This is part two of Amy Smith’s Blog The Road to Equity: How do you define equity? In part one she discussed her own learning journey of gaining additional knowledge about groups identified as in need of more support in schools in the equity and inclusion branch of Peel Board’s five year School Success Plan. All of her reading and learning encouraged her “to really reflect on the life I was living, and the privileges I have that I was not even aware of simply because I was born in a white, abled, cisgender body.” In part two she will cover how she took her own learning and expertise to help other educators start their journey, to start learning about who they are as people and how their privilege and bias impacts their students.
On Monday May 6, 2019 Facing History and Ourselves Canada is celebrating our tenth anniversary with a program called Unlearning Hate: A Conversation with Derek Black and Allison Gornik at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
Topics: Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous History, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Indigenous, difficult conversations, trc, stolen lives, settler eucators, Treaty, Sacred Circle Teachings, Decolonizing Schools, Facing Canada
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” How many of us have heard this quote or a variation of it? Sayings like these are repeated so often nowadays that they have lost meaning. People will complain, “I don’t need you to lecture me, I already know all this,” “The past is the past, leave it behind where it belongs,” or a blatant dismissal from those who are so cemented in the now, that they refuse to see the truth right in front of them.
Topics: Student Voices, Choosing to Participate, Armenian Genocide, Students, Facing History and Ourselves, Holocaust Education, Rwanda, Student Work, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Equity in Education, Facing Canada
A Mindful Classroom: Establishing A Safe Space for Sensitive Topics
Many of us have seen the importance of mindfulness in our classrooms and personal lives. Being present and aware are integral to truly absorbing what is around you. How mindful are we of exactly what is around us in the classroom? The physical space we build for our students is often an afterthought to efficiency and more intangible metrics of behaviour and dynamics. This year, I made it my goal to be mindful of the materials within my classroom and how well they represent the values I hope we exercise within these walls.
Topics: Art, Student Work, Indigenous History, Social and Emotional Learning, Middle School, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, facing history pedagogy, Treaty, Facing Canada, cross curricular teaching and learning
Ever since attending my first Facing History and Ourselves workshop, I have looked for ways to incorporate Facing History pedagogy into my middle-years classroom. This year, I used the scope and sequence and pedagogical triangle to design the structure of my Grade 8 English Language Arts course.
Why Cross Curricular?
We know that time with students is limited, so taking advantage of repeated themes which exist between courses to help build bridges between knowledge gaps is an effective strategy. We also know that in the hecticness of a regular school day, these great concepts are often just that- concepts- because we don’t have time to take on anything more between teaching, marking, meetings, that varsity game you promised to attend, and the play you are helping find props for. Here are a few ideas with ready-to-use resources so that, if one speaks to you, you can easily use it within your classroom sooner rather than later. Remember, trying out one of these ideas on your own first and then looking to next year to work collaboratively can be a starting point, if finding an interested colleague to collaborate with proves difficult.
As an educator, I used to think true learning was my teacher content knowledge level or how much information I could get out there to students. Here’s what I thought should happen: students would learn information,reproduce it in the way I wanted them to, and then that would be a good measuring stick for how much they knew. However, In the 21st century with a world of information availability at your fingertips, this approach has become more and more obsolete.
Readers often ask what compelled me to write a novel about the Holocaust. After all, I am not the child of survivors. In fact, most of my family came to North America well before the outbreak of WWII.
When I moved away from being a classroom teacher to the role of Instructional Coach I knew my passion was in equity work. In Peel we have a five year School Success Plan with one branch of focus dedicated to equity and inclusion. Within the equity and inclusion branch of the plan there are four communities identified as a focus for teachers to gain additional knowledge about in order to better teach and support those students to learn and be successful in Peel schools. The four groups are: students who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, First Nation, Metis and Inuit students, black male students, (this year the focus shifted to all black students) and students living in poverty.