An Excellent Standpoint: Teaching cultural perspectives from a vantage of excellence.

In the realm of education, embracing diverse cultural perspectives not only fosters understanding but also cultivates excellence. Each cultural group brings unique experiences, wisdom, and contributions to the society we all participate in. As educators, we should seek to delve into the pursuit of excellence within diverse cultural groups, emphasizing their rich heritage and the invaluable insights they offer to educational discourse. Thus, incorporating learning about ‘Black History’ within Ontario’s curriculum in grades 7, 8, and 10 is a step in the right direction.

Many cultures epitomize resilience, creativity, and innovation. These tenets have reshaped history and inspired generations. Educators committed to excellence incorporate the achievements and struggles of diverse individuals into their curriculum, especially cultures and narratives often left untold or intentionally omitted. By highlighting excellence areas like literature, music, art, and activism, educators empower students to recognize their potential for greatness while understanding the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity.

For example, Indigenous cultures epitomize a profound connection to land, community, and tradition. Indigenous peoples have preserved their languages, ceremonies, and sacred practices despite historical injustices, embodying resilience and strength. In educational settings, excellence is found in honouring Indigenous knowledge systems, environmental stewardship, and cultural revitalization efforts. Educators committed to Indigenous excellence engage with Indigenous elders, integrate Indigenous perspectives into the curriculum, and foster respectful relationships with local Indigenous communities. By recognizing and celebrating Indigenous excellence, educators instill in students a deep respect for Indigenous cultures and inspire them to become allies in pursuing Indigenous rights and sovereignty.

Similarly, Black history encompasses a tapestry of civilizations, philosophies, and innovations that have shaped human history. From ancient wisdom to modern advancements, Black cultures have made indelible contributions to science, technology, and the arts. In educational contexts, excellence in Black heritage is celebrated through exploring classical literature, philosophical teachings, and artistic traditions. Educators committed to teaching about Black excellence promote critical thinking, cultural exchange, and global citizenship by engaging students in dialogue about Black history, contemporary issues, and cross-cultural connections. By fostering an appreciation for Black excellence (which is woven into the very fabric of North America), educators prepare students to thrive in an interconnected world and embrace diversity as a source of strength and enrichment.

Diverse heritages embody legacies of faith, scholarship, and cultural exchange that span continents and centuries. From the golden age of civilization to the present day, many cultures have excelled in fields ranging from astronomy and mathematics to architecture and literature. In educational environments, excellence in these varied heritages can be upheld through the exploration of art, ethics, and intellectual traditions. Educators committed to teaching from a lens of excellence foster an atmosphere of inclusion, dialogue, and mutual respect by promoting intersectional understanding, challenging stereotypes, and addressing phobias that stem from biases unconsciously developed through deficit teaching. By embracing contributions to human civilization and presenting intentionally diverse representation to all students, educators empower students to recognize the interconnectedness of cultures and appreciate the richness of diversity in all its forms.

In pursuing educational excellence, embracing diverse cultural perspectives is not just a choice but a necessity. By celebrating the excellence inherent within all cultures, educators enrich the learning experience, inspire critical thinking, and foster a sense of belonging among students. Through dialogue, empathy, and a commitment to inclusivity, educators can cultivate a generation of leaders who appreciate the value of diversity and strive for excellence in all they do.

“If we want to create change in Canada – if we want to have more people from communities who aren’t only represented – the answer isn’t to move towards tokenization and propping people up. The answer is to give people the tools to prop themselves up.” – Sarah Jama (Sarah Jama is the co-founder of Disability Justice Network of Ontario).

“Black history is not just for black people. Black history is Canadian history.”- Jean Augustine (First Black Canadian woman to serve as a federal Minister of the Crown and Member of Parliament).

A diverse group of young students wearing convocation caps and gowns, smiling at the camera.

Fostering Excellence in Classrooms: A Comprehensive Approach

Picture By: Pavel Danilyuk

In the ever-changing landscape of education, pursuing excellence in classrooms is a collective endeavour encompassing academic excellence and holistic student development. To unveil the secrets of successful learning environments, let’s explore critical elements that educators can implement to meet the diverse needs of their students.

Begin with a curriculum designed to spark student interest and connect with real-world experiences. Align lessons with academic standards while infusing practical applications and real-life scenarios. Cultivate a passion for learning by making the curriculum an exciting gateway to knowledge.

