My name is Ixchel and I am excited to be part of the RSEKN team as the Greater Toronto Area Communications Officer. I believe that knowledge mobilization across the province is a great way to engage in conversations about equity, social justice education and challenge systemic barriers that impede student access, engagement, achievement and well-being. 

I am an Elementary Teacher with the Toronto District School Board for over 14 years, and my passion as an educator has provided me with a vast wealth of experience in the areas of Special Education, English as a Second Language, and interweaving Indigenous education into the curriculum and schools. As a Nahua, Indigenous educator from Tenochtitlán (Mexico City), I believe that teaching and learning begin with the self, Who am I as an educator? Who am I serving in the classrooms? What are my roles and responsibilities towards students, parents/guardians, the community I serve? How do power and privilege play a role in the classroom, school, community?  My Indigenous teachings have taught me to acknowledge the child (student) as a whole with physical, emotional, mental/intellectual, and spiritual needs. Therefore, I need to consistently address my biases and engage in reflexive practices to respond in culturally responsive and relevant pedagogical ways of being with students. 

My journey has led to work as a Student Work Study Teacher (SWST) with the Ministry of Education where I engaged in pedagogical documentation and collaborative inquiry research with teachers from Kindergarten to Grade 8. I am currently a seconded faculty member at York University in the Faculty of Education where I teach courses on equitable practices, inclusion, disabilities, English language learners, and Indigenous education. My passion for learning, unlearning, and relearning has led to continuing my journey in education and graduate with a Master of Education in Urban Aboriginal Education and in September 2018 I will begin a PhD on Indigenous Education at York University with Dr. Susan Dion. 

I am excited, for the second year in a row, to be co-chairing with Dr. Vidya Shah (also the RSEKN GTA Team Lead) the Faculty of Education Summer Institute (FESI) at York University. We have partnered up with RSEKN to plan this year’s conference titled “Realities in Data: Who counts…What counts…Who’s counting?” This year we will explore “the political and pedagogical challenges and possibilities of identity-based data collection, integration and reporting. This addresses one of the four priorities articulated in Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan, which will explore the role of identity-based data in uncovering systemic barriers.”  As the report states, “systemic barriers are caused by embedded biases in policies, practices and processes, and may result in differential treatment [of students]” pp.10 by challenging biases, power, privileges in education, I believe we will engage in brave and courageous conversations of changing practices starting with the self-as a teacher. Changes into practice can’t happen if the self is not involved in the process. I look forward to continuing to be in collaboration with the amazing, dedicated, and passionate regional team leads and communication officers across the province to support student access, engagement, achievement and well-being. 

“If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives.” – Thomas King.

I recommend readers to listen to the 2003 CBC Massey Lectures, “The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative” by Thomas King.

Cuallit tonaltzin!
Ixchel Bennett

Ixchel Bennett

RSEKN Communications Officer for Eastern Ontario; Elementary teacher with the Toronto District School Board.