This repost from Teaching Tolerance seemed like a timely reminder. Are your students showing bad behavior… or reacting to traumatic events? Here are some techniques for responding to trauma:
Establish social and emotional safety in your classroom.
Strategies • Classroom contracts • Explicit anti-bullying or community-building curricula • Timely interventions in conflicts and hurtful exchanges • Teaching and modeling of empathy and active listening skills
Create a behavior-management plan that focuses on positive reinforcement.
Strategies • Implement student-generated agreements and contracts • Adopt “zero indifference” (NOT zero-tolerance) policies • Seek out training in restorative justice techniques • Explore stress-management strategies to diffuse tense situations and help students process feelings in the moment • Give students opportunities to demonstrate their strengths
Increase your self-awareness and trauma competency.
Strategies • Seek professional development on working with specific identity groups • Share support resources with other educators • Connect with community organizations • Engage in ongoing self-assessment and reflection on your trauma responsiveness
But despite its violent genesis and primary focus on college students (and above), the syllabus also has a section aimed at school-aged kids.
The creators of the syllabus introduce it like this:
Here is a list of readings that educators can use to broach conversations in the classroom about the horrendous events that unfolded in Charleston, South Carolina on the evening of June 17, 2015. These readings provide valuable information about the history of racial violence in this country and contextualize the history of race relations in South Carolina and the United States in general. They also offer insights on race, racial identities, global white supremacy and black resistance.
The suggested books mostly cover Reconstruction through the Civil Rights era, and they cater to a variety of grade levels and genres.
We invite you to take a look.
Young Reader Resources from the Charleston Syllabus
Here are a few things that we’ve encountered lately that would be great additions to the classroom, whether during Black History Month or at any other time of the year.
The National Museum of African American History & Culture has an interactive online feature, Collection Stories, curated by NMAAHC staff. Staff members choose an area of focus based on items in the museum’s collection. The resulting stories include images of the items, historical discussion, and thoughts from the curator on why these stories are so important to African American history and culture.
We especially enjoyed “Dress for the Occasion,” a story centered around the dress that Carlotta Walls wore when she integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957 as one of the Little Rock Nine. Check it out get a glimpse of the school, her diploma, and the process behind choosing the dress that she wore for that first day of school.
From Smithsonian Education, we’d like to highlight two sets of lesson plans. Both include material appropriate for kindergarteners all the way through high school, available for download as zip files.
The Art and Life of William H. Johnson includes detailed information on how the curriculum meets Visual Art, History, and Language Arts standards. Younger students analyze color choices, subject matter, and older students conduct comparative analysis with works from other artists (including this post’s header image, by Allan Rohan Crite).
Finally, The Blues and Langston Hughes does just what you’d think: compares the poetry of Langston Hughes with blues rhythms, structures, and lyrics that most students are probably already familiar with, whether they know it or not. Younger students write their own simple poems; older students dig into the Smithsonian Folkways’ collection of blues recordings from The Great Migration.
And speaking of Smithsonian Folkways…we have one more recommendation after all. Check out Say It Loud for hours from their collection of African American Spoken Word recordings, whether from Langston Hughes himself, an interview with W.E.B. Du Bois, or a recording of Angela Davis.
The right to public protest is a cornerstone of democracy in the United States, but it’s often presented in the classroom as a historical relic–or an activity solely for adults. Here are some resources that can expose students to this type of activism, both in the past and happening here and now.
Note: resources are grouped by suggested age-level, but may well be appropriate for students of many ages.
For elementary grade students:
Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside, by Kenneth Braswell, as profiled at The Root. Braswell’s book deals with contemporary Black Lives Matter protests as well as previous civil rights protests. Written for kids ages 6-9.
Gwen Gamble had just been released from jail and didn’t want to go back. Shortly before the crusade, the teenager had been arrested for participating in a lunch-counter sit-in and jailed for five days. “We were put in with people who had actually broken the law. It was scary. They weren’t nice,” says Gamble, who was 15.
She and her two sisters were trained by the movement to be recruiters for the Children’s Crusade. On the first day of the march, they went to several schools and gave students the cue to leave. They then made their way to 16th Street Baptist.
