2017 Workshops


Welcome Remarks

Ausma Malik, TDSB Trustee

Keynote Speech

Donna Ashamock, Eeyou (Cree) community educator and practitioner

Workshop #1

Beyond Pizza Party Math: Mathematics for Social Justice

Target audience: Junior, Intermediate

David Stocker, City View Alternative, TDSB

As social justice has moved into the mainstream, we see more resources for integrating race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, capitalism, the environment, and many other issues into the classroom. Mathematics materials still tend to suffer from irrelevant content that is not likely to encourage students to go out and change the world. This workshop is an interactive chance to try lessons from the Maththatmatters series, including the second book of 50 lessons which was published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Between The Lines in January of this year.  Bring your questions and your passion!

Consent — Action in the Classroom and Beyond

Target audience: Intermediate, Senior

Kaleigh McGregor-Bales, Bad Subject

In our interactive workshop, we will explore topics including the intersections of consent with gender-based injustices, dis/ability, and racism.  Participants will gain confidence in how to bring an analysis or gender-based violence into the classroom, develop skills to support both survivors and perpetrators with empathy, and discover ways teachers can empower students to take action on Consent and fight rape culture. We will look at common pitfalls that come up in schools including dress codes, unrealistic ‘Yes means Yes’ campaigns, peer pressure, and intoxication. We will discuss and practice how to create safer spaces and move from by-standing to upstanding.

Youth Support Hub: Responding to a "Younging" Population of International Students

Target audience: Intermediate, Senior

Xiaoyong Xia, Youth Support Hub

Over the past few years, international students from China are becoming younger. Before, they came to Canada at the postsecondary level. Today, they come here for high school or even junior high. I call this trend the “younging” of international students. As a teacher who works extensively with young international students, I have noticed two special challenges. First, these students have a deep sense of alienation and isolation. They are eager to search for a community to which they can belong. Secondly, they want to get involved in the local community, gain volunteer experience, and develop crucial language and social skills. However, they do not know where to find meaningful opportunities. They need someone to organize, lead the way, and push them out of the comfort zone. To address these challenges, I started a not-for-profit project called Youth Support Hub in 2016.

Gentle Yoga for Teacher Activists

Target audience: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior

Rebecca Weigand, TDSB

Both teaching and activism for social and environmental justice can be both rewarding and overwhelming. It is important to act from a calm centre. Practicing mindfulness, taking the time to breathe, connecting with oneself, are all important to teaching for justice for the long haul. I would offer a gentle yoga practice of about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours as the schedule requires, to allow participants to connect with themselves and their bodies, and to take away some breathing and yoga practices to incorporate into their days. I am a certified hatha yoga teacher, and a primary grade teacher, and activist.

Indigenous Education: Promoting Allyship and Activism through Indigenous Education.

Target audience: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior

Tasha Smith, Aboriginal Education Centre-TDSB

This workshop will introduce participants to a variety of activities and resources that center Indigenous pedagogy and perspectives. Participants will have a chance to explore resources and participate in hands-on activities that they may bring to their classrooms to promote allyship and activism. This workshop will also deepen understanding of Indigenous education.

Workshop #2

Gender Splendour

Target audience: Primary, Junior

Velvet Lacasse and Shannon Greene, The Grove Community School

Gender Splendour Week is an annual celebration at The Grove Community School. Every week in April, we organize our Kindergarten-Grade 6 students into multi-aged groupings, and everyone participates in a series of arts-infused, inquiry-based workshops about gender equity, inclusive families, gender identity and expression, homophobia, transphobia and being a good ally. Shannon and Velvet will share our collaborative process, several resources and lesson plans, and our own learning as educators who are committed to teaching for justice.

Voices for Change: Developing Leadership in Inclusive Education

Target audience: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior

Maria Wong, Casa Pueblito

In Toronto, 40% of Latinx youth who enter the city’s public schools do not graduate. In this workshop, educators will explore Latinx* student experiences in Toronto-area schools through digital stories produced by Latinx high school students in 2015-2016 to gain an understanding of the complex issues relating to the high ‘dropout’ rate. While this workshop speaks specifically to the experiences of Latinx secondary students, teachers of all grade levels will discuss strategies and critically examine ways that educators and administrators can create supportive and welcoming learning environments for students of all ages and of diverse backgrounds.

Nurturing Transformative Citizenship Through Critical Inquiry

Target audience: Intermediate

Maria Vamvalis, EAST Alternative/Critical Thinking Consortium

Participants will deepen their capacities to design a "world-changing classroom" for intermediate geographic inquiry — one in which students are engaged in critical, creative and collaborative thinking about real-world challenges.  In addition, teachers will be presented with opportunities for skillfully and respectfully incorporating FNMI perspectives, sustainability and social justice as key dimensions of relevant geographic inquiry.

The Possibility of Peace: Confronting Militarism in Our Schools and Community

Target audience: Intermediate, Senior

Jozef Konyari, Mount Carmel Secondary School/DPCDSB

Teacher training does not prepare us to confront and transform militaristic structures within our schools and communities. Given this training deficit, schools, educators, and administrators perpetuate militarism in a multitude of direct and indirect ways. As agents of the state, we reproduce a wide range of material and ideological structures that normalize obedience, conformity, aggression, difference and violence in often uneven and contradictory ways. With over 10-years of teacher-activist experience, the following workshop is geared towards the creation of awareness and a set of critical practices geared towards destabilizing and transforming militaristic structures that train young people to accept and legitimize a culture of violence. This workshop raises challenging questions, such as: What role do educators play in the process of recruiting youth into the military? How do schools create neoliberal militarized subjects? Under what conditions do educators become inactive, silent and complicit? How can we as students and educators unite, reclaim and transform our schools and communities? Finally, do you believe that a culture of nonviolence is possible? If so, let us unite, share and construct a pathway filled with hope, willingness, courage and action.

