Michael Alex

Michael has taught in public high schools in Toronto for the past 25 years, specializing in social science, history, law, civics, politics, and economics. He holds a Master’s degree in history and a specialist certification in teaching history.
Michael is experienced in project-based learning, and emphasizes student choice, social justice, and democratically organized learning in his teaching. His work with young people is characterized by play, activity-based learning, and intelligently structured investigations which are challenging, developmentally appropriate and fun!

Most of Michael’s teaching career has been spent in alternative schools. He worked for the better part of two decades in a Toronto alternative school program for traveling students: young people whose interests/training/performance in the arts (dance, modeling, acting, etc.) and athletics (of all sorts, at a competitive level) would take them away from school for short or extended periods of time. As such, he built programming focused on this sort of differently structured learning and community building and gained experienced working with distance education long before Zoom and online learning really took off.

Michael’s current focus is in wellness learning, life skills development, and meta-learning: particularly learning about attention, self-care, using movement in learning and more. A key example of this work is a full-credit wellness course he created and delivered for seven years in Toronto public schools prior to the pandemic, and now delivers to Cicero students. The course uses yoga, meditation and mindfulness as jumping off points for self-study, kinaesthetic learning, ethics, understanding the “teenaged brain,” rehab/prehab-practices for learning and life, stress management, and practical skills for healthy habit formation and effective learning. Michael has more than 600 hours of yoga asana, mindfulness and meditation training, in addition to work in related movement and learning modalities.

Outside of class, Michael is constantly learning. He is currently studying fermentation, survival skills, movement modalities (think handstands and parkour in the park), and dog training. As a lifelong learner who is always reading several books at a time, Michael brings this mindset into his teaching to create an inspiring, ever-curious and probing context for his students.

Teaching Philosophy & Approach

Learning isn't something that someone can do for you or to you. It is a human birthright. All learning starts by definition with the priorities and motivations of the learner and I see my job as to be able to provide mentoring and sound strategizing so that the young people I work with can gain mastery of skills and knowledge that they care about and which will serve them in the world beyond school. I hope to add context and lend experience to guide young people without robbing them of opportunities to learn by and of themselves.

At the most basic level, my approach to teaching is based in kindness. That might sound trite, but so much of traditional schooling is not based in consent or respect for interest, difference, capacity or our unique gifts. From my perspective, the world is changing and the rate of change is increasing. As such, while a grounding in established educational disciplines can be important, far more essential is the development of a learning toolkit so that students I've worked with gain the ability to move through the world with confidence in both their own abilities and to use their voice to advocate for support when needed.

Learning is exciting and a chance for curiousity and exploration - if that has been missed, something has gone off the rails. I work hard to help young people understand and develop their own capacities so that they are calm, capable and confident of themselves and their place in this wonderful world.

The word most closely associated with my approach to learning and teaching is MINDFULNESS! All of my learning work is trauma-informed, anti-oppression focused, based in a respect for human rights and consent-based.

I have a great sense of humour, sense of play, and love to get moving and a big part of the learning process.

To the extent that there is interest and capacity, I also aim to involve parents/guardians in appropriate ways relevant to learning and also coach parents on how to work more effectively with their teens.

“I work hard to help young people understand and develop their own capacities so that they are calm, capable and confident of themselves and their place in this wonderful world.”
Teaching Level:
  • Middle
  • High School
Teaching Type:
  • Tutoring
  • Learning Coach
  • Full-Semester Classes
  • Full-Year Classes
  • Partial Year Classes (Mini Courses)
Teaching Subjects:
  • World History

Testimonials

Courses that Michael Alex Teaches

  • Wellness & EF for Teens
    This course encourages the exploration of what constitutes wellness in…
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  • AP US History
    Our AP United States history course offers a comprehensive and…
    View

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