Connecting diverse understandings of academic language to practice.
First impressions. Because you only get one.
We all have ’em. Those re-used and tired ice breaker activities that actually tell us very little about the students sitting in our classrooms. This year, before you ask Kara to name an alliterative spirit animal (we’re willing to bet good money it’s a kangaroo), give Kara a chance to own pronouns and name pronunciation.
You just said a mouthful there, sister. Now break it down for me.
Names and pronouns are bound up with gender and, yes, sex. Although they’re related, gender identity, gender expression, and sex aren’t the same thing. One way individuals signify their identity, expression, and attraction(s) to others is through labels. And that’s where the LGBTQ acronym comes in. Don’t feel like you fit neatly into one of those labels? No worries, there are plenty more.
Another way we communicate our gender identity is through pronouns (he, she, they, etc.). Many teachers have started asking students to introduce themselves by name and preferred pronouns. But! This practice may feel like more of an attack than an invitation.
Questioning how to get started? We know it’s not always easy, but a little self-reflection can go a long way. Ask yourself: How do my current first-day-of-school activities invite (or disinvite) diverse expressions of identity?
These days, it feels like every time we turn around we’re bombarded with political news. Especially anything having to do with the 2020 presidential election. [It is still only 2019, right?] We figure there are two potential responses: make like an ostrich and stick your head in the sand or (sigh) embrace it and look for ways to incorporate the election into your work.
What’s so scary about teaching politics?
There are a lot of reasons why educators might avoid teaching political topics: lack of resources, hesitancy about personal political knowledge, fear of parent and administrator retribution, lack of time… the list goes on. So, get your head right and conquer that fear of appearing biased. Although we’d argue that a teacher can never be completely unbiased (and why should they be?), recognizing the differences between being political and being partisan is an important step to teaching about the election.
Still scared. But trying to get over it.
Step One: Sync your Google Calendar. The New York Times maintains an Election Calendar so you can stay on top of all the political events from September 3rd through election day. Thanks for being a type-A planner, NYT.
Step Next: You don’t have to jump right in with, “so how ‘bout that democratic debate last night.” Teaching “about the election” is actually a pretty broad topic, so you’ve got some options.
You could pick an issue, like immigration, and dig deep into its history, personal stories, and current questions.
Finally, you can take the leap and approach all of this election business from a social justice standpoint as you analyze everything from candidates’ positions and media coverage to voting rights and political rhetoric.
Taking a deep dive into a specific topic related to education.
The Price of Education
To be honest, August is a month of mixed emotions: the dread of going back to school is met with excitement for the possibilities that come with a new year. These feelings are most certainly shared amongst students, teachers, and parents alike, coming to a head over school supplies and who is responsible for purchasing them. While parents object to what seem to be ever growing lists with even more specificity (down to the color of a binder), teachers are facing increased classroom sizes and financial gaps that result in paying for these yearly supplies out-of-pocket.
Concerns we are all too familiar with. Collective groan.
Public schools are supposed to be free. True.
The United States constitutes free education from preK through 12th grade (roughly ages 4-18). These ‘common schools’ are funded by and for the public in order to prepare members of society to function within a democratic nation. Conversely, private schools are supported mainly through student tuition, largely independent of government funding. Reports indicate U.S. Schools enrolled 56.2 million students in 2015 and public institutions opened their doors to just over 50 million of that population. Put differently, 90% of k-12 education is in fact free.
…but nothing in life is free. So what are we really looking at? The expenditures of these public institutions totals $651,135 million (92%) of the total cost (both private and public) for elementary and secondary educational institutions. Reports indicate a cost of $12,910 per student enrolled in public education for the 2018/2019 school year and predict that enrollment trends will rise to nearly 60 million by 2027.
That’s a lot of moolah and a lot of kiddos. And we know there are some savage inequalities associated with how all this money gets allocated (or not). No kidding. $ $ bill y’all.
Now that we know what’s happening in our neck of the woods, let’s step back and look at the cost of an education outside the US.
For some, the cost of an education is their gender. Malala’s experience with the Taliban is especially chilling. Her public activism for the rights of women to have a seat in the classroom is met with continued threats of death and even murder.
To others, the cost is the price of freedom – freedom to escape the physical labor to which they are enslaved. Case in point: mika (a material commonly found in makeup, toothpaste, and technological devices), an industry that employs children as miners in life-threatening conditions (yes, minors as miners).
For those who can actually go to school, there’s also that pesky issue of actually getting there. On the Way to School chronicles just that – getting to school – a seemingly easy feat that looks courageously different for each student the documentary follows. Such as, two brothers in India who push and pull, sometimes carry, their third brother who is confined to a wheelchair the 4 km to school. A trek that takes over an hour.
We feel you. Education definitely isn’t free. But just how much it costs–to get to school, to have the right to an education, or to set up that classroom–varies. Remembering that variation just might help sweeten-up the sour lemonade of buying school supplies.
SPOTTED: WHILE AVOIDING WORK…
Taking a meaningful break to chip away at the silos in education.
Because women can beat down gender norms and own it.
These GLOWing (and not because they are mothers-to-be) ladies of wrestling are knocking out another season on Netflix this month. If we have you at neon pink and shimmering leotards, you will obsess over this 80’s crew. Meet the women whose incredible athleticism pushed opened new boundaries for the sport and whose real life stories of meeting inequalities headon inspired the show.
Trying to figure out how to survive a zombie apocalypse your first (or perhaps 12th) year of teaching?
It’s that time of year. Weeks, if not months, of the back to school teacher nightmares. Before we undertake another academic calendar, you are going to want to check out DNP fav teacher vlogger, Real Rap with Reynolds. He answers essential questions like ‘Can I go to the bathroom?’, behavior management, classroom setup, worst to best moments, and even offers advice non-newbies will want to know.
Consider mental preparation for Day. One. underway.
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