Recently, I got called out on Twitter. It used to be, like many (most?) of us, that being told I was causing offense, being racist, and/or hindering the work for social justice would lead me to break out in a panicky sweat, want to figuratively or even literally run away, and/or passionately defend myself as “a good person.” By now, though, it’s happened often enough that I’ve learned to view it positively as someone caring enough to engage with me, to challenge me to do better in their eyes (granting that this is easier to process via social media than in the immediacy of face-to-face conversations). And I’ve learned that at such moments, their eyes are generally seeing things I would otherwise miss and that I really need to know. Trying to remain open to being called out, whether on Twitter, in person, or wherever, has enabled me to learn and grow more quickly and more surely than I otherwise would have been able to - in short, to be a better ally.
As much as I love the warmth, sunlight, and pace of the summer, there is something about this time of year that also appeals to me. Part of it is that sense of resilience you get for toughing it out during a New England winter; part of it is the contrast of the darkness with starlight, moonlight, and the brightness of hats, mittens, and scarves; and part of it is the protectiveness of the darkness itself. As the light retreats and the world seems to close in on itself, introspection comes naturally, even if you are all about daily learning and growth, and whether or not you are of a mind to actually make resolutions
Every year, as the final week of December classes approaches, I’m taken back to my first year at the school. As houseparents, Martha and I had been told that decorating took a while and that it was both meaningful to the kids and fun for adults to help out. So at 11:00 on the designated night, we tiptoed down our corridor and down the stairs so as not to tip off the (hopefully!) sleeping sophomores and juniors on our corridor that they would wake to a magically transformed winterscape, and gathered in the Capen Room with a good-sized crowd.
Like many Americans, especially parents, especially teachers, Dec. 14, 2012 is burned into my brain. I may have been too young (just) to remember where I was on Nov. 22, 1963, but I know exactly where I was 49 years and 22 days later - in the gym working scoreboard for our basketball tournament - and remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. On that day, we learned with growing shock what had transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a horrific mass shooting that began with the shooter’s mother and continued to result in the deaths of 20 children and six faculty/staff members before the shooter turned his gun on himself.
Doves adorn the staircase to the middle school, twirling gently in the air currents, still exuding the active hope for peace expressed by the students who made them and arranged them. At the top of the staircase sits a totem pole, made by the class of 2019 back when they were seventh graders, expressing who they were at the time and thus, in many ways, who they are now. I walk into the middle school lobby, where soon enough kids will start to flood in, flopping on the chair and couch, half sitting on each other’s laps as they chatter about any- and everything that crosses their minds. I walk into my room, past the Black Lives Matter, Girl Power, and LGBT Safe space signs on the door, and arrange the blue beanbags in a half circle. Soon, kids will half-walk, half-run into the room and either drop their backpacks on their beanbag of choice, whirl, and return to the lobby, or drop down to relax and hang out with their friends as they arrive.
“I kind of like being fooled about some things.” Tally, the protagonist in Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, utters this line to close out a chapter section, where we ended today’s Morning Reading in Humanities 7. The kids reacted immediately to the line, pointing out examples of Tally, and the society in general in this future dystopia, wanting to be fooled. After their thoughts settled into silence, I asked them, “Are there people in our culture who kind of like being fooled about some things.” No silence then - one student jumped straight to, “I like being fooled into thinking the world isn’t going to descend into chaos in about 12 years and our species will go extinct.”
Filed Under: Vote
I had an excellent day at the 2018 AISNE Diversity Conference. I attended:
- Opening Keynote: “Understanding & Dismantling Privilege: The Importance of Disrupting White Silence, by Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility
- Workshop I: “Transgender Student, Faculty, and Family Experiences,” a panel facilitated by Alex Myers
- Student Panel: “Be Inspired: Student Voices, facilitated by Erica Ramirez
- Workshop II: “Using Oppressed Identities to Face White Privilege," with Robin Di Angelo
- Closing Keynote: “Beyond Tolerance: LGBTIQAP Students and the Need for Loving Policies & Practices,” by Darnell Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire
Blog title from a song by Nina Kauderer ‘20
Joan Armatrading and her Stratocaster. Bonnie Raitt and her Stratocaster. Avril Lavigne and her Telecaster. Chrissie Hynde and her Telecaster. Tal Wilkenfeld and her Precision Bass. Aimee Mann and her Precision Bass.
And don’t forget Anna and her own Stratocaster.
Note: RAINN (The Rape Assault & Incest National Network)’s website includes information, resources, and a hotline.
I can’t follow the “debate” about the Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination with thinking about my kids. How many of them are thinking right now exactly what Emma has said here? How many of them are wondering about what boys are thinking? Even those of my students who identify as non-binary and/or whose romantic/sexual orientations don’t include boys may be (and probably are) thinking about how these messages society is sending applies to them and the people in their lives.
Humanities 7 is, by design, a democratic classroom. I provide the overall structure - independent writing, independent reading, and unit work, plus the skill list on which we focus - and they make all the decisions about what they write independently, what they read independently, and what the theme questions and individual (personally chosen) Focus Questions are for each unit.