Uprooting Community: Orange Shirt Day

I need to first thank @jayodjick for his continual kind nature and supportive ways in helping this educator become more alert and aware of how to decolonize the education system.  Another Miigwech to @AlexanderJodyd for her continued support and guidance.

With Orange Shirt Day only a few days away, I am feeling the need to share some of the thoughts that come to mind as an educator, and a first generation Canadian (on one side).  I admit that I learned little of this land’s indigenous people prior to university or at least nothing that truly resonated.  It was Dr. Cynthia Alexander who opened my eyes to our FNMI community and it has sort of gone forward from there. The connection is what has helped some students better understand the importance of Orange Shirt Day and #EveryChildMatters 

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Many of my students are like me. They are either first generation or new to Canada Canadians or permanent residents.  Sometimes their overall understanding of the history of this land is not that far removed from their own lived experiences.  This is something that I have taken to mind when it comes to inclusionary practices of FNMI education in our learning.

Within our learning space, proudly hangs the works of Jay Odjick.  FNMI resources are not hidden in an educator closet, but proudly up front with the accesible reads for students.  On the wall, when the humidity is not extremely high, hangs a map of the Residential Schools here in Ontario.  There is more that could and should be added, but this is what students view daily, begin to ask questions about, and begin to connect it to their lives and where we sit now as community from coast to coast.

This year, I shared with my students a tad bit of my own story that in all honesty, was not often talked about.  I lost my father when I was 20 and it was not something I, nor my family was prepared for. I wish I had learned more of my history and understand my father’s narrative.  His father fled to Canada during WWII.  He raised money for my father, my grandmother, and his sister to come to Canada. From what my mother has told me, my father’s family was one that tried to help others, and as a result, they needed to flee to where they would feel safe.  There choice was Canada or Australia and knew little of either. Though it was not an easy road to getting back up on their feet, I was given the impression that they ‘made it’ without horrid persucution given they were from Austria/Hungry.  I am not looking for sympathy by sharing this story, I am trying to provide context to connext that will help students better understand the history of residential schools.

So how does this apply to Indigenous education let alone residential schools?  Why is sharing this story of my family’s past relevent?  In many ways it is not.  I am not here to draw grandisoque similarities nor to offend anyone, more so to share how I am attempting to connect students to a past that occured on this land that is sometimes, quite new to them.  My family’s need to flee ripped them from family they left behind or who chose go to somewhere else.  Their fleeing was not a complete choice, but there was some freedom in that choice.  Like some of my students, they have lived similar stories, leaving some family behind and heading to a new land where, everything is new; food, language, clothing, culture in general.  Though some are persucuted and unfortunately not all led to feel safe, they have, what some argue, a better life in the moment.

That is where I start to draw the connection.  Students have come here for a variety of reasons some of which we cannot even fathom.  For some, the idea of residential schools is quite far removed let alone FNMI culture/traditions/rights.  Drawing any connection to their lives through being uprooted is at the heart of how I begin to share what residential schools did to the people of this land and continues to do today.

I ask my students if they have been ever asked to cut their hair by an educator; have they ever been asked to shun their religion; have they ever been asked to not speak to their sibblings or been denied the right to go home when the day was done?  They all of course say no, though some are quick to point out that they are remnded to speak in English or French and well, that’s a whole other multilingual blog post convo to come.  Back to my point, students are encouraged to be who they are and to share it with others in a respectful manner in our school.  This was not the cause in our residential school system let alone the choice to ‘attend’ one.

Once students have responded to these questions, residential school system is shared and our inquiry and learning begin.  They begin to learn that students did not go by choice to these places called ‘school’.  That families were duped, torn apart, and in some cases, destroyed.  They learn that identity was denounced and that the use of one’s mother tongue or traditions led to punishments that would lead one to prison today.  They, present day students, begin to see how such an act can damage a family for generations in the sense that their moving to Canada has shifted the potential plans of their family. screenshot-twitter.com-2018.09.24-19-41-29

By drawing these, what some could call ‘over simplistic’ connections into the learning space, students can begin to understand the horrific decisions of this country’s past and better place themselves in a position to respect the land on which they live. Jay’s recent Twitter post says it all in terms of how aweful it all ways and the lengths families were taking to keep their family and community rooted together.  It is this point, the rooting of community, that draws me to the activity that I have been doing for the past few years.

