[00:00:05] Kate Winn: Hello to all you travelers out there on the road to evidence-based literacy instruction. I'm Kate Winn, classroom teacher and host of IDA Ontario's podcast Reading Road Trip. Welcome to the show. We are so excited to be bringing you episode three of our second season.
Before we get started, we would like to acknowledge that we are recording this podcast from the traditional land of the Mississauga Anishinaabe. We are grateful to live here and thank the generations of First Nations people for their care for and teachings about the earth. We also recognize the contributions of Métis, Inuit, and other Indigenous peoples in shaping our community and country.
Along with this acknowledgement, and in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we'd like to amplify the work of an Indigenous author, and this week we are sharing, specially recommended by today's guest, I might add, Biindigen! Amik Says Welcome by Nancy Cooper, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley.
It's a special day for Amik the beaver and her little sister, Nishiime. Their cousins are coming to visit. Amik is excited, but Nishiime feels nervous about meeting new people, and when the cousins finally arrive, Nishiime disappears. Lively, immersive illustrations show Amik and her cousins as they search the woods for Nishiime. Each creature they encounter, introduced to readers using their Anishinaabe names, reveals how beavers help the forest community. A fish thanks them for digging canals in the mud that they swim through. A deer thanks the beavers for cutting down trees so they can reach the tastiest leaves. None of the creatures have seen Nishiime, but keen-eyed kids will have spotted her hiding in the background throughout the story. Eventually, Nishiime returns to the group, having overcome her shyness by learning an important lesson. Despite being from different places, the beavers are all united by the ways they support the forest ecosystem. With a perfect blend of fact and fun, this salute to the industrious beaver is also an energetic celebration of Indigenous perspectives, languages, and diversity. Add this book to your home or classroom library today. And now, on with the show.
[00:02:17] Kate Winn: I am so excited to introduce our guest this week on Reading Road Trip. In her 25 years in education, Catherine Shawana, a member of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, upholds her commitment to First Nations education in her current role as a curriculum lead teacher at Lloyd S. King Elementary School on the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Her teaching and learning adventures include experiences in the primary, junior, and intermediate divisions, including a role as a teacher librarian. She recently completed her master's of professional education in the field of curriculum and pedagogy at the University of Western Ontario. Her passions are rooted in the foundation of building Anishnawbek identity and establishing a connection to Indigenous ways of knowing, doing and being. She believes this strength-based identity work is necessary for all students to develop a positive sense of identity and to understand. We all have a community of stories waiting to be told and heard. Welcome to the show, Catherine Shawana!
[00:03:12] Catherine Shawana: Thank you, miigwetch, for having me.
[00:03:16] Kate Winn: So before we dig into the questions, I think we met, by the time this airs, it'll be a little more than a year ago. Could you just let listeners know how we first got to know each other?
[00:03:25] Catherine Shawana: For sure. So. Well, Kate, I became familiar with you before you became familiar with me. So I was partaking in the IDA Ontario, becoming a literacy lead leader from the IDA webinars. So that's where I became familiar with the work that yourself and Nellie and Leigh were working on with regards to implementing screeners within your classrooms. So that's where I was kind of introduced to some of the work that you were doing then. It wasn't too long after that, a couple of months later, where a colleague of mine, both of us, attended the Western New York Science of Reading conference in Buffalo. And when we walked into that space, I kind of elbowed her and I said, there's Kate Winn. And she says, who's Kate Winn? And I said, oh, I'm part of this series from IDA Ontario. And it's so funny. And I said, I think we should sit with her. And it's interesting how the passion with the science of reading work really kind of brings out like, I would think of myself as quite a quiet and shy person, but you just become so passionate with the conversations surrounding this great direction that we're heading in terms of literacy. And I just went and sat at your table and I just sat beside you. And I think it took maybe to the break for me to kind of introduce myself, but then we just kind of shared where we were from and we met from there. We connected a few times after that with regards to some emails just sending back and if I had any questions with regards to supporting that implementation of screeners into our classroom settings, and you were very helpful with that.
And then, so that's kind of where we started.
We furthered that connection. Then when I saw you at the Literacy & Learning conference in Toronto, and then after that as a member of the ONlit team, so we kind of kept connecting throughout various avenues. Our paths were meeting.
