DiversityInc: "The repeated practice of racially segregating schools in the U.S. has increased in recent years. And a new report concluded that segregating schools has negative effects on the education minority students receive."
Fusion: "The findings add to the growing compendium of studies on the the outsized impact suspensions have on students already facing institutional hurdles to successful educations, like poverty and unstable home environments."
The Hechinger Report: "'We have a very rare opportunity where a major intervention [desegregation] has been shown to be very effective on one generation’s lifetime outcomes, and then to be able to show that those beneficial effects extend into the next generation—particularly the black children whose parents went to desegregated schools.'"
KLTV: "The Texas Board of Education's members sanction textbooks for use statewide in a process that has for years been marred by ideological fights over lessons on subjects including evolution, climate change and the influence of biblical figures such as Moses on America's Founding Fathers."
ProPublica: "If computers could accurately predict which defendants were likely to commit new crimes, the criminal justice system could be fairer and more selective about who is incarcerated and for how long. The trick, of course, is to make sure the computer gets it right."
Rafranz Davis: "Making has been the fabric of mankind since we existed. It’s not just technology and specifically coding. It’s not about devices. It really is about the synergy and application of ideas and passionately bringing them to life or even the need for a project to be real and the ability to create it."
Teaching/Math/Culture: "For most students, alienation can be overcome by teachers who create a sense of belongingness. Belongingness comes about when students experience frequent, pleasant interactions with their peers and teacher. It also comes about with the sense that others are concerned for who they are and for their wellbeing."
If you come across a current article or blog you think other educators should read, please send it to email@example.com , and put "What We’re Reading This Week" in the subject line.
When I was in the classroom, I was fortunate to teach in a community that I knew intimately as a child. Of course, there was still more I had to learn, but my foundational knowledge gave me a head start in understanding my students’ lives. Many of us, however, teach in communities that are foreign to us. That is why it is important that we, in hopes of developing as culturally responsive educators, not only understand our students and their families better, but also learn about the existing assets in the communities where we teach.
Too often, the rhetoric in education focuses on what our students, particularly underserved students of color, and their communities do not have instead of focusing on what they do have. What if we changed our mindsets to value what students already bring to schools as well as the many ways the communities surrounding our schools can enrich instruction?
To begin to forge partnerships with our school communities, I recommend a community development approach called asset mapping, which involves identifying the tangible and intangible resources in communities. These resources could be people, institutions, businesses, natural resources, organizations and physical structures. Essentially, asset mapping allows us to identify opportunities and resources to enhance teaching and learning for our students.
Asset mapping begins with identifying, tapping into and supporting leaders—and emerging leaders—in a given community. It is based on the belief that all residents in a community, regardless of their backgrounds or other characteristics, can play effective roles in addressing and solving important local matters. When we educators regard the people in a community as individuals with talents, skills and knowledge that could benefit the community and our students’ education, we shift from deficit-based to asset-based mindsets. For example, community members can offer mentoring, career planning and internship opportunities to students. Asset mapping allows us to see community members as partners in enriching the lives of youth, which communicates to students that their families, their neighbors and they themselves matter.
Along with identifying community leaders, another important process of asset mapping is identifying local institutions with which we can partner in educating our students. Here are some likely institutions that exist in communities:
- Associations (e.g., tenants’ associations)
- Local businesses
- Educational entities (e.g., schools and after-school programs)
- Political entities (e.g., local representatives’ offices)
- Religious establishments (e.g., churches, synagogues and mosques)
I recommend identifying at least one of each type of institution and at least two concrete ways to partner with them yearly. Some institutions might remain constant, but new ones may emerge that can further enhance the work you’re doing.
For instance, as a teacher in the South Bronx, I used community assets to fill my school’s gaps in athletic, arts, music and social justice programming. To engage families, I invited them to my classroom for end-of-unit celebrations and to class trips. I also communicated with families often through weekly check-in letters, an online class blog of assignments and lessons, and telephone calls. Having regular communication and dialogue with families allowed me to gain important information about my students’ lives, which, in turn, helped me be responsive to their realities in my interactions and instruction.
Since my school did not have a health education program, I asked AmeriCorps volunteers to teach my students lessons on nutrition, substance and alcohol abuse, safe sex practices and other health topics. I supplemented my teaching of African-American history and the African slave trade by inviting Columbia University students to teach my students West African dance. I encouraged my students to express themselves and use art as a form of activism by partnering with the Studio in a School program and an artist from the DreamYard project.
