You may remember that one of the “Funds of Knowledge” (the assets or strengths) that our students come through our doors with, specifically our students of color, is “Linguistic Capital”. As we discussed, the Critical Race Theory, describes Linguistic Capital as “the intellectual and social skills attained through communication experiences in more than one language and/or style” In addition, “These children most often have been engaged in a storytelling tradition, that may include listening to and recounting oral histories, parables, stories and proverbs.” I’ll focus today on that specific cultural asset as I think it may be a helpful one if you are noticing that students seem to be ‘checked out’ or you can tell your classroom management isn’t up to par and you find it's affecting everyone. Whether you're feeling some kind of disconnect or not with your students, listening to stories and honoring the storytellers is invaluable. Consider taking time to relationship-build in order to connect and share your classroom expectations once again. It is never too late to “pump the breaks” and intentionally take a step back from teaching the curriculum in order to build classroom connections.
In fact, one step towards equity in the classroom, as suggested in an article published on Edutopia is to “KNOW EVERY CHILD using STORIENTATION. Telling stories! This should make you think of one of those ‘FUNDS OF KNOWLEDGE’ we discussed: LINGUISTIC CAPITAL.
Welcoming storientation-- paying close attention to people's stories-- to learn where students are from, what they love to do outside of school, what their family is like, what are their special traditions, and to understand which stories and experiences carry a strong emotional charge for them, is NEVER a waste of class time.
"Don't subscribe to a single story about any child."
The more you know, the more you can build trust and differentiate instruction. As educators, we need to pay close attention to the stories of our students and colleagues-- embracing storientation can transform your classroom and even your school.
Storientation calls on educators -- and particularly leaders -- to notice and curate three types of story: stories of self, other, and organization. This article will unpack each of these:
Using a “circle group” is one way to share stories (if you’ve never done a circle group/restorative circle, I’ll happily come help you with this) but also through cogenerative dialogues, writing, drawing, movie-making, poetry, or a combination of these--or maybe none of these, as your students will find ways that work for them to document/create their story. Allow them to be shared and heard now and throughout the school year!
Be sure to open up about your story too. What are some things you can share with your classes to help humanize yourself? How can you make yourself vulnerable with your students? Where do you have similarities to your students’ stories that you can find a connection with them?
"Respecting the power of story will help you to create the conditions for classroom and school transformation."
.Let me know how I might help you with this ~ Cindy
This week I’m sharing an article that encourages us to examine how our biases directly effect how we teach, grade, discipline, etc.. (Yep. You, me - we all have biases.) You’ll see this article is jam-packed with great ideas to reflect upon by both Dr. Carol Dweck and Dr. Chris Emdin. This article (link below) mentions briefly ‘deficit-thinking’. Next week we will have some learning together around deficit-thinking versus asset-based/strength-based thinking, so this article will give you a little food for thought before then.
“Every single person comes into social spaces with biases, and they're birthed out of stories that you've heard, experiences you may have had and, especially in a media-saturated society, perceptions of other are sort of imbibed and ascribed to us by stories in the media,” said Dr. Chris Emdin. He goes on to say, “Most teachers are trained to say that they don't see race. They wear that on their sleeve as something that they're proud of. When you're trained to give that response, you start to believe that, and when you're enacting these biases, you don't see that as the problem.”
Something to think about after you've read the article:
"Is the overall culture of the school one that encourages learning and puts the children as authors of that learning, or is it one in which the students are already presented with a deficit narrative that says they are less capable, less intelligent, less valuable to society?"
I think it's important that we, as educators, are constantly examining our culture of our school and making sure we are putting our students first and letting them be the "authors of the learning" socially, emotionally, and academically. This is something that is not easily changed overnight; however, as we continue to work and keep this at the front of our minds we will be able to see shifts in our school's (and classroom) culture.
“If you do not view a student as having the ability to be academically successful, they will not be able to realize their potential. If you view a student through a deficit lens, they will never fully be actualized,” Emdin continues, “You put a cap on what they can do before they even get the opportunity to show you” what they can do, he said. “I think that's the most dangerous thing, when you see somebody as less than they are, when you put a cap on their potential. … Once you do that enough, you put a cap on their psyche. They start believing that they're not valuable, they believe that they’re deficient, and that's the most detrimental thing to their ability to learn."
Will you see your students' abilities in order for them to be successful? Will you realize your students' potential? We have so many opportunities to make each day brighter for our students by acknowledging their strengths, abilities, and potential!