[00:05:38] Kate Winn: Well, I was thrilled when you and your colleagues sat down with me too. Because we were in New York, right. And the fact that, oh, some of the people from Ontario, it was just kind of nice to bond. And I was also celebrating, if you celebrate such, my second cancer-versary that day. And I remember asking you to get a picture of me because I didn't know anybody else there to take a photo. I said, well, you can take a picture of me with the backdrop for the conference so I can have this to kind of post and commemorate and whatever. So we bonded over as well. But it's been wonderful getting to know you, and I'm thrilled you agreed to be on the podcast this week because there's so much we can learn from you. I'm so interested in your experiences.
Before we get into kind of me asking you questions, I do just want to frame for listeners who may or may not be aware. So we use the term Indigenous. I understand it is still an acceptable term. However, people tend to use it sort of all-encompassing to include First Nations, Métis, Inuit peoples. And I understand as well that people would prefer to sort of be referred to by those specific groups as opposed to the broad Indigenous label. But we just kind of wanted to mention the term Indigenous because people might be thinking, oh, this is about First Nations in Ontario. This doesn't apply to me. I'm going to skip this episode. And I think people may not realize, certainly across Canada and even in other countries, Native American people, anywhere where there has been colonization or settlers. Right. You might have some similar kind of situations going on. So I think it is important to acknowledge how that might be worldwide, really in different areas.
And I do want to ask you. So I know here in Ontario, like in all the provinces in Canada, the publicly funded education systems are provincial. So it's kind of like taxpayer money. And then it's run by Ministry of Education, sort of overseen by the government of the province. But I am almost embarrassed to say that until meeting you, I have been quite ignorant about how actually First Nations schools work and sort of the funding and oversight and how that piece kind of all fits in. So would you mind explaining that a little bit, please?
[00:07:36] Catherine Shawana: Sure. I am a classroom teacher, curriculum lead teacher. So this kind of goes into the area of the politics around First Nations education. And I may not be the best person to share this info. I'm not a director of education by any means, but I can give you definitely a little bit of insight. So as we know, we have levels of government and dating back to original jurisdiction, I guess you would say, over First Nations peoples and lands, that generally falls under the federal government. They have an overall responsibility. Even though that education is primarily provincial, we still have that inherent right to self-determination, but that jurisdiction over our livelihood generally is a federal responsibility. So communities are at different levels within that capacity. So even though all schools fall under that federal direction, for example, the school that I currently work at, Lloyd S. King Elementary, we are federally funded, but we are First Nation-operated school, if that makes sense. So with regards to Ontario, the province of Ontario, you're right; they have a jurisdiction of education. So that's where we can kind of see there's a little bit of a gap there because those responsibilities are originally then separated from the provincial responsibility, and it becomes a federal jurisdiction area.
[00:09:06] Kate Winn: Okay, thank you. Here in Ontario, back in February of 2022, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released their Right to Read report. And we've talked about that a lot here on the show. It's had a big impact on literacy education in Ontario. And I thought it was interesting in that report. I mean, right from recommendation number one, one through 26 were recommendations around the education of First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners. And I just wanted to touch on that because they talk in that report about some unique challenges and barriers that First Nations students as well as Métis and Inuit may face in terms of education. And I could just read some off the page, but I'm wondering if you could sort of describe compared to, there are certain kids from other marginalized groups and things like that throughout the province that may struggle for different reasons, but how do you see sort of that First Nations, Métis and Inuit piece fitting in?
[00:09:59] Catherine Shawana: So, first of all, I remember when that Right to Read report was released. I remember sitting at my desk and listening to the unveiling of that. And I remember Kareem Weaver doing some speaking with regards to being a keynote when that event when that report came out. And actually, I remember sitting at my desk and I remember kind of tears welling up in my eyes because I felt those recommendations definitely unveiled a truth, I think, in education. Not only that I was able to read on paper, but I feel like I've lived through in my career of education seeing those cycles of trauma kind of being displayed in that report. So there's these 26 recommendations, and we all know that the OHRC Charter of Rights and Freedom and also the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the UNDRIP understands that education is a sovereign right for all people in Canada. But I find what that report really unveils is that targeted and colonial assimilation, the policies that happened in Canada and that multigenerational impact. So when we think about that, we're looking at this conscious policy of genocide starting in the 16 hundreds to literally, some would even say to today, but definitely into 27 years ago when that last residential school closed its doors. So I think that conscious policy of genocide resulted in ongoing oppression and disadvantage. And we are trying to kind of build ourselves up and to heal from that impact and that trauma associated with surviving that. So I think that, if anything, really was showcased in that Right to Read report when they identified, even before they got to the recommendations, just that historical context, I think, is really important for people to read. So what happens in that case, then? As a result, learning sometimes doesn't seem like it's a priority, right. It's a result of surviving and being resilient. And it has implications on learning that compiled with possibly underfunding, compared to provincial models of funding versus federal models of funding, a remoteness of a community. So all of those kind of systemic issues, I think impact in general, not only the infrastructure, the health, wellness, employment, there's systemic issues there.
