This curriculum policy replaces The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Native Studies, 1999 and The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 11 and 12: Native Studies, 2000. All courses in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies (formerly named “Native studies”) are now based on the expectations outlined in this curriculum policy.
Students’ responsibilities with respect to their own learning develop gradually and increase over time as they progress through elementary and secondary school. With appropriate instruction and with experience, students come to see how an applied effort can enhance learning and improve achievement and well-being. As they mature and as they develop the ability to persist, to manage their behaviour and impulses, to take responsible risks, and to listen with understanding, students become better able to take more responsibility for their learning and progress. There are some students, however, who are less able to take full responsibility for their learning because of unique challenges they face. The attention, patience, and encouragement of teachers can be extremely important to the success of these students. Learning to take responsibility for their achievement and improvement is an important part of every student’s education, regardless of their circumstances.
Mastering the skills and concepts connected with learning in the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies curriculum requires ongoing practice, an effort to respond to feedback (to the extent possible), personal reflection, and commitment from students. It also requires a willingness to explore new ideas, try new activities, collaborate with peers, develop cultural awareness and cultural competence, and always follow safety practices. Through ongoing practice and reflection about their development, students deepen their appreciation and understanding of themselves and others, and of their health and well-being. The First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies curriculum also requires students to develop a greater awareness of their role within the communities to which they belong, and of their relationship to the natural environment.
Parents play an important role in supporting student learning. Studies show that students perform better in school if their parents are involved in their education. By becoming familiar with the curriculum, parents can better appreciate what is being taught in the courses their children are taking and what they are expected to learn. This awareness will enhance parents’ ability to discuss their children’s work with them, to communicate with teachers, and to ask relevant questions about their children’s progress. Knowledge of the expectations will also help parents understand how their children are progressing in school and enhance their ability to work with teachers to improve their children’s learning.
Parents can support their children’s learning effectively in a variety of ways. They can attend parent-teacher interviews, participate in parent workshops, and take part in school council activities or become a school council member. Parents who encourage and monitor home practice or project completion further support their children in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies.
Teachers and students have complementary responsibilities. Teachers develop appropriate and effective instructional strategies to help students achieve the curriculum expectations, as well as appropriate methods for assessing and evaluating student learning. Teachers are also responsible for ensuring that the classroom is a culturally safe environment that enables students from diverse backgrounds to feel respected and comfortable expressing their opinions, thoughts, and needs. Teachers bring enthusiasm and varied teaching and assessment approaches to the classroom, addressing individual students’ needs and ensuring sound learning opportunities for every student. Teachers reflect on the results of the learning opportunities they provide, and make adjustments to them as necessary to help every student achieve the curriculum expectations to the best of their ability.
Using a variety of instructional, assessment, and evaluation strategies, teachers provide numerous opportunities for students to develop and refine their critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills as they investigate topics related to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies. These activities should give students opportunities to relate their knowledge and skills in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies to the social, cultural, environmental, and economic conditions and concerns of the world in which they live. Such opportunities will motivate students to participate in their communities as responsible and engaged citizens and to become lifelong learners.
First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies teachers provide students with frequent opportunities to practise their skills and apply new learning and, through regular and varied assessment, give them the specific, descriptive feedback they need in order to further their learning and refine their skills. Teachers can also help students understand that applying specific inquiry processes when studying First Nations, Métis, and Inuit histories, governance, and nation-to-nation relationships often requires a considerable expenditure of time and energy and a good deal of perseverance. In First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies, teachers can encourage students to explore alternative solutions and to take appropriate risks to become successful problem solvers, especially with respect to any social justice issues they encounter. By assigning tasks that promote the development of higher-order thinking skills, teachers help students assess information, develop informed opinions, draw conclusions, and become thoughtful and effective communicators.
