After news of the speech made last night, seeing that some white supremacist groups are having initiations this weekend (which may include the murder of people who look like us), and just the all over pain and exhaustion of the world I have attempted to recenter today.
I took the time to read What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? I read it for the first time. It’s embarrassing to admit that but I must and I will not stop coming back to it. It is shocking to read words from 1852 and have them resonate and feel current. To read these words, these eloquent and poignant words, knowing that a person sits in a place of power for our country and could never match the delivery of a message is scary. Knowing that a person who sits in a place of power for our country is actively attempting to polarize our country more than it already was and threatening the lives of all BIPOC is scary.
It’s too much and lights a flame at the same time. We have some serious work.
So no... July 4th wasn’t about celebrating today. It wasn’t about the huge cookout. It was about staying home and staying safe because there are crazy people out there that don’t think our family deserves to be safe (not to mention a pandemic). Today was about learning and using that knowledge to make plans for change. Today was about learning history through music and dance (Thank you HAMILTON!).
There was joy today. There was pain today. There was fear and worry today. There was laughter today. There was HOPE today. And we won’t stop hoping and we won’t top working.
We all have educators that made a lasting impact on our lives. I remember the teachers that celebrated me, celebrated my contributions to the classroom, and pushed me to do more and be my best. (They still do that now... that's how you know they have the secret sauce).
Today I want to encourage you to take time for self-reflection.
As an educator, what messages do you send to your students through your actions, words, groupings, curriculum, or teaching practices?
Reflect on your workplace, your child's classroom, the teachers you know and interact with--what part of the population do they represent?
Take time to think about the 3 Types of Diversity Training (Conservative; Liberal; and Critical). Where do you fall? What has your experience been?
Multicultural Critical Reflective Practice: Teachers are asked to confront their preconceived notions that guide their interactions with their students because "When you feel it, you can identify it, you have something to hold on to, something you can change."
"When you feel it, you can identify it, you have something to hold on to, something you can change."
Take a moment to really let that settle. Reread the quote. Think about a student or a class you taught. After taking the time to reflect and begin to identify these feelings, what might you change about your interactions with that person?
So, guess what? I am going to be brave and tell you all that I am still learning more about Juneteenth. What I've learned so far is that more of us have had an education that glossed over this prominent moment in our country's story and, by doing that, we are all finding that there is a lot of work to do. I'm not saying we had horrible educations. I am, however, challenging educators to deeply reflect on the historical events, holidays, and celebrations they have in their classrooms and how they may be continuing to follow the system of systemic racism. We'll save that for another time...
I have continued to develop my personal learning plan for the summer and I thought I would share some resources with you to help ensure that we do not continue to gloss over this and other important parts of our story.
Here are some things to learn & DO today:
Happy Juneteenth Article from Teaching Tolerance
Buy the book Juneteenth for Maize from one of these Black Owned bookstores
Read, reflect, and discuss Lift Every Voice and Sing (and learn about James Weldon Johnson)
Read the Anti-Racist Resource (again... and again... and again!)
Read the words of two recent high school graduates about combatting systemic racism in schools (their words are profound)
Tune in for the Live virtual Block Party
Consider donating to organizations and causes listed in the Anti-Racist Resource (pages 6-9) or local organizations/causes.
I may be perseverating but it’s summer, and what do teachers do over the summer? They think about the next school year—obviously. I’m taking the time to reflect on this school year and think about what I would like to do differently, better, and more of next year. I read this from The Atlantic this morning and it got me thinking about how I could look at student data more objectively. Now, this is an article that seems geared towards my middle/high school level teacher friends, but it provides an interesting opportunity for all of my educator friends to reflect on their teaching practices, partnership with families, and ways to not only listen to student's voice but act on their ideas… because that will not only benefit students of color but ALL students.
“To fight against systemic racism means to buck norms. Educators at every level must be willing to be uncomfortable in their struggle for black students, recognizing students’ power and feeding it by honoring their many contributions to our schools. Teachers need to insist on using their own power to consistently reveal and examine their practice, and seek input from black stakeholders; they must invite black parents to the table, listen to their concerns and ideas, and act on them.”
Yesterday, we discussed how to talk about race with children (and adults because let’s be honest, we all have work to do). Today, Teaching Tolerance sent me my regular subscription of amazing resources and they have some similar thoughts percolating.
In various discussions, I hear people say "what if..."
Here are two quotes from this article that eased my mind:
"So if you feel that the conversation is too heavy or that the weight of having to end racism is in your lesson plan, humble yourself and relax. It isn’t. Your students need you to allow them space, not to fix the world."
"And when you don’t have the words and can’t plan the lessons, don’t just say nothing; say exactly what you are feeling. That will mean more to your students than you may ever know."
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.