- Knowing yourself as a teacher is an important consideration.
- The importance of knowing you will face or witness racism is a consideration.
- Teamwork opportunities and reflection afterward are other important considerations.
Equity and Inclusion Reflection Questions
- Do you know yourself really well as an educator?
- What kind of institutional racism have you witnessed in education?
- How have you set yourself up to be a success in your career as an educator?
Lessons I’ve Learned from the Faculty of Education
I had such a busy year traveling back and forth on the Via Rail. I loved the moments of ordering a snack and watching the world pass outside the train window through the quiet ride to Kingston where I got my Bachelor of Education degree. The moments hold a special spot in my heart for the city of Kingston—the quietness of the city’s architecture in the hustle and bustle of the historic city. My parents used to drop me off each Sunday night in downtown Toronto to catch the train back to school; I did my placements in the Toronto District School Board in Etobicoke which was even more fun!
I loved living there, reading by the water, and checking out the quiet ferry rides to explore the townships and cities. And I loved starting each classroom with student interest in mind. We’d develop the learning environment in our home away from home while reflecting on these lessons I’ve embraced from teachers’ training.
If you are in education, you are in an institution where racism does exist and it is an important consideration. You are going to have to face, address, and work to overcome all barriers that come with racism.
We begin with identifying racism in systemic institutions in their practices, stopping racist behaviours by providing education, and speaking up against racism. As a South Asian female teacher, it is important to consider that I will always have to overcome obstacles and barriers as an educator. Navigating those spaces is an important consideration when thinking about why and how we build honest relationships in a work environment built on integrity and trust.
Teamwork is difficult but rewarding.
You connect with each person you meet differently, and this difference is what makes us interested in working together or working collaboratively in teams. Sometimes teamwork is easy. Sometimes teamwork is hard. As I tell my students, each team we are in shows us our best opportunity to be ourselves and grow from this experience.
I think it’s a life skill to be able to work with others that you sometimes can’t relate to. Here is an example of what my classroom looks like: I love building my classroom for the year with student input. The key is to display and showcase collaborative displays of student work and build a teaching and learning space that is home.
- Take into account different learning styles.
- Consider giving specific roles like keeping time and reporting.
- Give specific tasks.
Be yourself..be YOU!
Bring your best self to school daily, and be yourself. You are going to make mistakes, make changes, learn, and have fun. The years are truly going to fly by if you work on just being yourself daily.
- Find your passion.
- Be honest with your teaching style.
- Get to know and build relationships with the families of students you teach.
Be a reflective practitioner.
This is probably the most important skill I have learned and maintained: Be reflective in my practice as I teach every day. I loved journaling. Sketch notes were created sometimes. And now I blog my thoughts since I am older so others can learn from me.
- Do things you love.
- Find your downtime tasks.
- Separate your work-life balance.
As I continue my journey, I too think about the next steps. I visualize what I am doing next to ensure that my professional journey continues. There are many doors to open and many amazing opportunities present. I always think the road less traveled is the most rewarding. And that is the one that I will embark on next in my journey through life.
Yours in Education,
About Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge
Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge teaches in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. She was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada with her family. As an elementary school teacher who is passionate about equity, social justice, and human rights in education, she enjoys teaching the younger generation to be global-minded citizens.
Discovering the world by connecting with others is an opportunity that we have today in our society today and she loves meeting new people! She is always learning while traveling to understand the inter-connectedness of this beautiful earth we live in! Nilmini LOVES cooking great meals, watching movies, and the latest fashion trends! Family and friends are close to her heart as she looks forward to balancing social media and navigating professional learning communities in education to network globally this year!