Identity, authenticity + belonging.
Racism (internalized, interpersonal and systemic)
Explore identity and the lands and cultures we are from and where we are now.
Recognize things that we don’t often talk about, but that actually matter a lot for our lives!
Share experiences thoughts and feelings.
Estimated Time: 75-120 minutes
Workshop Outline and Detailed Instructions:
Thanks for taking on this important work!
Here are some things to Consider BEFORE the Workshop or Lesson.
You can also access this content online here.
If you’re doing a video-centered lesson, watch the videos in advance in a quiet space where you have room to take them in, and reflect upon your own relationship to the subject matters the videos deal with.
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
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: 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 [BIPOC = Black, Indigenous, People of Colour] students
● 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 to:
● 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 then 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 [note: Shifting up the space can help shift dynamics, and clear the way for new perspectives.]
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:
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.
6 Ways to be an Anti-Racist Educator – with Educator Dena Simmons
Anti Racist Classrooms
Education System v. Cultural Competence | Gracia Bareti | TEDxDirigo
Modelling decolonizing practices / learning about local Indigenous Territories
● Go to native-land.ca for more info and to find the names of the territories this learning is
taking place on.
● Make the 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.
- ”unceded” means that this land is stolen; that it was never “given up” via
- 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.
Not sure how to make Territory Acknowledgments less of a token gesture?
Get the goods on why acknowledgments matter, and how to make them real and heart-felt: https://raventrust.com/territorial-acknowledgement/
You might also consider screening these videos with your students:
Our Shared Territories: A short film featuring local Indigenous leaders that helps us to dig a little deeper into why Territory Acknowledgments are so important.
Baroness von Sketch, the all-female sketch comedy show, humourously calls out the ‘check-box’ approach to Territory Acknowledgements.
We are going to be working together on the topics of the lands and cultures we are from and where we are now.
We will be recognizing things that we don’t often talk about, but that actually matter a lot four our lives!
It’s going to take some courage and some good listening, and you will have the chance to share your experience and your thoughts and feelings.
Include a personal intro here too, noting your personal connection to the issues being addressed if it feels right.
Resources needed: Whiteboard, pens
Create a shared sense of wonder and celebration about the wealth of diversity among us
To get people excited and ready to learn
To get to know each other
This exercise is a hyped-up experience of beholding the extensive reach of culture, place of origin and language, it can be extended to other realms of our diversity as well. Facilitation of this exercise is best when it has a widely-welcoming vibe, being excited to hear every answer and celebrating every share. Participants get to be seen and heard voicing their cultural identities in a low-risk and all-inclusive quick exercise, it tends to make the group more ready for some tougher work, and it grows a feeling of unity in diversity.
Invite two volunteer youth scribes, make sure they are NOT both white (unless the class is all visibly white), or, just grab a sharpie yourself and get going with high-energy start to the activity.
Encourage folks to jump in and respond to the prompts popcorn style. “Let’s see who’s in
the room, let’s see all of our experiences in our midst!”
Quickly write down every contribution in a huge cloud of words (not overlapping, just all
together in no order at all). Paying attention to not miss any (they ALL need to get written
Celebrate the many responses with full enthusiasm as they come forth.
The languages we speak
The languages our parents speak
The languages our grandparents speak
The languages our ancestors spoke
Places we were born, places our family members or ancestors were born
Nationalities and ethnicities we carry with us
What are your thoughts about the diversity in this room? Is there more than you expected?
What does our diversity give us? Why?
What other kinds of diversity is there amongst us?
Be sure to LEAVE it all up, to admire together and for future reference/additions
Take a photo of it, if you want to project it on the wall in a later moment for use in a creative exercise
Creating safer spaces for courageous conversations.
WHAT are community agreements? They are a set of guidelines that all participants, including leaders, “agree” to 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 needs of the group, and time limits you are working within. They are essentially touch-stones that can be returned to for collective self-reflection 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:
activate personal and group accountability.
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?
There are many ways to build Community Agreements. 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, and basing your process in those agreements.