In the article, "A White Teacher’s Suggestions for Doing Right by Students of Color"
by Justin Minkel in Education Week Teacher, it says: “Children of color need books to be mirrors as well as windows.” I believe this is true in all areas of instruction, not just in the literature we choose. Consider the power in your students seeing “images of themselves” in the posters hung on walls, graphics you share on PowerPoints, and in the video clips you choose to show. I believe this holds true not just for our Black and Brown students, but also for the children with disabilities (what about a poster of someone in a wheelchair or on crutches?) Let's also consider how powerful it would be if you found graphics that are inclusive for your LGBTQ students as well.
A place to start to find some titles of novels is the Scholastic’s We Need Diverse Books catalog, but search other places too and see if you can get them purchased for your classroom. You could also download an image of book covers and print them in color to get yourself some inclusive “art from literature” for your classrooms. In the article, Minkel reminds us, "One mother reported that her children had this to say about the books they were reading in school: 'It’s always about slavery and racism. Once in a while, can’t we read about black kids just chillin’?'"
We Need Diverse Books is also a great place to explore for titles and new ideas so your students can see themselves reflected in the pages they read. Take a look for yourself: diversebooks.org/
Check out some of these poster links for you to use in your Science and Math classrooms too! I've had these six posters ( www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=14570 ) printed poster-sized at the DMPS print shop in color and I clicked 'laminate' while I was at it-- they turned out really great! On this same link, below each of these posters (which are all of women, and even some women of color) you'll find there is a short introduction to each of the featured scientists as well as recommended reading for both kids and adults. To download any of the posters, click the image or the "download poster" link. Easy peasy.
I also received this resource from Sara Earleywine: https://www.beyondcurie.com/
When I clicked to see these it says: "Beyond Curie is a design project that highlights badass women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics". Badass women in STEM? Yes!! Get these on your wall, y'all! (These posters are really amazing, even if you're not teaching Math or Science, you should still click to see these!) Sara shared that you have to have ‘rights’ to these, however, you’re in luck because Hoyt has purchased these and she has a digital copy for anyone interested. Ta-da!
There is SO MUCH MORE out there on the ol’ world wide web, just search and Google images. (Edit: Here's a new site I just discovered. BEAUTIFUL prints available to you: amplifier.org/ )
Are you on Pinterest? Beautiful inspiration on there as well. Download some images and print in color. Boom! You’re on your way to a culturally inclusive classroom on your four walls, your door, and even in the hands of students when they are reading in your classroom!
*Scroll down to find the short article I mentioned, "A White Teacher’s Suggestions for Doing Right by Students of Color"
A White Teacher’s Suggestions for Doing Right by Students of Color
In this article in Education Week Teacher, Arkansas teacher Justin Minkel notes an
important “disconnect” in U.S. schools: 80 percent of K-12 teachers are white, while 51 percent of students are children of color. “White teachers like me have to love our students of color enough to learn how to teach them well,” says Minkel. His suggestions:
• Small daily actions – “Our students of color are often starved for anything and anyone relevant to their identities and experiences,” he says. His first graders were enraptured when he showed a YouTube clip of the Hamilton cast performing at the White House.
• Literature – “Children of color need books to be mirrors as well as windows,” says Minkel. There’s no shortage of material, starting with Scholastic’s We Need Diverse Books catalog. High-quality books and magazines need to be prominent in guided reading groups, read-alouds, and classroom libraries for independent reading. Texts about people of color shouldn’t shy away from issues of oppression, but there should be a balance. One mother reported that her children had this to say about the books they were reading in school: “It’s always about slavery and racism. Once in a while, can’t we read about black kids just chillin’?”
• Guest speakers – There are all too many negative images of African Americans and Latinos in the media, says Minkel: “We have to provide our students a constant stream of writers, artists, mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and other competent and caring men and women of color to counter that poisonous programming.”
• Upstanding – “When you hear other white people – including fellow teachers – make racist comments, speak up,” says Minkel. “It’s OK if your face turns red, you blurt out something that doesn’t quite line up as a sentence, or it takes you 12 hours to come up with the line you wish you had said. The important thing is to make a little gash in that conversation so the comment does not go unnoticed or unchallenged. Part of white privilege is the ability to speak against racism without being quickly discounted by white people in power as people of color often are.”
• Listening – “I continue to marvel at the patience, kindness, and generosity of spirit shown to me by African-American and Latino friends and colleagues,” says Minkel. “To learn from them, I have to remind myself to stop talking and instead listen deeply to their experiences, perspectives, and advice… We can’t be afraid to ask a question of a colleague of color for fear we’ll look foolish or clueless.”
“How Can White Teachers Do Right by Students of Color?” by Justin Minkel in Education Week Teacher, August 15, 2018