was also a key dimension of context that may have shaped participant engagement within the CoI. Communication: “…I felt people were understanding and they would have corrected me…” (Charlotte Brenner, Final Interview, 2017-07-05). In addition to facilitation and context, a third key quality that enabled the CoI’s work together was communication (see Figure 8). Findings indicated that within the CoI, participants used community-building communication, as Charlotte suggested in the comment above. Crucial for exploring decolonizing possibilities, participants were able to have honest discussions around sensitive issues by using supportive communications strategies, softening challenging ideas, and demonstrating vulnerability, even as participants also pushed back against ideas they found concerning. Supportive Communication: “it warms my heart that we’re here and that we're just talking” (Heather Myhre, CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31). My analysis of CoI meeting transcripts suggested that participants and the facilitator provided support and encouragement to one another in the ways we communicated. Sometimes this was done by validating or showing appreciation for what someone else said. For example, in one instance Susana talked about some of her questions around the work she was doing in the classroom. Setlakus responded, “I would say I like what you're doing, you're mindful, keep up the good work” (CoI Mtg 5-1, 2017-04-11). At other times, participants offered words of encouragement to one another, especially if a sense of unease was expressed (e.g., Spelexílh Anjeanette Dawson, CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28). Participants also demonstrated support and capacity building by bringing resources to CoI meetings (e.g., Setlakus brought books, ovoid shapes, activities, and resources published by her district) and brainstorming ideas for educators who were not sure how to handle a topic. For 130 example, at our last meeting Charlotte asked for ideas about how to honour Indigenous protocol and history during a salmon release. Other participants supported her with ideas such as calling the local band office or having students choose a poem or symbol from their own culture to send the salmon off in a good way (Post-CoI 10, 2018-04-04). Taken together, these specific communication devices worked to establish a warm and supportive CoI environment. Soft Talk: “being able to take a soft approach” (Julia, CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16). My analysis of meeting transcripts suggests that participants tended to frame potentially inflammatory ideas in a gentle way using devices like stories, metaphors, or humour to soften the impact of their comments and reduce the likelihood of defensive or confrontational responses. I labelled this communication as soft talk, based on the way participants characterized these kinds of exchanges (Julia, CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16). Findings suggest that the specific strategies they relied on most heavily were: speaking from their own perspectives, speaking with humility, or using outside resources to explain challenging ideas. These strategies seemed to focus our attention on ideas, removing personal judgement from the discussion. For example, Setlakus talked about her experiences in the education system, using several of these strategies: What experiences do I have with the education system, and maybe I'm dialing up the drama, is that I feel jaded. Because I don't want to sound rude, but there's white privilege, and I don't want to ... I don't like that word, don't like that word at all, but then there's marginalization, I don't like that word at all, [be]cause there needs to be ... I'm feeling jaded for some of the Aboriginal students that had potential, that had good IQs, but didn't make it through the system because they were held back because they were not deemed as meeting expectations as an automatic. See somehow I missed that resource room ... But there were some that were put in the resource room 131 because ... whatever! They were just as ... maybe even brighter than I was. I don't know how I missed that resource room ... So jaded is my experience. Or maybe there's a concert and First Nations don't get chosen. Is it because they have an accent? I don't know … Then maybe in some other school districts … some First Nations were the star of the play. (Setlakus, CoI Mtg 3-2, 2017-03-09) In this passage Setlakus emphasized her own experience in a general way without assigning blame. She used the term “white privilege” but clearly communicated her discomfort with the characterization and a sensitivity to other participants’ feelings. She then used questioning to demonstrate a sense of humility and to open the events to diverse interpretations. A bit later in the conversation, Setlakus referred to Thomas King’s (2007) “Not the Indian I Had in Mind” to further clarify her point about the detrimental effects of stereotyping Indigenous Peoples (CoI Mtg 3-2, 2017-03-09). In my analysis of CoI meeting transcripts, I found numerous examples of how participants used soft talk to maintain a positive CoI environment, focused on ideas. Vulnerability: “open and honest dialogue calls on everyone to be more vulnerable” (Tim Ireland, Final Interview, 2017-06-19). Through communication, the CoI became a space where participants could be vulnerable in how they shared personal and professional struggles or shortcomings, including experiences of marginalization or challenging emotions. For example, very early in our meetings participants were able to talk about areas where they felt they needed growth. Tristan commented: “I think my entry point into reconciliation was a feeling that I wasn’t there yet, I hadn’t had experience and exposure ...” (CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31). Participants also shared challenges to understanding their identity. For example, Julia talked about “growing up away from my culture, it was like ‘oh I'm just … I'm not really a part of anything …” (CoI 132 Mtg 2, 2017-02-16). These examples of vulnerability illustrate how participants opened space and created acceptance for growth and exploration of decolonizing possibilities. Importantly for our discussions, participants seemed to feel comfortable enough to share their own personal experiences of colonial policies and