L.I.F.T. And The Curriculum

The Ministry of Education in Ontario encourages the full participation of all students in the classroom. Initiatives abound to help address the needs of marginalized youth – especially young people of colour whose life experiences often result in their disengagement in traditional school settings. While many of these programs can help today’s youth become engaged students, their long-term impact is significantly lessened if these programs are not developed to meet the curriculum expectations set out for teachers in diverse classrooms. To this end, Sean Mauricette a.k.a. Subliminal’s cutting edge workshop series provide a much-needed alternative – a long-term solution to help better engage youth on the margins. 

  1. By focusing on identity formation in youth, this work allows young people to explore character development, create connections between themselves and the text, and think critically about the context in which they live their lives.

 

  • Applicable in Language Arts, English, History and Philosophy classrooms
    • · When teaching stories and storytelling in Kindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms, the art of understanding what contributes to a character’s growth, how a person’s context influences the decisions they make and what perceived and/ or illusory alternatives are available for them is a key aspect of this work. A workshop series like this helps students begin from the inside out, providing a framework to help them better understand themselves and then, as a consequence, develop the ability to critically assess the characters and theorists they encounter throughout their educational journey.

 

2.  The inter-disciplinary nature of this work allows educators from varied classrooms to work together to better support their students. For instance, English, Media Arts and History teachers can now work together using these workshops as a starting point to both meet their respective curriculum expectations and engage students in the classroom.

  • Applicable in Language Arts, English, History, Philosophy, Mathematics, Drama, Dance, Physical Education, Social Studies, Civics, Politics, Law Classrooms etc.
    • · It is true that educators thrive when they develop ways to tap into their own creativity when developing lessons for their students. While working in homogeneous teaching groups can help (i.e., English teachers can share their ideas with other English teachers etc.), heterogeneous collegial relationships provides a two-fold benefit: first, educators can learn to “think outside the box” of their content area and, second, it becomes clear that creative assignments serve to meet curriculum expectations across disciplines.

 

3.  The collaborative aspects of this work transcend “student spaces” – in short, this workshop series does not only create a space for students to get to know themselves and each other, but also allows and encourages like-minded, innovative, and thoughtful teachers with varied expertise to collaborate. Together, they can build curriculum using these workshops as a starting point for meeting their curriculum expectations through innovative methods (i.e., through Dance, Visual Arts, Poetry, Film, Spoken Word, Sound Art etc.).

  • Applicable in Language Arts, English, History, Philosophy, Mathematics, Drama, Dance, Physical Education, Social Studies, Civics, Politics, Law Classrooms etc.
    • · In many cases, like-minded teachers from varied disciplines are uncertain about how to come together in teaching spaces. Many educator meetings are organized around course expertise, making it difficult to envision how teachers of different courses can work together to build stronger curriculum. This workshop series provides the necessary forum to build collegial relationships with a single focus: the increased engagement of students in traditional school settings.

 

4.  The emphasis on meeting the student where they are allows this workshop series to encourage real dialogues between supportive teaching staff and marginalized youth. Their reality becomes the basis for addressing the curriculum. This is the heart of Culturally Responsive Teaching.

  • Applicable in Language Arts, English, History, Philosophy, Mathematics, Drama, Dance, Physical Education, Social Studies, Civics, Politics, Law Classrooms etc.
    • · The importance of Culturally Response Teaching for marginalized youth cannot be discounted. Renowned educational theorists like Gloria Ladson-Billings have documented the importance of this pedagogical approach for students and teachers alike. Emphasizing the context in which young people develop and grow, Culturally Responsive Teaching encourages teachers to meet the students where they are. However, many teachers are not sure how to “go there.” This workshop series provides just that much-needed starting point for working with students in ways that encourage an acknowledgement of and respect for the lived realities of all students in the classroom.

 

5.  The inclusive nature of this workshop series allows those students who are typically marginalized in and outside of the Canadian educational system to engage as equals in the traditional classroom. This is an integral aspect of Cultural Responsive Teaching.

  • Applicable in Language Arts, English, History, Philosophy, Mathematics, Drama, Dance, Physical Education, Social Studies, Civics, Politics, Law Classrooms etc.
    • · Culturally Responsive Teaching practices require that all students, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and/ or ability etc. be treated with respect and dignity in the classroom. Typically marginalized students, however, often have distrust for an educational system that has consistently let them down. Workshops such as these provide an opportunity to create a new starting point for teachers and students to reconnect on a humane level – by acknowledging the impact of the lived reality of many marginalized students teacher and student participants are encouraged to be courageous enough to learn about themselves and each other.

 

L.I.F.T. Leadership Conference Workshop, Student/Teacher Reaction