Free Write


  • Reflect on your own ‘positionality’.
    Positionality indicates how your identity (in terms of things like race, class, gender, sexuality, ability status, Nationality etc.) influences, and effects your understanding of and outlook on the world.
    -Jot down some key aspects of your own identity and relationship to privilege:
  •  Where are you and your ancestors originally from?
    How have some of your experiences of marginalization and privilege affected you?

    Use some of what comes up in your brief self-intro to the class. For teachers who are already in relationship with their students, this will be an opportunity to build deeper bonds by revealing more of who you are to your students.

  • Prep your Territory Acknowledgements [this link gives a little more context to the work of land recognition, includes video samples of acknowledgments, and tips on finding out the territories you are on].
Consider the dynamics and demographics of your class or group in terms of:
● Ability: Varied levels of ability and neuro-diversity in the group ● Experiences/Trauma: That participants have experienced or may be experiencing. [Being trauma-aware does not mean that you must assume all students/participants have histories of trauma, but that you anticipate the possibility from the start.] ● Racial mixes
Read More Below

In schools in the province colonially know as British Columbia, there are three primary demographic configurations:
○ A majority of white students with a few BIPOC students

BIPOC = Black, Indigenous, People of Colour

○ Highly mixed racial groups
○ A relatively even (and often siloed) mix of Indigenous and white students and very few other racialized students.

Overtly naming and acknowledging the mix in the room is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing! Do you feel comfortable doing that?
This might help you get in the groove if you aren’t.

Dynamics: What Interpersonal power dynamics already exist in your classroom,
and how are you trying to affect them with this lesson/workshop. Are you trying
 Build relationships and points of contact/communication between the groups in your class?
 Help white kids understand racial oppression?
Lift the power and presence of those who tend to be marginalized within the school?
Unsettle existing ‘popularity’ pecking orders?
 Make more room for the introverts in your classroom…

Think about and set your personal intentions--maybe even write them down!

“With this workshop/lesson/unit, I intend to….”

On the Day of the Workshop or Lesson:

 Have projector set up and the films ready to play, with sound!
Shift up the Classroom Space: Move desks to the side or put chairs in a circle or horseshoe shape ..

Experiment with switching out of ‘Teacher-mode’ and into ‘Facilitator-mode’.
These workshops are intended to be points of dialogue, exploration and co-education between all participants, including those leading the group! A teacher need not be an expert in the subject matters, but be willing and enthusiastic about opening a space for
participants’ experience and wisdom to come through the activities. Resist the temptation to be a ‘bossy-pants’ or an ‘expert’. Be open – even to being interrupted! And tell them so 🙂 

If you teach from behind a desk, come out from behind the desk and offer the connectivity of your eye contact, body language, and voice.
TRY to stay on time! Taking too much time on an exercise can drain energy, and can also cut short some of the really fruitful exercises that the earlier ones lead to, so try to intuit what the group needs to speed up or slow down while also keeping to the general flow of timeframes outlined here. 

AFTER the Workshop

Check in with any students who struck you as being particularly emotional or withdrawn
over the course of the workshop/class.
Provide opportunities for continuing learning if there is an appetite for it.

Putting this work in Context:

Hover Here

Anti Racist Classrooms

Click Here

●Why AMES Workshops are Important: A Teacher POV
● Before the Workshop: Cicely
●Workshop Prep: Tips from Valeen

[note: these short vignettes from emerging youth facilitators were created by participants of an AMES program called “DisPLACEment”, which brought together migrant, refugee, and Indigenous youth to create videos and workshops that address issues of displacement, dispossession and discrimination facing those communities.]

Still want more pre-workshop inspiration?
● Watching these videos, or checking out these sites might help get you into the zone to steward this critical work.
Read More Below


Modelling decolonizing practices / learning about local Indigenous Territories

●  Go to for more info and to find the names of the territories this learning is taking place on.
●  Make land acknowledgements meaningful, authentic and personal.
●  Consider weaving in some of the following:
Brief explanations of the words “unceded” and ‘settler colonialism’

unceded” means that this land is stolen; that it was never “given up” via agreement nor treaty.
settler colonialism” is an ongoing system of power that involves the exploitation of indigenous peoples and lands for labor and economic interests, and the displacement of Indigenous people through settlements.

●  Your own ancestral background/indigeneity
●  Some of the ways you benefit from settler colonialism, if you are not Indigenous to these lands.
●  How territory acknowledgments are part of your commitment to ‘decolonizing’ work; to unsettling internalized colonial relationships with the land and each other.

This territory acknowledgements page includes videos, more context about the work of land recognition, and links to help you figure out the local nations with rights and responsibilities in your region.


Creating safer spaces for courageous conversations.

What are community agreements? They are a set of guidelines that all participants, including  leaders, “agree” to (usually informally) at the beginning of a facilitated experience. Agreements can be pre-set or co-created by the group. They can be non-negotiable, flexible or evolving–depending upon the unique needs of the group, and time parameters you are working within. They are essentially touch-stones that can be returned to (as needed) to collectively self-reflect on our ways of being and learning together..

Why do we do them? Community Agreements are intended to help develop respectful spaces that are consciously and voluntarily held, and that provide opportunities to:
o activate personal and group accountability.
o build enough trust and safety within the group to collectively delve into ‘hot topics’ and issues that are often seen as ‘touchy’ or difficult.

How do you do Community Agreements?

Pre-set agreements are helpful when working within the time constrained contexts of a short workshop or classroom period. We suggest choosing 3 or 4 that seem most relevant for your group.

●Write the titles of each agreement on the board–big enough for everyone to see.
● Spend a moment explaining the what’s and why’s of each agreement, or asking participants’ to reflect upon why particular agreements might be important aspects of creating spaces where people feel safe to share.
●Recognize out loud that these are pre-set; that they are expectations we already come with and think will help all of us feel more able to participate fully.
● Before you ‘seal the deal’, ask folks if they have something that really needs to be added, deleted or modified. Hold a few pressure-free seconds in “pause” before moving on.  If someone speaks up, hear them, mirror it back and add it to the agreements or address their
concern with your own wisdom or the group’s.

If you are REALLY pressed for time, consider condensing the community agreements process by:
 letting students know that some strong and personal feelings might come up as we dive into this workshop/lesson and making a very authentic ask that everyone be respectful of each other for the next hour
Asking “what’s the opposite of disrespectful?” When the group says “respectful!”, ask them: “but what does that really mean? How do you know when it’s disrespect and when it’s respect?”  Through that brief brainstorm of responses, ask if they can agree to hold back on the disrespect and amp up their care and kindness with each other for the next hour.

*AMES is not the “inventor” of Community Agreements as a practice, nor of all of these specific ones, rather they are collectively generated over decades of participatory educational work by many folks in many places!  The following examples are Adapted from Facilitator Resource Package developed by the awesome folks at PEERnet BC