attitudes. For example, Anjeanette noted that within the district she sensed an attitude of superiority (CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28). Setlakus talked about how colonial legislation and policies disrupted her family and childhood, and how this followed her throughout her adult life: I come from an impoverished background and marginalization so … When I first started teaching I was nervous to become a teacher because I know in the curriculum [in] grade three you learn about communities and I don't come from that nuclear family … there's a lot of gaps in there. Whereas maybe I was … closer to my third cousins that seemed like first cousins and due to whatever the genocidal reasons and repercussions … And amongst all of that marginalization or that cultural attempted genocide is just to rise above because we all have to get an education. (CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27) These examples demonstrate the depth of vulnerability participants were willing to share, and that in many ways was needed, to enable discussions around decolonizing possibilities. Push-back: “I'm a little bit uncomfortable with that because it feels too blanketing” (Jill Blewman, CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). Findings seemed to suggest that participants were comfortable pushing-back against terminology or ideas presented within the CoI environment. Sometimes push-back was couched in soft talk, but it was often more direct, like Jill’s comment above. Analysis of meeting transcripts suggested that push-back often centred around 133 assumptions embedded in terminology, models of education and school-based practices, and the ideas and narratives surfaced by participants over the course of our discussions. This kind of push-back could be seen in how participants challenged assumptions about culture and how cultural exploration might be encouraged in schools. In one example, Susana pushed-back against assumptions around cultural associations with ethnicity: I was born in Hong Kong. I came here when I was 6 years old … I stopped speaking Chinese within six months of coming to Canada. While I was going to high school, I had a lot of fellow immigrants who came here when they were slightly older … And so they were much more identified as … being Chinese. I was a banana, I was a failed Chinese … I did not relate to being Chinese. In fact … I felt like I was facing so many labels that I refused to be seen as Chinese. Mostly because … the language and the culture were not being recognized really at home. I grew up on [Rosebud Street]. I ate more Italian than I did Chinese ... unfortunately I also associated my background [with] certain people's justification to abuse me … when I was younger. So I have a lot of resistance about 'this is your culture, and you must know it' … I don't feel like I have access or the right to everybody else's culture, but I'm not necessarily, solely ... or primarily even associate with my ethnicity and the culture that goes with it. (CoI Mtg 7, 2017-05-09) Setlakus similarly noted that Indigenous cultures and families have been heavily impacted by “genocidal” policies and therefore connections to culture for Indigenous people and students could not be assumed (CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27). In the discussion around cultural exploration through learning activities, participants surfaced the importance of working beyond colonial assumptions to support students across diverse experiences. 134 Participants pushed-back against other narratives, including those embedded in terms such as decolonization (Sophia, CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16), inclusion (Tristan Crowther and Jill Blewman, CoI Mtg 3-2, 2017-03-09), and reconciliation (CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31; CoI Mtg 9, 2017-01-24). They also challenged systems of education and school-based practices. For example, in one meeting Anjeanette challenged the allocation of district resources, which she saw as being too easily diverted from programs that supported Indigenous students (CoI Mtg 8, 2017-05-29). In these ways, participants used both direct and indirect communication methods to push the thinking of CoI members throughout our meetings, opening space for new ideas. In sum, the kinds of communication used in this CoI were critical to the way participants were able to come together to explore decolonizing possibilities and pedagogies. Participants established a warm and caring environment by using supportive communication strategies and soft talk, which reduced the potentially confrontational nature of discussions. In this setting, they were able to be vulnerable in honestly sharing ideas and experiences, and pushing back against ideas they found problematic. These strategies allowed participants to have some frank discussions across diverse professional roles, cultures, and personal histories. Goals: “I'm sure we all want the best for our kids” (Spelexílh Anjeanette Dawson, CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). As illustrated in Figure 8, goals were the final nurturing structure that enabled the work of the CoI in this study. My analysis of meeting transcripts showed how the CoI worked in a goal-directed manner. As mentioned earlier, goals within the CoI were co-constructed with the common purpose of supporting Indigenous (and all) students. Findings suggested that goals addressed within the CoI included personal and professional goals set by individuals, goals held in common with members of the CoI, and broader social goals related to 135 decolonization. Goals across these three areas also seemed to align for many participants, which seemed to give the CoI a strong sense of purpose. Personal and Professional Goals: “I own that I don't always know what to do with it all” (Jill Blewman, CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31). Participants had their own goals coming into the CoI, usually centred around learning, and/or personal reflection within a decolonizing journey. Jill’s remark illustrates how some participants were receptive to decolonizing possibilities but did not know how to make meaning from these ideas or translate them into practice. Many classroom teachers and school administrators focused their goals around authentic engagement with Indigenous Peoples, communities, and perspectives. Some