Welcome to the Teaching Tolerance blog, a place where educators who care about diversity, equity and justice can find news, suggestions, conversation and support.
We are teachers and problem solvers. We are learners. What can we learn from this, we ask. We think ahead, look for the lesson in every situation, find solutions. We do this every single day in our classrooms. When lessons fall flat or when we can’t reach our students, we demand to know why so when the next class comes in, 6 minutes later, we make the immediate fix. It’s the way we survive; the way we feel we can control something.
A couple of years ago a student approached me after history class. Avoiding eye contact, he trembled a bit before speaking. His voice was shaking.
“I am sorry, teacher,” Armando began. “I could not finish my project. My parents were killed a couple days ago.”
My colleagues thought my teaching Lord of the Flies was “perfect.” My seventh-grade class is two-thirds male. The group contains several strong personalities and many “followers,” who often mimic bad behavior. Last year, teachers struggled with this group, several instances of bullying, and a developing culture of negativity. I saw the power struggles on the first day of school and knew I had to address them early.