Here's a follow up to Monday's post.
Thank you all for your emails about what you're doing and planning for your classroom. The social issues and the events surrounding Michael Brown's death are significant, and in response, you all have readied yourselves for the students you serve.
A few of you, teachers and administrators, shared what I would categorize as preparation. No, not preparing materials or plans - rather, preparing yourselves. A wealth of information and articles are at your fingertips all over the internet. It's important to self-educate so that your own understanding and awareness are well-informed, grounded in facts, and sensitive to the issues.
On Twitter, #FergusonSyllabus is a goldmine of resources. Articles from publications, images, questions and answers about multiple things (from use of chemicals in crowd control to the civil rights movement) - you'd be hard-pressed to find a more exhaustive list anywhere.
Constructing a Conversation on Race is an article that appeared in The New York Times on August 20, written by Charles M. Blow. Several of you mentioned that you found this to be compelling and thoughtful. It's an article that gives marvelous advice in preparing you for the classroom conversations that may transpire.
Christopher Edmin offers 5 constructive ideas in his Huffington Post article, "5 Ways to Teach About Michael Brown and Ferguson In The New School Year". Several of you mentioned this article, and specifically the KWL Chart idea (what students Know, what students Want to Know, and eventually, what they've Learned). All professional teachers know that this is a perfect way to see where knowledge lies, and if it's knowledge or opinion and whether it's accurate or not. This is a 'ready-made' guide for planning learning experiences and lessons to help students sort out myths, media coverage, and facts from fiction. The article is an excellent read.
'Twelve Things White People Can Do Now Because of Ferguson" is an article by Janee Woods in Quartz. Three of you wrote that as a white educator, this gave you ideas about shaping your own thoughts and background information. One of you wrote, "I keep thinking, how many of my black students will pay attention to anything I have to say? I'm 'the enemy', after all. The 'Twelve Things' article gave me a starting point for building my confidence in addressing the discussions that are bound to happen in my classroom."
You even shared children's books with me for readers to check out. Here's a partial list:
Eve Bunting and David Diaz
What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?
The Skin You Live in
And, here are three poems to use as instructional materials:
“If There Be Sorrow”
“I, Too, Sing America”
“If We Must Die”
A former superintendent of schools shared with me that she sees three areas of concern pertaining to the Ferguson events: 1) Murder, 2) Racism, 3) The right to peaceful assembly. She expressed her concerns about these overlapping areas; that they are not just cause and effect or separate issues. She would advise teachers to use those three areas to organize thinking and planning, but to keep firmly in mind that these are all parts of a whole. Integrating the experiences in Ferguson is significant, because the events flowed and like a Venn Diagram, intersected; like a flow chart, fed one into the next.
We shouldn't have to, but we need to. And as educators, you are in a unique position to support, comfort, and provide learning experiences for your students. How will you rise to the challenge? I've given you a starting point, but it's up to you.
Let me know how it goes. Positive, problematic, and anywhere in between, we can use that information to an advantage. We're blazing new trails here, people. And the good news is that we have companionship along the way.