In Anticipation of WE Day 2019
During summer break, I don’t usually receive emails or messages from students or parents. However, when I checked-in on my TDSB email, I was surprised to receive warm and kind parent emails from the last school year sharing their appreciation of infusing empathy, student voice and agency as part of the class culture and learning throughout the school year.
One such way this happens is through our social entrepreneurship journey which is about unpacking the curriculum, immersing student learning experiences with a Global Competency focus on Creativity, Inquiry and Entrepreneurship while leveraging technology. Through these learning experiences student voice is amplified as they have a broader venue for spreading awareness around empowering students locally and globally through education.
Guiding students through the Design Thinking Process, infusing the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Competencies students internalize their role as social entrepreneurs: “We hope you are truly motivated to help us make a change both locally and globally” as you purchase our products, knowing that proceeds will be donated to WE.org. Their journey posted via social media under two different class twitter accounts sharing their thoughts and following their learning journey: @mcm_mst and @mcmbusinessday
I am grateful to organizations and business partners who continue create opportunities to build partnerships with educators to support our young social entrepreneurs. Fair Chance Learning @FCLEdu @WEmovement @MicrosoftEduCA @TheLearningPartnership @tdsb
In anticipation of WE Day Toronto 2019 I asked a student from the last school year to share her reflection on the impact of attending WE Day had on her learning throughout the school year.
Amira, Grade 4 Student
Going to WE Day was a wonderful experience. It was a great way to learn about a lot of new people and hear their side of stories and what effect they had on others. It really made me think and understand about what some people are going through in other parts of the world. We had a moment of silence to contemplate all of the children whose voice can not be heard.
During the day; We were introduced to Craig and Marc Kielburger and Mr Pinball Clemons. Their were also some really inspiring people talking on stage like, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Adam Devine, Ann Curry, Ms Piggy and so much more plus lots of singing, dancing and smiles!
When we got back to school the next day, we talked with our peers about our experience and what we had learned, and we used that new learning to launch our Business Day project. Business Day is a day where there are about six companies all with their own concept and product. Our goal was to raise money through ME to WE to help build a school for children in Tanzania who don’t have access to education.
As a result of Business Day we not only learned about the children in Tanzania who need access to education to end the cycle of poverty but we also learned about becoming entrepreneurs; to go through the process of getting an interview and how to start a business. This knowledge will help us all in the future to either getting a job or starting our own business and making a difference in our community.
What I love about WE is that they’re not giving a hand out, but a hand up. As a charity, they try to teach the people living here and other parts of the world how to be sustainable, so when their work is done the families living there can keep living sustainably.
WE day is an amazing experience and I think everyone should be able to experience it for themselves and to bring back to their class communities.
Our social entrepreneurship project has just celebrated its 15th year. It continues to grow as student experiences are shared, feedback is provided and impact reflected upon to revisit and revamp when guiding a new class community of leaders through this venture.
“We are Grade 4 student members of McMurrich Junior Public School, participating in our 15th annual Business Day event. Business Day is where our class community learns about being entrepreneurs and philanthropists. We raise money for WE Movement, by providing a product or service that we create and design to selling in our school community. We are learning about children living in Tanzania, how to arrange data, working in a team, learning about first impressions, how to do interviews, writing letters, and developing our soft skills among other things. Our products relate to STEM-inspired activities we are learning in class in a creative and innovative way. This year for WE.org we are raising money for the Pillars Of Education, supporting children living in Tanzania who need access to schools for an education. We are also focussing on the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child and the UN Sustainable Development Goals to spread awareness about their importance in protecting our global community.” - Student Team Folded Factory
WE.org, our class community and partners around the world continue to provide a platform, big or small, for students to share their voice. Student agency is encouraged, with or without the spotlight, as they see themselves as leaders with pride, passion and purpose; knowing that they are making an impact in the lives of others, through their choices and actions.
When reflecting on our daughter’s grade 4 school year, we always marvel at the amount of “real world” exposure. The WE Day festival in the fall was eye opening for Amira. Amidst the spectacle of the event, the core message of giving back to those in need was definitely taken to heart. Amira has always had an understanding of giving back, but WE Day and the subsequent Business Day project gave her an in-depth understanding of ‘business for good’. As parents we were constantly impressed with the depth and breadth of experience: from the interviews, the planning, project management, team work, and the final event. At any point one of us would be saying something along the lines of, “wow, I wish some adults I work with had these skills!” We know that these lessons will carry through as Amira continues as a student and more importantly, prepare her for life outside of school. Parents - Jing and Frederick
I truly have the honour and privilege to learn, teach and grow with students in our class community. Students who see themselves as change agents; who act upon their learning and choices by recognizing they have the ability to bring about change through the smallest of actions. I look forward to the new opportunities that students embark upon this new school year.
About the Author:
Artist | Proud Mom | M.Ed. | TDSB Hybrid Teacher - Digital Lead Learner | Passionate about Digital Literacy | Google Educator & Innovator #TOR16 | I believe that we need to find the 'spark' in each student & stepping aside to let them shine!