identified learning or research as important to engagement (Tristan Crowther, Jill Blewman, Charlotte Brenner, CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31). Reflection was also seen as a key piece of authentic engagement (Tristan Crowther, Heather Myhre, CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31; Charlotte Final Interview, 2017-07-05). Jen summed up her goal for engaging with Indigenous perspectives: I think my goal was couple of things. So partly, partly come up with some ideas on how to myself authentically implement First Nations' perspectives, but also I think to come to an understanding as to where I am at in that process, and how much I'm comfortable implementing and where I still need help from other people. (Final Interview, 2017-06-19) People working in a teacher support role (e.g., District Indigenous Education Support Teacher) tended to focus their goals on building capacity, facilitating the decolonization process, or advocating for Indigenous students. For example, in her initial interview, Heather considered how she could continue to build capacity among teachers: “I'm always wanting to know more ways of being able to open the conversation in a safe environment for educators to ask questions 136 … [so they are able to grapple with uncomfortable truths before they can] move towards reconciliation for themselves” (Initial Interview, 2017-01-21). Across roles, participants’ personal and professional goals generally involved opening or optimizing decolonizing possibilities for themselves and their colleagues. Common Goals: “How can I re-frame my thinking?” (Setlakus, CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16). Participants’ interpretation of their common goals (see Figure 8) and purpose of supporting Indigenous (and all) students shaped how they engaged with the CoI, and what they discussed. Participants co-constructed an idea of what success might look like for Indigenous (and all) students to gain a sense of direction for their work. In addition, my analysis of meeting transcripts suggested that the way participants interpreted our co-constructed goals began to coalesce both around an examination of educators’ own thinking and learning, as suggested in Setlakus’s opening comment, and around how this examination might be supported for others. In this section, I discuss how participants’ engagement in the CoI was shaped by their interpretations of student success, and their interpretations of their common goals as including both internal development and external supports. Student Success. To better understand how the CoI’s goals would be addressed, participants required an understanding of what success might entail for Indigenous (and all) students. Anjeanette described how local Indigenous cultural values might see success as moving beyond the boundaries of achievement or grades (CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28). Diverse participants similarly supported this holistic view of success for all students (e.g., Jen Aragon and Tim Ireland, CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28). For example, participants talked about the importance of students having the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and ability to act and make meaning for themselves (Jen Aragon, CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28). They hoped that this broader development 137 would increase students’ employability (Spelexílh Anjeanette Dawson, CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25), and connections to community (Tim Ireland, CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28). They also discussed social-emotional aspects of success. For example, Anjeanette provided stories and examples that surfaced values of humility, generosity, gratitude (CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28), patience (CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27), interdependence (Initial Interview, 2017-03-03), and inclusivity (CoI Mtg 7, 2017-05-09). She and others noted the importance of humour, and loving relationships (Spelexílh Anjeanette Dawson, CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27; Tristan Crowther, CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). For example, she noted, “My teaching from my grandparents and my parents is everything is done with humour and it came from a place of love, and that's what they made sure to tell me, so that's what we tell the kids…” (CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28). Furthermore, participants like Susana hoped to help students “hold onto the empathy” and to become “curious and kind” (Post-CoI 10, 2018-04-04). In these ways, student success seemed to be defined in a holistic sense, with a lifespan view of success. Defining student success in this way, impacted how participants perceived the role of educators and the education system. For example, Anjeanette explained how this holistic view of success is related to teaching: I'm hoping that throughout the district that those teachers remember … that they're role models for kids as well: how to become … a good parent. Somebody … who eventually comes out of their schooling career like [name], he's a very humble, smart, gifted young man, and … he's not greedy. (Spelexílh Anjeanette Dawson, CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28) 138 With this holistic view of student success, the role of educators shifts as well. Participants’ conception of student success is fundamental to how they co-constructed a vision of education and the pedagogical practices that could support it. Internal Development and External Support. Analysis of meeting transcripts and interviews suggested that participants saw internal dimensions of educator development as important for supporting this holistic understanding of success. As can be seen through our goal 0, participants saw internal personal development as critical for teachers to build capacity for supporting Indigenous students. For example, in the first CoI meeting participants talked about the importance of examining their own beliefs and ideas, or addressing their own lack of knowledge (Tristan Crowther, Jill Blewman, CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31). Findings further suggested that participants perceived that educators may develop this capacity with support from external sources. For example, participants spoke