Moving Beyond “Cultural Months”

I don’t mean to be flippant but I’m sometimes leary when we have a month to celebrate a particular racialized group. What happens to their history or their identities during the rest of the year? I recently saw this post on Twitter and it got me thinking – how do we ensure that we go beyond these months and into a deeper desire for ourselves as educators and our students to value the diversity that exists in our classrooms?

Screenshot 2018-01-28 at 5.15.07 PM

Checking Our Bias

In our board, we have had many conversations around bias and equity. How are we moving from conversations and into action? In what ways are we really ensuring more equitable outcomes for our students and colleagues who are racialized? We all have bias and privilege to one degree or another. When we acknowledge our bias and privilege and are conscious of it in the spaces in which we exist, we are better equipped to extend equity and honour the experiences of others. In doing so consistently, we become those who seek out and foster ways in which to level playing field for others. What is your bias? What are your thoughts about the students that you serve? How does your bias impact the way in which you serve your students?

Courageous Classroom Conversations

Over the past few years of teaching, I’ve realized to a greater degree, the value in having conversations about the world around us with students. Earlier on in the year, we had conversations around Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players taking a knee. I had a colleague who was shocked that I was talking about it in the classroom. We have to remember that our students are living in and experiencing the same world that we are. They are keenly observing and are not oblivious to what is going on. Shouldn’t they have a space to engage in conversations about what is happening, not from a stance of judgement but of fact finding and meaningful sharing about its impact on them and the communities in which we live? By shying away from these conversations, we do a disservice to our students because that is what is real and authentic in our world and they need the opportunity to understand, discuss and determine ways in which they are able to navigate these situations in the hopes of bringing about a different tomorrow. This too is a part of education

Meeting The Needs Of Our Students Based On Their Realities

Shaughnessy is the 5th school that I have had the privilege of teaching at here in Toronto. Each school has had a different community and it’s been exciting to get to know and understand who my students and their families are. When we take the time to find out what is of value to our students and our community and teach from there, we truly start to meet the needs of our students. High expectations with lessons that are authentic and are based on the interest of our students increases engagement and allows for our students to make connections to the curriculum that are meaningful and relevant. This is what gives them greater opportunity to flourish based on who they are. We all want greater student success, why not find out what is meaningful to our students and work from there to ensure that they are represented in our lessons, tasks and classrooms?

Special months are great for celebrations of cultures but as this Tweet reminds us, let’s consider ways in which to go beyond a particular monthly celebration and make sure that our diverse identities are celebrated throughout the year.

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Updated: January 28, 2018 — 6:06 pm

The Author

Arianna Lambert

I'm a grade 4/5 Teacher in the Toronto District School Board who loves integrating technology and mindfulness in the classroom. Through inquiry and Entrepreneurial Thinking, I work with students who are engaged in meaningful learning opportunities while looking at ways to make the world an even better place. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of co-facilitating the STE(A)M Certificate Course for Junior Teachers in our board. For the last 2 years, I have been fortunate to co-moderate #tdsbEd, Twitter chats for educators in the TDSB. Through conversations on trends in Education from STEAM to Mindfulness, it has become an online community of educators dedicated to improving their practice to ensure greater student success, well-being and achievement.

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