This Friday, I be will be sharing the Roots of our Community Activity it will stay proudly in our learning space as a reminder that #EveryChildMatters.  We will be looking at where residential schools existed in Ontario, learning of the stories of those who surrvived throughout our school year, and become more informed as to the beautiful teachings of our FNMI community in connection with nature.  IMG_3361

There is much more I could write.  Like how much more I have to learn, how much I need to reach out to our FNMI community to come into our learning space or head out to their’s to be better informed, and to of course, respect this land that I am on through all means possible. I am committed to do doing better for the sake of generations to come.

It is my hope that our education ‘system’ sees the need and the necessity in decolonizing the curriculum to truly see that #EveryChildMatters and that the whole picture of the history of this land is a right that all who live here need to know.

My personal commitment is to honour the land that has granted myself and my family so much and to honour the people who have lived on this land for centuries.

Thank you, Merci, Miigwech.

Yours in learning,
The Enthusiastic Learner

(Blogged on Unceded Algonquin Territory)

 

 

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EdChangeGlobal 2018: July 21st 5AM EST Chat Guide

It was truly an honour to be part of the Ed Change Global 2018 online conference.  The title itself connects brilliantly with the ignited passion that I have for education in connection with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goalsglobal-goals-logo-share In all honesty, it is all I tend to talk about with family, friends, and colleagues whenever possible. The Goals are something we all need to be aware of and more importantly action in our lives no matter our age, positions, or location on this planet we call home.  Though I could go on for endless pages on why the Sustainable Globals, or Global Goals to some are an integral part to our world’s success, I will digress on focus on the 5AM – 6AM EST chat on the goals via a Twitter.

The chat will be an extremely open Question and Answer format using a Q1/A1 format.  If you happen to read this in time, I encourage you to put your answers in TweetDeck so as to generate diaologue among those participating.  The questions that are posted are merely guides; I have no expectation of direct answers.  Instead, what we would be wonderful to see is dialogue of questions, of responses, of idea generation as to how we can all better integreate Global Goals in our learning spaces and lives.  Here we go (yes, they are lengthy):

For all responses, please use: #ECGGlobal AND #ActionSDGs (it is a specific # meant for this chat that will be collectively archived and connected to the #TeachSDGs archive)

5AM EST Introduction: Introduce yourself with your prefered name, pronoun, and your role in education THEN head to Google My Maps – EdChangeGlobal2018: Fuisz’s SDGs Session and follow the directions.  We will be taking at least 10 mins for this.  Please ensure to share warm welcomes with each other and IF English is not your first language, please feel free to be bilingual or share a few words of your first language in this intro or anywhere in the chat for that matter.

 

515AM EST Q1: Take a moment to look at the Sustainable Development Goals no matter how versed they are in your own personal narrative.  If you could personally focus on one or two of these goals, what would they be and why?  Feel free to type your answer in via another medium and screen shot the response or use #G1 etc. to represent the goal(s) you wish to discuss.

 

525AM EST Q2:  If you have already integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into your learning space share how you have and student reactions/outcomes if possible. If you have not, and you are new to the goals, how can you see implementing the goals into your learning space?  Be sure to dialogue with each other, ask questions, dig into resources and share!

 

535AM EST Q3:  Think about your local community.  What are its needs in connection to helping to achieve the Global Goals.  Perhaps look at it through the lense of Service Learning or Experiential Learning.  We sometimes find ourselves stuck saying we are preparing our students for the real world when they already live in that world which we are ‘preparing them for’.  Thus, what opportunities can you integrate into your upcoming school year and how do they connect to the Sustainable Development Goals so that our students see how they can make a difference one small step at a time.

