Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Slice of Life: Thinking About Social Justice at Teachers College

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 


Sometimes my work takes me in to New York to hear the reflective, provocative, and brilliant thinking of the people who work for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While I had other ideas about today's slice of life, I feel far too compelled to share some of the wisdom, ideas, and insight from today's session with Cornelius Minor and Natalie Louis. I've tried to capture my notes in the form of categorized provocative questions and/or statements.

Ideas and questions to begin the thinking:
  • We can/must teach children to look at what’s different and find beauty.
  • When we don't understand each other, sometimes we assume we do. Before we give advice we should either ask to be asked or wait to be asked. 
  • Think about the word diversity as it appears within your district documents? Do we want diversity or do we want inclusion? How do we see the differences? 
  • What’s really important for young people to do? look at things that are different and find beauty in things that are different.
  • Justice has never been achieved by waiting for a leader to act first. If we want kids to be change agents, then we have to be change agents first. 
  • What do you want people to say about you when your career is ending?
  • Schedules are a moral document; we are where we invest our time. 
  • Engagement isn't a kid problem; it's a system problem. 

Thinking about social justice:

  • Who has power? 
  • Who is choosing to stay silent?
  • How do we take responsibility to hear everyone?
  • How can we make an impact?
  • How do you differentiate social justice? What is the level of injustice that that kid is ready to embrace? 
  • What would you outlaw if you could outlaw something to decrease the chaos in life?

Teaching empathy-Questions to ask students, especially within the context of read-alouds:

Questions for teachers:
  • How do we actively teach kids to build relationships?
  • Where in our day to we teach empathy?
  • How do you think about your curriculum for read aloud? 
  • What do the books we read say about class, gender, race, socio-economic status...?
Questions for Students:
  • Who will you be in a moment of conflict?
  • Who would you be in this read aloud?
  • Why does the book end on an earlier page? 

Thinking about what we ask students to do:
  • Be comfortable with discomfort. 
  • Persistence is a skill that can be taught. The ability to persist through a no is a skill we can teach kids.
  • Complexity of the task and complexity of the text changes, but not the skill, not the goal.
  • How do we find issues that matter to kids? Justice projects can take a lot of different forms. Engage them in things that matter to them. 

So much to think about in these statements and questions, and this is my distillation of about eight pages of notes. If you are reading this, you are probably someone who has already given thought to many of these issues. Thank you. How do we get others on board with the responsibility and power that we have as educators in a chaotic, unpredictable, and unjust world?

Peace,


3 comments:

  1. love this line so much...Justice has never been achieved by waiting for a leader to act first. If we want kids to be change agents, then we have to be change agents first.

    I think this is how we need to be in our families also. Hoping that I can be like this for my young grand daughters also. Thanks for sharing this learning. xo

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  2. Wow. Just wow. Every question, every statement here is thought-provoking. This one jumps out at me: "Schedules are a moral document. We are where we spend our time." What a powerful thing for schools to think about!! Thank you so much for this.

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  3. Thanks for sharing so much from what must have been an amazing and inspiring day of learning and thinking. Miss you!

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