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
One of my fondest and most salient memories from the past school year happened toward the beginning of the year. Joe had just turned 5. He was making his own book about pirates.
Jeanette Winterson, author and poet, once said, “Books communicate ideas and make bridges between people.” As a middle school language arts teacher, I believed in this theory but wanted to see it in action. When I suggested to my principal that I would like to organize a book club with my students and local senior citizens, he was cautiously intrigued by the idea.
I don’t remember much about my elementary school experience. But I do remember our class field trips. Field trips are more than a “vacation” from school. Coupled with meaningful and relevant lesson objectives, a field experience can engage students in learning and leave a lasting imprint.
Working in an urban high school has many challenges. My first computer graphics class was no exception. The computers were old PCs and the software was a pared-down version of a program that had failed to meet standards of the graphic design industry. My class contained a mix of special education students and youths with a reputation for disrupting classrooms.
Now that a federal judge has upheld most of Alabama’s new anti-immigration law, supporters can crow that the state is “No. 1” –at least when it comes to cracking down on immigrants. But what does that crackdown mean, practically speaking?
I do a lot of things in my classroom to teach, manage and assess my students. Countless assignments, procedures and projects are designed to keep the academic machinery of my classroom running smoothly. But when I want to know what my students really think about the world, I ask them to write a play.
Last spring, a fifth-grade girl approached me in the lunchroom with a question. Asalah is a Muslim student from Yemen. Our connection had started right there in the school cafeteria two years ago. I was passing out trays and sporks when the third-grade version of Asalah approached me with a question about whether or not the “ham” sandwich was really pork. I told her no, that it was turkey, and shared with her that my religion, Judaism, has dietary laws as well and that I don’t eat pork either. We’ve been pals ever since.
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.