Welcome to GEEC

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Hello there, we’re GEEC, the Greater Equity in Early Education and Care: Child, Family, and Community Engaged Research team. We are a research collaborative working with community partners to promote equity in learning and care for children through child, family, and community engaged research.

Educational Equity Podcast – Episode 1: Indigenous Perspectives on Learning and Unlearning

The first episode of the Educational Equity podcast, titled Indigenous Perspectives on Learning and Unlearning, is now live!

Hosts Stephen Hurley and Dr. Nicholas Ng-A-Fook are joined by young Indigenous knowledge keepers, Kiera Brant-Birioukov, Kyrstin Dumont, Stephanie Sanders, Marissa Magneson, Roxanne Gillis, and Melissa Somer. In this podcast, participants shared their perspectives on equity, informed by their Indigenous worldviews and lived experiences. The discussion was guided by the following questions: 

•What is equity for each of you in terms of your lived experiences and in terms of your current work in relation to settler colonial K-6 public and private schooling systems in Ontario? 

• What are some of the historical and/or ongoing individual, structural, systemic and societal barriers?

• What is some of the professional (un)learning work taking place to support students? 

To listen to the podcast and for more information about each speaker and their work, head to https://www.torontomu.ca/educational-equity-symposium/podcasts-/

Post-Symposium: Enhancing Equity in Ontario Elementary Education

The Enhancing Equity in Ontario Elementary Education Symposium was held virtually and in-person at Toronto Metropolitan University, on October 11th and 12th, 2023. Enhancing Equity in Ontario Education is a project led by Dr. Sejal Patel (Early Childhood Studies, Toronto Metropolitan University), in partnership with Dr. Alana Butler from Queen’s University, Dr. Adam Davies from University of Guelph, Dr. George Dei from University of Toronto, Dr. Nicholas Ng-A-Fook from University of Ottawa, Dr. Vidya Shah from York University, Dr. Janelle Brady and Dr. Kathryn Underwood from Toronto Metropolian University, Tesa Fiddler from Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, Max Cooke from EdCan Network, Stephen Hurley from voicEd Radio, Courtnay McFarlane from Regent Park Community Health Centre, and Annie Kidder and Dr. Robin Liu Hopson from People for Education. 

The Symposium invited participation by all Ontario district school boards, education stakeholders, and scholars focused on educational equity and human rights (considering Black and Indigenous students, newcomer/international students, racialized students, students living in low socioeconomic neighbourhoods, student who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+, disabled students, and other intersectionalities), to allow for sharing of promising practices around equity-based initiatives, along with providing space to reflect on and commit to taking greater action in support of enhanced equity for elementary school students. 

Video Recap:

As we begin 2024, we reflect on the inspiring conversations that took place at the Enhancing Equity in Ontario Elementary Education symposium. The symposium provided opportunities to share and consider promising practices regarding enhancing equity for elementary students. We received wonderful feedback about the logistics, moderated discussions, panels, and presentations, and are grateful for all of the dialogue and action that the symposium attendees continue to inspire. 

Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all of the presenters, symposium staff and volunteers. Your collaboration, support, and effort helped to ensure that the symposium ran as smoothly as possible. 

Thank you all for your participation in this important event. Stay tuned for podcasts and symposium proceedings, which will be mobilized through this website.  

Meet the GEEC team: Sarah Saeidpour

Meet Sarah Saeidpour, a Research Assistant on the GEEC team. Sarah is in her first year of the Bachelor of Education program at York University, and holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Studies from Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). Sarah has experience working in a variety of educational settings with children and families, such as in preschools with specialized programming for children with disabilities, elementary classrooms, and resource consultation.

As an educator, Sarah highly values inclusion and accessibility. She is always looking for ways to increase child and family engagement in education, and is passionate about compiling or creating resources that are relevant to each child’s/family’s individual needs and experiences. Sarah strives to follow and advocate for frameworks such as Universal Design for Learning, and hopes to create spaces where children and families feel a sense of belonging and community.

As a member of the GEEC team, Sarah is looking forward to gaining more insight into the world of research, and discovering new resources that are relevant to her practice and goals. Sarah is excited to build and share her passion for equity and accessibility in education throughout her participation on the team.

Enhancing Equity in Ontario Elementary Education Symposium

Join us at the upcoming two-day Enhancing Equity in Ontario Elementary Education symposium on October 11th  and 12th, 2023 (information about the organizing research advisory committee and two-day program can be found at https://www.torontomu.ca/educational-equity-symposium/ ). The in-person symposium will include representatives of school boards and community organizations.

We will be live-streaming the in-person symposium to a virtual event management system and are opening up registration for anyone to attend virtually. We are hoping that virtual registration will improve accessibility of this event across Ontario.

All attendees will have access to French-English and ASL interpretation options, along with captioning in French and English. 

Registration can be completed online at https://tmu-emarketplace.paymytuition.com/enhancing-equity-in-ontario-elementary-education-symposium . Select from the virtual participation options.

Virtual registration is currently scheduled to close on Friday, October 6th, 2023. 

If you have any questions, please contact: educationalequity@torontomu.ca

Meet the GEEC team: Aalim Makani

Meet Aalim Makani, Research Manager of the GEEC team. Aalim completed his Honours Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Toronto, Scarborough. He is currently a second-year M.A. student in the psychological science program at Toronto Metropolitan University. His research focuses on emotion and decision-making across the adult lifespan.

As a member of the GEEC research team, Aalim looks forward to experiential learning with research outside the realm of Psychology. He is excited to bring a unique perspective to enhance equity and hopes to bring about change from the ground up for children in marginalized communities.

