from @christienold on Twitter
Many teachers have wondered how exactly they would respond to the results of the presidential election. They have wondered how they can both support students feeling vulnerable and unsure, while not appearing partisan in their roles as educators. Teachers hold together the fabric of our society through their interactions during challenging times. Here are some of the ways that teachers around the U.S. are helping students through a changing political and social landscape.
Promoting Kindness: The election has been hard on all of us. Students pick up on this and feel when their teachers are stressed and upset. Many students will be confused, tired, and unclear about what the election results mean for their lives. Teachers can meet this by circling back to a focus on kindness, compassion and acceptance for all students in their classrooms and school communities. Here are some resources:
Choose Kind. This is an online movement based on the book Wonder by RJ Palicio. There are many resources here for inspiring students to show and share kindness.
For younger students who might being feeling vulnerable, #kidltsafetypins on Twitter is featuring kids’ favorite picture books with safety pins to show that illustrators and authors of children’s literature stand for protecting all kids from discrimination and harm. I love this one from Peter Reynolds.
Turning Apathy into Action: Educator Jason Findley encourages educators to focus on what they can control and encourage students to do the same. He says (via Twitter): Continue reading
Almost 20 years ago, when I was working at an outdoor education center with student groups from New York City, my brother gave me a book. It was called Amazing Grace, by Jonathon Kozol. In this book I learned what many of my students at the center were experiencing– lives filled with challenges I could have never known. They suffered struggles with poverty, violence, the consequences of the AIDS epidemic , and schools that were crumbling, served by inexperienced teachers. They were in environments where it was almost impossible to prosper. A few miles away, mostly white students were in modern, well lit schools with experienced teachers and plenty of resources. This stunning and outrageous American truth dropped on my shoulders and has never left.
Since reading that book I went on to earn my Master’s in Education and to read his other books, including Savage Inequalities. I became a teacher in Vermont and his words reminded me to look out for students who might not have the same privileges as others in my class and to work to create inclusive communities for students. I knew that a large part of my job was advocating for students and creating an environment where they could learn and grow no matter what challenges they faced.
When I wrote my first education book, Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus, I dove again into Kozol’s work, which had not lessened in its intensity, power, and compelling nature. I read (and placed about 1,000 sticky notes in) The Shame of a Nation and Letters to a Young Teacher. His words have been fuel for my work as a teacher and writer.
Today, I had the honor to meet him at the Rowland Foundation’s annual conference and hear his thoughts on equity in education. Here are a few:
“The most important factor for success in schools is not something external. It is the creativity and professional autonomy we grant our teachers.”
Getting ready to leave for the Association of Middle Level Educators conference in Austin, Texas. I’m excited to be presenting my research, The Doing Revolution, on Wednesday, October 12th at 9:45 at the Austin Convention Center. Please come join me if you can!
I’m also helping out on two presentations with the University of Vermont’s Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education. These are personal and immediately applicable table sessions about shifting roles in personalized learning; and a concurrent session about how to launch makerspaces and genius hours. I am thrilled to be part of this work in transforming education and sharing the progress happening in Vermont.
My publisher, Corwin Press, will also have a table at AMLE. I’m hoping they’ll bring copies of Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Can Stop the Exodus, so we can concentrate the ways to help keep great teachers in the classroom.
So far, I’ve heard the bat bridge is something not to miss in Austin. What else?