[00:12:40] Kate Winn: And I mean, even clean water. Like, we want these kids to go to school and learn to read and they have no clean water.
[00:12:46] Catherine Shawana: Right. Living conditions, for sure.
[00:12:49] Kate Winn: You mentioned, like, that intergenerational piece. And I will admit, as a settler, that has been something that when I was younger, I didn't quite understand. Like, okay, but this didn't happen to you yourself. This was your parents or your grandparents. But to understand the impact that comes down from that, right, and I know even in the Right to Read, they talk about parents, maybe because of the trauma they've had or learning disabilities that were never diagnosed, and what happened with them not able to support their kids education. Like, all of those pieces, which were so interesting. And I know when we met the last time in person, when we were at an ONlit training, we were talking about some of these issues. And you also mentioned something interesting, because one thing I might think of is, okay, First Nations, it's like multilingual learners. So it's like the kids in the states, I mean, in the US, multilingual learners, the vast majority are Spanish speakers. And so it's just another alphabetic language, right. They are speaking it at home and they're reading it and writing it at home. But now at school, they're going to learn English, which kind of is the same with speaking, reading, writing, but it's a new language. But then you were talking to me about the fact that a written language in and of itself might be new or different or threatening. Can you explain that a bit?
[00:14:02] Catherine Shawana: Sure, and I think, you know, when I'm reading any professional resource, I'm always coming at it through a lens in terms of supporting the students that I work with in a First Nations community and even reflecting back on some of Louisa Moats work on speech to print and how that impacts or the parallels between First Nation learners. So when I think of our languages or ways that we communicate, ideally that would be through oral storytelling, that oral storytelling may have been accompanied by some type of visual representation, kind of in the form of, like, a petroglyph, possibly, right, like those images.
And that was when you think about pre contact. So that was the way that we communicated. We didn't have a written form. It was through images, and it's through oral storytelling. And our stories were so valued and important. And then when we have about, around in the 1850s, syllabics was introduced. So we have a symbol that represents some of the consonants and the vowels. So we're still not entering at all this alphabetic system that we currently use, in fact.
And I'm thinking of Anishinaabemowin. My father is actually an Anishinaabemowin instructor. He uses something that's called the Fiero system or the double vowel system. So even in that case, that was only created in the 1950s, mid 1950s. So that was only 75 years ago. So 75 years ago would be an experience that we would have in terms of writing anything related or closely related to that Roman systems of writing. So I can't help but think it just leaves questions in my mind, right? Because that roman system allows us, in our language, we would have three vowels and four long vowels. We have consonant clusters and a lot of nasal sounds. But my questions I ask are like, what are the implications of this? What does this mean for our learners in the sense of learning not only English, but learning their own languages?
When we're looking at the brain development, and I guess this is where we may hear where they say, well, First Nations learners just learn differently. I think they have a different experience when it comes to reading or writing not only other languages, but their own language.
[00:16:32] Kate Winn: Thank you. I'd like to dig a little bit now into your own school and your experiences there.
So I am assuming, in terms of literacy instruction, that I know you don't have to follow the Ontario curriculum, but, I mean, if you were doing anything like we were teaching English in North America, I'm assuming that it was sort of a balanced literacy approach that you were kind of taking part in as well. So I'm wondering if. Is that correct? And where would you say you kind of started your school, started their literacy journey?
