Thinking about this quote, consider the following question:
How can we teach students to imagine a new future for all of us?
This is one of those magic moments when I don't have the answers and I'm still working through how we can teach students to imagine a new future for all of us. I have been collaborating and watching the administrative team at my school advocate for systemic change through the implementation of personal and professional development and reflection and I'm hoping that, through that journey, I will come to some answers.
Share some ideas and, as always, we can continue to grow together!
Yesterday, you made an account on Teaching Tolerance and started to explore the website. If you didn't make an account, go ahead and do that now. You won't be disappointed!
Today, I'm asking everyone to share a resource from Teaching Tolerance that they are excited about. Here's one that I'm really interested in: Critical Practices for Anti-bias Education: Classroom Culture. This is a 1 hour, self-guided, professional development opportunity for teachers to think about what things are needed in a classroom to make you feel safe or like you belong. Then, after reflecting on that idea, teachers are guided to apply what they learn in their practice. Honestly, as I sit here in my classroom, I'm thinking a lot about how will set up this room so I feel like I belong and so that my students feel like they belong. This is our home away from home and it's going to need to feel like a comfortable space for us all.
I am also really excited about the classroom/school audit of surroundings. This encourages teachers to think in their room and their school so they can be part of greater change.
Your turn!! Post a link and briefly tell us why you're excited! Then we can all build and add to our learning plans on Teaching Tolerance.
We have completed the first week of the Teacher Planner! Congratulations! If you didn’t notice, this week was primarily about reflecting on your experience, understanding the place at which you are starting this journey, and beginning to understand that this is just the beginning and there is no “finished” point. I have also done the work this week and I have had a few takeaways.
Take the Implicit Bias Test by Project Implicit: ✅
I chose to take the race bias test and I was not entirely surprised by the results. From the test, I found that I have a preference for black over white. In some ways, as a person of color, that didn’t surprise me but then I started to question what that means. Yes, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that result but I wondered about the pendulum swing. I began to wonder if there was a way to land in the middle (if that’s the goal) and what it truly means to get results with a preference for white or black. So, rather than project my own ideas I turned to The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and reviewed their description of characteristics of implicit biases.
And there it was… the word, malleable. It is a word that gives me much hope and comfort because it proves that I am able to grow, change, and evolve. In many ways, the word malleable wasn’t quite good enough. I watched my husband take the test and get a different result. We debated the following questions: was the test valid? is there such a thing as an “accidental click?” What would happen if he took it again? I dove further... is the IAT actually valid and what are the implications? This question prompted me to read, IAT: Fad or fabulous? written by Beth Azar who writes:
“the classic race IAT compares whether you're quicker to link European-Americans with words associated with the concept ‘bad’ and African-Americans with words related to ‘good’ or vice versa. Your score is on a scale of -2.0 to 2.0, with anything above 0.65 or below negative 0.65 indicating a ‘strong’ link.
However, Azar continues to share from the University of Virginia's Brian Nosek, Ph.D., an IAT developer that social psychology measures use arbitrary metrics. So I am stuck. I invite you to do some more research about the test. Here’s one place to start: https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/3/7/14637626/implicit-association-test-racism
Read Beyond A Beads and Feathers Approach: ✅
“Culture is portrayed as homogenous and frozen in time, such as when teachers engage their students in learning about the holidays, food, typical costumes, and art of their own or other cultures” (Amanti, 2005, p. 131). I thought about the celebration I had with my students this year for the Chinese New Year. That “frozen in time” moment which was topical, craft-filled, and featured a few read-alouds that were supposed to show students only a snapshot of the real meaning behind the day. This was also a point in the year at which I finally felt like I could let go of the “other expectations” and just have fun with the kids by doing crafts and taking time to explore something different. I will note, we were able to connect the celebration to our math curriculum by collecting different color coins for our red envelopes and writing addition problems to represent what was inside. But was that really… enough? (I’m going to say no)
As I read further, I began to think about what sort of teaching I would do in the future and how I could incorporate my student’s cultural experiences in my curriculum. Developing relationships with families, even if not in the form of home visits, can dramatically change the way in which learning happens for students. I think we all saw a glimpse of that as we made weekly phone calls and check-ins during the at-home-learning phase last spring. I was able to know more about my students, their families, and the experience they were going through and make decisions from that knowledge and academic data. I’m hoping that I can continue to build and maintain relationships like that with families this coming year so I can tap into the “Funds of Knowledge” and create experiences in the classroom that honors my students’ cultural experiences. It’s just another one of those moments when we realize that this antiracist work does not just benefit our students and families of color but all of our students.
I could continue reflecting on each days’ tasks, but I want to hear more from you! Feel free to share thoughts, answer the questions below, or respond to my wonderings. We’re all here to learn from each other!
Amanti, C. (2005). Beyond a Beads and Feathers Approach. In N. González, L. C. Moll, C. Amanti (Authors), Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms (pp. 131-141). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Azar, B. (2008, July). IAT: Fad or fabulous? Retrieved August 08, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2008/07-08/psychometric
Hello and welcome!
If you have visited the About page you have had the opportunity to get to know a little about me.
