“Part of ETFO’s mission is the education, stimulation, and transformation of provincial and local organizations to be responsive to the diverse needs of the membership, and to be a positive influence for change at a societal level. “
Source: ETFO Social Justice
I’ve been thinking more about my privilege in society and how to create space for others. I imagine my classroom, or even my school, as a microcosm of society and try to model kindness, joy, and hope to my students and colleagues. How do we make the world a better place? What does that look like in the teaching profession?
Reading the anti-oppressive framework created by ETFO helps me think critically about how I teach, the physical setup of my learning space, and the direction I’m helping my school take. It reminds me that part of being an ally is to advocate for those experiencing the negative impacts of colonialism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, and ableism.
Sometimes advocacy work means starting conversations that will be uncomfortable, but educators need to ensure that we unlearn oppressive practices and ideologies. We can create space for the oppressed to have a voice. We can advocate spending school budgets on specialized resources for clubs or educational opportunities for students from marginalized groups. We can advocate for professional development to implement the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We also know that the arts and libraries need our voices heard to give all students access to music, drama, art, dance, books and technology.
The teacher-librarian AQ course taught me to advocate for the library/learning commons. For years, I have had to justify my requests for the school budget to be spent on books, magazines, and technology. The effort was worth it. Recently, a student who graduated from grade eight thanked me for allowing her to exceed the book checkout limit every week. When other students were taking 1-2 books, she was taking eight. Consistently, every week, for grades two and three, she continued this pattern. By grade four, she began reading some longer books, so the number of books she checked out was fewer, but she was still reading voraciously, and she continues to do so to this day. Her family did not use the public library, and they couldn’t afford to keep up with her appetite for books, so the school library was the place she relied on to keep her reading. With this student and others like her in mind, I will continue to advocate for schools to have libraries and for libraries to have books.
Educators, your voice is valued, don’t be afraid to use it to make things better for someone else.