about how they might support reflective engagement with friends and colleagues (Susana and Rachel, CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31; Susana, Post-CoI 10, 2018-04-04). These interpretations of student success and the CoI’s common goals may have shaped how participants considered possibilities for educational supports and practice. Societal Goals: “…to take our time, energy, and effort to reconcile” (Setlakus, Final Interview, 2017-06-13). In addition to personal and professional goals, and common goals related to student success, participants talked about a broad societal goal involves exploring decolonizing potentials. In particular, many of the protocols, discussions, and actions taken by participants within the CoI seemed to revolve around the goal of developing respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. In some ways, participants saw this larger societal goal as overwhelming in the context of historical and ongoing impacts of colonialism, and the rather modest role any one person might play in decolonization (Tristan 139 Crowther and Setlakus, CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). However, the idea of societal responsibility also lent a sense of gravity and importance to the work (Heather Myhre, Final Interview, 2017-06-24), and helped us think about the implications of supporting Indigenous (and all) students in ways that extended beyond the school walls. The title quote illustrates how participants seemed to gain motivation and enthusiasm for our work by linking back to societal implications. These societal goals helped participants step back from their own personal experiences, to consider larger systemic practices and how these might be (re)imagined to provide increased supports for educators and students. For example, Tristan suggested that the CoI think about how school structures might be transformed: I actually think it's a little bit bigger than [classroom practice], it’s the rules and routines and lessons. I wonder if structurally in schools if … we're going to go forward with courage and look at integration … where is the integration going to come from? Which model of systemic organization versus potentially different ways of teachings? And then … are we willing to work together to come to an understanding? (Tristan Crowther, CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31) Anjeanette thought of change within the education system in an even broader way. She noted that for Indigenous Peoples “it's not our curriculum, it's not our history, and it's not our way of teaching” (CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27). She pushed the CoI to consider how changes in curriculum, pedagogy, and teacher education could impact Indigenous (and all) students (CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27; CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). Participants thus opened generative possibilities within the CoI by extending their goals to include broader societal transformation. Integrated Goals. In many instances, participants’ personal/professional, common, and societal goals seemed to come together. In one of the previous examples, Heather talked about 140 her own goal of understanding the environments where teachers are able to learn and build their capacity in Indigenous education, so that she might provide further support and guidance for them. This individual goal connected with the CoI’s common goal of supporting student success by building capacity among colleagues, and also tied in with broad societal goals around exploring decolonizing potentials. Other participants also demonstrated links between individual, common, and societal goals (e.g., Jill Blewman, Initial Interview, 2017-01-06; Jen Aragon, Final Interview, 2017-06-19; Tristan Crowther, Initial Interview, 2017-01-27). Goal-directed activities and discussions within the CoI might have served participants’ interest and motivations at these different levels, deepening the commitment and connection to the work. Beyond these personal impacts, participants’ interpretations of their goals, and connections across dimensions, may have fundamentally shaped how the CoI (re)imagined education and pedagogical practices to support Indigenous (and all) students. Summary. Findings from this study suggest that the structures that were co-constructed within the CoI, including facilitation, context, communication, and goals, created a safe and positive environment which supported exploration of decolonizing possibilities. In the opening metaphor of the tree (Figure 8), soil can create ideal conditions for a tree to take root. Similarly, our CoI processes seemed to have created a space that shaped participant engagement. In the following section I look more closely at the kind of impact the CoI structures seemed to have on participants engagement in exploring decolonizing possibilities in support of Indigenous (and all) students. Impacts of CoI Structures: “What’s the bigger purpose?” (Jen Aragon, Final Interview, 2017-06-19) 141 My first research question asked not only about key CoI structures, but also about how people were able to come together in support of Indigenous (and all) students. Participants reported that the CoI structures described above shaped different kinds of engagement with our shared purpose. In the opening quote, Jen suggested that the CoI helped her to connect with larger ideas in education and decolonization. In Figure 8, this kind of engagement serves as the root of the tree, enabling growth and development. In this section I discuss how CoI structures opened generative spaces through participant engagement that included reflections, questions, realizations, and transformations. I then consider how participants saw the potential of their work limited in this study. Participant engagement: “… talk from [the] heart [about] what you witnessed today.” (Setlakus, Post-CoI 9, 2017-01-24). Findings from this study suggest that the quality of participant engagement was crucial in understanding how participants used CoI structures to create supports for Indigenous (and all) students. Setlakus’s discussion about the Coast Salish tradition of ‘witnessing’ (referenced in her statement above) seemed to mirror how participants engaged with the co-constructed CoI structures to meaningfully address our shared purpose. In this section I describe how participants