Interview with an Educator - Kasia Niewiadomski, 5th grade teacher

Interview #2 in the Listen & Learn Teacher's Series is with Kasia Niewiadomski, a 5th grade teacher at Bakersfield Public School. Learning about Indigenous peoples and communities is a mandatory part of the 5th grade curriculum, and Kasia spoke to me about doing her best to go beyond the documents to teach about stereotypes and emphasize the diversity of Nations on Turtle Island. 

My favorite part of our discussion was around the complexities that arise when speaking to ten-year-old children about Residential Schools and other forms of oppression, and the results of her attempts to have the students share their emotions about their learning.

    Kasia also bravely spoke about what happens when we make mistakes as teachers, and how she keeps pushing the boundaries of her teaching. Like many of us, Kasia is grappling with the uncertainty that comes from learning information about Indigenous topics and Canadian history that are new. 

    I'd love to know what you took from my chat with Kasia! Email me with your feedback

    Questions to Consider

    • How can I encourage my students to reflect on their emotional reactions in relation to Indigenous content?
    • What subjects do I feel are not to be covered with my students? Is that about my discomfort or theirs?

    Interview with High School Teacher Laryssa Gorecki


    Click here to download my interview with Laryssa! 


    This month I conducted my first interview with Laryssa Gorecki, an English teacher at James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic High School in Toronto. She's been incorporating Indigenous content into her classroom in the West end of the city, and finding that her students from all different backgrounds have points of connection to the material.

    Laryssa speaks to us about her unit, and addresses questions any teacher might have, including navigating her role as a relatively new learner in this area.

    What does Laryssa teach?

    The unit on Truth and Reconciliation examined the implications of using arts-based activities, including music, drama, and picture books, as a means to build student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect. Through an aesthetic approach, students actively engaged with the themes found in various artwork, songs, and narratives by Indigenous authors and artists. The unit culminated with a project expressing cognitive and aesthetic growth in our student community.

    Resources Laryssa uses:

    Students created final projects which displayed their learning in the unit. 

    Students created final projects which displayed their learning in the unit. 



    If you have feedback or questions for Laryssa, you can contact her via email or follow her on twitter @laryssagorecki1

    How Do I Avoid Appropriation?

    One of the most frequent questions I get from teachers is about appropriation. From what I know of my own practice, I think a lot of confusion arises because non-Indigenous peoples may not be aware of elements of Indigenous cultures that are sacred and part of spiritual practice, or understand that they are asking students to recreate ancient art forms that are passed through apprenticeship relationships.

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