“We left the church with our picket signs and our walking shoes,” says Gamble. “Some of us even had on our rain coats because we knew that we were going to be hosed down by the water hoses.”
More information on the Children’s Crusade appropriate for middle and high school students can be found at Stanford’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Encyclopedia.
Despite warnings from teachers that there could be consequences for ditching class, students said they were proud to stand up for their beliefs.
Yesenia Flores, 15, a sophomore at Roosevelt High, held a sign: “Trump makes us fear for our lives.”
“All I’ve wanted to do is make my parents proud,” she said. “I can’t make my parents proud if they’re not here.”
Blanca Villaseor, a sophomore at Collegiate Charter High, said she was protesting the president-elect on behalf of her parents. The sign she was holding read: “Latinos contra Trump” — Spanish for Latinos against Trump.
Suzanne Rueda, 15, a sophomore at the downtown Ramon Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, said she’d been protesting since the day after the election. As of Monday, she hadn’t been reprimanded for missing class, but she said she’d heard an announcement that morning over the school intercom that students who missed school could be suspended. She thought that was misguided.
“It feels like we’re leading ourselves,” she said. “We can’t vote. This is all we can do.”
The public radio show “On Being” curates a series of interviews premised on the idea that people with opposing viewpoints can communicate calmly with one another. The series, called The Civil Conversations Project, aims to provide “tools and resources for renewing civic discourse at every level and nourishing common life.” It features audio, transcripts, writing, and activity guides appropriate for high school students and beyond.
Students can to listen to inspiring conversations between, say, opponents and proponents of gay marriage or abortion rights. Or they can try their hand at cultivating conversation among classmates or community members who come at issues relating to race, religion, economics, and the environment from differing or opposing perspectives.
The Civil Conversations Project (CCP) is an open, ongoing conversation offering tools and resources for renewing civic discourse at every level and nourishing common life.
From the National World War II Museum, this is a 9-12 grade curriculum that includes readings on the Bill of Rights and Japanese internment camps in order to help students analyze how and why internment was a violation of multiple Constitutional Amendments. The curriculum also contains some detailed enrichment activities as possible extensions.
The Library of Congress created this 5-8th grade curriculum. It is spread across multiple links and includes primary sources, such as photographs and online exhibits. Some of the student primary source framing material is basic, but it can be applied to a variety of documents. The writing that students are asked to do is varied, including creating a two-voice poem and newspaper article.
The curriculum is available via a series of links. Notable is the tool that allows teachers to search Common Core and other state education standards to check alignment.
While the educators’ material isn’t ready yet, I’m posting this in hopes that it will be soon! This is actor George Takei’s passion project, a musical based on his family’s experience in internment camps during World War II.
A sample lesson plan for middle school through community college students
Students will work together to communicate their opinion on an important issue with their senators and congressperson.
Students will think and talk about congressional districts and how they come to exist.
House of Representatives
If students will not have access to research tools, ID local and state representatives and have their contact information ready to share.
Using the US Census site, prepare to display your state or regions’ map of congressional districting lines.
Decide how best to group students—preselected groups, self-chosen groups, etc. You might also choose to group students whom you know live in the same area (i.e., will have the same representatives).
ID the roles that you’ll use with your students. Be mindful that students’ citizenship or immigration statuses could impact how comfortable they are taking certain roles or giving their names to representatives.
Decide whether students will be contacting their representatives about issues of their own or whether the class will focus on one or two issues in particular.
Come up with a method for calling or writing representatives that will work with your students. You might have them make calls during class time using a school phone, for example, or they may be responsible for emailing representatives out of class.
Good news! There’s something really easy that you can do, that we can all do: call your two Senators and your Representative’s offices and tell them to publicly and vigorously oppose the appointment. Don’t email. Don’t tweet. Don’t fill out the online form. Call. Calling works best. Especially if a lot of us do it.
Gabriel Stein has written a quick, easy guide to calling your representatives. Students can do it too! Congresspeople and senators are constitutionally mandated to represent the people in their district, not just eligible voters.
Next post, an example lesson plan for one way to integrate this kind of outreach into a classroom.