Recognize and cater to diverse learning styles and preferences. Implement personalized learning approaches that allow students to progress at their own pace, explore topics of interest, and engage with materials personally. Foster a sense of ownership and motivation, paving the way for sustained academic success.

Establish clear expectations and maintain a positive, inclusive atmosphere. Implement proactive behaviour management strategies that create a safe and respectful learning environment. A well-managed classroom sets the foundation for effective learning and active student engagement.

Leverage technology as a powerful tool to enhance the learning experience. Incorporate digital tools and resources to make lessons more engaging. Equip students with essential digital skills for the future, embracing the benefits of technology in education.

Recognize the connection between academic success and social-emotional well-being. Prioritize the development of social and emotional skills, fostering empathy, self-awareness, and effective communication. Create a supportive environment where students feel valued, heard, and prepared to navigate interpersonal relationships.

Equipped with knowledge, teachers can adapt their strategies to meet the evolving needs of students, contributing significantly to classroom success. Stay current on the latest pedagogical approaches, technological advancements, and educational research. How do they align with your pedagogical practice? Which aspects can you adopt, adapt, or discard? Consistent review of pedagogical practices empowers the educator to effectively and responsively meet students where they are to guide them to success. 

Action Items for Educators:

Curriculum Innovation: Review and enhance your curriculum to include practical applications and real-world relevance. Seek opportunities for cross-disciplinary connections to make learning more engaging.

Proactive Classroom Management: Establish clear expectations for behaviour and create a positive classroom culture. Implement proactive strategies to address potential challenges and develop an environment conducive to learning.

Technology Integration Workshop: Familiarize yourself with educational technology tools and explore ways to integrate them into your lessons. Attend workshops or sharing sessions/events at your school to enhance your digital teaching skills.

SEL Integration in Lesson Plans: Infuse social and emotional learning into your lesson plans. Incorporate activities that promote empathy, self-awareness, and critical communication skills among students and their learning community.

Continuous Professional Learning Plan: Create a personalized professional development plan. Attend workshops, webinars, or learning opportunities that support you in staying current on the latest education trends. Collaborate with colleagues to share insights and strategies.

By implementing these action items, educators can contribute to cultivating excellence in classrooms in a way that supports students’ overall well-being and growth.

Anti-Oppressive Education: Creating an Equitable Society for all.

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of anti-oppressive practices in elementary education in Ontario. Anti-oppressive education aims to dismantle systemic barriers and address inequities within the education system. This reflection explores the significance of implementing anti-oppressive practices in elementary education in Ontario, highlighting the impact on students, educators, and the broader society.

In Ontario, as in many other regions, elementary education has not been immune to the effects of systemic oppression. “Historically, marginalized groups, such as Indigenous peoples, racial minorities, individuals with disabilities, and those of lower socioeconomic status, have faced discrimination and inequitable treatment within the education system” (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2006). Such oppression can manifest in various forms, including biased curricula, discriminatory discipline practices, and a lack of diverse representation among
educators and staff, to name a few.

“Students who experience oppression in the education system may suffer from lower self-esteem, reduced academic achievement, and disengagement from learning” (Tuck & Yang, 2012). “Moreover, perpetuating oppressive practices can perpetuate cycles of poverty and marginalization, deepening social disparities and hindering social progress” (Freire, 1970). As educators, understanding and incorporating anti-oppressive practices in our praxis is crucial to disrupting and dismantling the many fibres of anti-oppression prevalent in the euro-centric teaching spaces we often occupy.

The Role of Anti-Oppressive Practices
Anti-oppressive practices are essential in elementary education to counter the adverse effects of oppression and create inclusive, empowering learning environments. “By integrating anti-oppressive principles into teaching strategies and curriculum development, educators can actively challenge stereotypes, promote diversity, and foster empathy and respect for all students” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2021).” Adopting inclusive teaching methods, which acknowledge and accommodate diverse learning needs, can also enhance student engagement and success” (Zhang & Carrington, 2019).

For example, using the seven competencies of the anti-oppressive framework as examined by ETFO, when educators are intentional about addressing biases, centring marginalized voices, challenging power & privilege, building inclusive communities, embedding intersectionalities to mobilize systemic change while connecting issues of mental health, learning environments that foster belonging, questioning, curiosity, and the ability to engage in meaningful uncomfortable is created for students, educators, and all staff. It truly creates a community where transformation can occur.

