by Jonna Kuskey
The pandemic laid bare what has for years been very apparent to those of us in the education system: society is reliant upon schools to take care of more than children’s educational needs. School is a lifeline, a stabilizing force that provides boundaries, routine, sustenance, safety, security, love.
As such, school is one major provider in children’s lives of their basic physical and psychological needs—food, safety, a sense of belonging. According to American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943), these fundamental physical and psychological needs must be met before the ones that as educators we aim to nurture—a sense of self-esteem, accomplishment, and fulfillment of personal potential—can be addressed.
Continue reading “Pandemic Reflections: School and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs “
2022 saw teachers and students alike adjusting to a “new normal.” As the dust settles on the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns, many educators have found themselves facing new quandaries: How do we address the inequities that were exposed and heightened by the pandemic? How can we help students “catch up” scholastically, socially, and emotionally when they’ve spent formative years in a state of lockdown? Can things really go back to normal? Should they? Below are five popular posts from 2022 addressing these and other important and timely concerns from educators.
Continue reading “2022 in Review”
by Kyleen Gray
I have heard many people speak of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand that humans have a wonderful tendency to try to see the good in terrible experiences, but in reflecting on the pandemic I just can’t seem to find much good to mull over. What does come to mind are the cracks in our educational systems that the pandemic uncovered, revealing how fragile our carefully constructed systems really are. We must identify these cracks, acknowledge that they could reopen, and attempt to patch them before another crisis occurs.
Continue reading “Pandemic Reflections: Sealing the Cracks “
by Vernita Mayfield
“There’s a fight in the girl’s bathroom!” As a middle school administrator, I knew all too well the urgency of this frantic call. I dropped the basketball mid-game and raced toward the restroom. The assistant principal, already on the scene when I arrived, had the situation well under control with both girls spraddled, tearful, and breathless on opposite ends of the bathroom. I breathed a sigh of relief. A squabble over “talking stuff” had somehow escalated to a physical altercation that could have resulted in serious harm to one or both fighters as one of the participants wielded faux fingernails sharpened like blades. But the assistant principal had used her professional skills, personal relationships with the students, and “teacher voice” to dismantle and deescalate an otherwise volatile situation. More to the point, absolutely no one was shot or killed in the process. This conflict was deescalated without a single weapon discharged—an outcome that happens in schools across the nation.
Continue reading “A Fight Worth Fighting: Use Your Skills to Address Systemic Racism”
This post is an excerpt from Alex Shevrin Venet’s new book, Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education (W. W. Norton).
Once students have experienced trauma, how is their access to and experience of their education affected? Based on what we know about how trauma impacts student learning, we can see that school isn’t equitable for trauma-affected students. Schools can be indifferent to how trauma affects children, even outright retraumatizing and harmful. If we want school to be equitable for students who have experienced trauma, we need to rethink how common practices in schools are failing our trauma-affected students.
Continue reading “School Isn’t Equitable for Trauma-Affected Students”
By Noreen Naseem Rodríguez and Katy Swalwell
This week, K-12Talk presents the second of a two-part excerpt from a forthcoming book by social studies educators Noreen Naseem Rodríguez and Katy Swalwell, Social Studies for a Better World: An Anti-Oppressive Approach for Elementary Educators, part of the Norton Series on Equity and Social Justice in Education. In this second excerpt, the authors provide creative solutions for teaching the painful history of slavery to young learners without reproducing trauma.
Continue reading “Teaching Young Learners About Slavery, Part II”
By Noreen Naseem Rodríguez and Katy Swalwell
At a time in our nation’s history when systemic racism is a focal point of increasingly volatile political and societal divisions, it is more important than ever to think deeply about how Black History Month is celebrated in our classrooms. To further that conversation, K-12Talk is pleased to offer a two-part excerpt on the blog this week and next, from a forthcoming book by social studies educators Noreen Naseem Rodríguez and Katy Swalwell, Social Studies for a Better World: An Anti-Oppressive Approach for Elementary Educators, part of the Norton Series on Equity and Social Justice in Education. In this first excerpt, the authors explain how teaching the painful history of the enslavement of Black Americans–so often a central part of the social studies curriculum in February–is important and necessary but must be handled with extreme care to avoid retraumatizing BIPOC students.
Continue reading “Teaching Young Learners about Slavery, Part I”
By Lorena Germán
Social justice is not a book that you teach. It is not a unit you explore with students. It is not a week-long, school-wide celebration during which you acknowledge diversity. These are all too often superficial attempts at having in-depth conversations that require nuance, time, and pause. While well-intentioned, this type of teaching may lead educators to think they’ve done the work because they spent an hour or day teaching one idea in a one-dimensional way. However, social justice is not a topic or a content area, but an ongoing action and fight for a better quality of life for all. Therefore, it requires actionable and tangible steps.
Continue reading “Teaching for Social Justice”
By Debbie Zacarian and Becki Cohn-Vargas
As one school year ends and we plan for the next, we see the glaring inequities that the pandemic has amplified, and we recognize that steps must be taken to address them. Beyond adopting new guidelines for hygiene and reducing our schools’ exposure to potential infection, it’s urgent that we focus as much if not more attention to an inclusive paradigm of schooling. This calls for a renewed focus on the global wellbeing of students. We propose four guiding principles:
Continue reading “As Schools Reopen, A New Inclusive Paradigm is Needed”
We have all heard that collaborating is an opportunity to stretch our thinking by hearing what others have to say, or have read, or are reading on a topic that we are exploring. That is what is occurring as I co-write a book with Ivannia Soto; I am learning about resources from my writing partner, in addition to reading what she has to say, and the combination makes collaborating a powerful experience. One book Ivannia recommended is Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race. A self-proclaimed “internet yeller,” Oluo brings a fresh, current, and serious look at racism in ways that are on the one hand personal and on the other generalizable. She helps us to see, in today’s climate, how it comes in many subtle, but no less-damaging forms than overt racism.
Continue reading “Summer Reading: Learning About Race”