How to Be an Agitator: Writing and Performing as Acts of Protest

Target audience: Junior, Intermediate, Senior

Amanda Merpaw and Brendon Allen, Bishop Strachan School

What is protest? What is resistance? What is worth protesting and resisting? How can our students go about doing so? Can art both showcase protest and itself function as a means of resistance? How can we use our schools as sites of protest and resistance?

Given the current political climate where protest and resistance are, by necessity, resurging in public action and discourse, these questions have developed organically both within our staff and our student body. As a response, we have developed a cross-curricular, inquiry-based English-Drama project — with elements of other Performing Arts and Humanities courses — that places students at the centre of answering these questions, and communicating their perspectives to the world outside them.  Anchored in various sources, from John Lewis’ graphic novel March, Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, to Khari Wendell McClelland’s documentary theatre piece Freedom Singer, our students are examining historical and contemporary acts of protest and building a site-specific play from the ground up — including playwrighting, program / manifesto design, marketing, and acting -- to showcase the potential for resisting an issue meaningful to them with the tools already at their disposal.

Workshop #3

You're a Distraction: Changing Dress Code Policies within the TDSB

Target audience: Intermediate, Senior

Andrea Villanueva & Kate Curtis, Project Slut

The workshop will begin with a facilitated discussion about concepts like slut shaming, sex positivity, rape culture, transphobia, racism, etc. We will then do an interactive activity where educators can examine real dress code policies that exist in the TDSB currently, analyze them through the lens provided by the earlier discussion and reimagine them. They will also receive a “How To Guide” for starting a student group to undergo the same work done by Project Slut to rid their dress code of racist, sexist, transphobic, etc. policies. The guide (written by Project Slut co-founders Andy Villanueva and Eric Dixon and OSSTF Toronto Status of Women Chair Kate Curtis) will include step-by-step support, guidance for facilitating discussions with students and teachers and a variety of resources, including videos and contemporary news articles.

Rage Against the Machine: Engaging Intermediate Learners Through Pop and Protest

Target audience: Intermediate

Adrianna Knight, Munn's Public School, HDSB

In the Intermediate classroom, social justice issues need not be an 'add-on' to curriculum expectations. Rather, the concept of justice and issues related to human rights, the environment, and global citizenship can be at the 'core' of an Intermediate teacher's program. In this interactive workshop, participants will engage in activities related to an integrated English/Social Studies/Music unit that explores the protest song as a vehicle for social change. Students examine the history and issues that drive the powerful marriage of pop and protest. Then, students themselves become agents of social change when they write their own protest songs based on local and global issues that motivate them. Both the leader and participants will share the myriad arts-based extensions this unit inspires.

Our Social Justice Data Fair

Target audience: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior

Beth Alexander, Soteira Briginshaw and Savannah Barker, The Linden School

Each year, students in our K-12 school use math and geography skills to investigate issues of social justice, and to propose solutions to problems such as poor water quality on reserves, unfair media representation of racialized Torontonians, and students' impact on climate change, to name but a few topics that students have explored over the years. We will share student work and teacher resources, as well as discuss the many advantages of using issues of equity, diversity, and social justice as a means to enrich students’ numeracy and spatial sense.

Teaching Social Justice Through Song, Story, and Community: A Retrospective View and New Possibilities

Target audience: Primary, Junior

Laura Schein and Faye Guenther

At The School House (1975 - 2003), a rich curriculum of stories and songs provided children with tools for looking out into the larger world. We tried to foster children’s awareness of themselves and others so that they might develop a sense of justice and citizenship. Children’s literature and singing at daily circles — including songs about social justice — were part of the everyday diet. But the school also had yearly rituals – especially the Spring Festival and The Play — which were extended interdisciplinary projects about “big ideas.” As the children wrote the play with their teachers, illustrated the script, sang the original songs, and interpreted the characters on stage, they became immersed in the ideas. Over the years (and often before these themes were common in other schools), the School House curriculum explored gender, race, diverse families, revolution, and change, and included studies of many other cultures. This curriculum allowed children to engage actively and experientially with issues that were, at the same time, abstract and concrete. Reading, singing, creating, talking and celebrating together built a sense of community among the adults (including parents) and the children of all ages. Teachers today can do even more with new children’s literature and the possibilities of information and connection through the internet! In the workshop, we will make available many artifacts from the plays and Spring Festivals. Laura was a teacher and co-founder of The School House. Faye was a student from 1984 to 1992, from JK to Grade 6.  

David Udayasekaran, Planned Parenthood Toronto

Target audience: Intermediate, Senior

What can TEACH do for you?

TEACH was originally an anti-homophobia program designed to address homophobic bullying in high schools in Toronto. Over the past 23 years, we have grown and expanded our mandate. We currently work to address Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia using an intersectional approach as well as providing training for Teachers and workshops for GSAs in working to address these issues in their environments.