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Wrapping Up The Year

The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect and I’m certain that within our profession, I am not the only one who feels this way. Today being the last day of school, my mind is working overtime as I continue to unpack the year that has past and looking forward to the opportunity to rest and recharge over the summer.  For the last month, I’ve spent time in deep reflection, and starting tomorrow, I’m going to be focused on taking care of myself and making sure that I’m up for the challenge in September. In terms of reflection, I like to think back on the year and consider: what worked; what didn’t; how I’ve grown; what I’ve learned; and what I might like to change for the following year.  As I say goodbye to my current school, I’m looking forward to an incredible new opportunity at my next school. In this post, I’m sharing some of my thoughts going into the summer and looking forward.

Students, Students, Students

It’s what teaching is all about! How we support students; how we facilitate student learning; and how we learn with and from students. When students – and their families – are at the center of the work that I do, I feel a sense of purpose and reward. Over the last few years, let’s face it, it’s been challenging. This year, when the distractions came, I tried to focus on what was most important and what I could do. If there was something that I couldn’t do, I didn’t, without guilt. I worked as hard as I could for students and I’m content with what I was able to do. Also, I asked a lot of questions – why is this important? Who does this benefit? If it wasn’t of benefit to students, I kindly declined. It’s easy to get distracted by the myriad of things popping up on our plates. I’m grateful that this year forced me to focus on students and their learning and I plan on continuing come September.

Take Time to Recharge 

We all know that we can’t be good for others if we aren’t good ourselves.  As teachers, many of us are problem solvers and we jump in and are there to support and care for others.  This summer, please take time for yourself. This past year, I learned the value of saying no to “opportunities” and really taking the time to take care of myself. This summer will be the first in years that I will be completely focused on taking care of myself and recharging to make sure that I’m ready for a healthy September. What will you do? How will you take care of yourself this summer? What does recharging look like for you?

Hear or See Something? Disrupt Publically!

I’ve written extensively about my experiences as a Black student and teacher. Things that I saw, heard, and experienced are sadly, things that I see, hear, and experience in the present day, although there are decades in between. Many of us know the lingo to add to our bios or to say in interviews – diversity, inclusion, equity, disrupting, dismantling, etc. – and yet, I wonder how many of us know what they actually mean within the school setting. When you see something, how are you disrupting? This includes experiences between students but also between teachers and students and between teachers. Notice who enters or doesn’t enter certain spaces within the school building. Why is that? What does it say about school culture? How do we build better community within our schools? I can’t tell you the number of times that people have come up to me in private after something public has happened and apologized for the actions of another. It’s time to publicly disrupt or nothing will change for those most marginalized – students and teachers alike. 

The past few years have been challenging. This summer, please take time to rest and recharge. The year ahead will be another filled with challenges. Let’s do what we need in order to make sure that come September, students can be at the center of what we do. Also, once September arrives, when you hear or see something, please disrupt. Congratulations on completing another year in education. Wishing you a safe and restful summer & a great start to the new school year.

Virtual Goodbyes

Last June, Will Gourley posted Before you click “End the call” after his experience with virtual learning in the 2020-2021 school year. I thought about this post often during the 2021-2022 school year as I wore the hat of Virtual Kindergarten teacher.

The thought of clicking “end the call for everyone” for the very last time leaves me with an unsettling feeling. Though we are ending on a high note in our class and filling the day with games, stories, songs and sharing, I can’t help but feel like something is missing.

I hope my students know how proud I am of them for how hard they’ve worked despite the many challenges that come with learning online. I told them daily how much they meant to me, but I hope they felt it in their hearts. I am not really great at goodbyes, I much prefer a “see you later” – as many of us do. I recently saw a post on social media (of which the author I cannot find), reminiscing on how educators work tirelessly to create a classroom family, only to say goodbye to their family each June.

