daring 2024 – dragon edition

Au revoir janvier. Cue the fireworks as we look forward to the year of the Dragon along with many of our students. What a natural segue to a follow up to my earlier post daring 2023 where I unpacked what was daring in my classroom last year. For now though, let’s talk about dragons.

In the spirit of transparency, I am not a huge fan of fantasy books, neither of games with the word dungeons in them, nor into television shows where dragons are used as war machines in by gone Scandic empires. I am a fan of the book Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke and of the mythology, stories, and art about dragons in Asian culture. Most of what I have learned about the latter with regards to the cultural significance of the Chinese Zodiac has come from my students, and their families. As a result, I am always gifted with something new from those interactions. Whether it is during an in school celebration of Lunar New Year when students dress in traditional new year’s clothing from their culture, or a retelling of activities shared at home with extended family.

I may have also wondered whether the 12 year cycle animals and their respective traits correlates at all to what goes on from year to year in the classroom. Would I know well enough to differentiate with such limited experience? I was born in the year of the Horse after all. In a nutshell, I am adventurous, energetic, and independent, but lack academic intelligence. This really means I am going to need the whole village to point me in the right direction, but I’ll get there at my own pace once I know the way.

For reals this time: a bit more about the Year of the Dragon – 2024.
“Years of the Dragon include 2036, 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952…
People born in Dragon years usually possess natural courage, tenacity, and intelligence, often displaying enthusiasm and confidence. In Chinese culture, the Dragon holds a significant place as an auspicious and extraordinary creature, unparalleled in talent and excellence. It symbolizes power, nobility, honour, luck, and success.” via Year of the Dragon:

Talk about daring 

If the characteristics of a dragon are not filling your thoughts about the work we do as educators, take another look at the list of traits above. Even with my horse-like tendencies, I can relate to the exciting, daring, and dignified descriptors used to define dragons, I mean educators. As we move forward through the Year of the Dragon, let’s all be daring enough to recognize the incredible courage, determination, and energy we all bring to school each day.

The fact that only 1/12th of us are born in the Year of the Dragon is not being overlooked. If we look at the other years/animals of the Chinese Zodiac we will find numerous positive traits that educators possess as well.

Let’s dare to acknowledge and celebrate the work we do and the accomplishments of those around us. Let’s hold our heads high even when time’s get tough. Let’s dare to try new things and take chances without fear of failure. Let 2024 be the best Year of the Dragon ever- unparalleled in talent and excellence”.

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

thank you

It’s been a while since I’ve gushed, but as I was driving to school this week, I started thinking about ways I could show more gratitude for all of the good things that are happening in my professional life. This got me thinking about the staff at my school. In each aspect of the organization, there is much to be appreciated from our incredible office staff, caretakers, EAs, CYWs, DECEs, and admin. In that spirit, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Since this the core of readers of this blog are ETFO members, I will continue before the music plays me off and before being escorted off the stage. Here goes…

Thank you for putting in all the hours that make a difference in the
lives of learners before, during, and after school. 

Thank you for being the only smile that a child might see each day.
Thank you for being the hand that reaches out to a student who is feeling big feelings.
Thank you for being the one who comforts in times of uncertainty.
Thank you for being calm, considerate, and caring when things are not going well. 
Thank you for making sure that new kids feel welcome from the moment they
walk through your doorway. 

Thank you for teaching the basics.
Thank you for teaching the basics over and over again. 
Thank you for teaching the tough stuff.
Thank you for teaching the tough stuff over and over again.
Thank you for teaching morphemes, phonemes, and graphemes.

Thank you for providing accommodations regardless of identification(s) or not. 
Thank you for teaching number sense and problem solving,
and for teaching it over and over again. 
Thank you for extending due dates when needed,
and for allowing retests when things don’t go well the first time. 

Thank you for working hard over the summer to prepare for curriculum changes
even though you should be taking time to rest and recover from the prior year.

Thank you for teaching about truth before reconciliation. 
Thank you for ensuring that Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) are represented in your instructional resources.
Thank you for reading culturally relevant stories that allow all students to see themselves within them.