identified growing from their involvement with CoI structures, specifically, how participants used CoI structures to facilitate overlapping and cumulative forms of engagement including reflections, questions, realizations, and transformation. Reflections: “Who am I and what is my role?” (Charlotte Brenner, Final Interview, 2017-07-05). According to my analysis of meeting transcripts and final interviews, almost all participants demonstrated some evidence of reflecting on their own identity and/or teaching practices as a result of engaging with CoI structures (as suggested in Charlotte’s opening 142 quotation). This finding may not be surprising, given that self-examination constituted one of the goals of the CoI. As described by Jen, this process of reflecting seemed to help participants orient themselves in decolonization and re-connect with their own ideals: I think the whole process, the reflection process like I mentioned before, really helped me in terms of figuring out where I am in that [decolonization] journey, and where I want to go from here. In terms of deepening understanding of education ... I've found that part really interesting, actually talking about philosophy of education because it's something that you study at university but you don't necessarily always come back to it consistently as a teacher, I think we get so busy that we forget why we're here... so having the time to really consciously think about that, I found really, really valuable. (Jen Aragon, Final Interview, 2017-06-19) These findings suggest that the CoI provided space for participants to step back from everyday practice to reflect on how their daily activities related to the broader social context. As such, reflection may have been a foundational form of engagement that some participants used as a basis for questions, realizations, or transformation. Questioning: “Why am I doing this?” (Tristan Crowther, CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). Based on the evidence from CoI meeting transcripts, participants typically used CoI structures to ask questions to gather information, offer critique or prompt thinking, or grapple with ideas (as in the opening quotation). Many participants asked questions to help them learn about new ideas or diverse experiences. For example, some participants asked about key concepts like decolonization (Jill Blewman and Tristan Crowther, CoI Mtg 1, 2017-01-31) or about pedagogical approaches taken by schools (such as the International Baccalaureate program; Spelexílh Anjeanette Dawson, CoI Mtg 3-1, 2017-02-28). By deepening their learning about 143 diverse ideas and experiences with the educational system, participants were able to support one another to develop key understandings that could move their work forward. Findings suggested that participants also seemed to pose questions to prompt thinking or offer critiques around an idea or system. For example, Anjeanette posed a question that built on a request for information, to provoke deeper thought and offer critique about a specific aspect of the education system: ... becoming a teacher, I don't know what that looks like, but I think that has to be addressed too … what are the guiding principles of being a teacher? Especially if you're going to go teach in a community where there's a high number of Aboriginal students, because I think it's very different. (CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). These kinds of questions seemed to have the effect of focusing discussion around areas that might hold promise for improving educational contexts for Indigenous (and all) students. Participants sometimes phrased critiques phrased as questions to introduce a new idea or perspective that could open possibilities for thought and reflection. For example, after reviewing the ideas arising from a previous meeting Setlakus asked: “open heartedness, does that include broken hearts or disenfranchised hearts [?]” (CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27). Here Setlakus pushed participants to extend their consideration of diverse perspectives. These kinds of questions did not have immediate answers but helped participants reflect on their own thoughts and practices. Other times participants seemed to ask questions that showed how they might be grappling with new ideas. My analysis of CoI meeting transcripts suggested that these kinds of questions seemed to invite other participants into the process of thinking through new perspectives. For example, Susana asked questions around her own role in colonial systems: 144 ... I'm a Chinese immigrant. For me, when I think about the experiences I had with the education system as a new immigrant child … it was the one place where I belonged … it was where I could figure out my identity. But I wonder ... what privileges I might have gotten could've been at your expense, or assumptions, right? … And you know, being an Asian immigrant ... was I given the benefit of the doubt when others don't get that fair shake? ... (CoI Mtg 3-2, 2017-03-09) This passage demonstrates how some kinds of questioning that occurred within the CoI might have signaled the deep reflection that opens people to substantive changes in their thinking. Furthermore, asking this kind of question in the context of the CoI provided opportunities for other participants to support or provide input into that journey as well. However, all the various types of questions participants asked seemed to impact their beliefs and prompt new thinking about how Indigenous (and all) students might be, or are being, supported in schools. Realizing: “My mind is being blown and … I just want to understand.” (Susana, CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27). Our CoI structures sometimes seemed to open participants to explicit acknowledgment of a new understanding or perspective, as Susana suggested in the passage above. In Susana’s case, participants were talking about local Indigenous history that was not commonly known. The moment was not about a transformation in her thought, per se, but about making an important realization that something was missing from her background knowledge. Findings suggest two main kinds of realizations, including those that demonstrated an increased awareness around the experience of other people; and self-reflective realizations where people came to a deeper awareness and understanding about themselves. My