Here you will find writings that give some insight into Trinity’s programs.

For Educators and Parents

Posted on Apr 21, 2016 in

trinityfamily

2016 Leadership Lab Students

As my Co-director and partner Sandra Crockard explained in her personal blog last month we are learning a new practice of reaching out to our network. I’m using this occasion to address educators everywhere who have ever felt limited by the present tools and practices of education to reach their students- both concerning a subject and addressing their development as competent, resilient members of our shared society. We experienced the same sense of restraint with techniques in our theatre development.

Our Past

Trinity started working with the Toronto District School Board in 1984. In those early years we created plays, with teacher’s guides , on various issues. As we encountered the limits of this traditional play-audience format, especially in terms of empowering audience members, we moved through many years of exploration both in schools and the community. Through trial and error we ‘deconstructed’ the primacy of performance when using theatre, and moved to a more interactive practice between player and audience member.

As we worked in schools we were constantly asking ourselves, on the basis of our daily exchange with young people, what do students ultimately want from their school experience beyond the acquiring of information, skills, and marks.

What do teachers and other educators want to connect with their students, and fulfill their sense of vocation in meaningful ways?

Our Present

Out of this exploration we have created many presentations, workshops and courses. Of these, our Peer to Peer and Making Connections programs in particular embody what we believe begins to answer those questions re what students and teachers ultimately want in education.

Essentially both programs are mentoring programs that extend participants’ learning capabilities by addressing their social/emotional development, both peer to peer and intergenerationally.

What do Students and Teachers ultimately want?

So what did we find? What do students ultimately want? To be recognized, to be inspired, to learn.

What do educators ultimately want? To feel that their teaching has contributed to a student’s competency as a learner, as well as contributing in a positive way to their personal and social growth for the future.

During our explorations it became increasingly important to us that our programs help students and teachers see that our social/emotional lives are connected to our capability to learn. As well, we wanted to create tools that would help both student and teacher nurture recognition, inspiration and love of learning from one another

Ultimately, all of Trinity’s education work is informed by the belief that education is all about learning, a competency in learning that is achieved by skills development and knowledge and information exchange, combined with attention to an individual’s social/emotional development. This combination of learning and personal growth for both student and teacher enables personal transformation, and participation in social and community development for everyone involved in the act of education..

If you would like to know more about our approach to education please email us at contact@trinitytheatre.ca for our free three day online mini-course Teaching Between the Lines

The other ‘educators’ I would like to address in this opening blog are parents.

Your role is crucial in both the social/emotional development and the academic development of your children. This, of course, is quite obvious in our children’s elementary years in school. But in many ways the parent’s role even increases in importance in their high school years.

From our thirty plus years of working with youth in schools we are publishing this June Surviving High School…and other challenging times in life. This eBook contains nine steps for students on how to make the most out of their high school years in terms of personal growth and developing life-enhancing strategies for their future.

As a companion to Surviving High School…and other challenging times in life we will be offering a free online series for parents, Surviving High School…a parent’s guide.

 The series will run online for nine weeks, beginning Earth Day Friday April 22, and each Friday after that. Each week in the series will match one of the nine steps outlined for students.

If you would like to receive the free online series Surviving High School…a parent’s guide please email us at contact@trinitytheatre.ca to receive your free copy.

The ultimate goal of all education is personal and community renewal. As such the role of the parent as educator is ongoing, even though it appears to be lost in the fiction we call the generation gap. While it is true that new technologies continuously challenge an older generation, the common and continuing social/emotional challenges of personal growth and aging can only be successfully addressed intergenerationally.

Trinity Blog Re-Vamp

Posted on Mar 17, 2016 in

I don’t know about you, but I have not entirely understood the value and purpose of blogging. This probably reveals a lot about my relationship with social media. I’ll admit that I do grumble about how much more demanding our work has become now that maintaining a presence on social media is expected and required. So I have had to be convinced that it is really advantageous for me to buy in to this new reality.

Why Blog?

This has happened in two ways. First we have been getting coaching sessions at the Centre for Social Innovation. In a session with Mike Brcic of “The Social Entrepreneur” and “Sacred Rides,” we were introduced to the idea of using blogs to first and foremost provide value – and then to ultimately funnel business towards a ‘core offer’, i.e. Trinity programs, services and resources. I appreciated his argument that we need to first build trust and respect, and what better way than to provide free online resources for consideration?

Secondly, here at Trinity we have the good fortune of having a co-op student from Humber College’s Media & Communications program with us for the winter/spring term. Khaya Matheson has been assisting us with our social media needs, and to that end has been able to give us some further advice on how to better utilize Trinity blogs.