I formed many more partnerships—and you can, too—but it is important to be vigilant in addressing our biases and our power and privilege before engaging in this work. For one, when we engage with communities, we want to be open to the many gifts they may have to offer and push ourselves to refrain from judgments about what specific communities may or may not value.
By connecting our classrooms to the communities where we teach, we move our students’ educational experiences beyond four walls. We allow for more authentic learning experiences by taking advantage of community assets. Most crucial, however, is that communities become more engaged in developing and educating their youth, and the youth become more engaged in the continued health of their communities.
Simmons is a lifelong activist, educator and student of life from the Bronx, New York. She currently serves as the director of implementation at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
An intense political climate and an uptick in the number of student demonstrations around the country are just two indications that young people need to make—and will make—their voices heard. The summer of 1964 is chock-full of lessons they can draw inspiration from. Use our web package, “The March Continues: Learning From the Summer of ’64,” to bring these lessons into your classroom.
During the summer of 1964, two key events changed the way the United States approaches civil rights: Mississippi’s Freedom Summer and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. During Freedom Summer, hundreds of activist-volunteers from across the country joined civil rights organizations and Mississippi citizens to demand voting rights for African Americans. Voting-rights workers endured constant intimidation and violence, and some lost their lives in the name of equality. Many young people attended Freedom Schools that summer, schools that emphasized social justice, literacy and political empowerment.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law on July 2, aimed to undo decades of harm caused by Jim Crow laws. The sweeping civil rights legislation outlawed both segregation in public establishments and employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin.
Whether in the closing days of this school year or first thing when you return in the fall, take the opportunity to educate your students about the landmark summer of ’64—and the ways we can all continue the work toward equal rights.
Here’s a little glimpse into the origin of a Teaching Tolerance feature story. Every time we consider a topic, we use a decision matrix to determine if it’s a good fit for our magazine and our audience. One of the most important decision points: How will our readers use this information?
Enter TOOLKITS, a crucial but unsung feature of our feature stories. A toolkit might take the form of a lesson you can use or adapt with students, a reflection exercise you can do yourself or a PD activity that can help you put the topic on your departmental agenda. Toolkits provide a way for educators to become advocates and put anti-bias concepts into practice.
Here are five toolkits from our Summer issue.
“Ask Angy” In this feature story, TT interviews Angy Rivera—a leading activist for undocumented youth and immigrant rights—about growing up without a green card, her activism at a young age and what educators need to know about their undocumented students. The toolkit, which offers a set of short videos created by Rivera and discussion prompts, help educators bring Rivera’s voice into their classrooms.
“Browder v. Gayle” Is this court case part of your civil rights teaching? The feature story explains why it needs to be and how the “60th anniversary of Browder v. Gayle offers an opportunity to get to know this critical case, the unheralded women behind it, and its wider relationship to the [Montgomery bus] boycott and the crusade for racial equality.” The accompanying toolkit walks educators through a special version of Civil Rights Done Right, a detailed set of curriculum improvement strategies for teaching the movement and this court case in particular.
“Flagler County: A Case for Suspension Abolition” Flagler County, Florida, is a pioneer in school discipline reform and may do away with out-of-school suspensions altogether. Read about the how and why of this county’s road toward suspension abolition. The toolkit, a printable A-Z list, helps educators learn more about this concept. For example, here’s what ‘A’ stands for: “Identify and use alternatives to suspension, expulsion and arrests that have been proven effective in addressing student misconduct.”
“The New Sex Ed” A more inclusive model of sexuality education is gaining traction. Is it at your school? Read this story to learn how schools can make the transition to comprehensive sex ed—a model that is, among other features, age-appropriate, medically accurate and LGBT-inclusive. It also addresses consent. The accompanying toolkit helps educators assess the current state of sex education in their schools and plan for ways to adopt a more inclusive approach.
“Teaching at the Intersections” Intersectionality is a buzzword and with good reason: An intersectional approach is crucial to understanding people’s multi-faceted identities and experiences. This feature story breaks down the word, its origins and its relevance to educators and students. The toolkit offers a set of suggested readings, essential questions and grade-level outcomes from Perspectives for a Diverse America that support teaching about multiple identities, oppression and privilege.
Interested in “opening up” more toolkits? In the print issues of Teaching Tolerance, follow the URL listed next to the toolkit icon at the bottom of a feature story. When reading a story online, you can access the toolkit by clicking on a hyperlinked sentence (for example, “Put this story into action.”) near the bottom of the page.
