When asked previously to go to Cohort 21 I did not hesitate to refuse however, when asked this year something felt right. The timing was not great: with the normal teacher workload, wrapping up Extended Essays with the Grade 12’s, and a busy life at home. I felt that I had a reason to go this year: but with the restructuring of our English Literature Curriculum and our school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) still being in it’s infancy it seemed this year I have some important tasks I am working on that could be helped with the collaboration of others.
After participating in the first face-to-face session it seemed serendipitous to focus on the use of our time and the value of what is urgent versus important in our work lives. I realize I am undertaking some larger goals this year and trying to weigh the smaller more urgent aspects which support or help to build up those goals. For the past few years, I have been working on the English Curriculum with my colleagues and we have gotten to a place where I am happy with the array of texts we are offering. Encouraging open dialogue and creating opportunities for students, teachers, and staff to engage in conversations about justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. This is what teaching the whole student looks like encouraging empathy, understanding, and appreciation for perspectives and experiences different from their own.
Part of this is the development of the GSA, while still in the beginning stages I am trying to build Community Involvement. I would love to find a way to not only engage the school community but continue to foster relationships within our larger community. I believe it is important for students to see the reality of Diversity, and explore what Equity, Justice, and Inclusion really look like in our current world. Moving forward with how they can support others. I hope that focusing on this strand looking at Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice will help me to elevate and take our involvement to the next level.
With the relevance of our time, I think it is more important than ever to focus on this strand. As in many areas in New Brunswick our Education Policies are being challenged and there are many fears for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ Community. Having already had our first meeting of the year, we spoke with our Head of School at length about how to incorporate more gender-free language in our reporting periods and official documents, as well as simply getting the students’ thoughts on what is happening in the world right now. This is extremely important to me, as when I was in school this group was something that I would have needed.
By prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice we can create an environment where every student feels valued, respected, and supported. One way of fostering community is through visibility. For everyone to feel represented in our studies, to feel welcome on our teams, and to find a place where they belong. Overall building a Safe and inclusive community will take everyone learning to not only accept others but really see others and embrace their differences. This will not happen overnight, I feel it is a long-term goal but the importance can not be ignored.