Equity & Access Newsletter

Secondary Edition

Big image

African American Students Using the "N" word at School - I Don't Think So

Most of us know when the "N" word is used in a derogatory sense in the educational setting that it should not be tolerated and students may have consequences because of the statements or comments made. We consider that term to be derogatory, hateful, mean, racist, and the list goes on. For most, the term cuts deep; it's hurtful and offensive considering the historical baggage the word carries.

For some African American students, the word is a term of endearment. Some feel as though they're taking ownership of that word and using it in a way to create unity and comradery. This form of thinking has become more prevalent through some forms of media and music.

Should it be okay for students to use the "N" word in the educational setting under the pretense they're using it as a term of endearment? The problem with letting African American students use it with each other continues to promote the double standard that it's okay for African American students to use the word but not others.

There is very little space for the "N" word to be used in the educational setting (possibly literature or social studies as a recollection of a historical event that has significance to the learning). It's a word that needs to go away in the educational setting. If we continue to let African American students use the word, the double standard will continue.

Create safe and respectful spaces to continue the dialogue with all students about the historical ramifications and what the word means to students today. As adults, we may also learn something from our students and their perspective. It's also important for our students to learn and understand boundaries within our schools and to promote positive language as we interact with each other. Here are some resources if you can explore with your students.

Champion Spotlight: Brian Vega - Counselor at Hickory Hills

October is LGBT History Month!

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) history is often still ignored in public schools. Unfortunately, this can give our students the misperception that LGBT history is not a rich and meaningful part of our culture. More importantly, however, it deprives all of our students of an opportunity to learn about this diverse and underrepresented group of history makers!

To remedy this, Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson took action in 1994. He believed that a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, so he worked with other teachers and community leaders to make it happen. October was selected because schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month. Gay and Lesbian History Month is now endorsed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association and other national organizations.

Why might one ask, should we focus on teaching about the contributions that LGBT people have made to our history and culture? It can be argued that research shows that LGBT-inclusive curriculum contributes to a safer school environment for our LGBT students by affirming them, helping them feel more connected to school, and by increasing peer acceptance. Furthermore, curriculum that includes positive representations of LGBT people and history can improve school climate by providing opportunities for non-LGBT students to better understand the world around them, question stereotypes, and build ally behaviors.

Teaching about LGBT history may be new to you, and it may feel like a stretch that is outside of your comfort zone. If you need some assistance, ask your school counselor for help. I’m always happy to answer any questions as well: bcvega@spsmail.org.

What's In your Toolbox?

Disability History & Awareness Month

Most of us know that Disability History & Awareness Month is in October. One way to make sure that we're promoting inclusive environments is to use appropriate language. It's important to remember that we do not let the disability define the person or their abilities; the person comes first. Here is a list to help you with some of the terminologies and a lesson plan to engage your students.

Our brains are geared to respond to situations and climates that are outside of the norm. Unexpected stimuli are something our brains enjoy. When students are disengaged in their learning; creating time for a brain boost may help. Brain - boost is when a student has an opportunity to step away from a task and engage the whole body (kinesthetically) and get student reenergized. Exercise creates more oxygen in the brain and neurons fire more rapidly in an oxygenated enriched environment. Here are some ideas for brain - boost activities to re-engage your students.

Brain-Boosting Activities

  • Human Knot: Students stand in a circle clasps right hand with someone not next to them and do the same with the left hand. The object is to have students untangle themselves without letting go. The Human Knot is a fun activity that also encourages team building.
  • Air writing: Have students stand up; and ask them a series of questions. Using their pointing finger students will write the answer in the air.
  • Yoga Break: Learn several simple yoga poses with focused breathing to share with the class (Try Warrior Pose, Tree Pose, and Upward Facing Dog).
  • YouTube brain breaks: There are thousands of videos available, but make sure you preview all videos before using with students.

Brock, Annie, and Heather Hundley. The growth mindset coach: a teachers month-by-Month handbook for empowering students to achieve. Berkeley, CA, Ulysses Press, 2016.

Class Discussion: Taking a Knee

With the continued debate of NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem; it's called to question the level of patriotism and respect athletes have for the people who have served our country to continue to have the freedoms we have. Here's an article offered by Teaching Tolerance that you can you use to expand the discussion in the classroom.

Upcoming Events

Youth Empowerment Summit- LIT (Leadership, Interact, Transform) October 20

The Youth Empowerment Summit is a partnership between MSU, SPS and the local NAACP. The summit is designed to help African American high school students understand what it takes to get to college and succeed while they're there. Students will be receiving additional information in their "Equity & Access" course in Canvas. Students should connect with the CSI at their school if they have questions.

Event: Youth Empowerment Summit (YES)

Date: Friday, October 20

Location: Missouri State University, Plaster Student Union

Time: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm.

Big image
Feel free to attend Missouri State University Pride Month events. Most events are open and free to the public.
Big image
Want to follow various issues about equity, access, diversity, and inclusion?

Join the Equity & Acess Facebook group!

Big image