Is this something that gets easier with experience? Or does it sting just the same 20 years later? As a new teacher, I cannot answer that question. Reflecting on my latest experience teaching virtually, I hope I have given my students closure and helped to co-create a happy ending to the virtual world we lived in each day together.

Virtual goodbyes feel different.

As I say goodbye to my students virtually this June, I am also sending out a virtual goodbye to the ETFO Heart and Art Blog readers as I type my last post. Thank you to the wonderful community of educators who come together to critically reflect on their practice, share their experiences and build connections with others. As I continue on throughout my journey in education, I am forever grateful to be surrounded by such passionate and inspirational people.

And to those people I say,

“Goodbye”

Please note: ETFO’s position on in-person learning remains unchanged. The union firmly believes that the daily, in-person model of instruction and support best meets the educational, developmental and social needs of students, provides the best experience for support, and is the most equitable learning model for all students.
ETFO’s expectation is that elementary virtual learning in any capacity, including through hybrid models of instruction, will end once the pandemic ends.

The Butterfly Conservatory

A few years ago, I visited a butterfly conservatory. It wasn’t my first ever visit, but it was my first visit through the lens of an educator as I was a teacher candidate at the time. I left the conservatory in absolute awe. Of course, the butterflies were beautiful, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the facility that housed the butterflies and the dedicated and knowledgable staff members that kept the butterflies safe and content.

I like to think of butterfly conservatories as an analogy for classrooms.

The focus in the conservatory is on the butterflies and giving them exactly what they need to thrive. Not all the butterflies got the same treatment, but an equitable environment was maintained by giving each species of butterfly what was required to meet its needs. Much like equity in our classrooms, students do not all need the same resources or supports to be successful, but they are all given equal opportunity to succeed by receiving individualized supports.

The butterflies can co-exist peacefully in the same space. Despite the creatures being of different species, different colours, or from different parts of the word, they live harmoniously. I like to think that within the core of all humans is a desire to co-exist peacefully with other humans. For some learners, this may take practice, repetition and patience, but the human need for connection and feelings of safety and belonging are innate and essential.

Lastly, this butterfly facility does not run itself and it is not run by just anyone. There is so much “behind the scenes” work that happens at places such as this, to ensure the butterflies and their visitors have an unforgettable experience. There were many tests being done to ensure air quality, temperature and humidity were remaining at optimal levels to accommodate for each different butterfly species present. The butterfly staff were not only knowledgable and had received training on how to care for the butterflies, but they were also passionate and proud to share the butterflies with the incoming visitors. Similarly, school staff are the backbone of the education system and put in invaluable time and effort “behind the scenes” to create optimal learning conditions and plentiful opportunities for students.

My analogy sticks with me and comes to mind often. Maybe this is something you’ve thought of before, maybe you have a more applicable analogy for classrooms, or maybe you’re now creating your own analogy for the first time.

Either way, one thing is true…

An ecosystem like the butterfly conservatory is delicate. It’s fragile. It can be damaged. What are the butterflies to do if their environment becomes destroyed or the homeostasis is disrupted?

Unlike the butterflies, we don’t fly away. ETFO members and education workers stand together in solidarity.

Though we may not be “living” in optimal conditions like the butterflies, we continue to advocate for public education, safe learning environments for staff and students, and equitable learning opportunities for all.

Reflections

Looking back on the year, I think I will find it helpful to write this blog post so I can read it again in September and perhaps some other teachers can read it to assist them in preparations for a new school year. I would like to reflect on things that worked well this year and things that I may leave behind. It has been an incredible year of learning new things, learning how to teach new ways and of course, learning how to get back to doing the things we have loved to do. Without further preamble, here goes it.

Things that worked well

New seats every month

Students looked forward to selecting new group buddies each month in order to form new friendships and work with new people. Eventually, students decided to keep their seats as they had found a group they really messed well with. Students were excited for the change each month and some even reminded me the day before in anticipation for the change. I even threw in the option of teacher’s choice which is when I would assign them a random spot in the room.

