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
I see my cocoa brown hand grab the handle of the door. I take a deep breath. I already know what I will see and I am sure I will know what I feel. I step into the room and professionally scan the room so fast no one even knows I am doing it. It’s what I expect. I accept I am the “only one” with a tan that never goes away.
I am the only African-American in the room.
A few years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama was criticized for revealing some not-so-flattering details about her husband, Barack: He snores. His morning breath is “stinky.” He never picks up his dirty socks. To those who said this was too much information about the president of the United States, Mrs. Obama had an answer. “Barack is very much human,” she told Glamour magazine, “so let’s not deify him.” Putting somebody on a pedestal, she said, is only preparation for knocking him from it.
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.