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Showing posts from 2016

Pedagogy of Inner City Youth

For five years, I worked at Inner City High School. The school is home to students from a diverse set of backgrounds. Over the years I have worked with students who are Cree, Blackfoot and M├ętis. I have worked with students who are LGBTQ2S and new immigrants. I have worked with students from "white working class" backgrounds. I have worked with students who are desperately fighting to survive through homelessness, trauma and addictions that are perpetuated by poverty and other social issues. Generally, the students I worked with at Inner City High are youth who have been abandoned and neglected by our society.

But the thing is, I'm not the only teacher who has worked with them. The type of student who attends Inner City High can be found in cities and towns across Alberta. They are the student who you are currently frustrated with. They are the student that you just don't understand. They are the student who told you to "F@ck off", when you told them to get…

A New Challenge

I haven't blogged as much this year as I have in the past. It wasn't intentional, I love writing, reflecting and sharing my thoughts with those of you who read this blog from time to time. This year just turned into one project after another with students and I wanted to solely focus on each moment and each day in the classroom.

This year was big for me in a lot of ways. I was able to work with students on our #OnePositiveMoment Instagram account, co-organize the Indigenous Youth Leadership Conference , and even piloted a few social justice classes using the outcomes from Alberta Ed's social science curriculum. On top of this, I had the privilege of working with another wonderful group of students who never ceased to amaze me with their intellect, positivity and ambition. Like every year, the large majority of my students have either been expelled, dropped out or have not attended school in quite some time. It has become routine for me to watch these students not only meet…

A Sense of Place

The longer I teacher, the more I know that the most important part of my job is to build positive relationships with my students and to help students build those relationships with each other. My ability to connect, appreciate and love my students is more important than any rule, expectation or even the curriculum. I could be the smartest person on the planet and it wouldn't matter to my students if they felt that I didn't care about them and their well-being.

A large part of building relationships with students is letting them know who you are as a person. Students genuinely want to know about what kind of person their teacher is. From time to time I tell students different stories of my past struggles in school or how I used to "admirably" defy the hat rule when I was a student. This makes for good laughter in the class and my biggest connector to students has always been when I share about my struggles in school.

But what teaching has really done for me is to push…

White Privilege, Teaching and Music

Have you heard Macklemore's new song yet? If you haven't, you should probably check it out. Yesterday he dropped his latest song (downloadable for free) entitled, "White Privilege II". It's the follow up to his 2005 song, "White Privilege". The song is almost nine minutes in length and has Macklemore reflecting and analyzing his white privilege within hip hop and the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the last day or so the song has received a ton of feedback, both positive and negative. Folks on both the left and right have taken their jabs at Macklemore but I can't help but listen to this song on repeat. I've probably listened to it over 20 times in the last day.

I feel compelled to write about this song because there is so much in it that, as a white-straight-man of privilege, hits me hard. Let's get one thing straight, what Macklemore is saying in this song has been said by many hip hop artists over the last 30 years. But I think this par…

This One's For Joe

Earlier today, I learned about the sudden passing of one of my teacher heroes, Joe Bower. It was utterly devastating to learn this news. It was only a few months ago that I got to meet Joe for the first time at a conference in Red Deer. We only had the opportunity to chat for about five minutes at the end of the day but we discussed the challenges of "rocking the boat" in our schools and how speaking out in public can bring you both praise and difficulties within the educational system. At the end of our conversation he invited me to grab a beer with some other educators but I had to decline as I needed to leave to Canmore. I promised him that beers will be on me next time he's in Edmonton as we said our goodbyes.

Joe was an extraordinary teacher and advocate for a more progressive education system that would benefit all students. Even though I was only able to meet Joe briefly in person once, his impact started long before then. When I first arrived on twitter a few yea…