First of all, I have to say that I'm still working my way through posts from all of you. Each stop, each new perspective, gives me more to think about. This is a timely topic. I suppose, in a sense, we are practicing what Sara talks about in her book as we read through each chapter using our identities as educators to synthesize information. Where we are, the students we learn beside, the news that comes into our classroom, impacts our thinking as we read. Here is our schedule:
Being the Change
For me, chapter 3 and 4 brought to mind the difference between my time alongside sixth graders and my time alongside first graders. I appreciated the way chapter three addressed identifying our own biases and how the biases of others may impact us, and then chapter four moved into thinking through "news." When I taught sixth grade, the news walked into our room every day. Students were paying attention to what was happening in the world and beginning to shape their opinions. The combination of my content, language arts and social studies, certainly kept the conversation flowing. As a first grade teacher, the news that came into the room was often about the students. "I lost my tooth last night." "My grandma is coming." "My friend is coming over today after school." That's why I appreciated Sara's distinction of "their news" and "the news." Even when my sixth graders walked into the classroom with "the news" it was always their version.
- Growing an awareness of personal bias can help us to think more about our words and actions. "It is often the hidden, unintentional forms of bias that are really damaging to marginalized individuals (p. 74)," Sara Ahmed. This statement is one that will stay with me. Across my career, I've worked to understand the perspectives of others and be aware of my own bias, but I also know we don't always know what we don't know. I think about the impact of reading blogs, news, nonfiction and fiction in helping me to understand different perspectives. The same is true for our students (chapter 4 really speaks to these possibilities).
- This work is important in "making the implicit explicit (p.79)." As a primary teacher, I learned a lot about making thinking more concrete for students. These opportunities Sara shares across chapters allow students to make their thinking more concrete. I've been thinking about the ways these opportunities might look different across grade levels.
- There's power in conversations about "their news." When I think about primary students especially, I think about how some students will hear more news than others. By allowing students to work through "their news," it keeps the conversation about how it impacts them and allows them to determine the action they plan to take. In classrooms with older students, this can help ease difficult conversations as students consider news from different perspectives. Sara illustrates how, through listening, we can open doors for students to work through their news and come to their own conclusions (keeping our "personal crusader capes at the door [p. 109]"). At any level, I appreciate the reminder of the power of a pause.
- What literature might illustrate the way a character is impacted by "news" and takes some kind of action?
- How might this work look across grade levels?
One Important Next Step
- I'm headed back to Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. Every chapter I read reminds me so much of the #cyberPD conversations we had with his work in 2012. After rereading my posts from that year, I realize what a great companion these two texts are in growing the social comprehension of our students.