Editors Note: This post was originally published on Catherine’s blog on Medium.
DO NOW: What is Whiteness?
After taking out their supplies and getting ready to engage, my students reacted to the question I’d written on the board as their “DO NOW.”
Some students giggled. Others made faces – perplexed, overwhelmed, entertained. A few began to chat with classmates. Some looked at me hoping for guidance. My co-teacher, having just entered the room, said, “That’s a great question!”
After giving my students time to react, I told them I knew it was a difficult question, but I wanted them to think about it. I told them there were no right answers, but they should draw upon their lived and learned experiences — and that I expected them to try to respond.
Last Wednesday morning, before the school doors opened for our middle and high school students, Mr. David, our principal at Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists in New York City, announced over the loudspeaker that we’d have a short faculty meeting in the library. A few of my colleagues and I had already gathered in a classroom, hugging one another, checking in, and reflecting on the results of the previous night’s election.
We weren’t sure how we’d talk to our students about the results and were seeking ideas from one another. When our principal’s announcement came over the loudspeaker, I was relieved. I wanted to come together with my peers to process and talk about what we’d just experienced as a nation.
This is an election year for the ages. The rhetoric is at a fevered pitch, the sides are divided, and the issues muddied by inaccuracies, half-truths, lies, and innuendo. How do we help our students wade through the messages, see the purpose in participating, and become actively engaged with the presidential election? Find out during this lively conversation with high school teachers Janelle Bence of Texas and Chris Sloan of Utah, two teachers who are making the election a focal part of their work this fall.
It’s not (just) the sleeping in, the family getaways, and the long, unhurried meals with friends that make me love summer. It’s that I get the time to think.
Folks who work outside classrooms underestimate the immediacy and urgency of teaching. The daily press to prepare and adjust lessons, the ongoing grind of grading and giving feedback. The weeds are tall and thick when one is in the midst of the school year.
Then comes summer. I can step back and rethink my practice. I can consider, with sufficient bandwidth, what I really want students to get out of the next 180 days, during which I get to support and lead them.