#CdnELTchat Summary for December 8 (Intersectionality in ELT)

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#CdnELTchat summary for December 8, 2020
By Bonnie Nicholas

#CdnELTchat chose intersectionality in ELT as our final topic for this tumultuous year, a fitting topic since the pandemic and the resulting shift to remote learning has highlighted many of the inequities that have always been present in ELT. Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow) was joined by guest moderator Tanya Cowie (@tanyacowiecowie) for this Twitter chat on December 8. Tanya has been teaching EAL for over 25 years, currently at Vancouver Community College. She is especially interested in intercultural communication, anti-racism, and EAL pedagogy. Tanya holds a certificate in Intercultural Studies from UBC and is a qualified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). 

With Tanya’s guidance, participants shared their understanding of intersectionality. The term “intersectionality” itself was coined in 1989 by American critical legal race scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. Tanya explained intersectionality as a way to help “show identities that hold power and those who are marginalized in society. It shows the combinations and complexity of identity.” Tanya also shared this identity wheel, sketch-noted by Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth, sylviaduckworth.com), adapted from the Canadian Council for Refugees.

Wheel of Power

Throughout the chat, we dug a little deeper into what intersectionality means for us working in ELT and for the learners that we are privileged to serve. Jennifer Chow commented that “we need to put in the work to identify privilege and be aware of how we frame what and how we teach our students.” We’ve collected the tweets from this chat using Wakelet; you can also search for them on Twitter using the hashtag #CdnELTchat. As well, Jennifer has collected and curated the many resources that were shared during the chat and afterwards: Resources for Intersectionality in ELT

During the chat, we discussed these questions.

Q1: What is #intersectionality?
Q2: Why is #intersectionality  important in #ELT?
Q3: How should #intersectionality inform classroom materials and curriculum?
Q4: Why is it important to examine #intersectionality in our classrooms? How does it affect your interactions with your students?
Q5: How does #intersectionality affect teacher identity?
Q6: What can you do to work on understanding your power and privilege? Why is it difficult for some people to see their privilege? 

The consensus was that there is ongoing work that we all need to do in understanding intersectionality and the power structures inherent in our profession. But understanding is not enough. We (and especially those of us near the centre of the identity wheel) also have a responsibility to work for change and to do everything we can to reduce the marginalisation of others that our power and privilege gives us. Challenging the power structures in our profession is part of our work. It’s telling that this topic brought out our first Twitter troll, in five years of #CdnELTchat. As ELT professionals, we have an added responsibility to learn about critical race theory and to challenge systemic racism wherever and whenever we encounter it. 

There were also questions that we didn’t have time to discuss during the hour-long chat. Anyone can contribute to the conversation asynchronously by tweeting and using the hashtag #CdnELTchat. 

  • How can intersectionality help us become anti-racist educators?
  • Do you think intersectionality is important to consider when communicating with teacher colleagues?
  • What is the difference between positionality and intersectionality?

#CdnELTchat is a pan-Canadian chat, usually held about every second Tuesday. We are always looking for guest moderators willing to share their passions on a topic in ELT. Check out our past #CdnELTchat topics, and contact one of our team members if you are interested in co-moderating a future chat: Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas), or Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL). We’ll be there to support you!

Thanks to all our participants in this chat and over the past five years. #CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us. The #CdnELTchat team wishes everyone a safe and healthy holiday break. We look forward to reconnecting in the new year.

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

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