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September 05, 2017

Getting the School Year Started With Summer Camp

On August 21-22, keen educators from all over BC gathered at ArtStarts to participate in our 2nd annual Summer Camp. This Pro D event for teachers focused on Core Competencies, arts based learning, and contemporary social issues. Exploring four workshops, participants learned about how important it is to create culturally safe learning environments for students. The ArtStarts Lab was transformed into a space of rich dialogue of complex social issues that every teacher will inevitably face in their own classrooms.

On the morning of the first day of Summer Camp we explored Leveraging the Power of Listening and Storytelling to Effect Social Change with Brielle Morgan of Discourse Media. We talked about strategies and ways in which we can all be more informed about the child welfare system in BC and how that affects the lives of so many of our students. The workshop involved a group break out session that allowed us all to think about ways in which we can support students and our colleagues. The second workshop, Designing an inQueery for Difference: Provoking Artful Questions Through the Q in LGBTQ with Jen Sungshine of Love Intersections, tackled concepts and relationships between pop culture and intersectionality. Screening various short films, participants were able to glimpse into the many different identities that exists in our classrooms. From deaf individuals to refugee youth to Two Spirited young people, the main focus was figuring out ways to enter these topics with courage and a sense of humanity with our students.

The second day of Summer camp started with Gamifying Ecology with Rob and Dan Straker. This action packed, fun filled workshop involved all participants to design games that make the BC curriculum engaging and fun through gamification. Groups were able to prototype their games and pitch them to one another. The last workshop, Cultural Resurgence in the Time of Truth and Reconciliation with Kim Haxton of IndigenEYEZ, took us to George Wainborn Park, where we explored Indigenous perspectives though various activities. Finding ways of reconnecting to the land even in an urban landscape set up the participants to find novel ways of listening and communicating with themselves, each other, and even trees.

At the end of each day, Leanne Ewen, Curriculum Coordinator of the New Westminster School District, led everyone in reflection of all of our daily learnings and how they can be incorporated into the classroom. With such heavy and difficult issues to discuss in the workshops, the experience felt cathartic but engaging and somehow fun and supportive, and as Kim said, “We all need to be more comfortable in being uncomfortable with each other.”

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