Diversity Forum at JICS
At JICS, we honour diversity and value a deeply interconnected community, in which all members feel respected and supported as active participants.
We work actively to create an inclusive community of students.
We work together with parents to create an inclusive community of adults.
In the 2010-2011 school year, a teacher/parent forum was created to look at diversity and inclusion in the Lab School. The committee recognized the need to collect data on the experiences of members in our community and created a survey with that purpose in mind. We met regularly to share experiences and listen to each other’s narratives.
The 2018-2019 Teacher Diversity Committee (Nick, Thelma, Norah, Ben, Carol, Kenisha, Chriss, Tara, Richard) will provide a collaborative space to discuss and work through issues related to diversity for students and parents.
For students: we will assess and address students' experiences related to issues of diversity within the program.
For teachers and parents: we will work toward learning and collecting authentic experiences by creating an empirical process that includes panels and discussions in which parents and teachers are participants. (The on-going collecting and sharing of those experiences inform our decisions on how we create initiatives to engage our broader community in achieving shared goals on having a more inclusive school environment.)
It is our aim to give voice and respect to people representing a breadth of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, family structure, socio-economic status, physical ability, health, and religious and political affiliations.
As a starting point for this year, we want to take this opportunity to share information about “microaggressions”, a concept that may not be known by all members of our adult community.
The term "microaggression" is used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to "everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership”.
These kinds of comments are often subtle and difficult to interpret, which may cause more distress than overt expressions of discrimination.
Asking “Where are you from?” when first meeting someone (as occurred at Family Fun Night 2018) is an example of the kind of comment that has been experienced by members of racially marginalized groups within our community. Context of the relationship and situation is critical. Although it might be well-intentioned, the question highlights the fact that the person is seen as different or not belonging. The effect of the question, or comments like it, is to make this person feel less-than and like there is something wrong with them. Recognizing this kind of comment as a microaggression, can help us be more thoughtful and sensitive in a scenario like meeting someone for the first time.
Jessica Kirkpatrick, PhD advises that in order to prevent making a microaggression, she asks herself the following question:
Would I say (whatever I am about to say) to a straight, white, cis, able-bodied, non-fat, non-Jewish, non-Muslim, English-speaking man? If the answer is no, then what I am about to say is probably a microaggression.
This resource provides many examples of the various ways microaggressions manifest themselves in everyday speech. Although the source is American, I hope you will see that this concept of microaggressions is completely relevant in the Canadian context as well.
We are aware that microaggressions take place in our own community and we realize that the concept may not be known by all members of our adult community. The first step in addressing microaggressions is to recognize when one has occurred. Each of us has “blind spots” and each of us has something to learn from others’ experiences and perspectives. Together we can work to recognize the ways we may be unintentionally hurting people around us and to eliminate microaggressions from our everyday speech and actions.
Click here for more information on racial microaggressions.
The JICS Teacher Diversity Committee invites parents to continue this conversation on microaggressions with us. We need each other in order to learn and grow and to be sensitive to the diverse experiences and identities. This is ongoing work, something that comes out of our listening to each other.
We would like to dedicate the first Community Knowledge Building Chat of the year to a Diversity Forum. Join us on Wednesday, October 3, 7:00 pm (following the PA Meeting at 6:00 pm) in a space where experiences can be safely shared and ideas are welcomed. Please RSVP. Free babysitting provided by the PA.
Upcoming Dates to Note:
September 26 to 28: Camping trip to Sandbanks Provincial Park for Grades 5 & 6
Friday, September 28: Orange Shirt Day (Monday, October 1 for Gr 5 and 6)
Tuesday, October 2: Curriculum Night for Gr 3 only 6:00 pm
Wednesday, October 3: PA Meeting 6:00pm followed by Community Knowledge Building Chat “Diversity Forum – Topic: Microaggressions” 7:00 pm RSVP
Wednesday, October 10: Curriculum Night (Nursery, JK, SK, Gr 1, 2, 4, 5, 6) 6:00 – 8:00 pm RSVP
Tuesday, October 16: NEW “Transitioning to Grade 7” Information Night for Gr 5 & 6 parents 6:00 – 7:30 pm (details coming soon)
Monday, November 5: HOLD THE DATE - Parent Ed Event. 7:00 pm “How to Talk to Your Children about the Holocaust” with speaker Dona Matthews presented at Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. A joint parent education project between the Mabin School, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Lab School, Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School. (Registration info coming soon)
Wednesday, November 14: Parent Teacher Interviews
Wednesday, November 21: Parent Teacher Interviews
For more important dates, please refer to our School Calendar.
All the best,