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Finding your pathway to belonging in education

My journey to belonging has been long and winding. It has also opened pathways that I never imagined. When I reflect on where I was 10 years ago in my professional belonging journey, I realize how far I have come, especially in my connections with educators around the world. In my first book, Journey to Belonging: Pathways to Well-Being which was published by Edumatch in 2021, I tell the story of meeting Barbara Bray at ISTE in 2017 and how it was a pivotal moment in my life, personally and professionally. Barbara is a master at networking and inviting people into her circle with open arms. She gave me the confidence to venture out on my own and, as a result, my second book, Finding Your Pathway to Belonging in Education, includes contributions by many international educators who I met along with way. Of course, you will find Barbara’s story among the many resources in the book which includes activities, lesson plans, and personal stories of educator journeys. There are sections about belonging and project-based learning and inclusive practices for language learners. There are many links to videos and articles that support the activities and lessons. In addition, I created a Wakelet collection of more resources for those who purchase the book. I continually add to this collection to ensure it is up-to-date with the latest ideas and research.


Finding Your Pathway to Belonging in Education is intended to be a resource to spark your ideas for lessons and activities that will instill a sense of safety and belonging in your classroom, your school, and the wider community. Learn about using journaling to support self-belonging, and using books to raise awareness about the many different kinds of families there are around the world. As Justin Garcia mentions in the description of the suggested anchor texts they use during this lesson, “they are inclusive to diverse families.”

I wrote in my first book that I was in my mid-thirties before I started my journey to belonging. Belonging is a human need which means that our children and our students shouldn’t have to wait that long to feel their sense of belonging. Research has shown that it impacts their self-efficacy and self-confidence, therefore, impacting their motivation to learn. My hope is that using the activities and lessons in Finding Your Pathway to Belonging in Education will support your professional belonging journey and, as a result, will support your students’ journeys to belonging. Find what works for you and your students, then modify, have fun with, and enjoy learning more about yourself, your colleagues, and your students. Feel empowered, confident, and support others on their journeys to belonging.

About the Author:

Dr. Ilene Winokur is a professional development specialist with a focus on mentoring and coaching teachers globally including refugee teachers. Ilene has been active in learning innovation for over 25 years and is passionate about narratives related to belonging. Prior to retiring in 2019, she was a teacher and administrator at the elementary and pre-college levels for 25 years specializing in teaching English learners.

Ilene hosts a podcast and blogs about her personal journey to belonging in Buffalo, NY, where she grew up, and Yarmouk, Kuwait where she has lived since 1984. Both focus on the importance of feeling a sense of belonging, the subject of her book, Journey to Belonging: Pathways to Well-Being. A companion book with additional strategies and lesson ideas, Finding Your Pathway to Belonging in Education, will be available in February 2023.


You can connect with Ilene on

Twitter: @IleneWinokur

Instagram: @IleneWinokur

Facebook: Ilene.Winokur



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