This year, the PA/PR Committee would like to ensure that all families in our community have an opportunity to celebrate Family Day without worrying about basic necessities. We are collecting Gift Cards to help both the mothers and children who reside in Shelters.
The average Canadian household receives over $500 in gift cards each year, many of which are never redeemed. If your wallet is filling up with them, you can donate them today!
Those who are forced to reside in shelters appreciate the opportunity to use these cards to choose items which meet their family’s needs. It provides them with a sense of freedom when their lives are in crisis.
Your school rep will have a collection box within your school. Please deposit your gift card donations by Wednesday, January 23.
All Gift Card donations will be shared with Anselma House, Haven House, YWCA Emergency Shelter Services, Bridges and Monica Place. We recommend gift cards to stores that offer a variety of options: food, clothing, personal hygiene products, and basic home necessities.
November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In our homes, on our streets, and even in our schools, girls and women are more likely to find themselves the targets of violence. Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.1 Furthermore, each year 362 000 children witness incidents of domestic violence.2
As educators, we have the unique opportunity help end violence against women. Whether it is by teaching our students how to resolve conflicts through nonviolent means, addressing incidents of violence head-on, or by empowering our girls to reach their full potential while teaching all our students to stand together as allies, teachers play an important role.
Consider exploring some of these resources as part of your planning. The first is a resource for educators that address sexual violence in a variety of age-appropriate ways. The second offers examples of women leaders who are working for social change. And finally, the third is a fact sheet about violence against women in Canada.
Drawing the Line on Sexual Violence: dtl.whiteribbon.ca/for-educators
Women Change Makers: etfovoice.ca/women
Canadian Women’s Foundation: www.canadianwomen.org/facts-about-violence
1The Violence Against Women Survey, Statistics Canada, 1993. Although more up-to-date data would be preferable, no recent Statistics Canada survey has asked women about their lifetime experience of violence. Available: http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&SDDS=3896&Item_Id=1712.
2 Behind Closed Doors: The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children, Joint report by UNICEF, The Body Shop International, and the Secretariat for the United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children, 2006, p. Available: http://www.unicef.org/protection/files/BehindClosedDoors.pdf
Halloween is just around the corner, which for some brings memories of dress-up parades, costume competitions, and classroom parties. As with each of our school traditions, however, it’s valuable to revisit our practices to ensure that they are both equitable and inclusive.
Our personal experiences may or may not reflect the values and realities of our students. WRDSB Equity and Inclusion Officer Deepa Ahluwalia reminds us that “not all families will celebrate and participate in Halloween, for many reasons including cultural, religious, socioeconomic and personal reasons.”
As public educators, we have a responsibility to ensure that we plan activities that feel inclusive of all our students. In doing so, consider the following recommendations:
- Plan activities that allow for and value multiple options for participation (i.e. wearing orange and black or Autumn colours, other themes beyond ghouls and ghosts) but do not require students to be segregated from their peers.
- Avoid competitions that privilege those of greater economic means and disadvantaged families who may not have the resources to dress their children in costumes.
- Communicate expectations that costumes should be respectful of others. Deepa Ahluwalia adds “if something is representative of a person’s culture or religious beliefs, then it should not be worn as another person’s costume.”
- Honour families and children who may choose not to participate in certain activities by clearly communicating your plans and limiting the time devoted to Halloween specific tasks. Build in equally valued alternatives (ex. relating to careers, book characters, etc.).
Reviewing our practices through an equity lens doesn’t devalue our personal beliefs or past traditions but rather seeks to acknowledge a range of experiences. By doing so, our lessons and planned activities evolve to include perspectives we may not have previously considered. ETFO is an equity-seeking organization and it’s through this type of reflection that we can promote diversity and foster respect not just at Halloween, but all year long.
Ramadan: May 15 - June 14, 2018
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and for people who are Muslim, it is a time of prayer, kindness, charity, and forgiveness. For many Muslims, fasting from sunrise to sunset is also an important part of Ramadan.
It is essential that we show empathy and support for our students and colleagues who take on the challenge of fasting during the month of Ramadan. We want our schools and classrooms to be safe spaces for all.
Here are a few things that, as teachers, we might consider:
Not all children who are Muslim will fast
Some children may fast during the daylight hours, while others will fast for only a portion of the day, and many children do not fast at all. Choices about how and when to fast are made by individuals and families based on many factors, including age and health. It is important not to make assumptions but rather respect the decisions of individual students and families.
People who are Muslim do not expect non-Muslims to fast and many of our Muslim students will prefer to follow the regular nutrition break routine in their classrooms and then outside for recess. However, lunchtime can be one of the more difficult parts of the day for those who are fasting. Providing the option of an alternative space, with books, iPads, and Chromebooks may help some fasting students pass the time more easily.
It goes without saying that strenuous physical activity will be more difficult for those that are not eating and drinking during the day. We should keep this in mind when planning lessons for Phys. Ed., Dance, etc. Offering an alternative activity that has fewer physical demands is appropriate. Keep in mind that students might feel comfortable participating in an activity one day but need a different plan the next class, depending on how they are feeling.
After School Events and Fast Breaking
Fast-breaking happens each evening at sundown. It is an important time for families to share a meal together. Ending school events, such as concerts or graduation ceremonies, early in the evening so that families can get home in time for fast-breaking will better allow Muslim families to attend. Families also wake up very early in the morning to eat before the sun rises. If our students seem more tired than usual, this may be why.
Learning more about Ramadan
We value diversity in our classrooms and at our worksites. Ramadan provides another opportunity for us to share our differences and makes connections between our shared values. When doing so, however, we should be careful that we are not always placing the responsibility to be educators on the members of minority groups. While many of our Muslim students are happy to share about their experiences, being required to do so over and over again can become an undesired burden. As teachers, we can help by educating ourselves, teaching about what we know, and then be leaving space for others to share, if they choose.
Nominations for the ETFO Waterloo Contract Teacher Executive and Annual Meeting Delegates NOW OPEN!
For nominated candidates, please visit the Federation Election Page at https://www.etfowr.ca/federation_elections.