Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Exploring the Work of Catalyst Leadership Teams

This past weekend I was in Saskatoon for board meetings of The Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research into Teaching as well as their annual conference, Learning From Practice. I have been on the board for just under a year now, and am very excited about the restructuring and rebranding process we are undergoing.

The first session I attended was the round table for new and potential McDowell Researchers. It's been over ten years since I began my own research relationship with the McDowell Foundation. I was very excited to listen in on this session, facilitated by Deborah Rodgers, who works as a research consultant with the McDowell Foundation. She had each person in the session explain what they are researching, encouraging everyone from Outdoor Educators to French Language Instructors to Treaty Catalyst Teachers.

I fell into deep conversation with Sylvia immediately after the session ended. She had just wrapped up her thesis, examining Treaty Implementation. She shared her own journey, stories from her mom and dad, and listened enthusiastically to my experiences. Her research colleague from the U of S, Michael Cottrell, joined us later. After some more thought provoking exchange, he invited me to join their research project.

Consent Letter
To Whom It May Concern,
                        I have been selected to participate in a Stirling McDowell Foundation research project. Brandon Needham (Yorkton Regional High School) and Michael Cottrell (U of S) are conducting research titled “Creating a Culturally Responsive Learning Program That Benefits All Learners: Exploring the Work of Catalyst Leadership Teams.” The goal of the inquiry is to deepen understanding of culturally responsive education in the Saskatchewan context through analysis of enacted curriculum. The inquiry will be guided by the following overarching research question: What practices and initiatives created by Catalyst Leadership Teams best facilitate positive learning outcomes for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students in Saskatchewan schools?
                         The Stirling McDowell foundation asks that each researcher gain the permission of their director and their principal before they can be considered participants in the research. I feel this research will not only impact the division’s work around closing the gap for our Aboriginal students but the work of many others. 
(As of today, both my principal and director have signed this document. I'm in!!!)
                         Just as I was leaving the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation office where the conference was taking place, I saw a man who I'd seen visiting with other members of my new research team. I introduced myself, and learned that he is Terry Pelletier from Cowessess First Nation and is a participant in the research team as well. With a little more visiting, we figured out that I actually have a picture of him in my classroom.

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