Raven Barudin: Innovative Teaching with Traditional Culture

Some footage used in this video was filmed prior to the pandemic and may not depict social distancing measures.

Transcription – Transcription – Raven Barudin- 2021 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

[Photo, with voice over. Photo: A student standing in front of the chalk board with a teaching holding a tablet depicting what the inside of the stomach looks like; a student outside in the forest touching the bark of a tree. Music playing.]

"Relationships are important for sure. Developing trust and relationships in the classroom, connections, a sense of belonging and safety definitely makes it a lot easier to take risks with your learning."

[Fade to white with a medium shot of woman, smiling, on the right side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the left: Raven Barudin, T'lisalagi'lakw School, Alert Bay, British Columbia. Cut to close-up of Raven in the interview setting. Music playing with voice over.]

"I work at a First Nations school and I'm lucky to be working in my home community. So we are Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw and I think integrating as much history, and local knowledge as we can, as I can. That's been really, really important for my students, for their growth, for their identity, for their confidence. So that's been really special, and it's been great to as much as we can especially during you know times of COVID and restrictions. Having guest speakers whether come in face to face, or through Zoom. So yeah definitely integrating our culture into the curriculum."

[Fade to black and then up to photo with voice over. Photos: Raven outside holding plants and berries, children sitting outside in a wetland setting taking notes.]

"I would describe my teaching style as really, really working towards weaving in Indigenous culture, language, and traditions into the curriculum. Being as hands-on and project based as I can. And a huge thing for me is getting outside with the students."

[Cut to Raven in the interview setting.]

"I'm a big believer in being outside, exploring the natural world. We have some beautiful beaches here, we have wonderful trails. Like I said if we could at least half the day it would also be really wonderful to get out into the traditional territory. We had a Grade 6/7 class that was able to go on a cultural camp immersion for one week. And we had elders come in, and we lived communally. And the outcome was tremendous. It was so wonderful to see their confidence grow, the use of language."

[Cut to black and then up to Raven in the interview setting.]

"I think technology is great for the classroom. I think it's a great source of creativity, engagement. We've done really neat projects using technology."

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: muralist and students using a projector to sketch art on a large sheet of paper; finished mural with flowers, humming bird and a bee.]

"For instance we had a muralist come in and we did this beautiful mural, graffiti mural. And then after we had students interview him. So we made our own podcast. We did a few podcasts. I think it's great for learning, for gamification of learning. And then for us too language learning."

[Cut to Raven in the interview setting.]

"I would say to anyone that's thinking of nominating a teacher for this award is do it, absolutely."

[Cut to photos, with voice over. Photos: A child laying on a rock beach with a note pad looking at the water; a student holding orange shirts with the names of residential school survivors on them.]

"It's such a huge honour, and it's just so wonderful to be acknowledged in this way. You know teachers work really hard, we go above and beyond. And you know it's a love, it's passion."

[Cut to Raven in the interview setting.]

"So to be recognized, and acknowledged at this level especially. It's a once in a lifetime thing. And I think if you can do that for a teacher you should."

[Music ends. Fade to black, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in white.]

Year: 2021 — Province: British Columbia
Certificate of Excellence Recipient

T'lisalagi'lakw School
Grades 4 and 5 - all subjects
Alert Bay, British Columbia


“It was once said that a leader is someone who can unlock the possibility in others. It makes sense that this same author would likely say that excellence in teaching is also about unlocking possibility – allowing students to realize their true potential. Raven Barudin is one of those educators that has an overarching ambition to support all students to learn at high levels and one that parents, and guardians want to teach their children.”


Teaching Approach

Raven exemplifies innovative teaching. She makes learning meaningful by putting a lot of effort to include her students in the learning process by providing them with choice. Although this means that students have options in how they choose to express their learning, it also means that on the next assignment students will need to show some variability and have to change their preferred learning choices.

Raven allows her students to enjoy Kwakwala language and First Nations culture alongside Western cultures so that the two are not competing with one another. Raven focuses on the holistic needs of students - their social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs - not just the formal learning. Ceremony and the natural world are important elements of the classroom. Students never seem to grow tired of this modern, yet traditional, approach to classroom teaching.

In the Classroom

Raven has a unique skill in teaching literacy. Her students not only learn how to decode words and understand literary concepts, but more importantly they learn alongside an adult who transmits an undeniable passion for literacy. Raven has created a culture of aspiring readers in her class that range from students who are just beginning to read connected text, to students who are reading five grade levels above their current grade placement. Raven’s literacy lessons have been replicated in other classes as the successes of her students have drawn the attention of her colleagues.

Students in Raven’s class are taught to use digital technology to facilitate their literacy. Research and brainstorming ideas for story writing are sometimes shared between students through online applications such as Google Docs. This type of peer-to-peer learning dovetails with recent research suggesting that students learn best when they share with their peers. This type of sharing also encourages students to make more connections to different sources which in turn makes their learning even more impactful.

Outstanding Achievements

Raven’s leadership style is one in which she prefers to lead by example and model expectations for others. Since she has returned to Alert Bay Raven has chaired multiple committees and spearheaded various projects that involve Kwakwala language and culture, led the school’s Orange Shirt Day activities and has championed outdoor education. A lifelong learner and a teacher who brings a world perspective to her class, Raven works with coaches and collaborates with her colleagues to ensure that her practice remains current and meaningful.

Get in touch!

T'lisalagi'lakw School
128 Boundary Road
Alert Bay, BC  V0N 1A0
Email: tschool@namgis.bc.ca