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
As a student teacher, my mentor Paula told me that the best teachers were lifelong learners. Following her own wisdom, she took fiddle lessons every week. She practiced daily. Be a student—of anything—she said. That way you'll always empathize with those you are trying to teach.
For the last three days, I've been learning complex choreographed dances right along with my students. I am being schooled in my mentor's lesson and in dance.
One clear advantage of extracurricular activities is that they tend to get students’ undivided attention. Most young people have a real connection to their sports team, choir, theater group or other organization. The coach, director or advisor enjoy unique opportunities to see students really concentrate on a consistent basis. This creates a powerful opportunity for us as educators when it comes to issues of diversity. We can model fairness, equity and inclusion, as well as provide experiences for our students to be exposed to positive diversity messages.
Throughout the summer months, Teaching Tolerance will present a series of lessons using photographs to teach about social justice. Each lesson will focus on a contemporary social justice issue. The lessons are multidisciplinary and geared toward middle and high school students. A new lesson will be posted online each week from June 6 through Aug. 22.
Billy was 7 years old when he walked through the door of my second- grade classroom. The cowlick in his hair wouldn't stay down. His shirt and shorts didn't match. He wore dark socks with his sneakers. He was clumsy, stumbling daily over table legs and chairs. Each time he spoke, his voice started softly and gradually got louder and louder until it ended in a yell.
Today’s conventional wisdom is that English language learners (ELLs) need to master English as quickly as possible. Everything else is secondary. If these students remain fluent in their primary languages, good for them. If not, no big deal.
Every marking period I contact the parents of my most remarkable students to tell them how great their kids are. I do this for a few reasons. Too often, my attention is consumed with kids who need refocusing, redirecting and all the other IEP-mandated practices teachers do anyway. But mostly I contact the remarkable students because I’ve noticed that the kids who do good work often go unacknowledged.
As a young white woman from the suburbs, I knew I was going to experience some culture shock as I began my teaching career in one of the more violent low-income areas of Oakland. The town I grew up in was different from where I went to college, but they had important qualities in common. Both were strongly middle class, had a clear agricultural focus, a vast white majority and a significant but well-hidden Spanish-speaking minority. I hadn’t realized how comfortable I was in those environments until I was faced with the reality of inner-city Oakland.
So I had a lot to learn.