In a few days my students will tumble through my library doors after a summer of reading stories elsewhere. Like many others I am eagerly preparing for a fresh new year.
I dust the library shelves, create book displays about sustainability, and finalize lesson plans for creating a second grade research project on bento boxes.
Then there is one more important step before I feel ready. I pull out and study a checklist that I created for myself based on and inspired by the work I so admire at EdChange: Building Equitable and Just Schools, Communities and Organizations through Transformative Action.
So far, I haven’t been able to check anything off the list. And I don’t expect to. This work is ongoing, though some of it is getting easier.
- Do I learn to pronounce each student’s full name correctly? No one should feel like they have to change his or her name to make it easier for me.
- Do I continually assess my bias, prejudice and cultural upbringing and how they influence my teaching practices and relations with my colleagues, students and their families?
- Do I consciously pay attention to my language and not use expressions which originated from inequities of power?
- Am I using materials that are unbiased? If not, do I use it as a teaching tool to help students analyze and recognize it?
- Do I help my students unpack the myth of color-blindness? Do I discuss why it is important to acknowledge differences, and not deny another person’s experience that has been shaped by their skin color?
- When an issue such as racism or classism comes up in the classroom, do I address it or shy away from it out of fear or ignorance? Neither is a good reason.
- Is my curriculum inclusive of a wide range of multiple perspectives all the time or just a token gesture especially during special months?
- Do I work toward equity for ALL underrepresented groups? Or for example do I strive for gender equity but not racial equity?
- Do I work towards equality or equity? Do I try and give everybody the same thing which may not be what everyone needs or do I try and change the disparity in access for an underrepresented or disenfranchised person?
- Am I constantly working towards understanding my whiteness and the privileges it gives me?
Wish me a good fall and support in accomplishing these goals. May they be useful to you too.