Friday, October 4, 2019

Validating Students of Color: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers

Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.Welcome to day one of "It's Time to Talk Racism: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers".

A free download at the bottom of this post will help you get to know your students, too!

Today, guest blogger Stephanie Reyna, an elementary school counselor, will share her reflections and next steps for getting to know students in order to show that they are valued.

A challenge to do better: A school counselor's reflections on how to validate students of color

Who am I?
My name is Stephanie Reyna, pronouns she/her/hers. I am a school counselor in Texas, and I have my own family of four.

I have lived in Texas most of my life and consider El Paso, TX to be my home.

Most importantly, that is where my famous sister-in-law lives, also one of my closest friends. Chrissy, of course! Or, as you know her, Buzzing with Ms. B.  I am grateful for her invitation to share my experience. Please, in remembrance of the lives lost on August 3rd, share Chrissy’s 22 days anti-racist education to others. El Paso Strong.

So, this happened...
Elementary school counselors can have 200 to 800 students. That is the reality of Texas. I am one of the lucky ones; my student population is on the lower end. Even so, connecting with them on any substantive level is challenging.

Can you remember 300 hundred names by the first two months of school? I try, but I make mistakes. I made a big one recently, and after I told myself I would do better.

Just when I think, "I got this. Yeah, I am anti-racist. I feel proud to stand up for something bigger than myself; for those who need their voices lifted." Then, like a slap in the face, I realized something.  

My actions may have caused harm to a student of color. 

Here's what happened: I got a child’s name wrong.  

I didn’t know it was incorrect, and I continued to call this child by a name that was not theirs, for days. I even said the wrong name in front of their parents. A few days after that, I was teaching in this child’s class and I made the realization that I was calling the child by the wrong name. I immediately apologized and felt this tremendous guilt. I asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?” 

The student looked at me with a smile and said, “That’s ok.” I stood there perplexed and speechless for a good few seconds, and then this rush of sensation flooded my face.

I held back tears, swallowed, looked them in the eye and said, “No, it is not ok. I am so sorry. And you know what? I am going to do better. I want to get to know you. And I am glad I am here with you.” They smiled, and accepted.

Causing harm
These are questions that I asked myself: Would I have forgotten their name had they been white? Or more Americanized? Or more like me? Or more connected to my ethnicity? What could I have done to get to know them? Connect with them? Understand them? Remember the most basic of things; their name?

They were questions that didn’t necessarily have an answer, but I made myself reflect on them.

Why is this significant?   
Forgetting a name happens. Right?

Yes. But what kind of message does it send a student of color? "I am not heard. My existence is not acknowledged or validated. My experience is not recognized and remembered by those that are supposed to care about me, the ones that say they have my best interest in mind."

Children of color may internalize that they are not valued, or that they should not speak up in the school system. Potentially, this can lead to appeasement and silence. We must empower our students of color and believe in them. I challenge myself to make a better effort to learn my students' stories, so I don’t forget their name, and I send the message that I hear them. They are valued.

First comes connection, which leads to empathy and compassion. And of course, getting a student’s name right!

If you really get to know someone, you are not going to forget their name.  

 
  

What can you do?
Here is  a list of meaningful “getting-to-know you questions” that can be used with teachers, staff, and students.  You can use them throughout the year to connect and re-connect.  Have students share their responses with you and each other. 

These questions can be used with older students.
    Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.
  • What is your name? How did you get your name?  Did you parents or family choose it?  Why?
  • Where do you call home? What makes this home?
  • What’s an adjective you would use to describe yourself? Why did you choose that adjective?
  • Describe a part of your identity you are proud of.
  • Tell me something others would find interesting or unexpected.
  • How has a specific aspect of your identity that has affected your life? (age, gender, race, ethnicity)  *You can use framework linked below.
  • What is a value or belief that you grew up with in your household?
All of the questions above can be adapted and scaffolded for students. Drawing and play can be better outlets for children to express their inner-world and lead to conversations about themselves and their families. 




Here are some questions and activities you can use with younger students. 
    Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.
  • Draw yourself. What do you like about yourself?
  • Draw your home. Draw your family. (Have students share with each other and the class).
  • Draw what meal-time looks like at your home. Who is there? What is there? What do you do?
  • Draw what your weekend looks like. What do you do?
  • Draw the people who are the most important in your life.
  • Put students into small groups. Give students an opportunity to pretend they are in their favorite place. (Props optional).
  • Give students a varied amount of toys and have them pretend they are with their friends and family. Invite them to share what they pretended to do.  
Feel free to add to this list of ideas. I would love to get to know you. In the comments below tell me about yourself. Or answer one of the questions from the list.  :-)

The Lesson
Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.The Day You Begin is a beautiful book to encourage to students to share their own stories and to learn about others by listening to their stories. 

Don't have it at your school or in your library? Here's a video of the book being read aloud!

After you read the book aloud, you can begin sharing about yourself using the questions above. You can also use this free download to share about yourself! 

It includes three different levels so students can respond appropriately: a one-page graphic organizer for upper elementary students, a booklet with pictures and lines for writing, and a booklet with pictures only.

Fill out the details about yourself and share them with students. Then have students fill out their own information to share with you.


Getting to know your students meaningfully is the first step towards showing them that they are valued and empowered. 



Keep Learning!
ADDRESSING Framework

Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.




Guest blogger Stephanie Reyna is an elementary school counselor in Texas.

*Details of personal stories have been altered for confidentiality purposes. 


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