A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
There are so many ways to mix up student seating at lunch that it can be paralyzing to consider them all. Don’t let this be a stumbling block. The outcome is the same, no matter the path that gets you there: You want to get students to sit with different people at lunch, and you want them to have a conversation so they get to know each other a bit.
Perhaps you’ve been wondering about the long hair of the Sikh student in your classroom. Or maybe you’ve joined debates about whether your Sikh student can carry a sword in the classroom. Perhaps you’ve mistaken your Sikh student for a Muslim all along. To help prevent misunderstandings in your school, here are some facts to know about Sikhs.
At my elementary school in Guatemala last year, soccer fields, basketball courts and baseball diamonds were dominated by boys and a handful of brave, tough girls.
“Man that boy booty sweaty!”
The comment rang out in a room that was supposed to be silent. Although the student whose “booty” was being discussed was out of the room and seemingly unscathed by his classmate’s remarks, I knew I had to address this like any other incident of disrespect. Since there are some students (most, I’d wager), who would be made uncomfortable by this type of remark, everyone needs to know that it’s not okay to say such a thing. It’s an opportunity for me to help a teenager hone empathy into a habit.
The civil rights movement is one of the defining events of U.S. history, and yet most states fail badly when it comes to teaching the movement to students.
What we teach in elementary school matters to students now and when they go to college. I’m not just talking about fundamental reading, writing and arithmetic. But rather six principles I stressed years ago when I was a fourth-grade teacher in Westwood, Mass. Turns out that the basic concepts about life I taught were critical for their advancement in higher education.
In the course of the day, sometimes, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices and decisions to be made, I miss the big moments.
Take a day last fall. We were coming from lunch when I noticed that Brendan was crying. “Malia, why is Brendan crying?” I asked.
“Oh, he’s sad that his caterpillars got let go,” she said.
Sometimes teaching at my magnet arts school in Alabama, I can imagine the worst days of racism and intolerance are behind us. Most of the roughly 500 students have genuine, deep friendships across racial lines and very rarely do the old racist memes and tropes raise their ugly heads.