Thank you for creating safe and engaging classrooms where everyone feels seen.
Thank you for ensuring that students feel seen and know that they matter.
Thank you for seeing that every learner is 10 out of 10 at something, 
and for helping them discover and develop their unique talents. 
Thank you for hosting a GSA meeting and for displaying a “safe space” sticker. 
Thank you for running clubs and coaching teams. 
Thank you for spending recess after recess sitting in your classroom so students can catch up on their work.
Thank you for making accommodations that support the faith expressions of learners. 

Thank you for helping each other out by sharing resources. 
Thank you for answering questions and offering guidance to those who have recently entered our wonderful profession. 

There is always time for gratitude in this profession and this is my chance to show my appreciation if I haven’t mentioned it enough above. Thank you for all you do. Will

sssh, our students are trying to tell us something

Chaotic, cacophonous, raucous, lively, spirited, loud, energetic, full of beans, demanding, and too loud are all words that have been used to describe my classes over the course of my career. I have also heard irreverent (not disrespectful), confrontational (willing to challenge the status quo), and demanding (using their voices when things ain’t right) too, but that has been mostly in a positive light. To be truthful I have really come to appreciate their ebullience and passion when it comes to occupying their learning spaces. After all, it’s theirs. We just get to work within it.

Until this year, there has been one word not heard describing my homeroom though – quiet. Perhaps it is because we are only 4 weeks into the new year or that this group is still trying to figure out their new teacher (good luck to them) or that I have been blessed with a room that is 80 percent filled with phlegmatic and introverted personality types. Needless to say, the silence has been a bit deafening because this group is q-u-i-e-t.

What’s that you ask? How can a group of 6th graders possibly be quiet? I know, right? Yet, here we are about to take off on a little thought flight.

This year has me thinking about the approaches I am taking with this clearly unique grouping of oddly quiet scholars. Will it last? Am I jinxing myself by the mere mention of their tranquil behaviour? Is this what teaching is going to look like going forward in the post pandemic era of constant connectivity? After all, this group was in grade 2, just learning to fly, when they were grounded for nearly 3 years. How come there seems to be fewer relentless participants than in years past?

Do I need to build more quiet, reflective, and self-directed time into my day? Could this finally be the group that will meditate with me? Do our discussions need to be in smaller groups so those reticent voices have a chance to be heard? How do I honour the A-types because every classroom needs them too?

I started browsing about and found a line that encapsulates what I am seeing right now.

“Behind silent people there is an incredible thinking machine working.” ~Tina Panossian

I know that my quieter learners are working hard. I know that they are figuring things out on the inside rather than where it can be seen. For whatever reasons they choose to work this way, I will do everything possible to make them feel safe, feel seen, and know they are intelligent.

Here’s what has worked so far; the use of no hands participation, peer to peer discussions, and small group conversations. Each of these have helped me ascertain the information necessary to know when we are in full flight to our desired destination or whether we have lost all engines and are bracing for a rough landing somewhere uncharted. Either way, we are on this journey together. Perhaps this group prefers to plug in the headphones and read rather than talk with the folx sitting in their row?

Yet, despite not having much turbulence I think that there is still a lot of work to come in order to chart the best course in navigating this unique group. The world needs introverts. The world needs deep thinkers. It is in these two truths that I get really excited thinking about what can happen if the right conditions get created to give them all flight. All I know now is that there is a chance to build something new into my instructional spaces that might be a benefit to every learner. 

I think an update post will be forthcoming in December. 

Thank you for reading and reflecting with me. Please keep the conversation going in the comments.
Will

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

“Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain” by Zaretta Hammond (2015) explores the intersection of culturally responsive teaching practices and brain research. The book delves into how teachers can better engage and support students from diverse cultural backgrounds by understanding how the brain processes information and responds to different instructional methods. It addresses the critical need for educators to acknowledge and embrace students’ cultural identities and backgrounds while fostering optimal learning experiences in the classroom. This book offers valuable insights into how educators can effectively engage diverse learners and create inclusive learning environments.