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 if anyone has something that they feel 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
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! Some of these examples are Adapted from a Facilitator Resource Package developed by the awesome folks at PEERnet BC
Go for the Group Brain
Does anyone in this world know everything about everything? Does anyone even know everything about
anything?” Even though we live in a world where certain people are seen as ‘experts’ and other people
are not seen at all, at the end of the day No One Knows Everything, But Together We Know A Lot. And you are the one who knows the most about your own experiences and your own feelings.
To access our massive group knowledge we need to practice being humble and listening, because we ALL
have something to learn from everyone in the room. It also means that each of us has a responsibility to share what we know, and to ask questions, so that we will actually learn together.
Take Space / Make Space
Have you ever been tired of hearing yourself talk and just wanted to hear a story or someone else’s thoughts? Have you ever felt like you wanted to say something, but just stayed quiet instead? There are often predictable patterns in groups around who talks a lot, and who doesn’t tend to share much. It’s EASY to stay in those patterns! This workshop is all about sharing our experience and knowledge and that means we gotta Take Space to share, and Make Space. If you’re someone who doesn’t tend to speak a lot, try to challenge yourself to share. If you tend to speak a lot, try to listen more. For some of us it will be way harder to actually stop and listen, and for some people it will be scary to speak up! So try it
– Step Up or Step Back in a way that’s a little different for you today.
Stories Stay, Lessons Leave.
This means that the specific and personal details that are shared in this workshop stay here, but that the
general lessons that are learned leave here, and help make the world a bit of a better place! What does
it mean to respect confidentiality? Yes… please don’t share people’s personal stories outside of this workshop, but do share the lessons that you’ve learned. Also, don’t use what you’ve heard today shape your full impression of your classmates–there is always more to us than meets the eye. We need to be able to feel safe to share without worrying about our privacy or being judged.
Be perfectly imperfect.
People often feel hesitant to participate in a workshop or meeting for fear of “messing up” or stumbling
over their words. We want everyone to feel comfortable participating, even if you can’t be as articulate as you may want to; even if words don’t come to you as quickly as they may for others; even if it’s hard to express exactly what you want to say– especially if you speak other languages more comfortably than English. It can be pretty frustrating to not find the “perfect words”. But it doesn’t matter! What matters is your truth and your experience. Who cares about ‘perfect’ words, they don’t determine how smart you are or how valuable your contribution. Let’s remember—at least for today– that what’s important is being ourselves. You are perfectly YOU already, so say things in whatever way feels best for you.
Expect and Accept a Lack of Closure
The goal of this workshop is to learn new concepts, develop questions, consider new ideas, and find ways to bring more liberation and justice into this world. If we’re talking about liberation and justice it means we’re also talking about oppression and injustice. Those are HEAVY and complicated topics that are tangled up in our equally complex personal histories—and this vast and deep subject won’t get ‘solved’ or untangled in one workshop. That’s why we have an explicit agreement about EXPECTING, and also try to ACCEPT the fact that things might not feel tied up or complete before we have to move on with the
rest of our day. It can be pretty tough, but I’m hoping we can agree to keep holding the learning that’s coming up, and be open to this ‘life-long learning’ process. And, if you ARE feel really rough after the
workshop, please come to me or someone you trust for some support, because how you feel matters!
Here are some Sample Agreements featuring Youth Facilitators:
Community Agreements with Kim and JB – https://vimeo.com/358966379
Community Agreements with Cicely – https://vimeo.com/358966678
Community Agreements with Valeen – https://vimeo.com/361540417
Hand out Worksheets
Now we’re going to watch a video that was created by a young local artist. Your task is to listen closely and take it all in while filling out this “Relate, Resonate, and Contemplate” worksheet. This worksheet will help you compare and consider the similarities and differences between the main character’s experiences and your OWN.
In the RELATE column, note things that Kim has experienced that you’ve actually been through too.
In the RESONATE column, note feelings that surface and ring true for you as you watch the film—even though you haven’t gone through the same thing.
In the CONTEMPLATE column write down real differences between your own life experiences, and Kim’s. It can be anything from style and musical preferences to identity, friend group dynamics, and school survival strategies.
Ask the group for descriptions of these key words to confirm they understand.
Make sure everyone can see the screen easily and the volume is up high enough that all can really “take in” the video.