“Anti-oppressive practices encourage critical thinking and dialogue about social justice issues, helping students become active and informed citizens who can advocate for equality and fairness” (Shor, 1992). By challenging the status quo, educators play a pivotal role in shaping a generation of individuals who can create positive transformational societal change.

Learning as Educators
To effectively implement anti-oppressive practices, collaborative learning opportunities and dialogues with diverse colleagues can foster a deeper understanding of different perspectives and experiences. Anti-oppressive practices involve not only what is taught but also how the learning environment is structured. Schools must intentionally foster safe and inclusive spaces for all students, regardless of their background. “This may involve adopting restorative justice practices instead of punitive measures, implementing equity-focused policies, and providing necessary resources to support the diverse needs of students” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2020). Implementing anti-oppressive practices requires support from the broader educational system, including school boards, administrators, and policymakers.

Incorporating anti-oppressive practices in elementary education also requires collaboration with families and communities.” Engaging parents and caregivers in meaningful partnerships can provide insights into students’ unique needs and strengths, promoting a holistic approach to education” (Epstein, 2001). Building relationships with community organizations can also expand opportunities for students to connect with their cultural heritage and engage in real-world learning experiences. To achieve this goal, ongoing professional development for educators, support from the educational system, and collaboration with families and communities are all indispensable components.

“By acknowledging and addressing systemic barriers, the education system can create a more equitable platform for students and educators. This may involve reviewing and revising curriculum standards to be more inclusive and culturally relevant” (Ladson-Billings, 1995). As an educator, engaging in curriculum audits to ensure that I am reflecting my students’ experiences (as a mirror) and facilitating learning of the experiences of many others outside of my student’s communities/identities (as a window) empowers all students as they develop their understanding of themselves as global citizens. As educators, understanding and incorporating anti-oppressive practices in our praxis is crucial to disrupting and dismantling the many fibres of anti-oppression prevalent in the euro-centric teaching spaces we often occupy.

An Anti-Oppressive Framework

More work still needs to be done in incorporating an anti-oppressive framework and utilizing anti-oppressive practices in Ontario (and in all of Canada) schools. Implementing anti-oppressive practices in elementary education in Ontario is essential for fostering inclusive, empowering, and transformative learning environments. By challenging systemic oppression, educators can cultivate critical thinking, empathy, and social awareness among students, shaping them into active participants in creating a more just and equitable
society.

Check out ETFO’s Anti-Oppressive Framework: A Primer which “provides an entry point for all learners and an opportunity for critical engagement, understanding and action planning on anti-racist education, anti-oppressive practices and equity initiatives” (ETFO, 2021).

 

 

References:

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. (2021). Anti-Oppressive Framework: A Primer. Retrieved from https://www.etfo.ca/news-publications/publications/anti-oppressive-framework-a-primer

Epstein, J. L. (2001). School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and
improving schools. Westview Press.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational
Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491.

Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2006). Human rights and school boards: Obligations to address
racism and discrimination. Retrieved from
https://ohrc.on.ca/en/human-rights-and-school-boards-obligations-address-racism-and-discrimi nation

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2020). Education for all: A guide to effective implementation.
Retrieved from
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/speced/Guide_to_Effective_Implementation_E N.pdf

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2021). Anti-racism in education: A resource guide for Ontario
schools. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/equity.pdf

Shor, I. (1992). Empowering education: Critical teaching for social change. University of Chicago
Press.

Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity,
Education & Society, 1(1), 1–40.

Webb, J., Schirato, T., & Danaher, G. (2002). Understanding Bourdieu. Sage.

Zhang, L. F., & Carrington, S. (2019). Inclusive teaching in action: Supporting teachers and
pupils in mainstream classrooms. Routledge.

 

Micro Presses: Unveiling Literary Treasures from Unconventional Sources

In the vast publishing landscape, micro presses stand out as literary diversity and innovation beacons. While mainstream publishing houses dominate the industry, micro presses offer a unique avenue for discovering lesser-known voices and unconventional literary works. This article delves into the world of micro presses, exploring how they unearth hidden literary resources in less-seen places and enrich literary culture.

