Welcome to the Teaching Tolerance blog, a place where educators who care about diversity, equity and justice can find news, suggestions, conversation and support.
Last summer, my students were fascinated with union suits, the one-piece undergarment. We were getting ready to visit the Minnesota History Center, where a display featured a Minnesota-based company that got its start as a producer of union suits. We previewed the museum’s collection online. The students were quite taken with the red wool outfit with the “trapdoor” over the rear end.
I didn’t say a word.
I never saw myself as a person to let a homophobic comment slide. Even from another adult. Even from someone with more power than me in the hierarchy of the school structure. But that day, in that conversation, I just let it go.
I am a good driver. You’d never know it, given the theatrics of the backseat drivers in my vehicle, whose sudden gasps and quick grasps for the dashboard denote a lack of confidence in my skills.
This drama is alternately amusing, annoying and unnecessary. I'm proud to say that, for the most part, my instinctive go-to practice of "when in doubt, step on the gas" has never let me down.
It’s with mixed emotions that I approach my last day working with the group of student teachers in the graduate course I am teaching. There is so much to learn. Following are lessons I hope all preservice teachers will take as they embark upon the most challenging and rewarding task of their lives: becoming teachers.
I’m a Teaching Tolerance Fellow, and I’m working to develop classroom resources that balance the requirements of the Common Core State Standards with culturally responsive instruction. I’m hoping to draw upon our readers’ expertise to meet this challenge. What readings or texts do you recommend that answer the call of the Common Core and culturally responsive pedagogy?
Bryan had anger issues in sixth grade. One day another boy in my class called him “gay” and he flung his desk across the room and chased the boy all the way to the main office where he ended up in a heap of trouble...again. Despite all of the impulsive and often violent behavior, deep down underneath the tough-guy façade, Bryan had many likable qualities. But he still ended up being moved to our school’s alternative program for students with behavioral issues.
I’m sitting in my office with Sam, a senior, whose counselor brought him to see me. He missed more school than he attended last year and has started this school year in similar fashion. His counselor thought that a meeting with me might help emphasize the importance of better choices.
It’s not unusual to encounter misconceptions about Africa. People erroneously refer to “the country of Africa” or say that someone “speaks African.” Most of my third-grade students were African-American, and they not only knew very little about Africa; they held negative assumptions about anyone who is African. Worse, my students used “black African” as a slur. No one knew how that got started. In fact, part of the reason I usually say “black” instead of “African-American” is that I got used to my students saying “black.” The term “African” was not anything they wanted associated with themselves, even with “American” tacked on to the end.