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
Two afternoons a week, I tutor a high school junior in English and history and enjoy gleaning insights into a different school community than the one in which I work. My client Mary attends a school with a predominantly white and wealthy student population. I work mainly with students of color from families who live in poverty.
I had lunch with my preschooler recently. In line with my daughter was a little girl dressed in an embroidered churidar suit, a traditional garment in Southeast Asia. As she walked, the decorations around her collar and the gold bracelets around her wrist jingled merrily with each step. I told her how I loved her outfit. The assistant teacher leaned over and explained that the little girl was celebrating something, “I think the birthday of a god.” She looked down at the girl, “Isn't that right?” The girl looked blankly back. I then quickly interjected, “Honey, are you celebrating Diwali?” At that, the little girl nodded, grinned widely and skipped over to her table. The assistant teacher looked up at me and stared perplexed, “How did you know that?”
I was apprehensive about beginning a unit on the concept of home in my high school art class. I’m still getting to know my students and was wary of delving in to such a personal topic without knowing what it might bring up for them. I want a curriculum centered on students’ lives, but also like to have an idea of what to expect.
Ronjanae broke down recently. She said she felt like “the only overweight child at this school.”
Every teacher has that gem of an activity that's been perfected over the years—the one that always engages students and shows them a new perspective. Since you're part of the Teaching Tolerance community, there's a good chance that special activity might be about fighting bias in your classroom.
Growing up, I remember the children in “special ed” seemed to live in an alternate universe within our school. Regardless of the distinctions in their challenges, they all were placed together in one class, shuttled around as one throng, rarely included in the activities the rest of us took for granted.
Many boys at my school struggle with reading. Most are more interested in video games and outdoor activities than books. Our school is not an anomaly.
Middle school teachers struggle to find ways to respond to bullying, teasing, name-calling and exclusionary practices among students. We tread lightly sometimes, afraid of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time thus making conditions worse for a bullied student. Being heavy-handed almost never works. Students also know how to say the right thing to adults and then act in a completely contrary way towards peers.