Ensouling Our Schools by Jennifer Katz includes a variety of lessons teachers in grades K-12 can follow. There are lessons on social-emotional learning, addressing mental health needs in students and reconciliation. These lessons can be used to replace or enhance learning in other programs common in many schools such as the Mind Up program or Zones of Regulation program. However, Katz’s lessons go beyond these programs and assist teachers in applying the Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learning and basic theories of social emotional learning. In the introduction the author states, “This vision is also offered through Indigenous practices that draw in marginalized populations, move away from deficit models of students, and focus on developing student autonomy, self-regulation and academic self-efficacy.”
To assist educators in doing this, the author includes informative chapters such as “Chapter 1: Spirit and Soul in Education,” “Chapter 3: The TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) and Indigenous Worldviews of Education for Well-Being” and “Chapter 10: School Culture and Staff Well-Being.” There is no new theory in this book. Instead, it acts as a summary of several approaches. These are woven together and presented in a way that is informative and educational for the reader. Of particular interest is a list of the TRC Calls to Action that specifically apply to educators and suggestions for how these can be addressed in our schools.
Katz has provided a resource that will help many educators learn more about the importance of teaching mental health literacy and incorporate Indigenous philosophy into their lessons. The amount and variety of information can be a bit overwhelming, but the author’s writing style makes it easy to pop in and out of each chapter at one’s own pace.
Lisa Corbett is a member of the Near North Teacher Local.