In recent years, micro presses, indie or small presses, have gained momentum as alternatives to traditional publishing models. These intimate operations often specialize in niche genres, experimental writing, and works by emerging authors who need help finding footing in mainstream publishing. Unlike their larger counterparts, micro presses prioritize artistic integrity, literary merit, and community engagement over commercial viability. Consequently, they play a pivotal role in diversifying literary landscapes and amplifying voices that may otherwise remain unheard.

One of the most compelling aspects of micro presses is their commitment to exploring literary resources in less-seen places. While major publishing hubs like Toronto, Vancouver, New York City and London receive considerable attention, micro presses actively seek out voices and stories from overlooked regions, marginalized communities, and underrepresented cultures. By tapping into these diverse perspectives, micro presses enrich the literary canon and challenge dominant narratives, offering readers fresh insights into the human experience and the world.

Micro presses are steadfast champions of diversity and inclusion, showcasing works that reflect the multifaceted realities of contemporary society. Voices from racialized, marginalized and underrepresented communities and backgrounds are highlighted meaningfully, providing a platform for diverse voices to resonate authentically with readers. In doing so, micro presses foster an inclusive literary landscape where all voices are celebrated and valued.

In addition to promoting diversity and inclusivity, micro presses are incubators of literary innovation and experimentation. Not constrained by high sales pressures, these independent publishers embrace risk-taking, boundary-pushing, and unconventional storytelling techniques. From hybrid genres to multimedia formats, micro presses encourage writers to explore new creative possibilities and challenge traditional notions of what constitutes literature. As a result, they contribute to the evolution of literary art forms and inspire readers to engage with literature in fresh and exciting ways.

In an age dominated by mainstream publishing big houses, micro presses offer a breath of fresh air in the literary landscape. By illuminating hidden literary treasures from unconventional sources, these indie publishers enrich our literary experience with diverse voices, innovative storytelling, and inclusive perspectives. As readers, writers, and literary enthusiasts, we stand to gain immeasurably from exploring the offerings of micro presses and supporting their mission to amplify marginalized voices and expand the boundaries of literary expression. In doing so, we nurture a vibrant and resilient literary culture that continues to inspire, challenge, and unite us all.

 

Micro presses to explore:

A Different Booklist

Annick Press

Another Story Bookshop

House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books

Knowledge Bookstore

Unique and independent bookstores in Ontario

 

Picture by C-B studio

The Art of Cursive Writing: A Valuable Journey.

In the bustling world of elementary education, where the focus often lies on specific subjects and foundational skills, including cursive writing might seem like a quaint notion. However, delving into the art of beautiful writing from an early age brings forth many benefits.

Alright, picture this: little ones in elementary school getting into the groove of cursive writing. You might think, “Wait, isn’t that more for grown-ups?” Introducing cursive writing to the kiddos early on is like unlocking a treasure trove of skills that go way beyond just pretty handwriting.

Primarily, cursive writing serves as a nuanced exercise in fine motor skill development. The meticulous movements required to craft elegant strokes with a pen or brush contribute significantly to the refinement of hand-eye coordination. As students navigate the intricacies of cursive writing lettering, they concurrently enhance their motor control, laying the groundwork for improved dexterity in various academic and extracurricular activities.

Moreover, cursive writing imparts invaluable lessons in patience and focus. The deliberate and measured approach demanded by the art form instills a sense of meticulousness in young learners. In an era characterized by constant stimuli and distractions, instilling the ability to concentrate on a singular task becomes a transferable skill that can positively impact a student’s overall academic experience.

But it’s not all serious business. Cursive writing is a way for kids to show off their personality. Scribbling becomes an art form, a canvas for expressing feelings and ideas. That creative outlet isn’t just about making pretty letters; it’s about feeling proud of what they create and boosting their confidence.

Within the language arts domain, cursive writing uniquely combines visual and verbal communication. As students engage with this art form, they naturally develop an enhanced appreciation for the aesthetic aspects of language. This heightened sensitivity to the visual nuances of letters and words can elevate their understanding and enthusiasm for written expression, transforming language arts into a more captivating and enjoyable subject.

The advantages of learning cursive writing extend beyond the academic sphere, reaching into the realm of mindfulness and well-being. This art form’s deliberate, meditative nature gives students a serene space to explore creativity. In navigating the rhythmic flow of ink on paper, students can cultivate mindfulness, offering a valuable respite from the frenetic pace of contemporary life.

