Welcome back to school. We know that some of you have already returned to the classroom while others will begin just after labor day. As you think about your students, your goals for the year, and the kind of learning environment you are hoping to create, we wanted to share a few resources that might be helpful as you begin the school year.
In the classroom, discussions about names can provide opportunities to build community, open up conversations about culture, engage students in the study of history through first person stories, explore literary characters, and to foreshadow the dilemmas of integration. This blog includes curated links to resources that you might use to open conversations about names, identity, and belonging.
This educator spotlight featuring master teacher Sara Ahmed, author of the Heinemann Publishing book Upstanders: How to Engage Middle School Hearts and Minds with Inquiry, explores ideas for teaching the wordless graphic novel The Arrival, an extraordinary resource for opening up discussions of migration with students of all ages. Ahmed explains,”There is this really cool thing that happens when you start to read enough books that are geared towards your daily target audience. You stop seeking out the workbooks or programs or internet lessons and you start to see the lessons and the humanity that the books’ themselves provide. The Arrival is one of those books. You think, my kids have to see this.” This blog is our most popular resource to date.
A number of school districts, including LA County, are using images of the Statue of Liberty to signal that all students are welcome. This short post, with useful links, explains how the Statue of Liberty become associated with Emma Lazarus’s classic poem The New Colossus.
This short essay from acclaimed journalist Maria Hinojosa is included in a new unit developed by Facing History and Ourselves. In the excerpt, Hinojosa describes the story of how she came to the United States from Mexico. She explains that “I have used it as an inspiration to find my own gut, my own power, my own voice when I feel powerless.”
We included this last resource for you as educators. It is increasingly clear that the messages our young people are getting from the wider world often run counter to the conditions we try to create in our classrooms. In this year’s summer heat, across much of the world, the rhetoric about immigration is scorching. On broadcast and social media, accusations fly. It has become evident that as a public we don’t know very much about migration, and we sure don’t give it the kind of attention it deserves in the education of young people. If we take the role of schools seriously as training grounds for civic engagement, it is time to rethink how we approach these issues in schools.