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

Becoming the Minority Offers New Insight

Pamela Cytrynbaum - December 9, 2011

Have you ever been the only (fill in category) person in the room? Race, class, gender, age, body type, marital status—any number of identifiers can place us outside the norm, depending on the room. Otherness is a specific experience, especially for those who don’t live it every day.

A couple of my students unwittingly placed themselves squarely into the role of “other” in an assignment outside our classroom, and I suspect learned a more powerful lesson than I ever could have taught them in class.

The assignment was to find, attend and write an article covering an event. When two students proposed attending a senior citizen fundraising fashion show on the other side of town, I immediately approved the idea.

A Teacher Reflects on Helping Tina Excel

Gwendolyn Eden - December 8, 2011

Three weeks ago at lunch, the tenth-grade teachers met with the class "repeaters,” students who have repeated either their freshman or sophomore year. These students make us want to pull our hair out because of the many small (and not so small) ways they choose to self-destruct. One has completed two years of school and has a total of three credits. As a straight- A nerd during my own high school career, I don't fully understand how this could have happened in the first place.

Regardless, the teachers called the meeting, ordered pizza, explained the purpose and discussed credits with the students in small groups. We were honest and open, explaining what their next steps are, how they can get it together and how to sign up for credit recovery.

Literature Breaks the Silence of Privilege

Peter J. Elliott - December 8, 2011


It can be one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome during a discussion of racism. This time the silence in the room follows a difficult question.

Perhaps my students don’t feel like talking. Maybe they didn’t do their reading of Walter Dean Myers’ Monster. Or, maybe they just don’t see it.

Training for Arguments in the Classroom

Sandra Wozniak - December 7, 2011

Parents might think the last thing their child needs is more experience arguing. Teachers might agree. But I’d like to advocate for practicing arguing. Our democracy depends on it. It’s important we teach our children how to deal appropriately with different points of view.

Challenging Conventional Homework Wisdom

Trevor Barton - December 6, 2011

"Mr. Barton, I have some homework for you," said Alandra. "But I left it at home on the table."

"No problem," I answered. “Just bring it whenever you can."

I can say that now because I'm a reading interventionist. Homework isn't expected from me like it is from classroom teachers.

Get Past Group Mentality, See People First

Bronwyn Harris - December 5, 2011

When I began teaching classes of primarily black students in Oakland, Calif., many of my white friends started to see me as something of an expert on African-American culture. While I understand that I could not possibly be an expert, I have been privy to some interesting conversations. I represent a comfort level that can lead to more cross-cultural discussions.

Mix It Up at Lunch Gets Staff Talking

Emily Kissner - December 2, 2011

As we planned for Mix It Up at Lunch Day last year, I felt a deep sense of nervousness. I wasn’t worried about getting the kids to talk and chat. I teach at a small school, and the students are usually friendly with one another.

Personal Connections Empower Students

Ashley Lauren Samsa - December 1, 2011

I just started my sixth year teaching high school English. This year began with the same question as always: “How will I empower the young women in my classroom this year?”

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