ARTICLE

Building a Community of Upstanders: Planning

In the final installment of the three-part blog series, this Mix It Up coordinator shares how her school plans for the big event

Editor’s note: Susan Gelber Cannon is a teacher and Mix It Up coordinator at The Episcopal Academy—a three-time Mix Model School. She originally published a post about why and how her school mixes it up on her blog, Think, Care, Act: Teaching for a Peaceful Future. TT is sharing her post as a series of three blogs. (Reposted with permission.) This is the final post in the series; find the second one here.

Calendar for Long-term Planning

Announcements have to be composed. Videos have to be previewed and selected. Surveys have to be evaluated. T-shirts have to be ordered. We need to communicate goals and plans to the faculty and staff. The Student Council meets during a hectic 30-minute lunch period once every six days. A project the size of Mix It Up at Lunch Day is daunting for 16 middle schoolers and their faculty advisors. How do we pull off this mammoth undertaking? 

Here is a taste of our long-term calendar. After setting the Mix date in the fall for the spring, we start by November to…

1. Plan a slogan contest for mid-January. Each advisory creates an uplifting slogan that promotes diversity and inclusion. The winning slogan is the T-shirt slogan.

    • Make announcement to middle school: Do a skit with T-shirts?
    • Hold contest or slogan making during advisory: Date?
    • Judge slogans during meeting: Date? Invite administrators, diversity coordinators?

      2. Prepare the T-shirt order (at least one month in advance).

        • Decide on colors (different colors with same slogan design).
        • Randomly assign colors to students, faculty and staff, and make a list of T-shirt sizes by homeroom.

          3. Set and communicate purpose. Using Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework, communicate goals via announcements, skits, posters, bulletin boards, etc., for our Mix It Up Day activities, from pre-planning, to the day itself, to post-day activities. 

            • Coordinate with drama/choral teachers.

              4. Prepare for the pre-Mix. Use advisory 1-2 weeks prior to Mix.

                • Plan activity and inform advisors.
                • Prepare a pre-Mix survey about your students’ perceptions of the school climate.

                  5. Announcements during Mix. Prepare the day’s rules, restrictions, privileges, etc.

                  6. Decide whether to have an assembly or an advisory during Mix. Then plan!

                  7. Decide on an end-of-day activity. Plan a sports block? 

                  8. Pre-Mix assemblies, teacher meetings and advisory. How to engage faculty and students?

                    • Talk to faculty in person before Mix.
                    • Announce the date and purpose of the day to the middle school.

                      9. After school day before Mix.

                        • Sort and distribute T-shirts by homeroom.
                        • Decorate school with posters and signs.

                          10. Post-Mix survey: Deploy around 1-2 weeks after Mix.

                          Make Mix It Up Day work for your school. Start small with a Mix It Up Day at Lunch. Engage teachers from a variety of disciplines, including the arts and physical education, to infuse diversity and inclusion-themed activities in school plays and athletic activities. Plan assemblies or advisory discussions on your school’s social climate. Involve your cafeteria staff and administrators. Go for a full-day social experiment. Mix can help your school become a more welcoming and inclusive community of upstanders for all! These lessons will be long lasting. We can defeat the isms and keep on building a peaceful, equitable, diverse and just future. 

                          Cannon teaches English, history, Model UN and debate at The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania