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gled with the anthem ritual. As someone who works in a publicly-funded secular environ- ment, I chafe at the lyrics. There was an equitable, technology-based


solution that acknowledged the different feelings people might have about mandatory demonstrations of patriotism, particularly when they are enforced within our homes. I made a slideshow of opening exercises. I embedded an audio file of an instrumen- tal version of O Canada on a slide that also displayed French and English lyrics. My pre- amble: “Everyone’s choice to sing or not to sing is respected and supported. Everyone’s choice to remain seated, to stand or to take a knee, is respected and supported.” Suddenly, I find that for the first time in two decades, I am completely at ease honouring this mo- ment with my students, a moment that seems to pass without protest or mischief. I will carry this routine back to school with me whenever I’m able to return. I realized a morning exercises slideshow


might reveal other possibilities in a media- rich environment. As students trickle in each morning, I share a slide of our Song of the Week. While a YouTube video plays, instruc- tions are displayed asking students to turn microphones off, sit comfortably, breathe and enjoy the song. Thus, students needn’t worry about being “late” or interrupting class, as they or their parents try to log in. A recent selection was Billy Porter’s rendition of the 1966 protest anthem “For What It’s Worth” by Stephen Stills. Porter is a Black gay man who has starred on Broadway and on the FX series Pose, a drama set in the 80s whose cast and crew are predominantly queer and trans people of colour. The slideshow concludes with a Thought


for the Week. There are no limits to the di- verse thinkers whose ideas we can immerse ourselves in. This staple of in-school morn- ing announcements can now be presented with illustrations or even a video. We need not just listen to the thought recited by gig- gling student announcers in a busy office. We can look at it, feel it and pause to reflect on our reactions to it. Still there have been struggles. If I had a


math textbook from school at the beginning of the year, copyright infringement would have prevented me from sharing the content online. Even if I could, scanning the pages of a book would have been time consuming and impractical. As we awaited word from administration about subscriptions to online educational sites, many of us cobbled together


math lessons from reproducible worksheets on free sites. In my case, I chose to copy and paste the text of these, with attribution, into Google Documents that students could work on and return. A clumsy process to be sure, but I imagined what it might be like in a household where children were working on iPads, not computers, and did not have access to a printer or scanner. Then as now, I look for ways students can work on a single tab or screen, thus avoiding distractions. In fact, I base my practice on that assumption that ev- eryone I teach has limited tech. What I found as I was perusing these ac-


tivities came as no surprise. They are free for a reason. Free educational resources on the internet are not typically a reserve of cultural relevance and sensitivity. Math problems based on money tilt towards profit and the acquisition of goods as inherently virtuous. In these sorts of word problems, a child raises funds to buy a bicycle by saving their Christ- mas and birthday money, mowing lawns and opening a lemonade stand. As I read these problems, I couldn’t help but think of sub- urban family television programs that popu- lated my childhood viewing. Then there’s language arts. Teachers need


piles of levelled readers to facilitate guided and independent reading. Dipping into my own resources, I purchased an online read- ing program. At least with a large collection of books to read on screen, students would have some choice. As I slowly reach the point where I can create five groups of seven stu- dents apiece for guided reading each day, one of the issues I intend to pursue is how bias within a piece of writing makes it less acces- sible and desirable to the reader. There was another workaround to the is-


sue of providing equitable, relevant reading material. As a longtime teacher, I know the importance of library and classroom read- alouds. Early on, I resolved that I would make off-hours visits to my school library to restock my supply of literature, and I must acknowledge the support of my administra- tor and colleagues in helping me do this. At any moment, I have upwards of 150 picture books from school at my disposal. I would like to think this consideration is being ex- tended to all educators who have been reas- signed to work from home, and is available to our newly hired colleagues who are teaching virtually, as well. In making my early selections of picture


books last spring, I decided that, now more than ever, our books needed to be about and


ELEMENTARY TEACHERS’ FEDERATION OF ONTARIO 21


“SEVERAL YEARS AGO, IN A SPEECH TO MEMBERS OF MY LOCAL, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST DESMOND COLE USED THE TERM “DANGEROUS INTERSECTIONS” TO DESCRIBE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN BLACKNESS OR BROWNNESS CONVERGE WITH MENTAL HEALTH, INCOME INEQUALITY OR GENDER. IT HAS BEEN EVER THUS, BUT THE EVENTS OF THIS PAST SUMMER HAVE AMPLIFIED THESE INEQUALITIES AND INEQUITIES IN WAYS MANY TEACHERS FEEL OBLIGED TO ACKNOWLEDGE.”


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