Tag Archives: Donald Trump

A Challenge from The White Lady at the Front of the Classroom: 6 Ideas for Secondary Teachers During Inauguration Week

Standard

Dear Fellow White Folks at the Front of the Classroom:

In less than a week, Donald Trump will be president of the United States.  Maybe you supported him.  Maybe you didn’t.  Maybe you really don’t care who is president.

However you feel, I promise you are in front of plenty of students who DO care, students who have paid attention to Trump’s stances on building a wall with Mexico, his support of stop and frisk, his derisive comments about women, and more.

You are also in front of students who supported Trump, whose families supported Trump.  These students are part of the conversation, too.

And so it’s a delicate balance.

In the interest of providing space for real dialogue and accurate information,  I issue you a challenge:

Teach something from the Black Lives Matter Syllabus this week.

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-12-15-01-pm

It was designed by Frank Leon Roberts (frankroberts@nyu.edu) at BlackLivesMatterSyllabus.com  and is is a rich, current curriculum to investigate and discuss race relations in our complex, beautiful, and divided country.

For example:

  1. Discuss/debate/find examples of these non-violent actions.  What have students witnessed?  What issues need attention in their schools and communities and which actions could they use? Which shouldn’t they use? Why?

2.  Watch one of the many Ted Talks on the syllabus.  What did your students learn, like, and wonder?

3.  Create a scavenger hunt of Black Lives Matter.  Have your students scour the website and find real information for themselves, not filtered through another site. A great example of using primary sources.  In fact, check back – I’m going to make one.

4.Debate Colin Kaepernick’s controversial decisions to kneel for the National Anthem at NFL games.  This is a wonderful opportunity to discussion professional vs. personal and non-violent protest.

5. In the spirit of Angela Davis’ Are Prisons Obsolete?, investigate the school-to-prison pipeline.  What is your school and community doing to support all learners and to limit students’ involvement in the judicial system? How does stop and frisk impact interaction with the judicial system?

6. Although this isn’t from the Black Lives Matter Syllabus,  many people are participating in an inauguration blackout, meaning they are refusing to watch it in protest. Research this with your students and ask them what they’d like to do and why. If they want to watch it, watch it. If not, what kind of alternative activity can your students design?  As they sang in Rent, “the opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.”

Finally, if like me, you are worried about this administration and Congress, start thinking about how you personally are going to help get out the vote for midterm elections. Our work is just starting.

 

 

Please post any and all comments/ideas below.  We need you.

From The White Lady At The Front Of The Classroom: Election Fallout

Standard

My heart pounded in my chest as the electoral college number creeped toward Donald Trump’s column.  It was 3 a.m., my cat curled against my side as I looked to Facebook for solace and CNN for information. When John Podesta told us to go to bed, I knew it was over.  I trudged upstairs, hoping a miracle would happen overnight, like when you find $20 in your jeans pocket.  I cried to my husband, my mind whirring about how I would talk about this with my high school students.  How would I, as a white woman, explain how white America voted against them, my beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, students of color? The LGBTQ+ students I advise in our gay/straight alliance?

After asking for help on Facebook, I came to these conclusions:

  1.  It was a day to listen.  During the riots in Ferguson, when I felt just as helpless, a wise, African-American colleague told me to just listen. That advice has never failed me since.
  2.  Art heals, so I’d give my high schoolers space to create.
  3. We would  do a lesson in communication skills, practicing “I feel” statements.

    img_2052

    This student wrote a message to her nephews who are autistic.  She is upset our next president mocked a reporter with a disability.

I arranged my tables in a rectangle and covered the surfaces with long strips of butcher block paper.  I put out markers and a talking piece for the circle we would have.  It was a small, orange pumpkin. Orange, the color of the solar plexus chakra, of creativity.  Seemed fitting.

I invited each student to sit where they were comfortable and to do their warm up in Google Classroom: How are you today? What’s on your mind?   Answers ranged from tired, hungry, and fine, to expressions of sadness and fear over the election of Donald Trump as their president.

Then I talked to them about how their feelings are never, ever wrong, despite the messages they might get from other people.  I told them about times people were successful in calling me a troublemaker when I was expressing concerns over a loved one and how I have learned to ignore that and speak my truth.  Then I added how no matter how we feel, we have to do our best to treat people with respect.

I asked for a “tough” student volunteer.  I  was clear what I was going to say wasn’t true, but to go with it.

Me: I am going to say two sentences to you.  What is the effect of each one?  Jose, you are annoying.  Jose, I feel that you are annoying.

Typical Student Answer:  When you say I’m annoying, it makes it sound like the whole world thinks I’m annoying, that it’s true. But when you say you feel that I’m annoying, I know it’s your opinion only.

 

So we passed the orange pumpkin around the circle, each person having the opportunity to say what was on their minds using “I feel” statements.  Some shared, some passed, all listened.

Comments included:

Is this a real pumpkin?  (because ninth graders)

I feel angry.

I feel that it’s not right for the president to think it’s OK to touch women without their consent.

I think  Trump might do good things, but I’m nervous because my brother is a Marine.

We have to come together.

I feel unsafe.

I feel unsafe.  That was the word that, by 7th period, had me in tears.

We have an awesome responsibility to do our best to offer safety to each other.  An ear to listen, open eyes, open hearts.  We are responsible for standing up for each other, even when it makes someone else uncomfortable.

And …

….it’s OK to tell people their vote makes you sad, makes you uncomfortable.  That you feel disappointed.  That they have to accept responsibility for their vote.  That their  vote for Trump was a vote for bigotry.

Just remember those “I feel” statements.

I’ll leave you with some of my students’ artwork.  I hope I served them well today.

Onward in hope.