Cultural Diversity and Educational Equity:
The book begins by highlighting the importance of cultural diversity in the classroom and its direct impact on educational equity. It discusses how students from various cultural backgrounds bring unique perspectives, experiences, and learning styles, which educators can leverage to enrich learning. Hammond emphasizes the significance of understanding the cultural influences that shape students’ cognitive development and the role of educators in acknowledging and respecting these influences.

Neuroscience and Learning:
In the following chapters, the book delves into neuroscience and its implications for teaching practices. Hammond presents research findings that shed light on how the brain processes information differently based on cultural background and experiences. By understanding these neural mechanisms, educators can tailor their instructional methods to match the diverse needs of students, thereby optimizing learning outcomes.

The Cultural Learning Framework:
Hammond introduces the Cultural Learning Framework, a practical and evidence-based model designed to guide educators in implementing culturally responsive teaching strategies. The framework provides insights into understanding cultural norms, community dynamics, and the impact of stereotype threat on student performance. It also emphasizes the role of the teacher as a cultural broker, fostering trust and building strong relationships with students and their families.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in Practice:
The book explores various culturally responsive pedagogical practices educators can integrate into their classrooms. Examples include incorporating culturally relevant texts, integrating students’ cultural practices into the curriculum, and promoting collaborative learning to encourage cultural exchange among students. Hammond emphasizes the significance of teaching students metacognitive strategies to develop self-regulation and critical thinking skills. Hammond provides practical examples and case studies throughout the book to illustrate how culturally responsive teaching and brain-based strategies can be implemented in various educational settings. The author emphasizes teachers’ continuous growth and development in their journey toward becoming culturally responsive practitioners.

Implicit Bias and Stereotype Threat:
Addressing the prevalent issue of implicit bias and stereotype threat, Hammond highlights these factors’ negative impact on student’s academic performance and self-esteem. The book offers practical guidance on how educators can identify and mitigate their biases and create an inclusive and supportive learning environment that fosters student success.

Professional Development and Teacher Training:
The book underscores the need for ongoing professional development and teacher training to equip educators with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement culturally responsive teaching practices effectively. It advocates for school-wide efforts to promote culturally responsive education and create a collaborative and supportive learning community for teachers and students.

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond is an indispensable resource for educators and educational stakeholders seeking to create inclusive learning environments and improve academic outcomes for diverse student populations. By bridging the gap between neuroscience and culturally responsive teaching, Hammond offers practical and evidence-based strategies to nurture all students’ cognitive, emotional, and social development, regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Embracing cultural diversity in education empowers students and contributes to a more equitable and socially just society.

Celebrations

Congratulations, you did it! We all made it through another year and are now on our much deserved summer vacation. This calls for a celebration! Yesterday at my school’s final PA day of the year, we were asked to reflect and share with our table-top the celebrations of the year. Things that have happened that we can positively reflect on. After everyone shared in the small groups, we were asked to share with our entire staff. It’s funny that with 10-12 different table groups, almost everyone shared the same general ideas. I am sure as you read this, hopefully you will also be able to share in the same celebrations. 

Reasons to celebrate the 2022-2023 school year:

  1. Student growth- the common idea amongst us all was that students grew from September to June. Not only with their reading, writing, etc. but their character developed. Behaviours settled down and students matured as the year went on. We were all able to identify a specific student that amazed us, specifically with their personal growth. I shared about a student who found it challenging to come to school last school year but thrived this year in a new classroom environment. Tears came to my eyes sharing about how proud I am of this student as his personal growth inspired me in so many ways.
  2. Writing- teachers shared about how their students could only write a few words at the beginning of the year but by the end, were writing stories by the end of a school day. I can also relate to this as I have so many students who doubled their writing samples by the end of June. 
  3. Reading- our school’s plan this year was small group guided instruction and we especially focused on this in our language classrooms. Many  of us noticed the impact this had on our students, focusing on phonics really allowed our students to grow as readers. Many of the primary  teachers worked with programs that helped their students read. They noticed large gains and were so excited to share the success that the reading specialist and these programs helped them to achieve. We are continuing with this goal next year and I look forward to starting small reading groups in September. My class especially amazed me with their reading abilities, decoding at grade level and making connections to what they read. 
  4. Making good memories- with the year having minimal disruptions, students had a hard time picking just one memory to share that was their favourite. Opportunities were available again for students to make memories and they were all so excited to share during the last few days of school. When my own students shared this was their favourite year of school, I was so happy to hear! I look forward to creating new memories in September. 
  5. Feeling like a family- something that I am personally celebrating is that feeling of togetherness that every educator hopes to achieve with their class. By the end of June, I can fully look back on the year and say we achieved it. With respect, random groupings, positive affirmations and weekly celebrations, I know that everyone felt that our class was a family. This feeling made the final bell especially hard to hear on the last day of school. However, I look forward to next year and hope to achieve that same feeling again. 

