The Whole Child

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A Covenant for Honouring Children

By Raffi

“We find these joys to be self-evident: That all children are created whole, endowed with innate intelligence, with dignity and wonder, worthy of respect. The embodiment of life, liberty and happiness, children are original blessings, here to learn their own song. Every girl and boy is entitled to love, to dream and belong to a loving “village.” And to pursue a life of purpose”

Child Honouring Principles

  • Respectful love
  • Diversity: “is about abundance: of human dreams, intelligences, cultures, and cosmologies; of earthly splendors and ecosystems. Introducing children to biodiversity and human diversity at an early age builds on their innate curiosity. There’s a world of natural wonders to discover, and a wealth of cultures, of ways to be human. Comforted by how much we share, were able to delight in our differences.”
  • Caring Community
  • Conscious parenting
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Nonviolence
  • Safe Environments
  • Sustainability
  • Ethical Commerce

To read more in detail as to what each principal means look at: http://www.childhonouring.org/whatwedo.html

 

 

What Makes a Family?

 

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http://www.tolerance.org/lesson/what-makes-family

I really love this lesson plan; I believe that it brings up a great topic that engages all students because all students can relate to this topic. I have found in my own teachings that it is all too common to just assume that a child has a mom and a dad and make assumptions. By opening up this conversation students are given a space to not only gain language to talk about this but also a chance to learn about their fellow classmates. I found the videos that are included are a bit outdated but are very rich in information. This lesson plan encourages students to reflect on their home and consider and think about others family’s configurations. It is helping students see similarities and differences between themselves and other students. I learned a phrase from my boss and mentor, “we are all the same, and we are all different” the idea being to encourage students to notice and accept similarities and differences and celebrate them. I worked with 4-6 year olds at an amazing summer program where we might say, “see we all have hair, but my hair is dark brown and long, where your hair is blond and short. We are the same because we both have hair but the color and length is different.” Little things like this begin the dialogue to notice that we have so many similarities and so many differences. I find it really important to help children notice them, but also to celebrate them. I was also really impressed that this lesson plan included teaching how to give constructive feedback. This is a great skill that students will need for the rest of their life. This also could also be a great time to include ideas of how to receive feedback. This skill can be a much harder task, but is great to start learning at a young age.

Lastly I was really impressed when the lesson plan said, “as a class determine a criteria or rubric for a successful presentation” this is an amazing way to get students involved in the assessment process, it gives them authority to choose what they find most important and makes for a very democratic learning classroom.

Differing Abilities

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Check out the lesson plant at:http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-47-summer-2014/feature/beautiful-differences

This lesson plan is really important to my studies. I really appreciate how this lesson focuses on having student explore and learning some of the difficulties that people with differing abilities face. The lesson plan articulates a really important point: “be sure to explain to each group that you are not expecting them to know everything about the disability or to become experts or representatives; rather, you are asking them to try to put themselves in the shoes of someone experiencing life with this disability.” This is essential, it is not about becoming an expert or thinking that they know everything about the disability, but just exploring some of the hurdles people with disabilities face everyday.

I found it to particularly interesting that the students are asked to come up with ways in which the world could change to make it more accessible for people with physical disabilities. I think that it’s really good for young students to be thinking about solutions and actions that could be taken to make life more accessible.

~Poetry~

I found a beautiful book of poetry called Beauty is a Verb the new poetry of disability edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black and Michael Northen. Here are two poems that I felt spoke to many.

 

Poems with Disabilities

by Jim Ferris

I’m Sorry—this space is reserved

for poems with disabilities. I know

it’s one of the best spaces in the book,

but the Poems with Disabilities Act

requires us to make all reasonable

accommodations for poems that aren’t

normal. There is a nice space just

a few pages over—in fact (don’t

tell anyone) I think it’s better

then this one, I myself prefer it.

Actually I don’t see any of those

Poems right now myself, but you never know

when one might show up, so we have to keep

this space open. You can’t always tell

just from looking at them either, Sometimes

they’ll look just like a regular poem

when they roll in…you’re reading along

and suddenly everything

changes, the world tilts

a little, angle of vision

jumps, your entrails aren’t

where you left them. You

remember your aunt died

of cancer at just your age

and maybe yesterday’s twinge means

something after all. Your sloppy,

fragile heart beats

a little faster

 

Telling

by Laura Hershey

What you risk telling your story:

You will bore them.

Your voice will break, your ink will

spill and stain your coat.

No one will understand, their eyes

become fences.

You will park yourself forever

on the outside, your differentness once

and for all revealed, dangerous,

the names you five to yourself

will become epithets.

Your happiness will be called

bravery, denial.

Your sadness will justify their pity.

Your fear will magnify their fears.

Everything you say will prove something about

their god, or their economic system.

Your feeling, that change day

to day, kaleidoscopic,

will freeze in place,

brand you forever,

justify anything they decide to do

with you.

Those with power can afford

to tell their story

or not.

Those without power

risk everything to tell their story

and must.

 

 

The Election: What should we tell our children?