Author’s note: The basis of the Beaverton School District’s mentoring program is to establish trusting, confidential relationships with mentees. This blog post was written and shared here with the permission of the teacher.
"Buenos días," greeted the veteran third-grade teacher as the students piled into the classroom. The smiling kids entered bright-eyed, excited to learn on this cloudy Monday morning. Upon seeing my mentee and me sitting at a round table in the back of the classroom, they stopped and stared, wondering who these two strangers were.
My mentee Kelly, a Spanish two-way immersion teacher in third grade, was ready for a day of learning. As part of our mentoring program in Beaverton, Oregon, we arrange for our new teachers to observe master teachers in the field. Kelly, a first-year educator, requested that she see teachers using language supports for students new to the language they are learning. Our first visit was to a third-grade Spanish immersion class at a neighboring school.
After putting away their backpacks, the students eagerly sat on the carpet, and the teacher started a lesson on making inferences while reading. She directed the students to look at an anchor chart, written in Spanish, explaining the process. She modeled a few inferences with a picture book using the chart and then paired the students to practice making their own inferences with each other. The teacher asked a few students to share out. Kelly took notes on everything, all written in Spanish.
As a white monolingual teacher, I worried that the day’s observation would be lost on me. I lament the fact that I speak only English. As in many school systems across the country, Beaverton is increasingly diversifying in terms of race and culture. I hoped this experience would be rich for Kelly, but I wondered if I would gain much from it, not speaking the language. Turns out I was totally wrong.
The inference lesson looked like lessons I'd taught my own third-grade class, and this lesson was delivered in the first language for many of the students in the room. I knew exactly what the teacher was teaching by the intentional scaffolds she used throughout the lesson, despite my lack of knowledge of Spanish. Clearly, her students benefited from these multiple approaches.
After watching a writing lesson with similar supports and language use, Kelly mused, "It felt like I was watching a well-oiled machine. The teacher clearly and intentionally scaffolded the learning, designed for student success."
We closed out our morning in the Spanish classroom and, after a quick lunch, headed into Portland for our second observation of the day in a third-grade Japanese immersion classroom. While I was excited to experience a second foreign language, I wondered if Kelly would glean as much from our afternoon now that she would experience instruction in a language she didn't know.
What we saw was impressive! Most of the 25 or so students in the room were white, and only two had Japanese heritage. All of them were new to Japanese coming into the school, and by third grade, they were fluent and comfortable using Japanese. The instructor taught primarily in Japanese and only used English when talking with Kelly and me.
The teacher began her literacy lesson with her students on the carpet, reading a picture book about the 2011 tsunami in Japan. During the storytelling, the teacher modeled different types of reading responses, and the students turned and shared their thoughts orally in Japanese. After the teacher finished the book, students returned to their desks to write their thoughts.
Next, the teacher used a structured protocol written on a poster with illustrations, laying out the steps for the students to share their writing. Kids engaged in these conversations wholeheartedly. Then the students completed a "gallery walk" in which they roamed around the room looking at everyone's writing and shared their favorite examples afterward. Students used both oral and written Japanese constantly in authentic, high-engagement activities.
Kelly reflected on her experience in the Japanese classroom: "It was so nice to see the teacher constantly encouraging kids with a positive, optimistic and welcoming demeanor. By using sentence frames and specific language supports, it creates a comfortable atmosphere where learning is truly supported."
Kelly and I discussed some of the support we saw in these two highly successful classrooms, and three stand out.
Use of visuals, combined with words, for processes and speaking
Not knowing the language in either classroom, I began to look for supports to help me with the lessons. The use of pictures and visuals was essential to my inclusion. Without those supports, I would not have understood what was going on. They clearly supported the students as they used their new languages.
Modeling of the skills or language
We saw extensive modeling by the teachers before students were asked to produce anything. The teachers made their modeling explicit and tied it in with visuals to support learner development.
Structures to use the language verbally either with a peer or small group
Each teacher intentionally used protocols or planned structures for the students to use their language. And each teacher tied in expectations for speaking and listening, allowing students ample time to practice in a safe environment.
As we were leaving the Japanese classroom, Kelly commented, "I just wish that every pre-service educator would experience learning in a new language, whether it be for a day or a week. They would experience a range of emotions and the constant unfamiliarity that our English language learners encounter on a daily basis. It would allow new teachers to walk a little bit in their English learners' zapatos."
Hiller is a mentor to first- and second-year teachers in Oregon and a former member of the Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board.