 

545AM EST Q4:  Please take a moment to read the incredible article on Lilly or watch this short video (Lilly Cleans up Litter)  Our youth have a remarkable resilience and perhaps a far more positive outlook on the future than many adults combined.  Our students need to see the positive in our world and many adults too; take a moment to find a positive article, video, or statistic that you can connect to the Sustainable Development Goals that has occurred in the past few years (so long as you can justify it as a positive growth in our world, then fear not of the timeline!)

 

557AM EST: Thanks, shout outs, doc for sharing resources etc.

 

The questions are well, an open opportunity.  Questions will be thrown in throughout pending on the participants as will resources from either myself or participants.  The end goal: spread awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and intergrate them into our leanring spaces and lives. 

Hoping to see educators of any sort join in for any length of time or any question.  The more voices the better!

With an attitude of gratitude,

The Enthusiastic Learner

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On Guest Teachers/Educators/OTs

I admit that my time as an ‘occasional teacher’ was limited.  It was also done during a time, though truly not that long ago, where an online system was not used an emails were not a priority to be shared among occasional teachers and the teacher you were ‘replacing’.  What I do remember is feeling stressed coming into a school for the simple facts that I did not necessarily know anyone, had no idea of the layout of the school unless it was posted online, let alone an idea of how awesome the students were going to be that I got to learn with during my time in their learning space.

Fast forward to now, and I am the homeroom educator/lead learner.  I refrain from using the word teacher often due to numerous opportunities where students are helping me to learn based on their interests and expertise and could go for days about why I have switched the wording.  I digress.  Back to guest educators vs. occasional teachers. 

GuestTEacher

Sparked by a colleague’s post on Twitter, the wonderful Spencer Burton, I thought I would share the practices that I am using in welcoming guest educators into our co-learning space.  It is important to note that these practices are evolving as feedback is continually welcomed by those who learn with us in an effort to support others who come in the future.  In point form, and with a few images attached, here I go:

What is most important to my students and myself, is that our guest educator feels welcomed and so a new practice my students and I are applying to our learning community is respectfully asking our guest educators to share a bit about them either prior to coming to our class or the day of. Occasional teacher, supply teacher, substitute teacher,  these are titles that do not give way to feeling welcomed let alone part of a co- learning community; guest educator is far more welcoming and open to the sense of community we all crave (least I think). 

As soon as I know who the wonderful guest educator is, I reach out to them asking simple questions like (note we see the email of our guest educator based on the call out system we use):

  • how has your year been so far?
  • have you been to our school before?
  • do you speak French or any other languages?
  • are you comfortable sharing a bit about you so my students can know about you before you come to our learning space (this a new practice as of Nov. 10th!)

Below are two docs, modified for this post, that are shared with the guest educator on a timeline that fits their coming to our school.

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General whole school welcome note (in brief)

Fuisz: Guest Educator Notes (day of)

It is important that communication is open between the homeroom educator and guest educator as soon as possible where possible. We, as homeroom educators, have a huge role to play in the success of the day for our students and our guest(s).

Creating a welcoming space for our guest educators should be a priority.  Occasional teachers denotes a somewhat lesser than mentality and that is not who these individuals are. These are well educated, professional educators just as homeroom educators are and they are not there to replace us for the day but instead, guest educators are there to create a different learning opportunity for our students that varies from their perhaps daily routines.

Guest educators create a unique opportunity for our students based on their own personal backgrounds, learning passions, and simple interests in being an educator.

I invite and challenge any educator reading this to reach out to their guest teachers as early as possible, to set up a welcoming space for them by reminding your students of the unique opportunities that stem from having a guest educator, and to welcome feedback from your guest educator so that you can be better prepared for future opportunities. Instead of asking your guest educator ‘who are you in for today?’ ask, “what class are you learning with today? and let the guest guide the rest of the information. 

There is much more to shapost but alas, it gives the idea of where this educator stems from in her choices of welcoming guest educators.

Yours in learning,

The Enthusiastic Learner

(as an aside, I am intermediate educator and STILL believe that all of the above applies to any learning space.)

