Equity & Access Newsletter

Secondary Edition

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How to make it through the holiday mentally and emotionally

With the holiday season underway, trying to manage relatives, additional shopping, traveling, deciding who's house to go to when; all of which can be overwhelming and stressful which could also create some anxiety. Here are several ways to keep your sanity during the holiday season.

  1. Make a budget and a plan. Spend an hour or two to create a budget for all the things you need during the holiday season. Work hard to stick to your budget; things can get out of hand quickly if you're not mindful.
  2. A little here, a little there. Shop for one or two people at a time and spread it out over time to keep your stress level low.
  3. The times less traveled. Try to take a couple of days or half days of work off to get some of your shopping done when fewer people are out and about.
  4. Don't spend 40 hours a week on Pinterest. Don't waste your time trying to make everything homemade to make the season more festive for everyone else. Do what's important to you and enjoy spending time with the ones you care about.
  5. Don't overcommit to commitments. Be reasonable about the events you attend, so you don't overextend yourself.
  6. Don't try to be everything to everyone. Just like your money, you have limits on your time. Commit to what you want; and enjoy yourself.
  7. Remember what the time is about. You can spend your time shopping, decorating, or cooking. Focus on loved ones.
  8. Too much sugar isn't too sweet. With all of the holiday goodies that people bring during the holiday season; it's easy to get carried away. Moderation is the key.
  9. Out with the old. Finding ways to declutter your space and gifts can bring a sense of calm to your home and mind.

The holidays are an excellent time for us to decompress and build stronger connections with the people we love; let's not let the pressures of the holiday sabotage our time enjoying friends and family.

9 Ways to Keep Your Holiday Sanity

Solutions, Ramsey. “9 Ways to Keep Your Holiday Sanity.” Daveramsey.com, Dave Ramsey, 4 Nov. 2013, www.daveramsey.com/blog/9-ways-to-keep-holiday-sanity

Q & A: Why do we offer special programs for African American and Hispanic students?

Most of us get and understand the impact that poverty has on the students we serve. Some of us have even grown up in poverty, so we have a better understanding of the importance of Title I programs. Our district free and reduced lunch rate is fifty-six percent; but what is interesting for our Hispanic and African American students, that number is much higher. Sixty-five percent of our Hispanic students and seventy-two percent of our African American students. For some reason, the poverty in those two groups is magnified. When we discuss race; it makes people more uncomfortable because we haven't been taught to have meaningful conversations about race without the fear of offending someone.

The Achievement Gap is a national issue that school districts around the country face. There has been an achievement gap within these two groups for several generations. There are various reasons for the gap, but we want to create opportunities to decrease those deficits. SPS continues to explore opportunities that support students within these groups.

We currently offer two programs for middle school students: What’s In Your Backpack (Hispanic students) and the Empowerment Program (African American males). Within both groups, we provide students with an increased awareness of their racial history, and an opportunity to meet successful people (educationally and professionally) who "look like them" because we know they have to #SeeItToBeIt. Students engage in growth mindset strategies and learn the significance of using soft skills as they interact and network with people in the community socially. We also want to keep reminding them that they do have value and the opportunity to make better choices. If you would like to know more about the programs, please let me know.

What's In your Toolbox?

Why Micro-aggressions are Harmful

When we make comments like; "You're pretty for a Black girl," "Can I touch your hair?" or "You speak really good English for a Latino." we sometimes believe we're complimenting people and trying to make a connection. For people of color, these types of comments can be hurtful and damaging. Micro-aggressions are comments or statements made to people in traditionally marginalized groups that are usually meant to have unintentional harm.

As a teacher when micro-aggressions occur, we may not know how to respond to them.

  1. Understand the difference between intention and impact. Usually, micro-aggressions are unintentional, and most people have no idea they may have said or done something offensive. It's important to pay attention to how the act made the person feel and to try to provide the student with a safe environment.
  2. Don't be afraid to talk about it. If a student shares an incident, don't pretend it did not happen. When time permits, speak with the student privately about the incident and why the event was troubling. Facilitate a conversation with the victim and offending student with the goal being to have a deeper understanding of where our thoughts and beliefs come from and why those behaviors can be damaging to others.
  3. Be aware of your assumptions. Assumptions can cause us to miss valuable signals about our student's unique needs and experiences.
  4. Be aware of how colorblindness can make students feel. If we focus on the whole student, their race may be important to them. If we chose not to acknowledge or accept that part of who they are, we might miss some of that student's background, cultural norms, and those things that define them. We may minimize who the student is if we say, "I see all of my students as the same."

By addressing some of these issues and confronting your assumptions in the classroom, you will be providing a safe space for all students physically and emotionally.

Other than race, what types of groups come to mind that you think may experience micro-aggressions? Please explore the resources below to gain a better understanding of what micro-aggressions mean and the impact they have on us.

Article: 4 Ways Teachers Can Address Microaggressions

Video: How Unintentional Bias Can Be the Most Harmful

Griffin, Kimberly. “4 Ways Teachers Can Address Micro-aggressions in the Classroom.” Noodle, 10 Sept. 2015, www.noodle.com/articles/microaggressions-in-the-classroom-the-teachers-role.

How to be an Effective Trans Ally

Bullying, harassment, and sometimes physical assault of transgendered students can be an issue especially if we want to make schools a safe place for all students.

Brian Vega, the middle school counselor from Hickory Hills, has created a website to give educators some guidance on how to be a useful ally to students who are transgendered.

Website: Being an Effective Trans Ally

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MLK Art Contest: Your Students Can Participate!

Your schools are invited to participate in an art contest tied to the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in January 2018. This contest is being co-sponsored by the offices of the NAACP, SPS Equity & Access, SPS Community Partnerships, and SPS Fine Arts. You and your student’s participation in this contest is voluntary. However, we hope to have entries from all SPS Schools!

Contest details:

Theme: Your Life, Your Choice (This is also the theme for the march and rally on January 15, 2018).

Number of entries: Each school may submit as many entries as they would like.

Specifications: All art work submitted should be on 8 ½ x 11 plain white paper. The students name, classroom teacher and art teachers names, grade and school should be listed on the back. Any text on the art work needs to be dark and we recommend using bold colors and outlining designs in sharpie when appropriate. Submitted art work should be “print ready.”

Deadline to submit entries: Entries should be submitted to Breana Kavanaugh at KAC no later than Friday, December 22, 2017. Entries received after this deadline will not be considered.

Contest winners: Winning entries will be chosen and notified no later than January 5th. Winning artists will be recognized at a Board of Education meeting and the MLK March and Rally on January 15th at the Gillioz Theatre.

MLK is on the way!

Want to find resources to use for Martin Luther King Jr to engage your students? Take a look at the Equity & Access page in Canvas and click on "Martin Luther King Jr. Information." This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully enough to get the wheels spinning. If you have resources you would like to add, please email me at ltanderson@spsmail.org.
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