Leadership Competition

Each year, I love to run a leadership competition in my classroom which gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their passion and commitment to our classroom and school. Students without the motivation to do anything beyond school work often find the extra energy when this competition is announced. How it works is that students that help out around the class or school would receive a small sticker that they would put beside their name. Before winter break, before March break and at the beginning of June, students count their stickers so far to see who is in the lead. I award the top five at the end of the school year a leadership certificate and a price of their choice. My top student this year volunteered/assisted around the class and school over 270 times this year. I look forward to running this again next year.

Pizza Sales

This year I assisted in selling pizza to the students in our school. Not only that, but I decided to turn it into a small marketing project by having students make posters, announcements and look at the cost/profit per slice. We then looked at the total cost and profit on a weekly basis, tracking why pizza would sell differently from one week to the next. It was an exciting class project as various 7/8 students would sell each week. They used this experience in job interviews for the food sales as I mentioned in a previous blog post.

Job Interviews

I loved hosting job interviews this year which coincided with our resume workshop. Students practiced for either real of fictional job opportunities. They had to provided references and list some experience within the school. The students who were successful were then selected to sell food at our soccer tournament. This was a great way to select the student leaders and I hope to do this again next year with other opportunities.

Student Coaches

Having older students coach the younger students is a great way for them to gain confidence, test their leadership skills and build their resume as a leader in our school. It was great to see my students excel and establish lovely connections with younger students. I also have students job interview for this position as well to ensure equity and transparency within the process. I hope to try this with many more sports next year rather than just soccer.

Equal celebrations for all

Placing the same emphasis on all holidays, board celebrations and spirit days next year will be an important way to establish and promote equity in our school. Making all celebrations optional and making sure all students feel valued. You can read more about how I approached this this year in some of my earlier posts.

Things I would not do again

Pre-planning each month

Planning a month in advance never worked well this year. I would find we would either finish early or late and then I would have to rework the entire plan. I would prefer to plan week by week next year but using the annual plan as a guide. This will ensure that I look at what I did the week before to see where I am going.

Longer assignments

I feel that my students had a maximum amount of time that they would like to spend on a final project/presentation. While students worked on their structures and mechanisms assignment, I found that they would get bored doing it for weeks at a time. The magic number for activities was one week. They would start on a Monday and have to finish or present by the Friday. This would ensure that they put their best effort into it and would also make sure it did not draw on for too long.

Book Roles

Having students all read the same novel with a group of students does have it benefits but of course, none of them read at the same speed as another. I also found that they grew tired of the same six book roles and would rather just do one assignment about the book at the end of reading it. I think for next year I will let them select their own independent novel from the library rather than 1 out of 7 book group books that I had. I would also give the option of all the assignments but perhaps at the middle and end of the book.

That is all I can think of for now but aim to keep a book next year, making sure to keep note of things that worked well and didn’t, marking them down as I go. I hope everyone has a safe and restful summer and I look forward to blogging again in September!

Reflecting on Identity Boxes

In my schedule this year, I had a number of periods where I was able to partner with teachers around the meaningful use of technology. During one of these Assistive Technology periods, one teacher brought up the idea of supporting students on creating Identity Boxes, loosely based on the idea of Joseph Cornell’s Box. The idea was to work with students intentionally on understanding the many facets of our identities and how they intersect, and from there, to create a digital version – similar to James Cornell’s – where students could share their learning about themselves, with one another and their families. 

This past month, I had the opportunity to work with students to start the process of bringing their boxes to life and it’s been a great experience to work with them on using technology as a form of communication. From learning to link Slides and the meaning of symbolism to inserting images and formatting text, it’s been an interesting journey with students as they take their content and try to make it visually appealing for their audience. For me, this experience has reinforced three things: understanding identity is important; use of tech should be taught; and children love sharing about who they are when they know you will listen. In this post, I share about these three things.