Remind people to fill out their worksheets as they watch the film, and assure them that
Spelling doesn’t matter
This is NOT for marks!
Have fun watching the video and be as honest as you are willing and able to be with your answers.
Your notes can be simple observations, or complex thought or feelings, it’s all good.
Are you ready? Get your pens out!
- Turn your page sideways and divide your page like this into 3 columns
- Turn your page sideways and divide your page like this into 3 columns
- Write one heading at the top of each column: RELATE, RESONATE, CONTEMPLATE
- RELATE is for things you have actually been through too, real experiences you have had.
- RESONATE is for things you share a feeling of from something else in your life, even though you didn’t go through the same thing.
- CONTEMPLATE is for the real differences of experience, things that are just simply different, that can be style, location, likes and dislikes, and it can be things that you have not gone through, or ways your identity is different. And these things, we contemplate
- Remind people to fill out their worksheets as they watch the film
- Simple but important: make sure everyone can see the screen easily and the volume is up high enough that all can really “take in” the video.
Now we’re going to watch a video that was created by a young local artist. Your task is to listen closely and take it all in while filling out the “Relate, Resonate and Contemplate” worksheet where you compare what you’re watching with your OWN experience.
Go over their meanings one more time, asking the group for description to confirm they understand.
Spelling doesn’t matter and this is NOT for marks!
Have fun watching the video and be as honest as you are willing and able to be with your answers. Your notes can be simple observations, or complex thought or feelings, it’s all good.
Are you ready? Get your pens out!
This activity is to help students notice emotions that are arising, and where in their bodies they tend to show up.
Before we move on, let’s just get into the feelings, because at the end of the day that’s what’s most real for most of us, most of the time!
First, let’s all take one deep breath in and a deep breath out.
Ok, I’m going to ask you for some courage here, and it’s going to be different for different people.
Is everyone ready to hear some honest answers?
Write down every answer to the following questions on a piece of flip chart paper or white board, somewhere near the diversity brainstorm you did earlier.
●What are some of the emotions you had while watching that?
● Did anyone notice any parts of their body tense up or relax?”
● What else did you notice?
Close the brainstorm by marveling at how full and diverse we are together–in the past and the present and in the feelings and the experiences. Thank them for their courage and honesty.
Okay, let’s take a second here to think about something else, Kim was talking about “colonization”. Can someone please explain that to us?
Colonization is the action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area; the establishing of a colony and subjugation of a people or area as an extension of state power.
If you would like to return to these ideas in a future creative workshop, take the a photo of the whiteboard with the Diversity brainstorm and Emotions/Body brainstorm.
Small group dialogue : 10 minutes.
Organize the students into groups of 4.
Thank them in advance for the courage that it takes to speak sometimes, and sometimes even listen is hard. That maturity shows a lot of strength: to be a good listener and to share your truths.
Each person will get 2 minutes to share;
what they Related to,
what they Resonated with, and
what differences they are Contemplating.
Ask each group to:
find someone willing to start
Set the 2 min timer when each person begins.
Give the speaker a ’20 seconds warning’ before switching to the next person.
Debrief: 5 min
Small groups dialogue: 10 min (same as in Option #1)
Group debrief: 15 min.
Come back to the full group circle. Thank the group for dealing with subjects that many adults have a hard time with.
“Does anyone have anything that they would like to share with the group?”
“Anything you Resonated with even though your experience was different?”
“Anything you Related to because you went through it too?”
“How does it feel to contemplate the fact that your experience is really different from someone else’s?”
You can also use the questions from group debrief described above in Option #1!
Step into the circle : 10min
This activity will raise awareness of the different social positions and experiences of privilege or marginalization and will encourage students to reflect on the different aspects of who they are and whether or not they have privilege in different contexts.
Review the `Step into the Circle` statements. Pre-select about 10 of the statements that you feel would be most important to address based on your knowledge and understanding of your class and edit or modify them for the particular needs of your students.
Have students form a circle.
Explain to students that you will be reading numerous statements aloud and they will be asked to step into the circle if the statement is true for them.
Explain the overall process and purpose to the students:.
This activity is designed to reveal both the ‘common ground’ and differences in experience within the group.
