Gettin' My Teach on in Toronto

Canadian Association of Montessori Teachers - 2018 Annual Conference

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As the eleventh month of the year has recently come to an end, I’m reflecting on all of the full, rich experiences I had. 

It began on Thursday, November 1st with a flight to a rainy, chilly Toronto to attend the Canadian Association of Montessori Teachers (CAMT) 2018 Annual Conference titled “Modern Montessori: Adaptation to Our Time and Place." 

I felt deeply honored to have been invited to present on Social Justice and Peace Education at this event and was excited to make it to Canada at long last.

The conference was held at the impossibly beautiful Old Mill Toronto Hotel.  It commenced early in the morning with breakfast and registration. The event consisted of a keynote presentation, two sets of breakout sessions, lunch in the ballroom, a large room full of vendors with educational products, then concluded with tea.

On a random note: one day conferences are my new favorite thing. 

Seriously, though, I was able to become a little more informed and inspired during this day-long event. I still had an opportunity to network with several lovely, like-minded people. All without feeling utterly exhausted by the end of it.

Americans often like to think about our neighbors to the north as gentle, progressives who are far more socially advanced than we are. However, while facilitating this workshop, I confirmed my sneaking suspicion that Canada is not fundamentally different than the United States of America. It, too, was built upon the land of Indigenous people and is a deeply inequitable society. The world, in its entirety, has so much healing and unlearning to do. Canada is not exempt. None of us are. We were all socialized in this same system.

Fifty people came to my session, which took place in the elegant Victoria Room. The energy of our ninety minutes together was dynamic and refreshing. I was relieved to find that attendees were so lively and engaged. 

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Dissecting Privilege 

“Who has the most privilege in our society?” I asked.

Participants took a few minutes and then ardently chimed in. 

“Men!”  “White people!” “Straight people!” “Cis-gender people!”  “Able-bodied people!”

We passionately unpacked the often-uncomfortable conversation about privilege, acknowledging that this is necessary for a nuanced discussion about social justice.

After all, we are not engaged in equity work if we’re not addressing privilege and power.

Note: we don’t have to feel guilty about having privilege. In fact, privilege (and power!) can be a tool for social change if it’s used to advocate for the dignity and inalienable rights of marginalized people.

Books! Books! And More Books! 

I know I say it over and over again, but books are such a fantastic resource for facilitating discussions around differences and social justice issues with your students.

As much as possible, our libraries should include books with racially and culturally diverse characters—not only heroes of color, but also people of color living their everyday lives. In addition to racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity, choose books that represent people with varying abilities, from different socioeconomic classes and family structures. There are also a number of new books that represent gender diversity.

Throughout my presentation, I suggested several books. Many educators in the audience shared their recommendations as well!

Some books from our collectively generated list are:

For excellent book lists for children (from toddler to upper elementary), visit:

https://socialjusticebooks.org/booklists/

https://www.embracerace.org/book-list.html

First Time’s a Charm!

The people of Canada seemed kind, generous, and welcoming. Every single thing I ate in Toronto was fantastic. The coffee was delicious (Shout out to Hot Black Coffee for making some mean espresso drinks)! The city itself was green (actually, it was more like warm reds and yellows and oranges because #Autumn). Diverse. A captivating mix of old and new. I absolutely loved Toronto and hope to visit again someday.

I feel so grateful.

Finally, if you’re a Montessori educator in Canada, I highly recommend checking out this organization and their annual conference: Canadian Association of Montessori Teachers.

A few photos I took on my (old) iPhone from the conference and the city of Toronto:

I'm baaaack (to blogging)!

My life looks radically different these days (in some ways anyhow). Since the last time I shared anything in this space, I got engaged, moved, turned 30, left teaching, got married, and started gaining a clearer idea of what I want my life’s work to look like. Whew. I’m learning how to navigate life wearing new and unfamiliar identities: 30-something, wife (oh yes, and that new, hyphenated name), Charlottean (sigh), person who tries to be braver in certain areas of her life despite seemingly insurmountable anxiety and fear, etc. I am still in the midst of trying to decide what freedom looks like in the context of my own life, both personally and professionally.

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