Understanding Identity Is Important

Everyone is navigating and figuring out who they are in an ever changing world. Children are no different. At a very young age, they are identifying and learning about the different “parts” that make up who they are. While some are obvious, there are also parts that may be hidden or are yet to be uncovered. I think it’s important to discuss aspects of identity with children from an early age. Through open conversations, experiencing supportive relationships and seeing other people with similar identities being valued, children are able to develop a positive sense of self. 

In years past, I’ve worked on different activities to help students understand the various facets to identity. Depending on the age and the group of students, this work can look very different. The way we might discuss identity with a kindergarten student would differ greatly from a grade 7 or 8 student. Not only that, it would also depend on the work that has been previously done within the classroom to build a community where these important conversations can be had, without causing further harm, particularly to students who are already marginalized.

It’s important for teachers themselves to understand identity and how their own identities impact the way in which they teach and interact with students. As such, I always suggest that teachers take the time to do some of their own learning first. judy mckeown has provided teachers with an excellent resource – Pause and Ponder Social Identity Self-Assessment – that teachers may wish to use for themselves. The questions are rich and call for much reflection on how we navigate the world inside and out of our profession. I don’t think that there is one specific way to teach or do identity work with children – there are a variety of approaches that could be effective – but at minimum, I think it’s important for us to start by understanding what it is and how it influences how we navigate the world. 

Use of Tech Should Be Taught

Children are incredible with tech! I remember when my nephew was 2 and the joy he had on his face when he was able to use his iPad to pull up “Baby Shark” on YouTube. I didn’t think it could happen with him not being able to spell the words baby and shark as of yet, but if you can sing or say, “Baby Shark”, an iPad can find it with ease. 

Armed with this knowledge, I think that many believe that if we just give children a device, they’ll figure it out. Most times they do, but I’ve noticed that in order for tech to be used meaningfully, there needs to be some support with the learning. I mentioned in a previous post that I had the opportunity to partner with another teacher this year around supporting students in developing their proficiency with Google Slides. It was a really great experience because students were able to learn some of the basics that supported their use of tech and allowed them to communicate more effectively. These are skills that not only help for a particular assignment but that can be transferred across multiple subject areas and are skills that can be used beyond the classroom. 

Over the years, I’ve seen many strange and interesting things. Centering a title or the line spaces on text are important skills that students need to be able to understand how to do easily.  I’ve seen some who are excited to hit the space bar until the cursor lands somewhere in the middle of the screen. I’ve also seen students hitting the enter button to be able to double space their text, only to realize that if they change the font, the spacing is all off. These might seem like little things, but they’re also easy to teach kids in mini lessons. 

For the project on Identity Boxes, I helped students: link slides; share their slides in preview mode; and in the creation of collages of their images. Simple things that I don’t think we should take for granted that students will somehow be able to know how to do. Going forward, I really want to be intentional about creating mini lessons for students that support them in being more proficient in effectively using the G Suite for Education Tools. 

Children Love Sharing About Who They Are When They Know You Will Listen

Sitting with some of these students, it was apparent that they were eager to share parts of themselves with me. As I sat, I heard stories of their countries of origin – what they missed and what they brought with them – and also heard students share about the languages they speak and love. Although these are students that I also teach French for one period a day, having them share their Identity Boxes was almost like getting to know them on an even deeper level and it was an opportunity to see them in a different light. I felt honoured that they would share parts of themselves with me, so freely and with such joy. This experience has me thinking about the need to further offer students the opportunity to bring their whole selves to school every day and not just on days where they present parts of who they are. 

Reflection has been an important part of my growth over the years. This post allowed me the opportunity to reflect on one assignment, however, I will be taking more time for reflection and really thinking about what I will carry into next year and what I might just leave behind.

tracked and filed

My reports are completed. One hundred and ninety (190+/-) days of teaching, tasking, note taking, tracking, and now OSR filing are completed. If you are like me, then this time of year seems bittersweet.

