I finished up the book We Got This by Conelius Minor this afternoon. It was a great read and has me thinking about equity as a new school year is around the bend. Here are quotes and my thoughts for chapters 5-6.
Mrs. Davenport spoke. “This book was given to us, but it wasn’t written for us.” p. 104
This quote was taken from the beginning of chapter 5. After reading it I started to think about curriculum guides and publishers. Pacing guides aren’t perfect and teachers should keep that in mind when planning out the year. Teachers should give themselves grace to slow down and modify instruction based on students’ needs. This doesn’t happen enough as state and local testing often regulate pacing. Also, this quote reminds me that the books and materials that teachers use should be inclusive. Do students see themselves in the books that they read? Do the illustrations accurately display our society?
“A positive interaction based on a power imbalance – the powerful interacting with the powerless – is not a positive interaction. It is a colonizing one.” p. 106
I had to read this a couple times before it sunk in. Whether it’s spoken or not, there’s a power imbalance between teachers and students. Developing a classroom community takes time and teachers often engage students in activities that promote a positive and safe environment. Students can pick up on when a teacher is being genuine and when they’re not. I believe this quote also deals with the shift in how school is sometimes designed to colonize and not necessarily embrace differences. Students don’t come to school everyday with a blank slate. They bring their culture, language, norms and so many other characteristics that are part of their individual identity. How often is this discussed and is it celebrated? This quote has me asking more questions.
“We talk about entrepreneurial spirit while worshiping at the alter of the status quo.” p. 126
Teachers want students to be empowered and take ownership of their learning. It’s a powerful statement, but is it backed up by action? How can a district encourage students to innovate if the organization is quite pleased with how things are currently run? Do school districts fundamentally change when initiatives are activated?
“We can certainly cannot change an entire school or even a classroom yet, but we can change how we respond to the things that happen in those places” p. 129
I believe this quote touches on the mindset of teachers. There are some things that I can change and others that I can’t. Many teachers are struggling with this right now as districts come out with elearning and hybrid plans. What’s controllable? Well, I can control how I respond and that’s a start. Realizing this gives me a small sense of calm and it’s a good reminder – especially this time of the year.
“The longer I stay in it, the more I realize that our work is more evolutionary than it is revolutionary” p. 131
I nodded while highlighting this statement. Most teachers have seen new products, resources, testing programs, and manipulatives that have been touted as being “game changers” for students. These fads tend to fade over time or are replaced with something new. Change is always happening in the education field. Teachers that stay in the classroom for years realize what’s important. Strategies or resources that work for last year’s class might not work next year. Teachers mess up, identify how to improve and become better over time. They pivot as needed and develop better practices over time. This is a good reminder that I need to recognize the small wins when they occur.