[00:17:03] Catherine Shawana: Think first of all, I think in First Nations learning, where we're looking in those communities, you're right, they do have an option of whether or not they choose to follow the Ontario curriculum. At Lloyd S. King, we do choose to follow the Ontario curriculum. But I think what's important is that we also want to integrate that traditional knowledge, community knowledge, languages and land-based learning, differences in cultural integration at all levels, in all curriculums. So it's almost like we're always kind of mending or blending the two.
So when we started our literacy journey, it's interesting. The role that I currently have as curriculum lead teacher just came about in 2018, 2019. We didn't have anybody in this role in this capacity. I guess that's one of the things that we could have touched base about when we talked about the differences between First Nations education, federally funded versus publicly funded, some of those additional outside services, those paraprofessionals like speech pathologists or school psychologists or literacy leads, numeracy leads, all of those supports basically are created at a First Nations level versus a board kind of trickling those supports down. First Nations communities have connections with boards when they create tuition agreements basically within those school boards. So that's where you can see various First Nations schools will have different relationships with the school boards that are around them.
That's a relationship that kind of has to be built.
So there's some differences there. So we don't necessarily have the supports coming from our nearby boards.
So some of the work we're doing kind of internally. So you're right, we did start off with this balanced literacy approach. When I came out of the classroom, I was able to kind of just do some observations in classrooms and collect data we were using. I'm going to be honest, before we knew better, the DRA, DRA Word Analysis, kind of those non-evidence-based phonemic screeners.
But it did give us some information. And right away I noticed there was a gap in our phonological awareness. So that was kind of a skill that we started to target and also our high-frequency words. We were noticing that when we started to track our Fry words, that students were really having a hard time not only decoding, but also encoding those pieces. We were having practices like doing the decoding beanie baby comprehension strategies, just focusing on comprehension strategies once a month. So we decided at that point to implement Heggerty. And we were really doing kind of like a rote flashcard kind of basis with high frequency words. And you can imagine you could predict what would happen from then. We did see a little bit of progress, but there definitely were some patterns that we were seeing - minimal growth with some of those initiatives and interventions.
Then the following year, we really tried to target with LLI intervention, but we found little success with that. It wasn't necessarily translating into the writing success that we needed, or the increasing number of high-frequency words. So those were still challenges. We found challenges with students that were trying to move beyond that pattern text beyond that level D. We were trying to move them away from predictable text.
So what we noticed is some of their spelling patterns were related to their speech. And again, this is where there are certain sounds in our traditional languages that we don't have in English or are pronounced differently. So we started to see some of that coming up in their writing. So in that spring of 2021, I started to listen to the Amplify the Science of Reading podcast.
And I just binge-listened to that every day. It was like a new episode.
And so I have the pleasure at the end of the year, of writing a year-end report. And at the year-end report, what I did is I just kind of planted a seed and I said, I think as a school, we need to delve into this science of reading as a staff.
So that's what we started to do that following year. We just started to build our capacity as a school in terms of what is the science of reading. Sharing resources, podcasts, professional reads, building a professional library specifically around the science of reading, sharing videos. It helped when the Right to Read report kind of came out because that provided us with a roadmap of areas to focus on, because those recommendations, they're filtered into, particularly what we focused on was the curriculum and instruction recommendations, the early screening and the reading intervention. Those were ones that we can easily target. Obviously, the recommendations with First Nations, those are important, but those are sometimes a little bit larger issues, and at a classroom level, we may not be able to address some of those. So we started with the ones that we could change definitely right away.
So IDA was a great help in terms of those structured literacy webinars that yourself and Kate and Martha, those were posted online.
Then when Ontario came out with the Effective Early Reading Instruction, that just solidified and confirmed the work that we were doing and that we were heading in the right direction with looking at those foundational skills. So when we figured out what we were missing. We had already Heggerty in place, so we felt like we were working with that phonemic awareness piece. But what we were missing, which was truly identified from that SOR Amplify podcast, was a phonics scope and sequence. So that was kind of the next area that we targeted. So we started to do that. By the end of that year, we were going to implement, sorry, the UFLI resource. And that's what we did. That was a key piece that was missing. So in the following year of 2022, 2023, we implemented UFLI into the grades one and three to correlate with our Heggerty program. And then from there, it was more professional development. That's the key piece, right? Building knowledge and building capacity within your staff. So ten of our staff attended the Top Ten Tools training from Deb Glaser. We also ordered some additional resources, for example like Morpheme Magic and some decodable text that we could use within our classroom spaces.