Bitter because the act of writing report cards can be onerous. I am the first to admit that I love teaching, but hate putting a mark on things. To me, each time that happens creates a rift in the educational continuum. Regardless of rubrics, success criteria, and descriptive feedback, like on my most recent set of reports, the eyes of the reader will only be trained to the letter or percentage grade earned.

The time accumulating data, sorting through work, providing feedback is such a big part of our jobs. Yet, all this work, collaboration
and relationship building with students is distilled to a single letter or percentage grade.

When it came to the hybrid and emergency online learning many students struggled to complete work efficiently and effectively which would have been completed otherwise without issue in the classroom. Funny how computer tabs giveth and taketh away from one’s attention and abilities to learn as well as in person. In many ways, the past 2 and half years have shown us the value of being in our classrooms regardless of what consultants might have sold the powers that be in the current government.

Students received copious amounts of formative feedback that the summative result was an earned and culmination of their hard work and growth. Imagine if we could do that at every grade level. Perhaps that is the luxury I have had as a grade 4/5 teacher these past two years. Since there are no provincial assessments to ruin students lives in these years, they can really focus on the sheer joy of learning, making mistakes, unlearning, and trying again. I know this year has been a year of confidence building as much as it has been curriculum delivery, but it is important that our assessments match our students needs as their purpose is to improve student learning.

I am afraid we are still being forcibly blinded by a system incapable of seeing the brilliance of its youth each and every time we file another set of report cards. “We’ve always done it this way.” cannot be the next cliché in any of our minds if we truly want to support our students.

Reflecting on assessment at this time of year needs to be the call to action for each of us for this coming September. How can you create a space to track and file the learning that occurs in your classroom? What will be the first thing you change? How will you create the safe place for a do over or a retest or a late submission? How will you assess the strengths of your students’ abilities and needs?

Happy summer.

track and field

Track and Field Day

Is it possible to have 4 words to usher in the beginning of the end of the school any better than these? Perhaps class party early dismissal come close, but I have to admit track and field day takes first place. Although it’s been a while, we start each year off running with cross country in September and October. Somehow, they have set the pace to a year of engaging students in spaces outside of the classroom.  

Aaah there’s nothing like being outdoors in the fresh air watching students roam, run, roll, and occasionally hop from event to event. Whether it’s a 100 m dash across uncut grass, jumping events (minus high jump) or 4 laps around the building as an impromtu 800 m track it is definitely a day for students to outshine the noon day sun. Now this is my idea of distance learning. 

This year the events were held over the course of a week in order to accommodate for some wet Spring weather, but student spirits were undampened when rescheduling occured. They knew those freezees waiting at the rest station were only going to be more freezier from the wait. When the sun came out to stay, the competitions were underway. And they went off with relatively few hitches or injuries. Especially, that run around the school on an occasionally uneven concrete sidewalk. Even with a less than perfect track and field the students did really well. So why state the obvious in a union blog post?

Well I wondered that too at first when the idea baked into my head while watching our students compete. It also occurred while I watched students run events, while staff supervised, and when students had free time in between. It was like hundreds of different versions of the same moment happening simultaneously yet differently for all of us. WHOA! (Bill and Ted version)

So as I watched the days run their courses, I witnessed a lot of parallel events that might have gone otherwise overlooked if solely looking at the times, distances, and names on the events lists. Here are a few things that made it to the invisible podium that day. I’ll let you decide whether they are positive or negative. 

  1. Students are really helpful when they are empowered to lead and trusted to do so. This was so obvious as I watched volunteers from older grades lead their stations, show up on time, and encourage(wrangle, herd, shepherd) the competitors through their events. 
  2. Students really thrived with the extra time outdoors. These days were pure social with a healthy amount of friendly competition. I really appreciated how students from different grades lined the event areas to cheer on their peers. For the most part this was really wholesome other than the one or two knuckleheads who thought it was okay to mock their friends throwing abilities. #teachablemoment
  3. Students gave their best efforts considering that practice for these events (standing long jump, running long jump, ball throw, shotput etc.) is usually limited to Phys Ed classes that occur only twice per week. Seeing students struggling with these skills shows how much we have missed over the past two years of pandemic learning when we were online. 
  4. There will always be some students who choose to quit before a race is over.

