Day 9- The Penultimate “Official” Day

(Today’s Blog- is written by Tina Bye, youthLEADarts Mentoring Team Member)

~~~Mr. B- How We Love Thee…~~~

Mr. Justin Borsato is a phenomenal teacher. I am sure his students would agree with me. I know we, on the LEAD team, sure think so. Roy went so far as today to declare him “the best teacher I have ever seen!” Lori, Shelley, and Roy have been working with him for over 10 years. Last year was the first year of LEAD, and you can see ‘art’ifacts of that process in his classroom still. Four of the students were also a part of last years’ LEAD project. You can read more about that on our “Our History” page and see last year’s videos.

After our check-in today, Mr. B. mentioned having spent the previous afternoon having a conversation with the kids “about a little thing called standards”. He admitted he was tough on them, and he also said, “There were a few I needed to apologize to this morning, and I did.”

As we have been talking about LEADership for the past 2 weeks, through many different lenses, I have thought back to one of my favorite educational mentors; my curriculum instructor at Queen’s University Mr. Mark Danby. Mark told us in one of our first classes that a drama teacher has to have the 4 H’s. Now being a kid from a rural town… I was like… 4H? like the Agricultural Club?- Head/ Heart/ Hands/ Health? Mark’s 4H’s were Humour, Humbleness, Honesty and Heart (ok, so 1 on 4 are the same). I have always tried to teach by his example.

Mr. B certain displays all these necessary qualities in spadefuls! Of course, he Listens, Empathizes, Acts, and he certainly Drives his students to their very best!  And the adoration and respect that the kids radiate back to him reinforce our impression. So much so that almost the whole class came in before school to finish their poems and to be ready for filming today.

If you look back to earlier galleries of their photography and art, you will see the mastery these kids have of symbolism and metaphor.  Mr. B and the music of Pearl Jam have helped them integrate this ability into their toolbox of artistic skills.

Above is a picture of the challenge he has set the kids to incorporate into their Anti-Racism poems/ spoken word pieces. The whiteboard says:

  • What is Racism?
  • How does it look?
  • How does it feel?
  • What does it sound like? (Stereotypes)
  • What impact does racism have on you?
  • How do we overcome racism?
  • What makes us belong?
  • The solution?

The next challenge for the students is combine their words with video, acting, and still images. Today we, the mentors, had the opportunity to tour the class. All of us smushed together on one laptop computer like some eccentric panel of talent show judges- I shall call us the “Screen Team”.
The Screen Team had a chance to talk with each group about their process and their products. We all got to taste that element of real-life teaching I know that we are all missing the most: the opportunity to bear witness to the discovery of their voices and to prod them to believe that they have even more to offer as the LEADers of tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, it will be the last official day of this project. We are as excited as the kids to see what the outcomes are, but we also know that the process of artists must be respected. It really hard to remember that this accomplished group is only in grades 6 and 7. They are so talented and skillful. I suspect it might be a few more days before the student artists are ready to reveal their polished products. We wait with bated breath! And we thank them, and Mr. B for being fantastic collaborators.