Saturday, May 7, 2011

Identity Day

Identity Day - We are all different, yet we are all the same!
Last year, it was named “Diversity Day” and this year “Identity Day” – both appropriate ways of describing a celebration of our differences. A group of K-9 students and their teachers came together yesterday and celebrated individual differences and let their light shine! All adults and children were sporting matching white t-shirts to show that we are all the same. However, when looking closely at the shining yellow light bulb on each t-shirt, one would note individual differences written in black marker (i.e. “I am proud of …my favorite things…3 words about me…”). In celebrating differences, we recognize that it is our identity that is powerful; it is our identity that unites us and strengthens our connections with each other. The day started out in the gymnasium where the students were greeted by a motivational video address by the mayor emphasizing each individual has the power to make a difference in our community.

We circulated through many of the classrooms as the students and teachers shared cross-curricular projects of identity. It was evident the projects were thoughtfully constructed to foster inquiry and deep learning – the type of the learning I’m certain the students will cherish and not soon forget. There were so many classrooms to visit and so many outstanding student projects to view, that a morning was definitely not sufficient time to see it all. However, the collaborative knowledge building across the classrooms I did visit was evident and many teachers thanked colleagues and acknowledged the dedication of the students for making the projects and celebration a success. It is my hope the teachers and students will take time to share more detail about their projects so they can extend the learning beyond their classroom walls and reach others globally.

The teachers and students shared their creativity through the messages of artwork, music, drama and technology. It brought tears to my eyes (as I’m sure it did for many!) as the teacher held up the pages of the book while the “Don’t Laugh at Me” song played in the background. We can all see ourselves in the characters of the book and can relate to the feelings of disrespect due to our differences. Listening to the audio book/song “Don’t Laugh at Me” by by Steve Seskin & Allen Shamblin captured the essence of the day and the need to focus on our social responsibility of honoring our differences. The creativity of “Identity Day” provides inspiration, faith and hope for a community of compassion and peace.

Thank you to everyone that made “Identity Day” a reality and especially for inviting me and a visiting principal from Edmonton to take part in the celebration and the learning!