I mentioned earlier that you will have to decide how to see this one

For me this has always been a toughy. Having been taught from the start to give it 110% and every other cliché in the book, I was left wondering why someone would quit in the middle of a short race when they were not injured? Have some of our students cracked some code here? Maybe it was easier for them to control the moment by ending it on their terms? All of this led to an interesting discussion with my 4/5 students. 

Since I was with them for most of that day, I saw a lot of determination and effort. I made sure I told them as such and how I was a bit relieved to see most of them push through even when first place, second place, and third place were not the prizes at the finish line while an unusually larger of their peers did not. I asked them what made them finish anyways? I also asked them what made them stop at certain times? Then I asked myself what needs to happen for everyone to finish their metaphorical events regardless of the outcomes? I guess that question has to be asked of all of us? Just like the events on track and field day, how we prepare ourselves for each day really matters. 

What keeps you going when the finish line seems further away than ever? What keeps you roaming, running, rolling or hopping until the end of the race? 

Whether it is fitness, meditation, hobbies, acts of kindness, family, friends, faith, pets, any or all of the above these pursuits/passions have helped many of us finish another school year strong despite the wretched election results, a year of hybrid learning hell (personal opinion), and countless uncovered COVID 19 absences due to systemic ineptitude. Without them, I am sure that I would not be in a good place this month.

I encourage you all to take heart, you’re almost there. The tape is stretched across the line of this decathlon of months spent planning, communicating, learning, unlearning, supporting, and teaching. You will cross that line and the rest to follow will feel so good. 

Looking Back Over the Year

In my twenty three years of teaching, this year has been like no other year. From working from home at the start of the school year, placed in a new central role with new schools, only to be redeployed a few months later into a new school community, to becoming an ETFO blog writer for the very first time. This year has certainly had its ups and downs. 

I am thankful for the support I have received from family, friends and colleagues throughout a very demanding year. Their support has been invaluable to my mental health and my professional journey, especially during these uncharted times. I am also very thankful to ETFO and to you, my readers, for allowing me to speak my mind on matters that are important to public education and social justice. This blog has really given me the opportunity to develop a personal voice and to be able to think critically about issues affecting publicly funded public education. Your feedback and responses to my blogs have been so thoughtful and supportive, it has allowed me to be more conscious of my words and the impact my message could have on viewers and on the profession as a whole, across the province. Thank you for all that you do and for allowing me to be me.

Most educators across the province, myself included, would probably say that they have had a school year like no other. They have seen many changes to their teaching assignments, they have adjusted to the demands of the numerous pandemic protocols, and they have weathered the storm through a very unpredictable political environment. To me, you are all heroes for making it through, for continuously advocating for public education and for always putting students first. We, as educators, are often the last ones to give ourselves props for the good that we do and the impact we make on the lives of students and their families. Well, this is the year we change that. This is the year we begin to see ourselves deserving of being praised and being recognized for our commitment to quality public education. This is the year we celebrate our successes, in spite of any bumps we might have had throughout the year. If others are not willing to recognize and celebrate our successes, then this is the year we do it for ourselves.

I encourage you to take this time to recharge, to rejuvenate and to self-indulge in whatever makes you happy, albeit in a safe and responsible way. Take comfort in knowing that the impact you made this year (and years past) does matter! I, myself, am looking forward to going out again with family and friends, to travelling beyond borders and to breathing unencumbered air again, while remaining safe and prepared for any changes to current protocols. I am going to bask in the sun and enjoy the moment, unapologetically. I deserve this, and so do you. Enjoy it freely! 

Amazing Race to the End of the Year

This year, I am so excited to bring back a game I played with my French students years ago: The Amazing Race.  If you are looking for a fun activity to consolidate student learning, this is a great way to motivate your pupils in the last few days, easily adaptable to any subject or unit.

The challenge that I had the first year I tried it was determining how to make equitable ‘teams.’ I was concerned that by letting students choose a partner, the group project mentality of “don’t pick _____ so we aren’t last” would come out and two top students would dominate the standings each day. Sometimes putting kids into pairs based on “close or similar” levels can work (e.g., and A and B student, a B and C student) and eliminate the compulsion for extroverted students to dominate an activity or the frustration or a student with differential learning needs who can’t keep up with the partner. In the actual Amazing race seasons, there are tasks with various skills needed so the idea is for students to see that everyone has a strength that can be used at some point in the ‘competition.’

I also try to put in some elements of the show that give the students a chance to show good sportsmanship. One year, a particularly strong team finished in a round with an “express pass” that could be given to another team to get a head start the next day. Instead of choosing another friend pair, these students graciously gave the pass to a classmate that had found the last round challenging because “we know that he tried really hard.” I like to think that this small act of kindness showed him that like in the Olympics, there are moments for competitors to demonstrate that winning with the right attitude can be just as important.

Every year when there are Field Day or other end of the year events, I try to encourage students based on a story I heard a father tell at the memorial service for my friend, who passed away while we were still in high school. The father told a heartwarming anecdote of how his daughter, who had petit mal epilepsy, chose to compete in a foot race and came last due to a lack of physical coordination. Watching tearfully as the medals were handed out, one of the coaches took her aside and explained that instead of coming last, she had really come seventh: because there were many other students who had chosen not to participate. Whatever the reason for sitting out the race, even if they were ahead of her with physical skills, she had demonstrated that by showing up she was willing to do her best for herself intrinsically. Years later, this is the attitude I try to instill in students: if you just show up, sometimes that can be enough to prove that no matter what day you are having, you have done your best.  And yes, this is naturally something I think about in my teaching philosophy as well.

 

Happy Pride Month!

As we enter into the final month of our school year, I cannot help but get emotional thinking about all the things we have struggled through this year. However, we are at the end and things are brighter and better than ever. We can all safely celebrate the things we haven’t been able to celebrate in years. Having a safe in person grad where students can dress up and celebrate is such a beautiful thing. I know my students are extremely excited and that is why we are throwing them the best grad ever!

Not only are we celebrating the end of a fabulous year but my class has been busy planning a variety of activities for Pride month. My colleague Melissa shared a great resource with me which was a PowerPoint filled with stories for Pride Month. I have attached the powerpoint at the very bottom of the post. My class chose the book called PRIDE, “The story of Harvey Milk and the rainbow flag” which is the story of Harvey Milk and how he wanted a flag for LGBTQ people to call their own. This story was very inspirational as my students had never heard of the history of the flag.

My students gathered in groups of four and came up with a few activities they would want to participate in to celebrate Pride. Here were some of their ideas:

◦ Paint the lockers in the six rainbow flag colours

◦ Make rainbow cupcakes

◦ Make rainbow drinks

◦ Have a mini pride parade

◦ Tie dye clothing rainbow colours

◦ Rainbow food party

Students were excited that Pride month was getting the same recognition as other celebrations and the same amount of time to plan how to celebrate. Our school recently has had a positive space club created by our public health nurse and two teachers. So students shared that the club is already doing some of the above listed activities as their celebrations so we shouldn’t select those.

We also discussed how just recently the Pride flag is being flown by all schools and the confusion around that since the Pride flag has been around since 1978. We discussed how even recently Pride crosswalks are being vandalized around the city. Students reflected on how awful these acts are.

After landing on our two activities, it’s also important that we keep learning about the importance of the month through articles, stories and news events. It is not enough to just decorate cupcakes but it is important to make our lessons embedded with the powerful message that everyone deserves to be treated equally. I wish everyone a happy Pride month and final month of school!

Pride Reading Room 2.0