Principal News and Notes
Happening This Week!
- Monday - Treats in the staff lounge for Staff Appreciation Week!
- Tuesday - No Faculty Council
- Wednesday - Final Site PD of year: Using Racial Equity Tools to Examining Behavior Data
- Special Treats in the Staff Lounge on Wednesday!
- Unannounced Safety Drill this week - please review both Fire Drill procedures with students
- Remember #FinishStrong! We are focusing on 10:1 positives to negatives AND Learning Responsibly this week!
- Remember to laugh and smile!
Equity Corner: Echos of the Past, Voices of Today - by Lisa Bottolene
Last Thursday and Friday Gary and I had the honor of attending a workshop titled, “Echos of the Past, Voices of Today: An Indigenous Courageous Conversation About making the Invisible Visible in Education”, led by Ramona Kitto-Stately and Dr. Rev Hillstrom. If you get a chance to attend, I highly recommend it. We focused on the history of the Native American, and how they are still invisible in many ways in education today.
Sadly, Indian removal is very real. At the time Christopher Columbus did not discover America there were 50-90 million Indigenous people living in North America. In 1970, nearly 500 years later only 300,000 still lived on this continent. As Dr. Hillstrom stated, this is called Genocide. The killing of Native Americans then was so horrific people were offered 200 dollars to bring a dead Indian forth. While we know it doesn't look the same today, there are Acts still being put into law that focus on removing the Native American. These include laws around religious freedom and child welfare. Why is this still happening in 2016? Why are Natives being denied their culture? Why are we not only not teaching about Native History in schools, but often times what is taught are lies?
This workshop reaffirmed what I already knew: our black, brown and indigenous students are constantly navigating two worlds. Culturally, they know one thing to be true and yet, everyday they come to school we ask them to code switch and follow the expectations, beliefs and values of public education.
As a white woman educator, I try to examine the role and presence of whiteness in my teaching, our school and the system. I know that being a culturally responsive teacher is critical and urgent. Did you know: The first thing we teach is our culture, the second is the content?Since that is true, what can I do to help my black, brown and indigenous students succeed?
I can recognize their culture as much as possible. That means allowing them to be individuals, and not putting my whiteness onto them. It means asking them to share their own values, traditions and beliefs. Beyond sharing, it means embracing those cultures and embedding them into my classroom. It means providing choice and options for their learning styles. We learned that Native Americans do not see “leadership” as a person who speaks up the most, or seems to be in charge, but rather, as a shared responsibility- more of a true democracy where every voice is heard. Allowing my students to be leaders in ways other than the defined roles helps nurture who they are as humans, and what they know to be true culturally. The more I know about other cultures, the more I can embed it into my work.
Culturally responsive teaching means my curriculum needs to be relevant and real, it means I also need to have a relationship. If I do all of these, I will ensure rigor. The relationship part is the easiest for me, but the areas I need to focus on are, “Is it relevant and real?”
We are all on our own racial journey. As a white woman educator, what is important to me is that it is a journey, and progress is being made. I do not have all the answers, but learning is important. The only way we will change the school experience for our black, brown and indigenous people is to increase our knowledge and awareness, and then to make changes in our teaching. I am committed to bringing forth the Indigenous history and culture in my teaching. Today, I choose to make all kids visible.