Our school is located in a large, urban area and our student population is majority Latino. Most come from challenging neighborhoods and are categorized as low socio-economic status, but all are diligently working towards high school graduation and dreaming of a college degree. Some of my students are immigrants; many are English Language Learners, but all are working toward the best life for themselves and their families. While many teenagers are focused on driver's licenses and weekend dates, my students are concentrating on after-school jobs and scholarships. We recently moved to a vacant middle school in our district after tornadoes ripped apart our building. My students are dealing with this transition with grace, patience and resolve.
Genius, surprisingly curious, kind, innovative and thoughtful- these are the words that first come to mind when I begin to describe my students.
Though largely Latino, our population also includes a small group of African American students. Despite all these labels, what we value as a school community is each other, all our differences, all our similarities.
My students will use these texts to explore race history in the United States and hold discussions about how we can use these ideas to change the world. My students recognize that race and race relations impact so much of how we view each other and how our country works. Sometimes it doesn't seem to work as well as we would hope.
We chose these books - How to be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning - in order to have a common language for these profound discussions.
Ibram X. Kendi uncovers the foundations of race in our country and will allow my students insights other texts do not. After holding reading circles and small and whole group discussions, my students are planning to share their findings with our faculty in the form of a student panel. It is our hope that intergenerational teaching will further student/teacher rapport and foster greater understanding between groups on campus. We have included a few other items to support these efforts. The bungee chairs will add to our reading corner and we will use the button maker to encourage others on campus to read more about the topic, to build bridges and to be an Antiracist.
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