We also brought ten staff to the Literacy Learning conference, the IDA conference in Toronto.
At that time, that's when I kind of started to research screeners. So attending that, Becoming a Literacy Leader, I was researching the screeners that we kind of wanted to use. I knew that was the next step. Once we were targeting phonemic awareness, we were targeting our phonics. It was like, okay, now we need to look at the screener because I want to be able to track to see whether or not these programs are working.
So I feel like I'm always prepping the year before for whatever next year ventures are going to bring, just so I'm ready and prepared. So we settled on implementing the Acadience screener. And so that meant the year before I was doing training. So I did the Acadience K-6 training session, then I did Acadience grade seven to eight, and then I did the data workshop interpretation training. I followed a lot of mtss, the multi tier system of support work that Stephanie Stoller has been working on. And IDA also has posted some webinars with regards to that work and how to implement that system.
So we were prepping for the year ahead. In that meantime, the Ministry released the memorandum on universal screener plus they released the new curriculum. So once again, it was just confirming that we were heading in the right direction. So this year we rolled out the Acadience screener and we did so in year two to grade eight. And that was a decision in itself, whether or not we were going to implement that screener. Just in year two to grade two, as suggested from the province.
But I had already been collecting data for a number of years, so I knew the needs that we needed to serve beyond grade three and beyond. So I wanted to make sure that we were addressing those needs. So I thought we're just going to screen all our students from year two to eight. So we rolled that out this year. I used some supports with regards to special education resource teachers to help kind of roll that out.
Once you implement the screener, once you've chosen your screener, then everything else kind of falls into place. Because once you rolled out your screener, then the next thing teachers are going to want to know is, okay, these students are showing up in red. What specifically do I need to do in order to kind of make sure that they meet that next benchmark? And that's when you dig a little bit deeper into those diagnostic tools. So we started to use the Acadience phonemic awareness tool, CORE phonics, spelling inventory, just to dig a little bit deeper.
The other kind of piece that we added, once we started to get all this data, then we want to be able to use the data, so we want to be able to talk about the data. So the next step just kind of really naturally became to create those data collaboration meetings by division.
So we're meeting monthly right now following that outcomes driven model, and we're building our MTSS system.
So we've met twice so far this year. So our first meeting was basically, let's look at our Acadience screening data. And we were able to kind of group some students into different levels of support based on that. But really what we were doing, we were grouping students, but we weren't grouping students for Tier 2 or Tier 3 and instruction. We were grouping students for small group instruction at the Tier 1 level because so many of our students were identified as below benchmark that we knew that it was a Tier 1 issue that we kind of had to address. So that's where we started to really do a lot of our work with that progress monitoring. Now, our last meeting we just went into what is progress monitoring? How often are we going to do it? Just all those questions, when would you do it? And then doing these individual training sessions with teachers. We are starting with progress monitoring the students that are in red only. I think coming after next benchmark we will probably go into progress monitoring students that possibly are in the yellow. But right now we just focused on the red as a way to kind of scaffold that. I didn't want to throw too much out there to progress monitor the whole student, all classes. Sorry. And all students. So that's kind of what we're doing.
So some teachers on their own already have two or three data sets with regards to progress monitoring. So they're moving on to Tier 2 interventions because just to get that support increased in its intensity. So that's kind of where we are. So we're just ...
[00:28:23] Kate Winn: You need to take a breath, Catherine. Okay, first of all, I knew a lot of this already, but, I mean, I have to commend you on your leadership in this area because, wow. I mean, everything you just said over the course of a few short years is absolutely incredible. And I feel like people who are listening can just kind of take it as a checklist, like, okay, do this and we'll be set up for success with structured literacy. I want to ask you, based on everything that you've told me about, what would be a couple of big successes that you've seen, but also challenges, because you made it sound easy the way you just. Well, we did this and this, and then the teachers, and then I'm sure everybody was on board and there were no issues and nothing with anybody. So what would you say are kind of a couple of key successes, but also challenges that you faced shifting your school as much as you have over those few years?
