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Slide #16 -- Improved School Climate can help:

  • reduce downshifting - (talked about next)
  • reduce negative school experiences
  • increase cultural profile and cultural worth (shared Inuit knowledge and vision, building of esteem)

Slide #17- Downshifting explanation > relevance to dropout

I ran into an interesting theory which is linked to school climate and culture. It refers to how the brain reacts to the elements of school culture. I believe that downshifting is relevant in the discussion of dropout.

A student senses threat which causes them to downshift become less able to engage in open-ended thinking, be less creative, and become phobic.

Downshifting inhibits learning. Fear or threat makes students unable to think. Leads to negative feelings and failure which are factors contributing to the choice to dropout of school

Ex: Fear of flies (common in the north) Even though the mind knows that the fly can not hurt you, your body goes through the reaction of fear, you can’t stop this reaction, inhibits your mind and body to participate in any other thought. Fear of any kind can trigger this reaction. Example: reading aloud/test, racism

Students who face continuous threats of racism and a loss of cultural identity go through a process of downshifting which leads to dropping out or escaping.

This kind of fear can be prevented. By creating a welcoming and warm climate in the school and in the classroom, schools can work to limit the level of stress for the student. Students will have fewer negative experiences and will enjoy coming to school. A positive school climate can help to reduce incidents of downshifting.

Slide #18 - School as Community Vs School as institution

School need to be more like a community rather than a factory where students go through an assembly line of adjustments. School leaders can foster a professional community where everyone cares and helps each other to learn and to lead. Need to change current organizational structures: grade grouping, fragmented learning periods, extrinsic rewards systems. These elements no longer make sense when the metaphor is changed to “community”.

Can change grade groupings to family groupings because “in a real family, children are of varying ages, yet they all learn from one another as well as from their parents. So in family-grouped classrooms, students are expected to learn from those older and younger than themselves. Need to create a caring community within the walls of the school. Caring is an important ingredient in these classes; students learned that relationships - how people treat each other - are just as important as scoring 100 on your math test. It is important to role model caring while learning.

When schools become communities of caring learners, Inuit students will feel comfortable coming to school to learn the skills that will help them succeed in the modern challenges that lie before them. As an a side to school as community, restructuring schools to reflect traditional living, family life, may be more appropriate for Inuit than trying to force Inuit into structures that come out of the Industrial revolution (i.e.. the factory model of schooling). Inuit never experienced the Industrial revolution so this mentality or frame of mind is not relevant nor appropriate for Inuit schools.

#2 Element - School Leader : Communication Slide #19 - Given a definition of communication

Communication Communication is not limited to the role of school leader. It is transferable to all people involved in improving the situation of Inuit dropout.

Communication is the exchange of ideas, thoughts, feelings between people. This requires active listening and a clarity of expression. We must be able to communicate effectively when dealing with serious issues like student dropout.

Slide #20 - Clearing up Misconceptions:

To school climate and image and to improve school culture school leaders can work to clear up misconceptions between the school and the community. This can be done by communicating more effectively when problems arise. For example, at this point in the history of Netsilik School, there is still a need for teachers who are outside of the local culture. Some problems may arise if misconceptions occur between people of different cultures. (See quote for example) The role of administration to create programs where new teachers can be oriented Better communication needs to happen between groups in order to keep misconceptions from getting in the way of learning.

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