The integration of cursive writing into elementary education transcends the mere enhancement of penmanship. It represents an investment in the holistic development of students, fostering skills that span from refined motor control and patience to enhanced creativity and an enriched appreciation for language arts. The early introduction of cursive writing catalyzes comprehensive student growth, leaving an enduring impact on their academic journey.

Elementary – Podcasts as a resource to broaden and deepen teaching practice.

Elementary is a podcast for teachers, education workers, and anyone who wants to know more about public education in Ontario. This podcast will take on some of the big issues in education, outline opportunities available to ETFO members, and bring together educators, activists, teachers, and students to share ideas and information about education” (ETFO, 2023).

In the ever-evolving realm of education, continuous professional development remains vital for educators to fine-tune their teaching practice and deepen their grasp of pedagogy and subject matter. Enter podcasts – the dynamic, accessible, and conversational tool transforming how educators broaden their horizons and refine these skills.

Picture this: educators like you and me tuning in to podcasts during our daily routines – be it commuting, exercising, or catching a breather between classes. Podcasts offer a variety of content, from insightful discussions on pedagogy to practical classroom strategies, all at our fingertips.

One of the primary benefits of podcasts is their ability to broaden understanding by providing access to expert insights and diverse perspectives. We can explore topics ranging from innovative teaching methodologies to discussions on equity and inclusion in education. By tuning into podcast interviews, discussions, and expert analyses, we gain exposure to new ideas, approaches, and best practices that enrich our professional repertoire.

But wait, there’s more. Podcasts don’t just scratch the surface; they invite us to dive deep into complex educational issues and theories. Through thought-provoking analyses and real-world examples, we’re encouraged to critically engage with content, challenge assumptions, and explore new avenues for teaching and learning. It’s like having a fireside chat with fellow educators, sparking ideas and igniting our passion for education.

From implementing innovative strategies to fostering student engagement, podcasts inspire us to infuse our classrooms with creativity and purpose. They’re our go-to resource for staying ahead of the curve and keeping our teaching practice fresh and dynamic.

Podcasts are more than just audio recordings; they catalyze growth, inspiration, and community among educators. As we embrace the conversational nature of podcasts, we embark on a journey of exploration and discovery, enriching our practice and empowering our students to thrive.

So, fellow educators, let’s plug in, tune in, and elevate our professional growth – It’s Elementary. Together, let’s spark meaningful conversations, ignite change, and shape the future of education, one episode at a time.

“You can listen to Elementary here or find it on most podcast apps.”

 

Reference:

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. 2023. Elementary: A podcast from ETFO. Retrieved from https://www.etfo.ca/news-publications/publications/podcast-elementary

logo of the International Decade for People of African Descent

Empowering the Future: The Significance of the International Decade of People of African Descent in Elementary Education

Picture: UN Promotional Materials

The International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) emerged as a pivotal force in pursuing a more inclusive and equitable education system. Focused on championing the rights and contributions of individuals of African descent, this global initiative carries significant implications for elementary education, where foundational values of respect, understanding, and embracing diversity are imparted to young minds.

This decade was positioned to act as a catalyst for promoting cultural diversity within elementary schools. By integrating the history, heritage, and achievements of people of African descent into the curriculum, we cultivate a learning environment that authentically mirrors the world’s diversity. This enhances the cultural awareness of all students and fosters a sense of inclusion for those of African descent.

In the formative years of elementary education, children are shaping their perceptions of race and ethnicity. The IDPAD represents an opportunity to disrupt stereotypes by presenting a more accurate portrayal of people of African descent. The use of diverse educational materials and narratives enables students to gain a comprehensive understanding of the contributions and achievements of African communities.

Incorporating the principles of IDPAD into elementary education is crucial for creating an inclusive and fair learning environment. By celebrating the diversity of cultures, traditions, and perspectives within the African diaspora, schools contribute to breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of unity among students of all backgrounds.

Moreover, educators must recognize the importance of showcasing the achievements of individuals of African descent to inspire their students. By highlighting diverse leaders, scientists, artists, and historical figures through the lens of IDPAD, elementary education offers a broader range of role models for young minds to emulate.

IDPAD goes beyond fostering a global perspective; it emphasizes collaboration and understanding on an international scale. Lessons exploring the experiences of people of African descent contribute to global awareness and nurture a sense of solidarity with diverse communities worldwide.