It is the teacher’s responsibility to help students see the connections between the knowledge and skills they develop in the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies classroom and their lived realities. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies can play a key role in shaping students’ views about life and learning. By developing an understanding of the contextualized nature of their ideas, values, and ways of life, students come to appreciate and honour the diversity they encounter. Teachers should also encourage students to understand the importance of the transferable skills they develop in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies, and to make use of these skills in other contexts.
As part of effective teaching practice, teachers communicate with parents about what their children are learning. This communication occurs through the sharing of course outlines, ongoing formal and informal conversations, curriculum events, and other means of regular communication, such as newsletters, website postings, and blogs. Communication enables parents to work in partnership with the school, promoting discussion, follow-up at home, and student learning in a family context. Stronger connections between home and school support student learning, achievement, and well-being.
The principal works in partnership with teachers and parents to ensure that each student has access to the best possible educational experience. To support student learning, principals ensure that the Ontario curriculum is being properly implemented in all classrooms and learning environments using a variety of instructional approaches. They also ensure that appropriate resources are made available for teachers and students. To enhance teaching and learning in all subjects, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies, principals promote learning teams and work with teachers to facilitate their participation in professional development activities. Principals are also responsible for ensuring that every student who has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is receiving the modifications and/or accommodations described in their plan – in other words, for ensuring that the IEP is properly developed, implemented, and monitored.
Principals are responsible for ensuring that up-to-date copies of the outlines of all of the courses of study for courses offered at the school are retained on file. These outlines must be available for parents and students to examine. Parents of students under the age of eighteen are entitled to information on course content since they are required to approve their child’s choice of courses, and adult students need this information to help them choose their courses.
Community partners can be an important resource for a school’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies program. They can be models of how the knowledge and skills acquired through the study of the curriculum relate to life beyond school. Relationships with Indigenous organizations, community recreation facilities, universities and colleges, businesses, service groups, and other community organizations can provide valuable support and enrichment for student learning. These organizations can provide expertise, skills, materials, and programs that are not available through the school or that supplement those that are. Partnerships with such organizations benefit not only the students but also the life of the community.
Schools and school boards can play a role by coordinating efforts with community partners. They can engage various First Nations, Métis, and Inuit leaders and organizations in supporting learning related to course expectations and in promoting a focus on issues related to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies inside and outside the school (see the section “Indigenous Expertise and Protocols” in Instructional Approaches) . For example, schools could develop a visiting leaders program with links to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit community organizations such as arts, culture, and/or language centres, legal clinics, health centres, business service networks, and women’s organizations. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit community partners can also be included in events held in the school, such as skills competitions, information events, career days, and special days of recognition. Schools and boards can collaborate with leaders of existing community-based programs for youth, including programs offered in public libraries and community centres. Local museums, cultural centres, heritage sites, conservation lands, parks, and neighbourhoods can provide rich environments for field studies and for exploration of the local community and its resources. Where the opportunity presents itself, schools and boards may also extend their partnership with international communities and programs.
School boards across the province have established partnerships with local First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, organizations, and families to create Indigenous Education Councils (IECs). The IECs help to guide school boards and schools in building stronger relationships with their communities, identifying promising practices, sharing information, and enhancing collaborative work to support First Nation, Métis, and Inuit student achievement and well-being.
Nurturing partnerships with other schools and between school boards can be a valuable way of applying learning within the context of safe, healthy, and accepting school environments. Neighbouring schools and boards may share resources or facilities when developing and sharing professional development opportunities for staff, and they can collaborate in developing special events such as career fairs, community activities, and information evenings. From time to time, opportunities may present themselves for schools and school boards to work with local researchers to complete studies that will help educators make informed decisions based on solid evidence, local needs, and current best practices.
In choosing community partners, schools should build on existing links with their local communities and create new partnerships in conjunction with ministry and school board policies. These links are especially beneficial when they have direct connections to the curriculum. Teachers may find opportunities for their students to participate in community events, especially events that support the students’ learning in the classroom, are designed for educational purposes, and provide descriptive feedback to student participants.