[00:29:17] Catherine Shawana: I think, first of all, success is, I really think for myself, this role that I'm in. If I was a classroom, if I was just in the classroom, I had my own classroom, I'm not sure I would have the time to actually just get my head around this shift in practice. So that was part of that success, I think being a curriculum lead teacher, being out of the classroom where I can still support teachers, but yet have a little bit of time in my schedule to do some of this research, watch some of these webinars, gather this information, kind of start to formulate. It didn't happen overnight.
I was really studying this for a good six months to a year, really trying to formulate the direction that I felt as a school that we needed to go into. I think the other success was having data prior to this shift. So we were collecting quite a bit of data as a school. So I had a good temperature check already, a bit of where we were and where we needed to go, I think investing in.
So, and when I say investing, that doesn't necessarily mean monetary either, because all those webinars, actually, that I mentioned were like, they're free on the IDA website. So that was an important piece. So when we have our designated PD days, we were really intentional with them.
And they may not have been all directly related to the science of reading, but we made sure we had a portion, let's say, during our school improvement plan meeting or during a PD session where I could kind of share some of this information with staff. So building knowledge, that's definitely important. The other important piece is building a network of support. So you want to make sure your admin is on board, that you're sharing this information just as much as you're sharing this to your colleagues. You're sharing this also to your admin, so that they're also kind of in the loop of what I'm learning and to share that with him. And I believe actually we met, yeah, because he had some additional questions. And I'm like, I don't know if I can answer these for you right now. I said, but let's connect with Kate and hopefully she can answer some questions on some universal screening questions. So I think building that network support, you know, I have some fantastic staff here at LSK, my colleagues.
I think a part of that too, is the rapport and relationship building that I had with them because I was here at the school already, so they knew who I was. They didn't know I was someone from the outside coming in trying to make these changes. I had that rapport with the staff already, so that was definitely helpful. So when I'm building that network of support, I have some key teachers that are just on board and are just alongside me on this reading journey. Right?
And like, you met one of my colleagues at the Western New York conference. We were there because she was like, hey, here's a conference. There's nothing in Ontario, but let's go to this one. And I'm like, yes, let's go. So I think that is really key. When you have those key staff members that are really keen and really eager and are on board, then they can also help support and drive that momentum forward.
I think two other pieces that would make us meet success is you need to have a system for sharing or communicating this information. So whether or not, I'll just share, at our school, we use Microsoft Teams. So when we use Microsoft Teams, we have the ability to upload all of our data sheets, upload just a central place to store information so that when we're in the middle of a progress monitoring session and we're having a data collaboration meeting, we can go into progress monitoring, we can look in that channel, we can upload the data that we're talking about with grade one, all of those sheets and those data continuums are readily available there so we can talk about them. They're up on the screen, they're readily available. So that has been key too, just being able to share information in a common space. So if I have a resource or if I have a webinar that I think is really key in learning, then I can just upload that into that shared space and everyone in the school has access to it. Regardless if they are an EA, a special education resource teacher, a classroom teacher, an admin, a director of education, they all have access to some of those tools and that data. And I think that's important.
Then the students don't become, oh, these are just students in grade one, these are our students. So that was kind of a key thing. Think about that. And I think the other piece that was successful was thinking ahead.
You can follow frameworks on how to implement MTSS or how to implement key changes in SoR, for example, but you have to take into account just where your school is.
For example, this year I tell the staff, I wasn't even intending on touching progress monitoring, really. I thought the next meeting I'm like, we're just going to talk about it. But you know what? As soon as I even mentioned it, then we had teachers like on board, where can I find the progress monitoring materials? And then they just kind of went with it. And now some of them are on their second or third collection of data sets. So some of it just kind of moves organically. But when you have an idea of where you want to go, then you're just kind of planting those seeds along the way. So having somewhat of a plan, but being very compassionate of how that plan can change based on how to move with the flow of your staff and students, if that makes sense.
Yeah, I think the challenges are always, we're always going to say time. Yes. Right. Because we initially started doing our data collaboration meetings where we were doing some outdoor learning activities, for example, with the primary division. Primary division would head outside and do some land-based activities so that I could meet with primary teachers. So we were doing some of those innovative opportunities for us to gather together.