Educators play a pivotal role in shaping the values and attitudes of students during their elementary years. IDPAD equips them with the tools to address racism and discrimination by fostering an understanding of the challenges faced by people of African descent. Educators nurture a generation committed to justice and equality by engaging in open and honest discussions.

Now, more than ever, educators must incorporate IDPAD principles into their teaching practices. The global call for justice and equality underscores the urgency of instilling these values in young minds. By integrating the lessons of IDPAD, educators contribute to developing socially conscious and empathetic individuals ready to navigate and challenge the complexities of a diverse world.

Beyond symbolism, the International Decade for People of African Descent is a resounding call to action in elementary schools worldwide. By embracing IDPAD principles in education, we empower young minds to embrace diversity, challenge stereotypes, and contribute to a fair and inclusive society. Elementary education becomes the fertile ground where seeds of understanding are sown, cultivating a generation prepared to shape a world where everyone’s story is acknowledged, celebrated, and valued.

 

References:

United Nations. (n.d.). International Decade for people of African descent. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/decade-people-african-descent/background

The International Decade for People of African Descent: Who have these ten years served? Black Agenda Report. https://blackagendareport.com/international-decade-people-african-descent-who-have-these-10-years-served

picture of trees in winter covered in snow

Embracing the Chill: The Crucial Role of Winter Outdoor Learning for Kids

Picture by Iyanuoluwa Akinrinola

The resource, “How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years,” states that Educators should pay heed to the environment to ensure that their beliefs and values about children and learning are represented in the space. It goes on to say that these benefits occur especially within children’s connections to and interactions with the natural world because the growing body of research suggests that connecting to the natural world contributes to children’s well-being in many ways.

The idea of taking education outdoors might seem counterintuitive as winter blankets the world in a glistening layer of snow. However, the benefits of outdoor learning in winter for kids are as vast as the snowy landscapes. Beyond the cozy confines of the classroom, the winter wonderland serves as a rich and dynamic setting for valuable educational experiences.

Winter transforms the outdoors into an expansive classroom, providing a unique and captivating environment for learning. The crisp air, frost-kissed trees, and snow-covered landscapes offer a sensory-rich experience that engages children on a different level. It’s a living, breathing textbook where lessons extend far beyond the pages of a conventional workbook.

In the winter, the great outdoors becomes a playground for physical activity. Engaging in winter sports, building snowmen, or simply stomping through the snow provides an excellent way for kids to stay active and healthy. The invigorating cold air can also boost their immune systems and contribute to overall well-being. Winter also offers a prime opportunity for hands-on scientific exploration. Kids can observe the unique properties of snow and ice, explore changes in the natural environment, and learn about the fascinating adaptations of plants and animals to the cold season. Outdoor winter activities can serve as a gateway to lessons in the sciences: chemistry, physics, biology, and environmental science.

Experiencing and adapting to winter conditions fosters resilience in children. From dressing appropriately for the weather to problem-solving in snow-related challenges, outdoor winter learning instills a sense of adaptability and perseverance. These life skills extend beyond the classroom, preparing kids to face challenges confidently. Similarly, winter’s white canvas sparks creativity in young minds. Whether crafting intricate snow sculptures, composing winter-themed poems, or capturing the season’s beauty through art, outdoor winter learning encourages imaginative expression. The open-air setting inspires fresh perspectives and allows children to connect with their creative instincts.

Outdoor winter activities provide a social arena for kids to collaborate, communicate, and develop interpersonal skills. Building snow forts, organizing winter games, or engaging in collaborative projects foster teamwork and camaraderie. The shared experience of conquering winter challenges creates lasting bonds among peers. Connecting children with nature in winter lays the groundwork for environmental stewardship. Understanding the seasonal cycles, appreciating the delicate balance of ecosystems, and witnessing the impact of human activities on the environment instill a sense of responsibility towards nature.

The winter landscape is not a barrier to learning; it is an expansive canvas waiting to be explored. Outdoor learning in winter for kids is a holistic approach that nurtures physical health, scientific curiosity, resilience, creativity, social skills, and environmental awareness. As educators, let’s embrace the chill and open the doors to a world of educational opportunities extending far beyond the confines of indoor classrooms. Winter is not just a season; it’s a classroom waiting to be discovered.