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Sustainable Global Goals: Make it your Personalized PD this year & beyond

As I venture through my summer, I seem to find myself discussing the Sustainable Global Goals (SDGs) with whomever will listen and wherever I can. Inspired by the Personalized PD convo I had with the wonderful Adnan Iftekhar, I thought it was time I put my thoughts into action where the idea is concerned and get as many educators intrinsically connected/motivated to incoporate the goals into their classroom learning.  I also cannot think of a better Personalized PD opportunity than ones connected to SDGs.

In the spirit of trying to be to the point, I am following my last post with this similar plee for colleagues from around the world to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals. global-goals-logo-share

As educators, we have a responsibility to share the goals beyond our classrooms but more importantly, to educate ourselves so that our students recognize the passion connected to this global iniatiative.

So, as a challenge to educators far and wide, I urge you to look at the padled link. Watch a video, explore a site, add a resource following the basic model of the other posts. We can achieve the goals by 2030.

Sustainble Global Goals: Personalized PD Padlet

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Yours in learning,
The Enthusiastic Learner

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Sustainable Global Goals: the best learning in a nutshell

Part of my brain wishes to stop with the title of this post; truly.  However, I know this would not be helpful in expressing the deep rooted need for educators, no matter what form you take, to bring the Global Goals for Sustainable Development for 2030 to life.

If perhaps you are reading this post, and do not want to pursue any further then do myself and more importantly, future generations a favour and look at the two links below or the image:

Image result for global goals

For those sticking it out for a bit more, here I go.

With honesty and passion in mind, I cannot think of a better time, a better moment, or an idea to oppose the integration of the Global Goals for 2030 into any learning space across the globe. They are, in essence, a way to make this world a better place for everyone on all levels. They embody what it means to be an active global citizen and foster a sense of global community like no other.

While I look to classroom learning opportunities on a regular basis for my students, this is one that will not ‘trend and disappear’; the goals are here to stay and it is up to us, as teachers/educators to bring them to the forefront of learning no matter the student’s age.  As I browse through the Ontario curriculum for grade seven and eight, I see nothing but endless opportunities for students to inquire about the world around them through the lense of the Global Goals to become the active citizens that we know our future generations need to be.

Our students are not the difference makers of tomorrow but the leaders of today; a slight paraphrase from that of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  The Global Goals are not intended to scare our youth but instead to inspire them to be creative change makers that collaborate with each other in becoming global citizens. Their backyard is no longer limited to that of a small patch of grass or gravel, instead many students today have the opportunity to explore the world from nearly anywhere and connect together through their unified efforts of achieving the 17 Global Goals.

We seek ways to connect our world and seem to think technology is that link; I would argue that the Global Sustainable Goals are the world’s connecting link. In many ways acts as our curriculum to follow in multiple languages and perhaps someday all of the world’s languages. As an educator, as a teacher, how can we not at least acknowledge these goals and spread their message of positive change in our classrooms?

It is my goal to blog semi-regularly about what my community of learners is doing to better understand the Global Goals and to show the possibilities can be endless in a classroom if we let creativity and curiosity surrounding the goals lead the way.

So, for the ‘teachers’ of the world who read this: make the Global Goals for Sustainable Development part of our summer PD. Here is how you can start:

Transform our world: The Global Goals (via Participate.com) 

Teaching Sustainable Development Goals via Microsoft

Incorporate the goals throughout your planning for next year with student voice and identity in mind. For the educators at heart, share the goals with your family, friends, and neighbours; what have you got to lose by doing it right?

If we are going to make these goals a success, we need to take them seriously, apply them to classroom learning, and embrace them as opportunity and hope for a better world for all.

Yours in learning,

The Enthusiastic Learner

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Social Media, Students, and Digital Citizenship: #ONedSs is born

As I sort through the many amazing hashtags that appear on Twitter and various other social media sites, I always smile at the potential learning opportunities that they yield for students and myself.

Then I begin to reflect upon the continual learning that revolves around digital citizenship and how often we refer to it in class.  But yet, how many of us truly allow our students to use social media in class for its positive potential where they can apply their digital citizenship learning first hand? Sure, I know this is not possible for all grades or classrooms let alone students but I cannot help but wonder about the possibilities that exsist through letting students use social media both in and out of the classroom.