analysis of CoI meeting transcripts suggested that several participants came to new realizations about the experiences of other people. For example, in CoI Meeting 3-1 Anjeanette 145 explicitly talked about her own experiences with the education system (2017-02-28). Sharing these experiences prompted Tim to grapple with the implications of cultural differences in a more personal way. In this passage, Tim worked through the realizations he was making: … [I]n our school we have a variety of different cultures at play, and so ... I don't ... I really don't ... I don't think it's a ... I don't know if it's the school district's job, or even the school district probably doesn't even have the capacity to pass on the cultural teachings from a culture that is not ... uh ... that is not our own … And I say 'our own' with some ... concern in my voice because it's also … something else you said … that stuck out to me was 'someone else teaching our children'' ... And that really gave me new awareness. Like I understand the difference of culture, but now that really hit it home for me. Like oh yeah ... that would be difficult to send your culture's children to another culture. In an ideal world, our... well I don't know I'm... quite flummoxed by it all. (CoI Mtg 4, 2017-03-27). In this passage, Tim identified how he came to a new awareness as he thought through other people’s experiences with the educational system. Here, CoI structures seemed to open the possibility for new realizations prompted by sharing across diverse experiences. Several participants also made realizations about themselves or their thinking. For example, looking at Indigenous educational frameworks helped Charlotte see that a spiritual component might be missing from the frameworks she frequently used (CoI Mtg 5-2, 2017-04-12). Susana connected one of the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning to a news item and her own personal growth in patience (CoI Mtg 5-1, 2017-04-11). Anjeanette mused that community events hosted by the local Nation might also be expanded to include teachers from the nearby district school (CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). These findings suggest that participants may have come to new 146 realizations that opened up decolonizing potential in thought or action, but at that point there was no evidence to suggest an actual change had occurred. In sum, the realizations participants came to, both about the experiences of other people, and about themselves and their own practices, may have supported and motivated continued learning and exploration. These kinds of realizations seemed to foster expanded thoughts and ideas for members of the CoI as they came together in support of Indigenous (and all) students. Transforming: “It, in fact, changed my practice. Just that conversation.” (Tim Ireland, Final Interview, 2017-06-19). My analysis of final interviews and CoI meetings suggests that CoI structures may have opened participants to transformation that included identified changes in thinking or practice, as Tim described in his final interview above. In his case, Tim made a direct link between his realization about Indigenous experiences of education and changes in his day to day practice and relationships. Based on transcripts and interview notes, my analysis found that participants’ engagement with CoI structures resulted in both interpersonal and intrapersonal transformations. Interpersonal transformations focused on relationships, potential shifts in teaching practice, and enacting a sense of responsibility. In the example above, Tim explained, “[Anjeanette] was talking a lot about how she didn't feel welcome. It just really opened my eyes and … so I tried to make sure she feels welcome, and we've just had many members of the [local Nations] up here for our Aboriginal Day ... and so with that in mind I think I was more welcoming than I would've been…” (Tim Ireland, Final Interview, 2017-06-19). In this way, the CoI seemed to shift how Tim related to Indigenous community members and personnel in schools. In another example, Tristan discussed how the CoI gave him the opportunity to express his interest in working more closely with the local Nation. Shortly after the CoI meetings ended, Tristan told me he had 147 already received some invitations and had begun participating in an administrators’ group around Indigenous education (Final Interview, 2017-06-09). CoI structures seemed to create opportunities to transform relationships between educators and local Indigenous communities in a positive way. In addition, several educators identified a shift in their pedagogical orientation and sense of responsibility which may have impacted their interpersonal relationships with Indigenous (and all) students, families, colleagues, and community members. For example, Susana (Final Interview, 2017-07-04), Jill (Final Interview, 2017-07-07), Jen (Final Interview, 2017-06-19), and Charlotte (Post-CoI 10, 2018-04-04) all expressed an increased feeling of confidence in their ability to teach Indigenous content. Susana explained: “It’s not about having the ‘right thought’, but about being in balance to implement, and working in relationship” (Final Interview, 2017-07-04). Charlotte paired her learning with an increased sense of responsibility: “I guess you know more now, so you think yeah, you have to take on more responsibility because you do know more now” (Final Interview, 2017-07-05). These shifts in thinking had the potential to create substantive changes in how participants related to students in their classrooms. Intrapersonal transformations are also critical to bringing to life decolonizing possibilities. Several participants recognized how they built from realizations to embrace changes in their beliefs or in the ways they understood themselves. For example, in the final interview, Tristan talked about changes in how he understood Indigenous students’ needs in relation to other diverse students: I had a shift where I do also have to really honour not just diversity but there is this significant equality and equity discussion, with how we work with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people in Canada, and I think that shift occurred in the CoI. Now 148 I've always honoured and thought about it, but I haven't really thought about the depth of inequality and we start looking at the research like you