How Stories Shape Our Lives: Part 1
1. ‘Teaching in the Undertow: Resisting the Pull of Schooling-as-usual’ p. 43
This story contains tips of advice for new teachers who have the goal of teaching for social justice. The guidance is based off of the conflicts Michie faced as a newcomer at a struggling inner-city school, and how he was able to push through it. His suggestions for social justice based education are to make early connections with colleagues; start with small steps; bring the content to life for students in either one subject or one lesson a week; find a balance between freedom and control in the classroom environment; and to always belief in yourself as a teacher.
2. ‘The Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club’ p. 83
In this story, Tenorio enlightens how she teaches for social justice by incorporating lessons discussing race. She emphasizes the importance of raising student awareness on social justice issues while students are young so they can begin to challenge oppression. It also includes multiple practical examples of activities and projects that address race. Lastly, she explains how teaching for social justice in the early grades is a foundation that students can grow off of, promoting diversity and equality.
3. ‘What can I do when a student makes a racist or sexist remark?’ p.93
For the response to this question, Tenorio explains what usually occurs, and what should be done. In a situation like this, it is easy for educators to disregard the comment or come off forceful when stating, “it’s bad to say that”. What should happen, instead, is to use the comment as a teachable moment to address the issue. Discussing the remark then becomes a purposeful anti-oppression conversation.
4. ‘Framing the Family Tree: How Teachers can be Sensitive to Students’ Family Situations’ p.95
This story raises awareness on breaking the stereotypical norms of family structures. Teachers need to be aware of the diversity of family structures of their students. Also, teachers need to be aware of how school events or assignments can be difficult for students who may have the support that they need at home. For example, some students may not have a mother or father in their life, or they may have a bad relationship between one of their parents, so doing projects for Mothers or Fathers Day may be sensitive for the students.
5. ‘Heather’s Moms got Married’ p. 103
Another stereotypical norm of family structures is that students’ parents consist of a male and female. In today’s world, same sex marriages are becoming more common, and teachers need to be aware that their students may have two dads or two moms. Also, we must be open to talking about same sex marriages with our students, teaching them that there is no right or wrong. Being open about it with our students will help create an inclusive, safe environment for our students to share their home life experiences.
6. ‘Out Front’ p. 111
This story is about homophobia in school settings, and what teachers can do to help promote a more inclusive environment. The author explains three different ways things teachers can do to fight homophobia and support inclusiveness. First, teachers need to establish anti-slur policies so students are aware of appropriate and acceptable language and behaviors. Second, educators can teach for diversity by incorporating gay issues into curriculum, creating an anti-oppressive environment and education. And lastly, teachers need to be allies for each other, especially if a colleague is openly gay. Openly gay role models are significant for all students as they can help in breaking the barrier of homophobia.
7. ‘Curriculum is Everything that Happens’ p. 163
In this interview with Rita Tenorio, Tenorio provides tips and advice for becoming teachers who are entering their profession. One piece of advice is to be prepared and open to learning about important things that simply cannot be taught in university. There are many things that teachers can only learn about as they gain experience. An example of this is how social and political issues impact schools, and how these issues directly affect us as teachers in the classroom. Another piece of advice is to get to know your students and their backgrounds, and to do so in an unbiased way through the curriculum.
8. ‘Working Effectively with English Language Learners’ p.183
This story includes efficient strategies for teachers who may have English language learners in their classroom. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that students who are English language learners understand the information that is being taught. There are multiple ways that we can maximize the potential learning for students who are English language learners. One strategy for educators is to improve our instruction for English language learners. For example, we must speak slowly, audibly, and clearly. Another strategy is to become more culturally competent. An example of this is to learn about our students’ cultural backgrounds.
9. ‘Teaching Controversial Content’ p. 199
When it comes to teaching controversial content, such as issues on social justice, it is easy for educators to avoid any argument by avoiding the content. For those who do brave it out, they may struggle to do so as they are worrisome about how they go about teaching the controversial content. While it may be challenging to teach controversial contents, it is important that we don’t shun them. If we choose not to educate our students on social justice issues, they will be less likely to think critically, analyze, and challenge oppression. The author provides many suggestions for young educators on what to do when teaching a something that may be controversial, such as: determine how open your school and community is to controversial topics; inform parents and the principal before doing your lesson; research what others have previous done; and to preview any material to make sure that is age appropriate.
10. ‘Unwrapping the Holidays: Reflections on a Difficult First Year’ p. 317
This story is about the conflicts faced by the author during his first year of teaching at a new school. Weiss was a young teacher with an anti-oppressive teaching approach. Towards the month of December, Weiss decided to teach four winter celebrations as an inclusive alternative to only teaching about Christmas. He shared his concerns about Christmas displays around the school in a staff meeting. Unfortunately, his opinions opposed those of other teachers, teachers who have more experience in the profession and have spent more years at the school then he. Weiss shares his story in hope to enlighten new teachers that these conflicts with other staff may occur, and to teach for social justice with caution as it may cross views with others.