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How can I make connections with other educators?


Jill Goodreau, Teacher, Upper Grand DSB

Collaborating, sharing, and discussing with others is an important part of being an activist educator. It can be very isolating if we feel we are doing it alone. Building community will not only keep us energized but may help create links and strengthen social justice initiatives in the communities in which we work. There are a number of ways to make connections with other educators. My advice is to start by connecting to what already exists, to be sure to maintain the connections you already have, and finally to develop your own initiatives that may bring you new connections.

See what already exists
An effective place to start is by checking out your school and board to see what activist connections exist. Does your school or workplace have an equity and/or safe and inclusive schools committee? Is there a student social justice club and staff advisor that you can connect with? Does your school or workplace have a board equity representative, or a union human rights/anti-racism/status of women representative? Connect with them or ask to become the school representative for various positions so you can build connections with other educators.

What will you be teaching? Make connections with others teaching the same course or program and see what activist elements are already present in course content. Discuss adding or adapting activities to make them more progressive. Whether an activist connection develops from the get-go, collegial collaboration can be an important starting place to engaging in critical dialogue about curriculum, teaching and learning.

Make use of the intranet email conferences your board or workplace may have. Whether it is Human Rights, Global Education, or Equity, it allows you to learn about interesting initiatives, connect to others, or decrease your isolation and sustain your commitment by simply knowing that others share your passion.

Connect to activist educators through committees your federation or union has already set up. Whether it is the Human Rights, Status of Women, or Political Action committee, you are likely to make contacts and get further advice on how to make further productive connections.

Maintain connections you already have
Keep in touch with classmates/colleagues from your faculty of education or other schools where you’ve worked to share resources, discuss successes, and challenges. Go to beginning teacher and other workshops put on by your school board or employer or federation/union. Attend equity meetings and workshops that might promote new connections.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for advice from others. Make contact with that workshop presenter that inspired you, or the person who posted an interesting note on an email list. You are not bothering us!

Keep coming to OISE conferences. We hold the Safe Schools for ALL: Peacemaking Education and the Educational Activism: Social Justice in Classrooms/Schools/Communities conferences at the end of each September and November respectively. Get re-energized and take home new ideas!

Forge your own connections
If you find that your school or workplace is lacking in an area of social justice, then definitely forge your own connections. Maybe it’s as simple as sending out an email or announcement to any staff interested in meeting to develop a plan for an upcoming social justice day (e.g. International Women’s Day, Black History Month, Asian Heritage Month, etc.). Or maybe you would like to start an equity committee at your school.

If you are inspired, you may want to meet with other educators across your board and begin a network on equity, global education, etc. By putting out a call to interested people you may be surprised by the turnout you can generate. And remember to bring food treats to the first couple of meetings. Nourishment always helps!
 

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