encouraged me to do in the second month or something … and I said Ok, so it was a shift for me there. My idea of diversity is still who I am, but now I have that other little lens… (Final Interview, 2017-06-09) Beyond educational beliefs, some participants identified how comments and discussions within the CoI fundamentally opened the way they see themselves and their interactions with the world. Setlakus discussed the impact that one of Anjeanette’s comments had on her own journey and understandings of herself: … I was thinking of your comment … about 2-3 weeks ago … I'm reframing myself now … you said, 'if you're doing wrong in my community, SOME community members will look at what you're doing wrong' and I think that's the place I came from. So when I first started teaching 'Oh, you're spelling it wrong, school [it] isn't s-k-o-o-l, it should be c-h' and I'm getting all angry … I was thinking 'you're doing it wrong', like, ready to defend myself … [now I’m] just trying to create that space in my heart to accept [it] for what it is. And maybe that's my own internal guiding principle. So can a guiding principle be … what do we have inside? (CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). Setlakus seemed to have thought about herself in relation to Anjeanette’s comment. It is possible that she took Anjeanette’s comment as a teaching that helped cultivate patience and acceptance across contexts. Summary. Findings suggest that the structures enacted within the CoI opened decolonizing possibilities and enabled considerable personal and professional growth and transformation. CoI 149 structures supported participants to reflect on their foundational values and understandings. The CoI provided participants with a context where they could ask questions to become more informed about diverse experiences, offer critique or prompt deeper thinking, and grapple with new ideas. Participants made important realizations about other people and themselves. Sometimes participants built on these realizations to transform their interpersonal relationships and intrapersonal beliefs and orientations to the world. These impacts suggest that members of the CoI were well positioned to take up some of the shifts in thinking and practice encouraged as the content of our discussions. Limitations: “…there’s only so much we can do …” (Setlakus, CoI Mtg 5-1, 2017-04-11). Just as the CoI structures afforded opportunities for transformation and growth, my analysis of final interviews and transcripts also suggested potential limitations. In the opening quotation Setlakus suggested that the work of the CoI mirrored her own challenges in working with some teachers. She and other participants recognized that there were limitations as to what may be widely achieved through the CoI structures. In addition to these challenges, participants further identified limitations inherent in our CoI structures around diversity and logistics. Participants talked about the limited ability of the CoI to provide support for broader engagement with a greater number of people. In particular, participants expressed a desire for more teachers to attend meetings (Susana, Final Interview, 2017-07-04; Jen Aragon, Final Interview, 2017-06-19; Jill Blewman, Final Interview, 2017-07-07). Participants thought that greater involvement by educators in diverse roles may have enriched our discussions (Susana, Final Interview, 2017-07-04). Jill suggested future iterations might attempt to align a CoI with district professional development to encourage the participation of more teachers (Final Interview, 2017-07-07). However, by the same token, participants like Susana recognized that a 150 greater number of participants would likely mean less opportunities for individuals to deeply engage with decolonizing opportunities (Final Interview, 2017-07-04). Creative or diverse groupings may be needed to support both the desire for greater participation and small groups. The CoI had planned for additional educators to engage with the principles and practices emerging from discussions though a website (Post-CoI 9, 2018-01-24; Post-CoI 10, 2018-04-04), however; they recognized that this online platform might limit the opportunities for deep reflection and authentic engagement with diverse perspectives. Participants were specifically concerned that people might take up principles and practices from this study in a superficial or tokenistic way (Sophia, Final Interview, 2017-06-14; Susana, Post-CoI 10, 2018-04-04), or that people might not engage with the work because they felt judged or criticized (Tristan Crowther, Final Interview, 2017-06-09; Setlakus, CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25). To address these concerns, participants offered several ideas to “empower teachers” (Setlakus, CoI Mtg 6, 2017-04-25), such as positioning our ideas as building on the good work that teachers are already doing (Tristan Crowther, Final Interview, 2017-06-09), or strategically structuring our final product to prompt open-heartedness before people engage with structures and resources (Susana, Post-CoI 10, 2018-04-04). In this way, we aimed to mirror some of the CoI structures that had been important for our work together. Participants also noted that CoI structures were limited in accommodating greater diversity, recognizing that narrowed diversity limited the transformative potential of working across communities (Tim Ireland, Final Interview, 2017-06-19; Heather Myhre, Final Interview, 2017-06-24; Jill Blewman, Final Interview, 2017-07-07). In particular, Charlotte noted some voices were missing: “… I think parents' voice[s], and I think children's and students' voices, especially given the topic … need to be heard and incorporated … This, in a way, seems top-down to 151 me ...” (Final Interview, 2017-07-05). However, participants also acknowledged how greater diversity would have changed the nature of discussions. Like Charlotte, Tim appreciated the diversity in the CoI, but talked about the tension that could accompany greater diversity: “It's harder to be vulnerable in a mixed group … because it's harder to make... the space safe for true dialogue, when we're too worried about our roles and less worried about connection” (Tim Ireland, Final Interview, 2017-06-19). Other participants thought about experimenting with large and small group formats to build from diversity and challenge thinking, while