Personal and Topic-Related Blogging

Alan and I are aiming to be recognized by a broader audience as ‘known and trusted’ experts in the areas of social emotional development, youth empowerment, peer leadership, experiential learning, kindness and compassion, acceptance, improving community practice and increasing community capacity through intergenerational engagement.

To do this we are going to write two types of ‘value-added’ blogs – personal and topic-related.

The personal blogs will appear on the third Thursday of every month. These will be directed at the Trinity community-at-large and be of our topic of choice. They will be written in a more candid journal style, natural, relaxed, and provide a platform to be informative of events and happenings at Trinity.

The topic-related blogs will appear every three weeks, on Mondays, starting on March 21st. These will be directed to a specific audience each time, either EDUCATORS, YOUTH or PARENTS. These will be useful and helpful, direct, to-the-point, and socially emotionally relevant.

Blogs For Educators, Parents and Youth

EDUCATORS can look forward to learning fresh new perspectives, ideas, concepts and techniques – ranging from dealing conflict in the classroom, helping students handle anxiety and stress, become their best self, building a positive school community.

PARENTS will be offered new ideas, insights and approaches for understanding their child’s experience as they navigate the education system.

YOUTH will be shown ways to survive high school and other challenges, how to become a leader in their own life, and take peer leadership into their school community – as well as the community-at-large, provide resources and be inspired by the stories of other peer leaders.

If I Can Do It So Can You

 So there you have it. Going forward, I am going to trust in by betters in this domain (thank you, Mike and Khaya) and commit to our goal here at Trinity of providing something of value in each blog post.   And to that end I am going to leave you this link to an easy read with 20 quick-tips when blog writing, just in case any of you are interested in learning how to write a blog yourself…

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140602121530-3161863-20-quick-tips-on-writing-great-blog-posts

For Teachers

Posted on Jan 26, 2016 in

It is time to talk about the role, work and presence of the teacher with a view to how he/she can play a productive part in the social/emotional development of their students. This is important to discuss because the links between the social/emotional sides of a person’s nature and their learning capacity are becoming more apparent thanks to neuroscience.

And important too for all of us, including teachers themselves, to develop more literacy around the role public education plays in our society’s vision of itself. What indeed does it say about ourselves and our communities that we want our young to be educated in this way? And consequently what are we actually expecting of our teachers, and what should they expect of themselves, as men and women of vocation?

The teacher is in many ways the most significant adult a young person meets after the adults in their immediate and extended family. And we have been assuming that the primary social/emotional development work is being done only in the nuclear family. But what if that primary ‘education’- given what we now know of the length of time involved in the developing brain through childhood and adolescence- is also being supplied by other adults in the community?

As well we should also examine whether we are assuming that a young person’s learning is primarily the result of a conscious act – meaning the parent or later teacher sits the young person down and transmits articles of learning. When in truth the child does not only learn but absorb information and practices from its adults and it always takes in far more than the adults actually intend! All of which makes the actual ‘education’ of the child a complex act.

There is a role for the teacher in the social/emotional development of youth. This is obvious at the elementary level of education, and largely dismissed at the secondary level. This is a mistake. There is a role for teachers with youth, possibly as guide, as mentor, as inspiration, as conscience, as model, and as friend.

What if the secondary teacher’s role lay beyond academics? What if that role was one that involved creating a pathway to community, by helping youth to learn how to learn with others- including how to balance the social/emotional aspects of one’s developing character with the engaged work/achievement aspects of conscious living?

There are simple ways a secondary teacher can introduce social/emotional development in the classroom without detracting from the academic subject they are teaching. Following is a list of some of those ways that we will elaborate on in further blogs.

(1) Use talking/learning circles.

(2) Become a peer leader in learning.

(3) Define your personal educational goals.

(4) Think like a river.

(5) Sweat the small stuff!

(6) Make it personal.

(7) Story the classroom.

(8) Strive for relevance.

(9) Make connections.

A re-cap of the best Christmas break of my life and back to school

Posted on Jan 22, 2016 in

Let me start with a Happy New Year (even though it feels like quite a while ago that we had our holiday break). I had the best Christmas ever! My son Matthew, who dances with the Stuttgart Ballet, is always performing over Christmas (like all dance companies seem to). This year, however, the company was given five days over Christmas off. This knowledge he and his twin brother Alex decided to keep a secret from their parents, and on December 23, for the first time in ten years, Matthew came home for Christmas. The guy surprises us by walking into our respective kitchens. This was, of course, captured on Alex’s cell phone camera, and posted on Christmas day. You can see it if you find me on Facebook. The video is somewhere on my home page. It was truly a dizzyingly wonderful handful of days with Matthew here. Add to that the joy that delightful grandson Wesley brings into the mix, and I will hold Christmas 2015 in my heart for the rest of my days.

