noun 1. the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure…
Have you wondered what inclusive means? Have you wondered why inclusiveness matters?
Elphinstone graduate Reegan MacKenzie, in her third year studying elementary school teaching at UVic, very eloquently explains why it matters in the November/ December edition of BCTF’s TEACHER Magazine: “Why Queer Teachers Matter”.
In her article, MacKenzie states that despite the commonality of being a teacher, each has their own story. “Just like our students, we have differences too. If we are to embrace diversity in our classrooms, we must first embrace ourselves. Showing up in our light and passion, exactly as we are, will spark great inspiration for learning in our students.”
When I asked her later on her thoughts on inclusion in schools for both students and staff, she replied, “Inclusion is for everyone. When we personalize the learning, create authentic relationships with our students and foster communities of respect and belonging, everything changes. Everyone has unique needs and as teachers, we need to work together and do our best to meet those needs, above curricular demands. If we meet students where they’re at, the learning becomes meaningful. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe it’s possible.”
Enter SOGI123, a Ministry of Education program SD46 proudly embraces. SOGI 123 is a collection of resources available for teachers to use to make all students feel safe and included in their classrooms. “SOGI” stands for Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities. The “1” is about having policies in place throughout the district, “2” is for having a safe and inclusive school environment and “3” is for interweaving acceptance and non-judgmental teaching moments into lesson plans in an age-appropriate way.
SOGI123 is not a classroom course. While there is a lesson plan available, it is more about teachable moments. SOGI123 is about teaching inclusivity and acknowledging that everyone matters.