And sometimes we tried that a couple of times and it wasn't just really quite working. So we were like, you know what? We're just going to shift and we're just going to meet at 3:15 and we're going to meet from 3:15 to 4:00 but we're going to follow an agenda. We're going to do some time frames with regards to that and take minutes so that it's very concise and it's really targeted conversation. So there's ways to work around that time. I think the other challenge, I'm actually working with it right now is as much as you gather resources. Like for example, I purchased some Fly Leaf decodables, amazing resources, but finding the time to just kind of go through that, train myself in that program and those resources to then roll those resources out to staff. So there is some time you can purchase as many resources to help support, but you want to make sure that there's a proper rollout of those resources for them to be used effectively. So I would say that would definitely kind of be a challenge.
[00:36:45] Kate Winn: Okay. But I mean, things seem to be going really well there. And I love how you mentioned earlier, I forgot to go back to it, but the whole Acadience up to grade eight thing, because we know with the OHRC, it was that year two, kindergarten through grade two Ministry recommendations, or I mean, in terms of when the Ministry was going to mandate screening, it has been withdrawn for the moment. It may come back, but again, just up to grade two. But it's basically because that was the focus of the OHRC, was just that early reading. But as you know and I know now, those screeners are helpful all the way through and our school is doing it up to grade eight as well. And it's just so extremely helpful. And I think it's good for listeners to know too. Like, oh, I thought screening was just up to grade two because that's what that memo said. But no, Acadience and their free materials that you can access online go all the way up. So I'm glad you mentioned that. The next question I wanted to ask is about parent involvement. So, I mean, we've talked even at the beginning of our conversation about intergenerational trauma, like some different things that may impact parents and grandparents of your students.
And I'm wondering, a lot of communities, whether marginalized or not, there's a range in terms of parent involvement, parent understanding, all of that. I'm just wondering, with the parents at your school, how have you found things in terms of communication or involvement and supportive literacy, that sort of thing?
[00:38:08] Catherine Shawana: First of all, I think community voice is extremely important. I think it would be an area, if I'm to be honest, within our school that I think could be an area of improvement for sure. I think it's important to have that transparency in sharing the work that you're doing. And I think we could absolutely do a better job of communicating to our not only parents, but the community, what are our literacy initiatives and what does that look like in terms of parental support at home?
But you're absolutely right in terms of those other factors like the historical impact and building relationships and trust and communication and transparency, those are all things I think that can be improved for sure. So I would think in our school, I think that's something that we need to work on, to be honest with you, is building that parental support for sure, especially coming back from COVID, right, there are some challenges there, and I think as much as many parents were on board, and it was tremendous help during that time.
I think as a school we can do a better job.
[00:39:22] Kate Winn: Okay.
[00:39:23] Catherine Shawana: Yeah.
[00:39:23] Kate Winn: Thanks for that honesty. The last thing I wanted to ask you about was First Nations educators. So I was thinking the other day about, do you know that Rudine Sims Bishop idea of the mirrors, windows, sliding doors in children's literature, that we want kids to be able to see themselves in the mirror, see others through the window, and then kind of be transported to other places? So, I mean, I teach primarily white students, and so in the children's literature, they see, they're very well mirrored, right. They are seeing themselves and even in terms of the educators. And so I'm kind of connecting this to them, their educators, they're seeing a lot of white faces, and so they're very well represented that way. And so for me, I would love for there to be more diversity so that they're getting those windows and sliding doors instead of just the mirrors. And I would assume, and please correct me if I'm wrong, that you would think that with First Nations students, you would like that too, right, for them to see that representation. And I'm wondering, are there enough First Nations educators in Ontario or more broadly, in your opinion? Of course, I'm not asking you to speak for everyone, but do you think there are enough, and if there aren't, how many, basically layers of the onion do we need to peel back, to figure out how to get more of like, you know what I mean? Where's sort of that breakdown where we can encourage more or ensure that we're getting more First Nations individuals becoming Ontario Certified Teachers, let's say.
[00:40:47] Catherine Shawana: I think this is a multilayered response, I think, and it goes back to that historical context of the Right to Read report. One of the things is just we want our students to be able to participate and meet success in the education system in general. Right. And that's really where it starts for them to access to become an OCT qualified teacher. When we think about all of the steps that has to happen in order for that to happen, right? Like we have to be able to have them reading and being able to engage in text and write.