Now that we are back to school, and I am once again writing blogs, I want to refer to an aspect of that extraordinary reunion – namely the cell phone on which Alex captured my reaction. Thanks to the presence of cell phones in our lives, I now have a video to look at when I’m feeling sentimental – for which I am grateful. But here’s my dilemma – what about the presence of cell phones during our training?

We are guests in schools, and as a result, not always sure what each school’s official and/or unofficial stance is regarding cell phones. I’d like to think I am easy going regarding their presence in the nooks and crannies of a training session – I mean, before we begin, during breaks, etc. – but I think that when we are involved in the actual training there should be undivided focus and attention given to the trainers and fellow peer leaders.

So what would you do when presented with a group of Grade 8 peer leaders who throughout the course of an entire day had to be constantly asked to put the cell phones away? Who put knapsacks on their laps to disguise their compulsion to continue texting? Who, in the end, were either being openly oppositional, or didn’t even hear the request to put them away because they were so caught up in whatever was on their screen?

I’d also like to think that I am always respectful of those I am training – regardless of their age. I do my utmost to treat everyone kindly, reasonably and with transparency. But to have that approach of patience and respect challenged eventually got my insides roiling. Reluctantly, I went ‘adult’ and started lecturing. But I did leave the group with this task for our next training session – “If you were me, how would you handle the cell phone issue? “ We will consider their suggestions for removing them as distraction and work with the most reasonable solution. By the way, the school has a no cell phones in class policy, so we can always fall back on that, but it would be an accomplishment if we could, as a group, arrive at a solution in which they felt they had some say.

So I ask you, what about our attachments cell phones? In the end, I am thrilled that there was a cell phone present to capture the experience for me. But, what about in school? At Trinity, we are looking for ways to integrate a role for them in our training, but I have to say that when it comes to face-to-face interaction and the very real mentoring and leadership development work involved, there is no place for split focus and the optics of disrespect that is part and parcel of looking at a smart phone screen.

Navigating Trinity as an Intern!

Posted on Jan 19, 2016 in

Khaya’s Perspective

For those of you who don’t know – I am Trinity’s newest intern for Marketing & Communications.

I’m remembering how badly I wanted this position approximately 3 weeks ago. “THAT’S IT!” I yelled aloud while frantically scrolling for internship positions related to my school program, “This is me! I can do this!”. I envisioned myself working for Trinity Theatre, knowing nothing about the organization itself other than what was presented to me through the website and listing.

The position outlined a platform of ideas that I could get behind – community & relationship building, social & emotional development in youth and experiential learning through theatre and other related workshops. It also lined up rather nicely with my acquired skills – writing, communications, marketing, promotions & social media. My heart started racing and I couldn’t seem to whip up a cover letter and edit my resume fast enough. (For those of you in need of a co-op for school, you know the type of pressure I’m talking about!). I was convinced someone else might swipe the position or catch their attention quicker than I did. Fortunately, I was wrong!

As of today, I have leapt forward into my second week at Trinity. Informative and fruitful are words I would use to describe my first week at the office; which has me eager for this week as well as what’s to come! As a soon to be Media Communications graduate from Humber College my goal is to maintain an optimistic attitude and a progressive impact on the Marketing & Communications sector of this organization. So far, I am inspired by not only the staff around me to learn and move forward but more importantly the students & peer leaders in which Trinity continues to work alongside.

I remember being in high school and having mixed emotions about it. There were some unforgettably fun & rewarding experiences, no doubt, but simultaneously there were some experiences I could deem “the hardest of my life” (thus far)! It wasn’t until I attended an alternative school for my last year of high school, prioritizing experiential & community learning, that I began to gain confidence in what I was learning and how. Sometimes all you need is a shift in perception and a little push in order to broaden your horizons and let the light in.

My point in saying this is that I understand the position of some of the students who may learn with Trinity or need Trinity’s help. I am going to make it my duty here to carry out that knowledge and apply it to all of my work. I am here to deliver Trinity’s message of compassion, community and empathy through various media platforms.

Please join me and everyone else here at Trinity on this journey to create a positive change in the next generation of Canadian youth!

– Khaya