Since November 2015, more than 37,400 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada, and that number is expected to grow as the Government of Canada continues its commitment to resettling Syrian refugees.
The resettlement of so many people in a short period of time has mobilized governments, communities, researchers and service providers to collaborate on and document best practices in support of a common goal—the successful integration of refugee individuals and families in Canada.
The Role of Educators and Schools
What is the role of schools and educators in this successful integration? Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reports that 56 per cent of government-assisted Syrian refugees in Canada are in fact children under the age of 14, and 53 per cent have large families of five to eight members. These demographics are generally seen in other refugee communities, where children often make up a large portion of the group.
For refugee families with school-age children, schools are often the primary point of contact with the larger Canadian society. It is crucial that this contact sets a positive tone for future interactions, thus helping to lay the foundation for successful integration.
Creating Welcoming Learning Communities – an interactive webinar series for educators
In response to the needs of schools to create welcoming and supportive environments in which all children can learn and form a sense of belonging, the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta has launched an interactive webinar series for school teachers, staff and other professionals focused on supporting the successful integration of refugee students into schools.
This webinar series provides an opportunity for viewers to interact with presenters from the university and community on key topics, including:
- creating welcoming learning spaces
- understanding refugee experiences
- first language development and use while learning English
- facilitating a sense of belonging
- communicating about school culture
- building partnerships with families and communities
- strategies for engaging refugee children in learning
- assessing refugee children’s learning
- responding to unique developmental needs according to age
The interactive format of Creating Welcoming Learning Communities allows teachers, school administrators and other staff to bring up specific, real-world issues faced by refugee students in their schools and to hear the perspectives of researchers, experienced educators and community members. The goal? To develop strategies to meet the complex needs of these students and build welcoming learning communities.
Webinars will air every two weeks at noon beginning on September 7 and will run for approximately 45 minutes. Click for Webinar Calendar.