This is a silent reflection activity. Please do not make comments after the statement is read, just interpret it in your own way and focus on observing your own reactions and feelings, and NOT judging other people’s movements.
It is OK to have an emotional reaction to some of the statements. They may be things you have never considered before, or they may reflect your real experiences. You choose how open you want to be when you decide to step in or not.
You will have a chance to discuss your feelings at the end of the exercise if you choose to do so.
Tell students you will start with fun questions (eg. if you like pizza, if you didn’t get enough sleep last night…) to get comfortable, then move to more challenging questions.
Read out some of the following statements, after EACH statement, allow for those who relate to the statement to step into the circle, look around at who is there with them,
and then step back.
Step into the Circle…
If there are people from different ethnicities in your high school class
If there are many different ethnicities in your close group of friends
If you have ever felt proud of your culture
If you have ever felt you needed to hide or be ashamed of your food, your language or your culture
If your culture, food, and religion is usually considered ‘normal’ here
If you practice cultural traditions that reflect your ancestry or ethnicity
If you have ever been hurt or judged because of the colour of your skin or your accent
If you have ever hurt or judged someone because of the colour of their skin or their accent
If you have ever stood up to judgement of others because they were different
If you have ever stood up for yourself when you were feeling judged
If you feel disconnected from your ancestors
If you have any First Nations ancestry
If you or your parents were born outside of this country
If you were born in this country
If you’ve been asked “where do come from”
If someone has insulted you for speaking a language other than English
If you have had a teacher who speaks a first language other than English
If you learn about your ethnic/cultural group’s history in Canada at school
If you had a discussion with friends or family about racist incidents in your school or your community in the last month? ·
If your family is mixed culture
If you have had a strong connection with someone from another part of the world
If you commonly see people of your race or ethnicity on television or in the movies?
If you commonly see people of your race or ethnicity on television or in the movies that
If there are stereotypes about you and your culture that you don’t like.
If you’ve ever been told that you should be grateful to be living in Canada.
If you, anyone in your family has been denied a job or housing, because the boss or
landlord thought you weren’t ‘Canadian enough’
If you have been taught about the rights of Indigenous people and Refugees
If other people here are interested in your culture, or want to learn from your culture’s
If you’ve ever felt like someone only speaks to you because they think you’re “exotic”
If you know someone who has been denied a refugee claim, or has been deported
If someone you know has been told that their education or work experience has lesser or no value in Canada
If you or someone close to you has ever been told to “go back where you came from”
If you feel like you belong in most places that you go
If you feel like you have to fight to belong in some places
If someone thought you were less intelligent because you had an accent
If someone has equated any of your abilities to your race
If you want to live in a world where people are different and united at the same time.
Before closing you can chose to open the floor to the students for their own Step Into the Circle statements, this is often a very powerful and bonding aspect of the exercise,
and works best when the tone is already supportive and attentive amongst the group.
Thank everybody for their honesty and courage for participating fully in this exercise.
Closing: 5min (see option #1)
Writing exercise: 15 minutes
These are speaking notes, they do not need to be followed exactly, but they will give you a sense of how to make this writing exercise captivating and safe for participation.
Get a new page, let everything you heard sink in…we’re gonna take it further. Now I’m going to ask you some questions about yourself that are for you to respond to without even thinking too much and definitely without self-questioning, just trust yourself to write down the answer that comes to your mind, and the answers will pile up together at the top of the page.
Leave a moment of pause between each question, and encourage participants to put down at least one word for each response, it doesn’t have to be special, it can be plain and it can sound strange, there are no rules for how to respond.
What parts of yourself come from your family?
What parts of yourself did you find on your own?
How did you find them?
What are the beautiful parts of your culture?
How is your culture affected by colonization?
Do you take part in colonization? How?
What is the sound of your home culture?
What is the colour of your home culture?
What texture do you imagine when you think of your ancestors?
What is the image you see when you see us taking care of each other?
Ok, nice work. Please look at the responses that you wrote during the video in the RELATE, RESONATE and CONTEMPLATE columns. Circle at least 3 that pop out to you, from any column.
Now look at all the things you just wrote about where and who you come from.
Circle any 3 words that pop out for you.
Great! Now everyone has a bunch of words or phrases circled!