The Significance of Professional Learning for New Teachers

PL Value

Participating in professional learning (PL) is a valuable and optional supplement to the ongoing job-embedded PL during the school day and the New Teacher Induction Program, to which new teachers are entitled. This additional avenue for growth aims to provide a range of benefits to educators, complementing their existing learning experiences.

New teachers are encouraged to consider the optional opportunities for professional learning to deepen their understanding of teaching strategies, methodologies, and innovative instructional techniques. These programs offer workshops, seminars, and conferences that provide insights into effective teaching practices aligned with the latest educational research and curriculum standards. As teachers become more adept at adapting their methods to different learning styles, students can benefit from more engaging and impactful classroom experiences.

PL Growth

In the dynamic field of education, characterized by a constant evolution in technology, research, and teaching philosophies, engaging in professional learning becomes a choice to stay current with the latest trends. This allows new teachers to integrate cutting-edge tools and pedagogical approaches into their teaching, ensuring students receive the most relevant and up-to-date education possible.

The optional nature of professional learning also allows teachers to refine their teaching techniques and experiment with diverse strategies tailored to meet the individual needs of their students. This enhancement of instructional effectiveness can increase student engagement, academic achievement, and overall satisfaction in the learning process.

Engaging in the reflective aspect of professional learning provides opportunities for personal growth for all teachers. Through workshops and exercises, educators can evaluate their teaching practices, identify areas for improvement, and set goals within the current school year and for the next academic year. This reflective process contributes to increased self-awareness and proactive pursuit of professional excellence.

PL Connect

Professional learning is highlighted as a platform for establishing a supportive professional network. New teachers can connect with experienced educators, administrators, and experts during these events, fostering collaboration, idea exchange, and access to mentorship opportunities—all contributing to ongoing growth and career advancement. Seasoned teachers can also connect with new teachers to gain different perspectives, explore new insights, and often develop and foster a culture of collaboration and cooperation.

Addressing specific challenges that teachers may face in their classrooms is presented as an optional benefit of engaging in professional learning. Workshops or training sessions focusing on classroom management, student engagement, anti-oppression, or addressing the needs of diverse learners become opportunities for new teachers to develop effective strategies to continue to refine the tools that they need to effectively facilitate their student’s learning from a culturally responsive lens, as they create a positive learning environment.

Recognizing the need for more significant support in the early careers of new teachers, engaging in professional learning can be a proactive choice to mitigate challenges, equipping educators with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle classroom complexities effectively. This support system fosters job satisfaction and professional growth, increasing teacher retention rates.

One Learning Journey at a Time

All educators are encouraged to seek out professional learning opportunities. Members are invited to explore the optional conferences and workshops ETFO offers over the school year and in the summer. These opportunities provide benefits such as enhancing teaching skills, staying current, developing specialized expertise, building a professional network, addressing challenges, and fostering reflective practice. By choosing to invest in professional growth, educators have the potential to positively impact their students’ lived and learning experiences and contribute to achieving equitable education for all students, one learning journey at a time.

Register for a professional learning workshop with ETFO today. 

What’s in a name?

Hello, my name is…
I have never heard that name before
… Can you say that one more time?
Is there a shorter form of your name?
That is a hard name… Can I call you…?

In the classroom, where knowledge blooms,
Names are like stories; never assume.
Each kid’s got a name, unique and cool,
A tale in sounds; don’t treat it like a school rule.

Some kids have names that might sound entirely new,
Hold onto them; it’s what makes them true.
It’s on you to get it right,
Say those names like you’re reading the night.

Generations of kids given names with pride,
A cultural mark; don’t let it slide.
In each twist and turn of every name,
There’s history, stories, a deep-rooted claim.

Step up; it’s part of your task,
To honour each name, even if you must ask.
Mispronunciation, that’s a miss,
Say it right, it’s a big part of this.

Empower students, let their names ring,
In each syllable, let understanding cling.
The classroom is where their stories bloom,
In every name, there’s room for room.

In the everyday chatter, let respect be heard,
For names are more than just a word.
It’s on you, make no mistake,
To say each name and raise the stakes.

In classrooms where futures unfold,
Speak each name with clarity, let the story be told.
For the duty is yours, let it be clear,
To honour, to learn, to be challenged, to care.

 

Why Pronouncing Students’ Names Correctly is So Important