Full e-mail, sent to all ELA & reading teachers in the district:
I sent off my message regarding yesterday's events in haste this morning in an effort to prepare you as best as possible for kind of teaching, learning, and discourse that can and will occur when we find ourselves in a teachable moment. Now that [superintendent] has shared her message with all of us, I'd like to circle back and share some additional thoughts and resources, some of which have already come in from all of you - thank you - I'm inspired by your courage and commitment.
Our first responsibility is to our students and their emotional well-being. Please give them space to ask questions, share their authentic frustration, and begin to process the heinous, deplorable events that occurred yesterday, and all those that preceded it for that matter. Be good listeners, and good facilitators of discourse. Four questions you may wish to consider to facilitate that discussion are:
What do you notice?
What do you wonder?
What questions do you have?
What do you want people to know?
Thank you to [teacher] for sharing these with me and her grade-level team.
Beyond today, please give yourselves permission and time to thoughtfully plan how to best approach lesson activities to teach into the very concepts that [superintendent] laid out in her messaging.
[Teacher] shared the following article that I strongly encourage you to read as you plan:
Thank you [teacher] for sharing. [Teacher] and others have mentioned how powerful it is to note the word choice in articles (i.e., protest vs. riot) on this topic; that's a great content-area approach to this work.
Lastly, I've read the article Equity Literacy for All by Gorski with many of you. I'd like to highlight a quote from that article.
"Teaching for equity literacy is a political act—but not more so than not teaching for equity literacy. Another common rebuke we hear is that teaching for equity literacy introduces views about social justice into the curriculum that don’t belong in school. But is teaching about poverty or sexism more political than pretending that poverty and sexism don’t exist by omitting them from the curriculum? How might we explain the politics of not teaching about these issues when many of our students are experiencing them, even within school? How can we prepare youth to be active participants in a democracy without teaching them about the most formidable barriers to an authentic democracy?"
Not tackling this work says as much about us as it does to do it in the most thoughtful and well-intended way possible.
I do want to acknowledge I should have made specific mention of Jon Ossoff's victory as the first Jewish senator from Georgia in addition to suggesting we introduce students to Warnock and Abrams. These moments of historic significance were overshadowed by yesterday's deplorable acts of violence, and taking time to acknowledge them may help students find hope in a time of great despair for so many.
This work - like all of our work around culturally responsive practice, educational equity, and social justice - takes courage, commitment, and a willingness and ability to step outside of our own sense of the world in order to help our students make sense of it. I stand with all of you as you thoughtfully plan for this work with your students and hope that you will not miss this opportunity to serve our students in this critically important way.
Submitted: Jul 07, 2021