As we reflect on our successes from the year, they are probably some things we wish to “leave behind”. Whether it be a project, a mindset or a seating plan style that we didn’t quite like, it’s important that we don’t dwell on the negative, but look at the positives. I encourage you all to make a list of things that you want to celebrate from this year and think about it during your much deserved summer break. See you in September!

 

fine, everything is fine

I have a habit of saying, “fine” whenever asked how things are going. Whether it is symptomatic of a half century plus of social conditioning or simply learned ambivalence is still to be determined. It could be a combo of the two as well. I am a big fan of “fine”.

It has the insouciant distance and indifference that propels me past and through the issues of the day. After all, who wants to be a burden to others when so many are already maxed out with their own lives. Isn’t it the North American expectation to steadfastly power through the day with stoic determination. In many ways that’s what happens to people who stay in the safety of their silos. 

It is not beyond a single educator to utter this answer all the while knowing that behind the scenes, in our heads, or in full view of all to see that there is a lot of meaning to “fine”. It is a societal expectation that we respond “fine” because our polite programming provides the same answer each time even when it is not true. 

It’s not a lie if you believe it. – George Costanza

I love the quote above and it rings a little too true with this topic. Although it was intended for a different context in the show Seinfeld, it definitely applies when considering the mental health and well being of all who work in education. When will we have time to unpack the emotional baggage covered by “fine”? How do we get to a place of trust to provide the support that is necessary for us to listen as well as be heard? 

Breathe in, breathe out. I’m fine. You are fine. Everything is fine.  Thank you very much for asking and not burdening either of us with a truth that we verily have little time to acknowledge or attend to if it turned out to be false. Now, let’s get about our days. Sound familiar?

As a profession, there are few others to rival the frenetic paces that educators face over the entirety of a school year. Imagine each classroom along the lines of a corporate model where each grade occupies an important floor of a tall tower. On each of these floors there are numerous cubicles filled with team leaders and workers all charged with annually accumulating, accruing, and retaining the knowledge and the skills to find, climb, and remain on the next floor above them. 

With each September ‘new year’ comes the mysteries, highs, lows, and unexpected life events of a newly gathered group. Buckle up because it could be a bumpy ride. What surprises me, over most of my 14 years in education, is that the ride is nearly 3/4s finished before I realize where the heck I am. This explains the timing of this post in March with the realization that there is much work to be done. 

As if that collaboration and hard work to move on up wasn’t enough, the teams are dismantled, mixed, and reassembled to include other workers from their former floor, but now forming under different leaders just to keep it fresh. Despite the best efforts to make everything seem fine, I can’t help but wonder how students are doing too. The past 3 years have been anything but fine. Yet, as we move them from floor to floor, like the adults who lead them, they are already accepting that the only answer to give is “fine”. 

With all of the talk surrounding mental health and community wellness in schools, I am not fine with “fine” being the answer and am working hard to redefine the work I am doing around it. 

I’ll leave you with this.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of a meeting with student leaders from our school mental health collaborative.
This session revealed some extremely important truths that can light a path to somewhere good for students and teachers.
Here are my takeaways and echoed thoughts in (  ).

  1. Students are feeling the stress
    (Teachers are feeling the stress)
  2. Students want to do something about it
    (Teachers want to do something about it)
  3. Students are looking to work with educators to create and implement solutions
    (Teachers are looking to work with students to create and implement solutions)
  4. Students need teachers who can listen without feeling that they need to have any or all of the answers
    (Teachers need others who can listen without feeling that they need to have any or all of the answers)
  5. Students need teachers who will help lead programs that are relevant to their needs rather than those that have been prescribed from outside of the building.
    (Teachers need others who will help lead programs that are relevant to their needs  rather than those that have been prescribed from outside of the building.)

