Inside-Out Canada held the first annual Inside-Out Canada Instructor Training in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, from July 15-21, 2013. We welcomed 18 educators for the training from across Canada, the United States and Australia. The instructor trainings are designed to prepare educators working in the Canadian context to facilitate and launch Inside-Out programs in their own communities.
The training brings together all sorts of educators from across the country and beyond – faculty working in any academic discipline are welcome, as well as grad students and community members. Some who come will have done a lot of work in prisons and/or in community-based learning projects before, and some not. Some who attend are already deep into planning an Inside-Out collaboration; others are simply drawn to investigate.
In addition to two faculty facilitators, facilitation and coaching are offered by the Walls to Bridges Collective, a team of inside and outside alumnae whose work as public educators is described here. Special workshop sessions are held by others in the community, potentially including training participants. The wisdom and experience of all participants are essential to the week`s collaborative learning.
When and for how long?
The training runs over seven days every summer.
The training will be held in the Kitchener-Waterloo area in Ontario. Participants will stay at the outside training site (2014 location to be determined), which will be accessible and able to accommodate special dietary needs. Four or more of the seven days we will spend with the Walls to Bridges Collective, inside Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.
The training's emphases include:
- Pedagogy: The week is especially about a deep engagement with the approach to teaching, this above all. * The idea of people learning with their whole selves. * Awareness and deep acceptance of different ways of knowing. * Learning to quietly build and sustain a frame within which students can create their own classroom communities, practicing dialogue, critical thinking and collaboration. * Experiential learning techniques. * Curriculum analysis and project design. * Maintaining productive, respectful, anti-oppressive boundaries. * Student-designed, student-led group projects that can make a difference in the real world. * We explore together how to foster and sustain a safe-enough space that still has a "growing edge," so that we can challenge ourselves and each other to move beyond blind spots and biases. * Intersectional identities, race, gender, power and privilege as they play themselves out in the classroom circle and beyond it, in the large-scale structures within which we are all living.
- Implementation and Logistics: e.g. building and maintaining working institutional partnerships, navigating relationships within the academic institution, getting credits for the community participants, ethical and practical concerns around research, accessing texts for the inside students, developing Memorandums of Understanding, getting in and out of prisons, developing and sustaining relationships with community partners, thinking outside the box about how and where to run courses, etc.
- Participants' projects: During the week, participants do some work together in small groups, in a way that approximates the group projects that are part of many Inside-Out classes. It's an opportunity for veteran teachers to become students again and to benefit from each other's input, and from the insight of all the training facilitators, centrally including people on the inside.
- Context: People attend Inside-Out trainings with very various backgrounds in this sort of work, from a general need-to-know to a deep familiarity with community-based-learning and/or criminalization and the structures that undergird it. So we try to ensure that there is some kind of orientation across the span of the week, not just to the structural realities of the federal and provincial systems, but also to theories and approaches that may allow society to “move beyond the walls that separate us.”
- Meta-reflection: Why are we drawn to this work, as individuals? What obstacles do we face, and where are our sources of strength and replenishment? Where are our own blind spots, which could lead to difficulties as we help build classroom communities, and how can we interrogate them and move beyond them? How are group dynamics over the course of the training week providing us with an opportunity to learn, in the moment, about power dynamics, prejudice, oppression and the possibility of liberation?
- Introduction to the larger Inside-Out community: * Discussing together how regional coordination and communication and exchange across the whole North American network can strengthen local projects. * Celebrating and strengthening the collaborative work of alumni, whether in prison, released, or non-confined. * Planning together about how to support each other as we build and grow a truly meaningful program in Canada. * Solidarity!