Take it down… then put it back up!

As we welcome a new group of students into our classrooms, we return to some familiar September traditions.  Whether it's playing name games, using icebreaker activities, creating class agreements, or teaching the procedures that will soon become our daily routines, there are some lessons that need to be taught and retaught at the beginning of each school year.  


The same is true when it comes to messages of inclusion and acceptance.  September is a great time to revisit the posters on our walls.  While these visual symbols are valuable, they are so much stronger when we take the time to explicitly refer to them.


In the past, many members received a locally developed Positive Space resource for teachers and students.  It's an important symbol that tells staff, students, and their families that they are valued and welcome in our schools and in each and every classroom. 


It is also a handy teacher resource filled with ideas, dates, and quick tips to help acknowledge and empower 2SLGBTQ+ members of our classroom and school communities.


Teaching virtually?

Symbols play an important role in our virtual classrooms too.  Whether we incorporate them into our Google Classroom banner, post them in our Google Classroom stream, or add them to our slideshows and other digital resources, visual reminders that our learning spaces are safe and inclusive are just as important to our students who are learning from home.


Here are some suggestions on how to use our Safe Space poster!


Step #1: Take it down and then put it back up with your students!

Symbols speak loudest when they are acknowledged.  Take a few minutes to put the poster on the wall of your classroom and get your students to help.  Talk about why you are putting it up and what it means.


Sample conversation starters could include:

  • What do you think the rainbow check mark represents?
  • Why do we want our classroom to be a safe and positive space?
  • What are some of the ways that each of us is different?  And why are our differences so valuable?
  • What connections can you make to this poster?


Step #2: Read the teacher tips.

The second half of the poster is meant for educators.  It’s a reminder about important dates, provides suggestions for inclusive language, offers a framework for teaching how to stand up against acts of bullying, and much more.  Don’t feel pressure to use it all at once.  Pick one thing off the list and get started today!


Step #3: Talk about it!  Share about it!

Share what you are doing with the resource poster.  Ask your colleagues about their own experiences and best classroom inclusion strategies.  Post your ideas and pictures to share with others.  Tag @etfowaterloo or user the hashtags #etfowr and #ETFOPink on Instagram and Twitter.

Do you have questions?  Do you need more posters?  Contact Ryan Wettlaufer, ETFO-WR Associate Vice-President at [email protected].

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