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comment box to keep the conversation going.  

Cultural Humility

At a recent P.A. Day, we were learning about “Cultural Humility” and how every person should somehow reflect on this on a daily basis. One definition I found is, “Cultural Humility Is: A personal lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique whereby the individual not only learns about another’s culture, but one starts with an examination of [their] own beliefs and cultural identities.” (inclusion.uoregon.edu)

Cultural Humility is a lifelong process

During our discussions, we talked about how this is a lifelong process, not just something you think about for a month. You need to always be aware of your own biases, maybe based on your personal beliefs or your cultural beliefs. As educators, it is even more important that we take time to think about this on a daily basis.

Everyone is equal

Part of this process is to recognize that no culture is superior and to also learn about other cultures. I think we can do a great job at this by making sure our classroom libraries reflect all cultures, that we make sure we are learning about every celebration and not just one from one culture, and also making sure that the articles and curricular content we are sharing is based on more than one cultural story. This is how we can start to make sure our cultural humility is shown in our own practice.

Be honest when you are unsure

We do not have to know all the things at all times (even though students think we do). It is okay to look things up, to be aware of what we know and do not know. There are so many great resources especially within our own ETFO articles that can help us learn more about this topic. I particularily enjoyed the content during February, having discussions about the Black History Month poster, etc. So it is best to be honest when you are not sure about a specific topic.

Learn about other cultures

I remember being a 13 year old in a Catholic School unsure of the other cultures around me. I knew there were other religions and other nationalities but I had never really learned about anything outside of my inner circle (my own culture). It wasn’t until high school that I started to find out about other cultures and by then, I had already lost so much time getting to know other people. This is why I love how creating these opportunities to learn about other cultures will help others see outside of their inner circle. I have a grade eight student who is so hoping to run a Culture Day by the time she graduates and I hope we have time to get it going. I think this is important of us educators too- if there is a culture we are unsure about, we could do some more research to find out about it.

Our school board has a program that was created to help our students understand more about this topic. Our program is called “LDR (Learn, disrupt and rebuild) and our Module 3- Exploring Human Rights helps students dig deeper into these topics. I challenge you all to think about your own cultural humility as it is a personal commitment but also a lifelong one.

Building Better Schools: The Plan

ETFO represents approximately 83,000 members, including public elementary teachers, occasional teachers, education support personnel, professional support personnel and designated early childhood educators. ETFO provides protective and professional services for members and promotes equity and social justice within the education system and the broader society. ETFO is a social justice and equity-seeking organization” (ETFO, 2023).

Did I need to introduce ETFO to you? I don’t think so, but I wanted to ensure I shared that with you in case you did not know. ETFO advocates for equitable educational practices and equitable justice for all public elementary educators to position these educators as the changemakers we need in the education system.

Conferring on July 1, 1998, “ETFO continued the work of two federations that had worked to promote and protect the interests of public school educators for 80 years. ETFO’s two predecessors were the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO) and the Ontario Public School Teachers’ Federation (OPSTF).” There was much in the works, and much at stake during the time of this transition, but “elementary teachers proved once again they were up to the challenge” (Ritcher, 2006).

I urge you to take some time to get to know ETFO’s history, mainly to understand the consistency of ETFO as a social justice advocate and equity-seeking organization that has remained steadfast through the ages. Becoming familiar with ETFO’s history will provide a deeper understanding of ‘The Plan’ that ETFO has launched as a guide for revitalizing public elementary education.

As stated in It’s Elementary (2018), the following are five frames by which you can understand the position in the fight for social justice and equity for public elementary school educators.
1) Federations work steadfastly to promote and protect the interests of their members.
2) Federations were, and continue to be, leaders in advocating for the rights of teachers and the broader society.
3) Funding for elementary education has been an issue since the 1800s.
4) Legal or collective agreement rights are never entirely secure; the union and its members have had to be vigilant in keeping elementary education issues in the public eye and on the government agenda.
5) The union’s strength depends on its ability to build member trust and solidarity for its work” (ETFO, 2018).

