Diverse Family Trees in the Classroom

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

On paper, creating a family tree seems like a pretty straightforward task, right? You’ve got grandfather, grandmother, mother, father, and children. Easy. In the third grade, I learned otherwise when my brain nearly exploded from trying to draw my own family tree. At that time, I lived with my grandparents, I didn’t know my father, and I had a half-sister (so far). Realizing the complexity of my situation, my teacher graciously excused me from the activity. She reassured me that not all family trees look the same.

More recently (a couple years ago), while volunteering at a community centre teaching…


Tracing mixed genealogical roots over five generations.

Left to right: me, my sister, my mom, and my niece in front.

Lots of us have sat down to draw our family tree at one point or another. Whether it was for a class project, or during our spare time out of sheer curiosity to know more about our ancestors. Sometimes, it’s a question of identity; longing to know who we are, especially if we never knew our biological families.

Family trees can quickly get pretty complex, and there’s always something we don’t know or can only take guesses at. For the past decade or so, my mom has been very curious about our Slavic roots and she’s the reason I’ve also…


Things I wish I’d known from the get-go

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

I’ve been in the Canadian workforce for almost 20 years; from my humble, early days at McDonald’s to my current work as an ESL teacher in private education. Throughout this time, I’ve eaten way more McDonald’s than I’d like to admit, and I’ve noticed that discussions about soft skills have come more and more to the forefront.

Soft skills are what allow people to successfully integrate into a workplace culture. In my case, these soft skills have ranged from de-escalating the anger of irate customers, to providing useful feedback and instilling confidence in hard-working students.

For Canada, workplace culture is…


A reflection on the grey areas of multiracial identity.

Photo by Minna Autio on Unsplash

If I tell you where I’m from, will you know where I’m coming from?

I grew up in a town called Amherstburg in Essex County, Ontario. I was raised there by my maternal grandmother and step-grandfather. Over the years, I’ve come to think of my hometown as this charming, faraway place in the Canadian south where the buffalo roam and the tumbleweeds scatter along the dirt roads.

Actually, I suppose the roads of Essex County are kind of like that, with long stretches of flat land and the occasional farm, church…


And how to use them effectively.

Photo by Alphacolor on Unsplash

Learning a language is fun, but it doesn’t take long to hit a wall during an intensive grammar class. Sometimes, everyone just needs a break from conjugating verbs, correcting exercises, and studying for tests. Even chit-chat starts to get draining after a while, so it’s always good to be ready with a few flexi-tasks.

Using songs can either be a great class activity, or a total disaster. It all depends on how you use them. …


And my journey to becoming one.

Rue Sansregret, Montréal, QC.

“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

— George Bernard Shaw

In the 10th grade, I remember my English lit teacher sharing this expression with us. It was confusing to hear him insult himself, especially since he’d end up being one of the best teachers I’d ever have. That might’ve been the moment I realized that teaching is somehow looked down on. Later, this idea would be reinforced when I discovered that teaching is sometimes be viewed as this sort of “Plan B” job you just fall into because you can’t really do anything else.

Ouch.

I wondered, how…

Brooke-Elle

Writer. English Language Teacher. MA Education at McGill University.

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