Every year Canada welcomes 300,000 newcomers and many of them will be populating your classrooms. We start the new year with a focus on advice and resources that could help you meet the challenges involved in teaching New Canadians. [by Jim Lang, M.Ed. PhD, Associate Faculty Department of Social Justice Education, Philosophy of Education, OISE/University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario]

  • Teaching Refugees with Limited Formal SchoolingAlthough refugees make up a small fraction of immigrants, their numbers are increasing. Teaching Refugees, a website from the Calgary Board of Education, offers a broad range of materials, from definitions of refugees to full lesson plans specifically designed for students with little or no formal literacy or numeracy education.
  • Teaching resources to support immigrant and refugee students in CanadaThe Alberta Teachers’ Association joined forces with the Canadian Multicultural Education Foundation to produce this website, offering a series of teaching guides to support educators of immigrant and refugee students. “Each guide focuses on a specific community (Arab, Karen, Somali and South Sudanese students). It provides teachers with information concerning the students’ cultural background and suggestions to adapt lessons to these students’ specific needs. It also includes an orientation guide to Canadian schools for newcomer parents in their own language.”
  • Educating Refugee and Immigrant StudentsAn American website offers courses for teachers of refugees and immigrants which may serve Canadian purposes as well. A 12-hour course on educating refugees, for example, runs $45USD. Lessons focus on understanding the refugee resettlement experience and specific needs of refugee students in the U.S.”
  • Understanding The Challenges Faced by Immigrant ChildrenDr. Tali Shenfeld, a Toronto psychologist who was once an immigrant child,  writes of the challenges facing immigrant children in Canada. Although not directed specifically to educators, the information seems readily applicable to the classroom. “For children…the personal struggles brought about by immigration can feel overwhelming: unlike adults, young people are still in the process of forming their individual identities, and as such, being caught between two cultures can create numerous internal conflicts.”
  • Welcoming Immigrant Students Into the Classroom – Sara Burnett, writhing for Edutopia, offers an American perspective on the dos and don’ts of welcoming immigrant students. For example, “Do reach out to parents and sponsors,” and “Don’t think that lack of response means lack of caring.” She suggest five games and activities to welcome students, such as telling stories. She advises, “Make room for storytelling, one of the most powerful ways to create empathy.”
  • The Top 10 Problems Faced by Immigrants – The Canadian website Immigroup offers a broad range of resource for immigrants, including a list of the main problems immigrants to Canada face. Most are unsurprising, including isolation, Canadian weather and racism, but one stands out: “Problem Kids.” According to Immigroup, “Children are likely to be quickly immersed in a new culture through their schools and may begin to seem foreign to their own parents.”  As an educator, you may want to develop a sensitivity to this issue as you interact with your students’ parents and/or guardians.

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