providing space for people to apply new ideas more directly to their own contexts (e.g., Sophia, Final Interview, 2017-06-14; Heather Myhre, Final Interview, 2017-06-24). Overall, although diversity was a key part of the CoI structures discussed above, participants felt it did not extend far enough. Participants also discussed some limitations around the logistical facilitation of the CoI meetings. Several of the participants had a considerable commute, or had competing schedules or commitments that prevented them from attending more often (e.g., Tim Ireland, Final Interview, 2017-06-19; Charlotte Brenner, Final Interview, 2017-07-04; Sophia, Final Interview, 2017-06-14). Some of these logistical concerns may have been connected to limitations related to greater and more diverse participation. Taken together, the limitations that arose from the CoI structures likely played a substantive role in shaping the kind of conversations we had within the CoI, and how we were able to engage with one another. Summary: “The dialogue was helpful” (Jill Blewman, Final Interview, 2017-07-07). The first research question asked, how can a CoI provide a context for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come together in support of Indigenous (and all) students. Jill’s quotation suggests CoI structures around facilitation, context, communication, and goals contributed to the decolonizing potential of our discussions, affording opportunities for reflection, questions, 152 realizations, and transformation, even given the embedded limitations of the CoI structures. Using co-constructed processes within the CoI provided a nurturing context where participants could speak openly and honestly about experiences and perspectives across roles and communities. In thinking back to the tree analogy (Figure 8), the CoI structures, or the soil bed, and the roots, or the impacts, seemed to facilitate the growth of the tree, or in the case of the CoI, seemed to enable participants to share and work with sensitive content that was key for exploration of decolonizing possibilities and growth. 153 Chapter 5: Content Enabled “… always juggling between what is cultural appropriation, what is appreciation, what is current curriculum?” (Setlakus, Post-CoI Mtg 10, 2018-04-04) I now present findings for research question number two, which asked about the content of discussions enabled by CoI structures. As described in abductive approaches (Tavory & Timmermans, 2014), I changed this question in response to the way research unfolded. Initially, I had thought that participants would co-construct CoI structures, which they could simply use to create principles and practices. However, to fully understand how participants used the CoI to create principles and practices, I first needed to consider the kind of conversational content that was enabled by CoI structures. Like the tree in Figure 11, the CoI structures required a strong Figure 11. Growing Principles and Practices to Support Indigenous (and all) Students: Content Enabled. 154 and secure foundation in shared understandings and imagination to ground the purpose and function of principles and practices. Thus, I added a research question focused on content enabled through our work in the CoI. Setlakus’s quotation at the beginning of this chapter suggests the kinds of complex topics that needed to be addressed prior to building pedagogy. In the following sections, I discuss the grounding content illustrated in Figure 11, which included (from the bottom up) a co-constructed truth, identity narratives, trickster narratives, respectful relationships, and a common vision. Co-constructed Truth: “truth in itself is a gift” (Susana, citing Simone de Beauvoir, CoI Mtg 2, 2017-02-16). My findings suggested that, in this CoI, developing a co-constructed truth was foundational to all other content, so I have placed it at the base of the tree trunk in Figure 11. In the title quote, Susana set a positive orientation to hearing other people’s truths. She acknowledged the power of truth to challenge and change unjust paradigms, and the privilege of being in a position to do so. For the purposes of this analysis, the conception of truth was built both from literature (e.g., Newhouse, 2018), and from participants’ perspectives. Julia articulated the following notion of truth in her initial interview: There's an amazing word in ... Ojibwe ... it's debwewin … it's the word for truth ... when they did the etymology of it they were asking Elders to explain what does this word actually mean. And so they were explaining it like, ‘oh well if you were casting your knowledge net as far as you could in every direction, whatever you're able to gather is your truth’. And then their person said it's what's in your heart ... Everyone has their own truth… (Initial Interview, 2017-01-31) 155 In this section I discuss how participants shared their diverse perspectives to co-construct a shared truth about diverse experiences in and with the education system. I open this discussion on co-constructed truth with an extended narrative Anjeanette shared about two Indigenous siblings’ distinct experiences with the education system. Her narrative highlighted how diverse Indigenous students might experience the Western educational system differently, and the very profound effects these experiences can have on students and families. I have arranged the narrative as a poem, which allowed me to draw out salient pieces of her story, while enabling me to better anonymize the students discussed in the story through the more concise structure. All names and schools are pseudonyms. “Kara came here [to this school] … she gravitated to … all her first cousins … And then, she had a couple of close non-Native friends here, moved on to John Henry High School with them, and kept the same circle there … [they] were academic[ally] oriented, that was their path … and they brought her along … She became score keeper, cheerleader, everything. She was invited to all of their banquets … She had a really successful schooling … And she got into grade 11 and she looked after everything initiated everything … It was smooth sailing for her to graduate. B
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Collaborating across communities to co-construct supports for Indigenous (and all) students Yee, Nikki Lynne 2020
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