Welcome back to another school year! We are so excited to work with you for a fresh new year of learning, and growth. We want to start with words of appreciation for the work that you do and the relationships that you forge with your students, so we created a found poem for you using the text from a strategy so many of you start your school the year with: contracting for courageous and reflective spaces.
We acknowledge you.
For nurturing a safe, reflective, community for students to share their own experiences and for providing room for students’ voice(s), and (the) sharing (of) differing perspectives.
Because you valued (them), listen to and heard together.
Because you nurture an inclusive learning environment where students think with head and heart,
Because when students read or watch something that makes them feel sad or angry, students have the opportunity to (feel heard and) participate, have the responsibility to speak out and expectations to protect others: (Can) envision what they would like to have happen.
Facing History and Ourselves
We also reflect on what a critical and challenging time it is for educators today: We and our students are facing a rising presence of antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, political polarization and global uncertainty in democratic institutions. We are continuing to confront difficult truths and ongoing injustices about Canada. Moreover, this is a federal election year, a time when we must confront what we know, who we are and who we wish to be together.
During this time, your challenge is to cultivate your students’ instincts for compassion and equity. This Fall there are several new resources and professional development opportunities to support you as you do this important work:
- Our Fostering Civil Discourse guide and just-in-time teaching resources on Current Events are designed to help you guide the difficult yet crucial conversations provoked by present news cycles. Sign up for our newsletter to ensure that you’re always prepared to steer discussion when news breaks.
- On September 25th we will be offering a teacher workshop in Toronto on teaching the YA memoir, Children of Willesden Lane: History, Literature and Music in the Classroom, a story about rescue, loss, uncertainty and the resilience of Jewish refugee children during the Holocaust. This workshop is presented in partnership with the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company, which will be presenting The Pianist of Willesden Lane, starring the memoir's author and acclaimed pianist, Mona Golabek. This production will run as part of Holocaust Education Week in Toronto.
- Starting on October 17th we will be running a facilitated online course on Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Residential Schools and in the Fall we will be releasing a French translation of our resource book, Stolen Lives in October.
- We will be presenting teacher workshops at conferences across the country (Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg) in partnership with incredible and inspiring teachers.
Lastly, this is an exciting time for our office! We have added a new member to our program team, Erez Zobary, Program Specialist.
Leora Schaefer, Jasmine Wong and Erez Zobary
As a program team, we are committed to being your partner, to support you and your students, and to be your champions as you cultivate courageous spaces and reflective classroom and school communities this year.
With gratitude for all you do,
Leora Schaefer, Jasmine Wong, Jeannette Slater, and Erez Zobary