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
When many students think of buses and desegregation, their minds instantly go to Rosa Parks and the 1954 Montgomery Bus Boycott. But the larger civil rights fight over transportation took place seven years later with the Freedom Rides, which mark their 50th anniversary this May.
Thursday and Friday mornings, I have cafeteria duty at my elementary school. I always smile when our younger students come through the breakfast line. Their heads are at the level of the serving racks, so they have to hold their hands up to get their trays of food. I have to help them or we will have pancakes and syrup everywhere.
In order to teach tolerance, a teacher must proactively bring in those who are typically left out of the mainstream. With the 2010 release of the HBO movie about her life, Temple Grandin may be going mainstream. But autism remains an enigma to most people. So I was thrilled when my student teacher, Eva Oliver, prepared a lesson about Temple Grandin and her work as a livestock equipment designer at the beginning of National Autism Awareness Month.
Imani walked down the hall with a paper cup in her hands.
She stopped and held up the cup to me. Inside of its paper walls were soil, water, and seeds—all those humble and elemental things that build a third-grader's scientific knowledge.
Imani was growing cabbage.
While working on a project for class, a student of mine casually mentioned the names of some of my relatives. When I looked up in horror, he rattled off all of the towns in which I had ever lived. I was shaken. How did he get all this information about me? Simple. He had an app for that.
Leslie, a 38-year-old social worker who counsels children with stressful life situations, found her 4-year-old daughter, Sophia, engaged in animated play with her dolls. She watched incredulously as Sophia invited the four white dolls with blonde hair to a tea party while the dark-skinned doll with black hair lay alone across the room.
Each spring, at the start of baseball season, fourth-graders at my school connect with Shorty, a character from Ken Mochizuki’s book Baseball Saved Us. Shorty’s a Japanese-American child who plays baseball on a makeshift field in an internment camp during World War II. Mochizuki’s consummate read-aloud story encourages a fired-up discussion in the library. Students talk about the inequities and intolerances foisted on kids and adults alike. It’s the kind of lesson that I thoroughly enjoy teaching, year after year.