I am an Elementary Educator teaching Kindergarten in northern Vermont. I have taught in various classrooms setting ranging from Early Childhood Education to Elementary. I come to this work as an educator, parent, and person of color demanding that education be more equitable and inclusive for all students.
I'm looking forward to the discussions that can take place here. Before we start discussing, I invite you to take a moment to introduce yourself.
It's a pleasure to get to know you and be on this journey together.
Our country is in a movement and we are all working towards making a brighter future for our children and their children and their children. Not everyday feels good but this isn’t that type of movement. This is based on centuries of oppression, exclusion, intimidation, anger, pain, sorrow, and hope. I won’t lie and say I know a lot of history or have had a lot of experiences but I will be honest and say that I am learning as quickly as I can. Through immense reflection, I’ve made a realization about myself.
For some this is old news: I am biracial and was adopted from Texas. My biological mother had blonde hair, blue eyes, and was white. My biological father is “unknown” but does not match those descriptors. My biological mother was the only parent present so my birth certificate says I’m Caucasian... and that, my friends is where the journey begins. This story of my conception, birth, adoption, and upbringing have propelled me in some ways and held me back in others. This story has kept me from not feeling “white enough” or “black enough”. This narrative held me back from joining the diversity groups in college, actively seeking friendships with people who looked like me, and feeling hurt when people labeled me as Black—not because I didn’t want to be but because I didn’t want to be told I was. I felt like I didn’t belong because I didn’t share experiences that seemed similar. I also didn’t want to be labeled by anyone else. See, I was the elementary student that colored all of the race/ethnicity circles on standardized tests because it angered me. How was this one label (wrongly misplaced in the first second of my life) going to help anyone define my achievement level when they didn’t even know me!?
This narrative also pushed me to prove people wrong. I didn’t just want a Masters degree, I wanted a 4.0. I didn’t want to be a professional, I wanted to be the professional with tattoos. I didn’t just want to be a musician (often confused as a saxophonist... right? Because someone who looks like me clearly only plays jazz) I wanted to be a traditional fiddler and dream to play baroque music... I wanted to prove to the world that my labels were not ME. What I do, what I love, what brings me joy is who I am.
But I’ve been hit with a plot twist in my narrative. Six years ago, I met the man that I would be blessed enough to marry. Amde has his own story of being Brown in America but I will not share it as it is not my story to write. I will tell you that through my experiences with Amde I have learned more about the world, lives of others, and myself and, without that, I can’t imagine how today would feel. There’s another part that didn’t strike me until recently. My identity has shifted.
When my family adopted me, they became a family of color (as explained by the adoption agency) and in some ways I saw myself as being sheltered in a family of white privilege. I would go shopping with my mom and people automatically knew I was the sweet, adopted child, of the woman going through the store so I should be treated with utmost respect. But as I grew up, got taller, and became an adult... I would subconsciously, but purposefully, and loudly say “Hey mom! Look at this!” This was only to make it known to the clerk on the side waiting for me to shoplift that I wasn’t there for that. Nothing has changed about me, I am just an adult now and implicit bias has an ugly face.
Then Amde and lived together, got married, and started to travel. I’ll never forget the feeling when we tried to buy wine at the NH Liquor Store. The clerk asked for ID. We gave our licenses. And she looked at them. She studied them. She looked at us. We asked if something was wrong. She didn’t give us an answer. She took out the “how to look at a license book.” We asked what was going on. She said, “I can’t find the birth date. It’s not in the correct place.” We showed her the birth date. She insisted that was wrong. It was obvious that wasn’t the issue. We spoke to the manager. They said they’d take care of it.
A year ago, I started to notice how my throat tightens up when we drive by a police officer. No, not every officer is bad but why are we continuing to support a system that allows for “bad apples” as if our lives depend on it? Fear. That’s why. Because systemic racism in our country educates children in a biased way, gives opportunity to some, holds it from others, plays on fear, builds hatred and bam... another BIPOC is harmed.
Most recently, our family has had racist remarks made towards us though they were jokes. Comments about not being able to breathe but not getting shot. Saying things about being brought back to slave days all because we have helped to start our own garden.
I watched the horrible murder of George Floyd, I read about Breonna Taylor, I read about Elijah McClain, I have thought often about Ahmaud Arbery. It was in these moments, I realized that just because of how I appear, how my husband appears, how my child appears things can happen to us. People can make reckless, violent, incomprehensible decisions that can directly affect our lives... at any moment, for no clear reason other than misplaced hate or unnecessary fear and worse yet, justice may not be found. It has been through deep reflection that I find myself realizing that I am now a “Black family” no longer sheltered by my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
So, making that realization, I parent differently. I participate in the world differently. I realize that I have a lot of work to do because our amazing daughter is going to grow up with a different experience from my own. I hope it is positive but I know in some ways it will be hard. I work to educate other educators so that my daughter and other children who are BIPOC can have an education that meets their needs... which, if you think about it, really is for everyone.
Thanks to Christine D’Ercole, I have adopted a mantra “I am, I can, I will, I do.” I have written it on a sticky note and added it to my mirror to reflect on each day. Today I write this:
About the blog
Facebook became my blog. A space where I shared the resources, experiences, and reflections with those around me. I hope that the same discussions can happen here and I hope you will share your reflections, experiences, and resources as you feel comfortable.