These have been ETFO’s guiding principles since its inception. This is the work ETFO continues to do, Building Better Schools by creating and fostering opportunities for culturally responsive growth and development within the Elementary Public school system for educators and learners.

Let us take the time to look closely at the 9-pronged plan for building better schools.

  • Addressing Anti-Black Racism
  • A funding formula that works for kids
  • A single secular school system for Ontario
  • A stronger voice for your educators and their union
  • Enriching student learning
  • Inclusive classrooms
  • Smaller classes for everyone
  • Support for students with special needs
  • Testing rooted in learning

As educators who desire equitable learning environments for all students, let us all take the time to ‘Join the Campaign’ and “protect our public education system so we can build better schools for everyone.”

Take a moment to reflect:

  • How does this challenge you to get involved with your union?
  • What attitudes, beliefs, or ideas do you need to change or adopt to bolster this needed plan?
  • What challenges do you think might arise as this plan unfolds?
  • How can you support ETFO (your union) in surmounting these challenges?
  • What skills/attributes can you contribute to your local or provincial office?

As Sharon O’Halloran (Deputy General Secretary, ETFO) said in the ETFO Voice, winter 2022 edition, “Our Victories Prove We Are Stronger When We Work Together.”

“Join one of ETFO’s provincial Standing Committees and provide your perspective and expertise in developing provincial policies, positions, programs, and initiatives. Vacancies for the 2023-2025 term are listed on the website. The deadline to apply is March 1. Apply online at members.etfo.ca/etfo/standing-committees.”

 

Reference:

Building Better Schools. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://www.buildingbetterschools.ca/

Transgender Awareness Week

Earlier this month, my class participated in discussions about transgender awareness week. We looked into the website provided by my school board which offered us many ideas of how we could learn and listen. Here is the website: Transweek Webpage The part of the mentioned website titled “Tips for Allies of Transgender People” was very helpful as it went over various situations many of us had found ourselves in before. The tips page can be found here: Tips These tips can be helpful for students, teachers, family members, etc. as many things we are currently doing could potentially be harmful for our trans students. Even something that we may think is as simple as “We are having a transgender week discussion today” to a trans student could be triggering.

Each student had a chance to write on a sticky note how they could be a supportive ally during transgender week this year. Here are the ideas from my grade 7/8 students:

  • Don’t assume, don’t say the wrong pronouns
  • Learn more about the history or Trans Awareness Week, be supportive and do not make any assumptions
  • Tell everyone about awareness and ask them to spread awareness 
  • Do not be violent or rude to transgender people 
  • Do not make assumptions about transgender people and  their sexual orientation 
  • Be nice, be friends and never ask someone if they are trans 
  • Ask pronouns before assuming genders 
  • Help raise awareness and visibility of transgender people and the issues their community faces 
  • Try not to be rude, everyone can be who they want to people, be careful not to mis gender someone
  • Treat everyone the same, let them be who they want to be, show them that you care and that they can live their life. Never make someone share unless they want to 
  • Respect the person’s boundaries about their pronouns, sexual orientation and how they represent themselves 
  • Believing everyone should be what they want, they have a choice and they should be themselves and we shouldn’t judge that 
  • Post about in a respectful way (hashtag, etc), never ask what someone’s “real name” or use the wrong pronoun, respect them and their gender, listen if they would like to talk about their gender
  • Don’t make assumptions and listen first
  • Be supportive, respectful and respect boundaries and pronouns

I thought all of these ideas were incredible and are a clear sign of how supportive and respectful this generation is. I am really trying to be respectful and diligent in making sure I do not miss any of the Awareness weeks this year. I even left a full period open in my schedule to discuss them each week. I sometimes find it challenging to try to make them all into a lesson so sometimes a discussion is all you need. Discussing these real world topics is so important and I find it is often the most rewarding part of the week.

Looking forward to sharing next time about how our survey project has revealed our December celebrations and how we will celebrate them all equally.