Indigenous Learning Circle Fall 2016

Part I: Creating a Sense of Belonging for Students - Indigenous Perspectives to Enrich Teaching and Learning in the Classroom

If you are interested in joining us in a future Indigenous Circle, please stay tuned for announcements of our next offerings of these kinds of events.

This is information from Fall 2016 group including invitation and readings for each week's circle.


This series revolves around a Learning Circle that will include Elders, Aboriginal students and VIU teaching faculty and support staff who will provide their insights and suggestions for creating an inclusive learning environment based on a related Indigenous reading for each meeting.

Between each Learning Circle meeting, faculty will be asked to apply suggestions to their own classroom teaching, critically reflect on that experience and share out at the next session. The Learning Circle will take place from September until November, meeting five times on Tuesdays at the Nanaimo campus. Participation in all sessions is encouraged to build a sense of community and a shared experience.

Registration: Please complete a short background survey to gather your interest and learn more about you and your classroom. Completion of the survey will help us plan the Learning Circle. 

Intended Audience: This professional learning opportunity is intended for VIU campus community members who teach a class or regularly have access to a group of students in the next semester. This group may include but is not limited to: teaching faculty members, student services staff, sessional instructors, contract teaching members, administrators etc.
Maximum Number of Participants: 12

Expectations: This learning opportunity requires participants to undertake some modest reading assignments before each scheduled meeting, come to a session to discuss the reading and leave with actions and strategies to be applied in the classroom in the weeks between sessions. Then the following session would require participants to share their experiences in implementing new actions and strategies and report back to the group on what they learned.

Participants must be able to attend all five (5) sessions from 3:30 – 5:30 pm throughout the semester. Food is provided as it is part of the shared learning experience.

Readings to be Prepared for Circle 1

  • Reading 1: Garrod, A., & Larimore, C. (1997). First person, first peoples: Native American college graduates tell their life stories. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Chapter 1: Refuse to Kneel (PDF)
  • Reading 2: Battiste, M. A., & Barman, J. (1995). First nations education in Canada: The circle unfolds. Vancouver: UBC Press. Chapter 1: Towards a Redefinition of Indian Education (PDF)

Readings + Homework to be Prepared for Circle 2

  • Homework: Try 2 of following ideas in class (1) Rethink the Learning Space; (2) Give Students Agency and Responsibility and (3) Make Community (see email or handout for more details)
  • Reading 1: Howard, A., & Widdowson, F. (2013). Approaches to Aboriginal education in Canada: Searching for solutions. Edmonton, AB: Brush Education. Chapter 12: Retention of Aboriginal Students in Post-Secondary Education (PDF)
  • Reading 2: Friesen, J. W. Lyons Friesen, V. (2002), Aboriginal education in Canada: A plea for integration, Calgary, AB: Detselig Enterprises. Chapter 3: Traditional Aboriginal Philosophy (PDF)

Readings + Homework to be Prepared for Circle 3

  • Homework: Try 1 or 2 of following ideas in class, including one NEW ONE - (1) Learning Through Storytelling (2) Rethink the Learning Space; (3) Give Students Agency and Responsibility, (4) Make Community (see email for more details)
  • Reading 1: Goulet, L.M., & Goulet, K.N. (2014). Teaching each other: Nehinuw concepts & Indigenous pedagogies. Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press. Chapter 4: How to Get There - Conceptualizing Effective Teaching (PDF)
  • Reading 2: Goulet, L.M., & Goulet, K.N. (2014). Teaching each other: Nehinuw concepts & Indigenous pedagogies. Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press.Chapter 7: Iseechigehina, Planned Actions - Connection to Process (PDF)
  • The focus this week is on practical elements. The two chapters share characteristics and strategies that have been researched to be effective in building a more inclusive classroom. Try another strategy from the list (storytelling has been added!) and be prepared to discuss what you tried, along with what you learned in the chapters.

Readings + Homework to be Prepared for Circle 4

  • Reading 1: Friesen, J. W. Lyons Friesen, V. (2002), Aboriginal Education in Canada: A plea for integration, Calgary, AB: Detselig Enterprises. (Traditional Aboriginal Pedagogy – Chapter 4)
  • Reading 2: Hogue, M. M. (2012). Interconnecting Aboriginal and western paradigms in post-secondary Science Education: An action research approach. Journal of Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 10 (1), pp. 77 – 108.  (PDF)
  • VIDEO: The Danger of a Single Story (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) - TED Talk (18 minutes). Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice - and warns that if few hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. Video Link

Homework to be Prepared for Circle 5

  • Review the readings to date.  Reflect on what you’ve learned from the readings, the discussions with other participants in the Circle and your own experiments. Be prepared to summarize your learning from our Fall Indigenous Learning Circle (for discussion within the group).

Compose a Written Reflection

  1. Summarize your learning gained through participating in this Learning Circle. What ‘impact’ has this circle had on you as an educator and on your practice supporting student learning? (e.g., What are your big take-aways, key lessons, most memorable learning experiences, most significant reflections?)

  2. What are the ‘next steps’ for your practice? (What are you going to do with this new learning? What will you do in your class the rest of this term? What are you going to do differently/change for next term? How will you be building agency and responsibility with your students? Will you incorporate storytelling? How about rethinking the learning space? What will you be doing around building greater community in your classrooms?)

  3. Lastly, we’d like to know what is next in terms of your professional learning journey in terms of incorporating and adjusting your teaching and learning practices? What sorts of supports would you like to continue your work and journey in this area? Should we continue this Indigenous Learning Circle in the Spring with the same people (a ‘continuation’) or should we create a new circle with a mixture of new and existing members? Do you want to continue with another circle? What are your thoughts?