There was a quote shared with me quite some time ago now and it appeared again today on my Twitter feed thanks to an amazing educator,  Amanda Anderson. The quote speeks for itself in many ways. Would we place a child in water without a safety device knowing they have not swam before? Of course not.  Why then, knowing that students have access to so many social media platforms, are we letting them do such on their own when so many lessons can be shared in class?

 

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Photo Thanks to Amanda Anderson

There are, of course, pages upon pages of ideas and counter-ideas that can be shared on the thoughts of using social media in the classroom but for the sake of this post I am going for the positive and throwing out an idea for Ontario educators and beyond.

On Feb. 1st, the wonderful Mr. Janna , his students of #r8a, and the students of my class @CitoyensdeGlobe embarked on a student led Twitter chat using the #ONedSs. They were discussing leadership. Questions were co-created and students were guided on how to use TweetDeck and to interact online live and in the moment. Was every tweet perfect? Of course not. Was there learning in each moment? Absolutely.

#ONedSs Feb 1st was truly a wonderful learning opportunity for both Mr. Janna and myself, more importantly, it was an amazing authentic learning opportunity for our students. The proof is the archive of the chat. Then the thought struck me and a few others to turn #ONedSs into a true # where it is used whenever possible by students, for students.

The idea of #ONedSs is one that my class would like to see grow and perhaps, in some way monitor for proper social media use. Here is how it can work:

  • your students share their thoughts using #ONedSs
  • your students share their questions
  • your students share their work
  • your students reach out to perhaps run a chat
  • your students… what else can you think of?

#ONedSs can be a place where students of Ontario create meaningful diaologue with each other and open up the doors of further possibility for learning.

Will there be some difficulties? Of course. This in mind, George Couros today noted at OCDSB’s DLL conference that we should ‘Always err on the side of positive’. I think this is one of those times. (thanks Karsten for the quote!)

So, let your students shine and let their voices be heard via #ONedSs. Let them swim in a good way through social media so that they do not sink down the road.

Yours in learning,

Allison

 

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Why I Communicate with Parents/Guardians of Intermediate Kiddos – and like it!

I have taught at the intermediate level for a few years now, well, 6 to be exact. Throughout this time, I have communicated with parents on a near weekly basis.  Now I know, communicating with parents is nothing new to many of you but alas, I still seem to receive some interesting looks and push-back from colleagues when I say I send emails on a weekly basis to the folks/guardians of my homeroom INTERMEDIATE class. Such conversations are by no means filled with negativity but they do include thoughts of ‘our students should be sharing the info, not you’ or ‘does not not open a pandora’s box of communication with parents/guardians’ and so on and so forth.

Though the aforementioned ideas from colleagues may be true, I cannot help but think that the positive outcomes of weekly communication with parents/guardians at the intermediate level far outweigh any such thoughts.

The long standing adage ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is perhaps at the centre of why I wish to communicate with parents/guardians. By sharing the big ideas of what we are doing on a weekly basis means parents/guardians might be able to share their own experiences or open a great door of possibility to their kiddo or even the whole class. The expertise and connections that parents can bring to a classroom is truly priceless. In fact, communication with parents has recently landed a fantastic opportunity for students in my school to be part of First Lego League.

My weekly emails look like the image below. They are simple, intentional, and relevant towards supporting student success. There are even times that videos, short articles, or images are shared within these emails that will help parents/guardians better understand what it is their kiddo is doing in class (and possibly at home).

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If we wish for our students to succeed, communicating what is happening in our classrooms/schools with parents/guardians should be part of our regular practice even at slightly more spread out than my weekly efforts. The benefits of communication with folks for the sake of student success far outweigh that of any apprehensions that one might have.

On that note, I am happy to be back blogging. It was actually a parent I met during ‘Meet the Teacher’ night who so kindly noted their enjoyment on reading through some of my posts.

Keep communicating everyone however best you can; you never know what opportunities may arise from a simple email or note home.

Yours in learning,

The Enthusiastic Learner

 

 

 

 

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