Meet the GEEC team: Rimsha Ahmad

Meet Rimsha Ahmad, a Project Manager on the GEEC team. Rimsha will be starting her Master of Education in Fall 2023, having recently completed the requirements for her B.E.d. in the concurrent education program with York/ Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), and graduated with a B.A. in Early Childhood Studies at TMU. As a teacher, Rimsha is passionate about making education accessible to children in marginalized communities.

Rimsha recently volunteered at Pathways to Education, an organization that aims to provide equitable education to students in low-income communities. She is also a volunteer at The Citizens Foundation, a registered charity that aims to provide educational opportunities for unprivileged children across the world. Rimsha is excited to combine her experience working in such organizations with her passion for equitable education.

Rimsha has practical experience working with children in K-6 school settings and has completed various practicums with the Toronto District School Board. Through her work in the GEEC research group, Rimsha is excited to bring forth her experiences in the education system to enhance equity for marginalized communities.

SSHRC Research Story

We are pleased to share that SSHRC invited Dr. Sejal Patel to be interviewed about GEEC research in November of 2022. This was shared through SSHRC’s Research Stories on their website, and through the SSHRC ‘Dialogue’ e-Newsletter.

Click here to read the Research Story.

Rapid review and new team members!

What has @GEECResearchTO at Toronto Metropolitan University (recently renamed, formerly Ryerson University) been up to since Summer 2022? We are conducting a rapid review of Ontario elementary school board equity initiatives and policies, with the goal of creating opportunities for knowledge mobilization. Stay tuned for updates.

Meet the GEEC Research Team:

Meet Monica Tang, a Research Project Manager on the GEEC team. Monica has a B.A. in History, B.Ed. and M.Ed. where her research focused on the model minority myth and how Asian Canadian students experience racism in the education system. She is also an OCT, currently working as an elementary occasional teacher with the Peel District School Board.

Monica is currently pursuing her PhD in Language, Culture and Teaching at York University where she is planning to extend her M.Ed. research.

As a member of the GEEC research team, Monica is excited to bring her experience in the education system and knowledge of equity in education. She looks forward to collaborating with educators and community members to facilitate knowledge exchange, and work towards improving educational opportunities for marginalized students.

Meet Rimsha Ahmad, a Research Assistant on the GEEC team. Rimsha is a recent graduate of the Early Childhood Studies program at Toronto Metropolitan University and currently completing the B.Ed. program at York University. As a teacher candidate, Rimsha is passionate about making education accessible to children.

Rimsha is currently volunteering at Pathways to Education, an organization that aims to provide equitable education to students in low-income communities. She is also a volunteer at The Citizen’s Foundation, a registered charity that aims to provide educational opportunities for unprivileged children across the world. Rimsha is excited to combine her experience working in such organizations with her passion for equitable education.

Rimsha has practical experience working with children in K-6 school settings, and is currently completing a practicum with the Toronto District School Board. Through her work in the GEEC research group, Rimsha is eager to be able to critically analyze the school board equity policies and initiatives.

Meet, Aalim Makani, Research Project Manager of the GEEC team. Aalim completed his Honours Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Toronto, Scarborough. He is currently a second-year M.A. student in the psychological science program at Toronto Metropolitan University. His research focuses on emotion and decision-making across the adult lifespan.

As a member of the GEEC research team, Aalim looks forward to experiential learning with research outside the realm of Psychology. He is excited to bring a unique perspective to enhance equity and hopes to bring about change from the ground up for children in marginalized communities.

AERA 2022 

Between April 21 and 26, 2022, educators, researchers and community members met for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting. This year’s theme was, ‘Cultivating Equitable Education Systems for the 21st Century’. Professor Sejal Patel and her former student Natalie Cummins (M.E.S., M.A.) shared about school administrators’ leadership strategies and practices to foster family-school-community partnerships in a school board-wide equity initiative. Findings suggest that anti-oppression and family-school-community partnership training should be mandatory for leaders in equity-deserving communities. In order to create more equitable outcomes, place must be considered, alongside targeted and tailored leadership strategies. Professor Sejal Patel and Krischanda Bemister (Research Project Manager, GEEC) shared about school-based stakeholders’ perspectives on their neighbourhood, housing redevelopment, social dynamics and sense of belonging. Findings support the importance of including child, teacher and parent voices when planning, implementing and evaluating policy initiatives that directly affect their lives.

Student spotlight: Leah Balkovec

Having not been together in person since class on March 13, 2020 when the University switched to a virtual format, Professor Sejal Patel was excited to reconnect with Leah Balkovec, her former first-year Human Development I & II student. They bumped into each other at a community ice skating rink, where Leah works as a skating coach for young children. 

About Leah Balkovec

Leah is a third year student in the Early Childhood Studies program who aspires to work as a teacher after graduating. She noted that her favourite part of the Human Development I and II courses was “learning about how a child’s brain processes information”, and that she “gained an in-depth understanding about child growth and development.” Leah shared that she has “been able to apply what [she] learned from Human Development I and II to [her] placement and work place settings.” During the pandemic, Leah shared that she found connecting through group chats and over the phone helpful in liaising with her classmates while learning online, despite the challenges of not being able to interact in person. During stressful times, such as during exam period, she “found that going for walks, working out, and listening to music were great stress relievers.” Leah shared that her choice of the Early Childhood Studies program was the result of her “passion for working with children” and that she appreciated the “hands-on experience in the field” that she gained from the program.