Todd Harrison is an educator, writer, and urban activist whose work is underscored by a passion for engagement and empowerment — of city-dwellers in general, and Toronto youth in particular. As a teacher at The YMCA Academy, an alternative high school in downtown Toronto for youth with learning disabilities and learning style differences, he uses the dynamic and ever-changing urban landscape that surrounds his classroom, as well as the multifaceted nature of his school’s parent organization (The YMCA of Greater Toronto), as teaching tools to bring authenticity and experiential opportunities to his students. He is also a co-founder and senior editor of Spacing magazine and a consultant in strategies for increasing public engagement in key urban issues including walkability, sustainability, and programs and services for youth.
Todd’s talk will demonstrate how connecting classroom learning with a student’s daily lived experience is a powerful strategy for engaging youth with learning disabilities and learning style differences. While it’s true that all students can benefit from experiential opportunities, providing exceptional learners with the tools to interpret and affect change in their lives is both an optimal instructional method and a chance to develop an essential life skill.