Then when we're thinking about leaving grade eight and that transition for them from leaving a First Nation community, when I'm talking about First Nation who go to school and community, we have lots of First Nation students that are in the provincial system and who live off reserves.
So I think that first piece is even transitioning them to going to a provincial school when they're coming from a federal school, First Nation federal school run school. So that poses some challenges for sure.
I think when we look at that, like we talked about, that ongoing cycle of the impacts, there's a lot of barriers that we're still battling in effects to these recursive issues that we need to address of the effects of that ongoing cycle of colonialism. And I think there's some healing and building identity and focusing on our strengths and looking at that holistic impact of a child in terms of their physical, mental, social and spiritual development and acknowledging that our children have, honouring their gifts and integrating language and culture. So I think all of those pieces, it's kind of like the background work that has to happen in order for them to be successful and to engage in that education process or system to become a teacher.
Because when they get to those spaces, we want them to meet success. We want them to understand who they are. We want them to be able to bridge the pedagogy between Indigenous knowledges and western civilization.
So there's so many pieces, and you're right, we want them to be able to see themselves not only represented in the texts that are placed in front of them, but also in the curriculum that is placed in front of them and also in the community members and the people who they engage with. So there's so many pieces to that.
So I think we are doing the work. I think we're in the middle of the work. And I would hope that, like looking at 30 years ago to 30 years from now, that we will be able to see more First Nations students continuing their education throughout high school and into postsecondary and specifically in the areas of education.
[00:44:07] Kate Winn: So it's not just about sort of that higher education end of recruitment and scholarships and that sort of piece. We're going way back.
And do you think that the Right to Read in this move with literacy, do you think this will help?
[00:44:25] Catherine Shawana: Absolutely.
I think that's why when I read that Right to Read report, I'm like, yes, it made so much sense. That component, that component, especially that historical context connected with that identity piece, is really what will be able to kind of push that forward, those First Nations educators for sure, in pursuing a career in this area.
[00:44:53] Kate Winn: This has been such a fantastic conversation. Every time I speak to you or email with you, I feel like I learn something new and I love chatting. Catherine Shawana, thank you so much for being here on Reading Road Trip this week. It has been such a pleasure.
[00:45:08] Catherine Shawana: Thank you.
[00:45:11] Kate Winn: Show notes for this episode with all the links and information you need can be found at podcast.idantario.com. And you have been listening to season two, episode three with Catherine Shawana.
I do have something else that I wanted to share before we begin to wind this episode down. Not everything from my conversations with guests makes it into the podcast episodes, of course, but when chatting with Catherine, something came up that we both talked about after and thought would be worth mentioning here. At the end of the show, when I was asking Catherine about the need for representation in terms of First Nations educators, I made a point of saying that I certainly wasn't trying to discredit any of the teachers on her team who don't identify as a member of a First Nations community.
And I made reference to one specifically whom I had met, and I was actually afraid that if that person had heard this episode that they might be offended. But then Catherine clarified that the teacher whom I had assumed was not part of their community actually is. So I'm happy to use my assumption as a reminder for all of us that we make so many assumptions about our students and their families and may not always even be correct in terms of how they identify. So my apologies for that to that teacher, and thank you again to Catherine for your graciousness.
And now it is time for that typical end-of-the-podcast call to action. If you enjoyed this episode of Reading Road Trip, we'd love it if you could rate and or review it in your podcast app as this is extremely helpful. And of course, we welcome any social media love you feel inspired to spread as well. Feel free to tag IDA Ontario and me, my handle is thismomloves on Twitter and Facebook and Katethismomloves on Instagram. Make sure you're following the Reading Road Trip podcast in your app and watch for new episodes dropping every Monday. Also, just a reminder to register for the IDA Ontario Literacy Learning Conference happening in April in Toronto. If you haven't already, it is going to be an amazing event.
We couldn't bring Reading Road Trip to you without behind-the-scenes support from Katelyn Hanna Hannah, Brittany Haynes, and Melinda Jones at IDA Ontario. If you're enjoying Reading Road Trip, please consider making a donation to IDA Ontario, a volunteer-run charity that depends on donations to do our work supporting educators and families. I'm Kate Winn, and along with my co-producer, Una Malcolm, we hope this episode of Reading Road Trip has made your path to evidence-based literacy instruction just a little bit clearer and a lot more fun.