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This is an article that addresses how to talk to children about the election that does a good job of honoring the democratic process and assuring students that they are valued. This amazing article that begins with a question from a principal “What should I say to my students after the election if Trump wins?” The author Ali Michael discusses that first we will protect them. Second “that you will honor the outcome of the election, but that you will fight bigotry.” Third teach them “how to be responsible members of a civic society.” “Finally, remind them ― to ease their minds ― that not everyone who voted for Donald Trump did so because they believe the bigoted things that he has said this year. Many of them voted for him because they feel frustrated with the economy, they feel socially left behind, and they are exercising the one power they have.” Michael also says, “we need to teach students how to disagree—with love and respect.” The article addresses the fear that students may be feeling that they will be directly affected by the results of this election. Michael says, “Tell them you won’t let anyone hurt them or deport them or threaten them without having to contend with you first. Say that you will stand united as a school community, and that you will protect one another.” This article brings attention to the many concerns that other teachers and parents might face in the upcoming days, this article articulates many issues beautifully and provides a healthy way of moving forward from these results.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-should-we-tell-the-children_us_5822aa90e4b0334571e0a30b

Upon reading this article I called my mom, she is a high school teacher in Santa Cruz California where she told me that she was forwarded a letter from the police chief. The letter was addressing that students at a local middle school concern that police and people in uniform might come by school and deport undocumented students. In the letter the police addressed the concern expressed and stated what the local law enforcement abide by. This was to help ensure that students felt safer and understood that they would be safe when they were at school. I find it so amazing that a community can come together and show so much support and concern. It shows and articulates so much that was said in the article “we will protect them” the police chief is showing how he and the other people in uniform are going to protect the students, making school a safe learning environment.

http://www.mindfulschools.org/personal-practice/election-and-mindfulness/

This article talks about the election and the results and techniques and thinks to keep in mind relating to mindfulness. I found this article to be helpful in keeping me centered through a time where I feel very vulnerable and disjointed.

Mo’ne Davis: Throw Like A Girl (Documentary)

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In this short documentary it is a perfect example of how youth are stepping out of the box and moving away from trying to fit into our societies stereotypes and create their own identity. Mo’ne is a perfect example she is a 13-year-old girl who is a badass baseball, basketball and all around sports player. At one point in the documentary a speaker describes a scene: “Two boys throwing a ball together, one of them say I’m Mo’ne and then the other is like no, I’m Mo’ne. We all know that the girls aspire to be Mo’ne but here are two boys talking about what it is to be Mo’ne and to perform at that level, I was so surprised and tickled by that.” Here the idea that is being brought up and taught is that women and girls are people to look up to no matter what your gender identity is. The main theme of this documentary is debunking and disassembling this idea that “throwing like a girl” should have a weak, or negative connotation. It is showing that women are strong, intelligent, human beings and should be treated in such a manner. Another woman talked about this: “I think that girls identities especially when they hit the age of twelve or thirteen, and how they see themselves is based on how others see them, the phrase is ‘throw like a girl’ and this belief that doing anything like a girl is less than or not as strong or not as smart or not as far” this beautifully shows the message being conveyed through this documentary. Mo’ne flips the whole phrase around – ‘throw like a girl’. She is an icon for power and girlhood/girl power. Mo’ne ends with a spoken monologue where she says, “go for it, do what ever you want to do no matter if you are a girl or a boy, just go out and do it” and then continues, “I throw 70 mph, that’s throwing like a girl, sincerely Mo’ne Davis.”

This would be an amazing tool to use in the classroom to convey this horrible stereotype of girls and women and the roles that they/we are supposed to play and how we are supposed to do womanly duties and that sports are not for women. This is an amazing example of a young girl writing history and working hard to change that stereotype and change the way other people view women with strength and power. https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2014/11/26/mone-davis-throw-like-a-girl

Another powerful movie that is very connected to this documentary and also speaks on issues of women’s rights especially within sports is A League Of Their Own, here is a link to the trailer:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcN392H2jx0

Name Calling in Presidential Campaign

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This article called Name-Calling on the Campaign Trail and in the Schoolyard draws on the connection that we have seen in this presidential campaign and what we see on the playground at schools. This article addresses these issues at hand and poses that educators utilize this moment and make it a teaching opportunity. The article is showing that educators can take the names and the language that has been used via media toward the opponent and create dialogue and discussion about what name calling does, and what impact is has.

http://blog.adl.org/education/name-calling-on-the-campaign-trail-and-in-the-schoolyard

The article also touches on empathetic teachings; I have attached another article called mindfulness and empathy by Mindful Schools.

http://www.mindfulschools.org/foundational-concepts/mindfulness-and-empathy/

Mindful Schools has many great resources for teaching/incorporating mindfulness into the classroom. I will be exporting more of their resources in the future.

The Peace Library (Book Reference)

“Books for a Peaceful Community: The Children’s Peace Education and Anti-bias Library”

This is an amazing resource that I found that provides a database for finding books that teach children messages of peace and inclusion for all. As I was looking at their website I found the different parts that they want to be evident in the books that they have in this library and ideas that are important in Peace Education Curriculum. They are listed below:

•    Knowledge of Self & Connection to Others

•    Joy in Diversity

•    Creative Conflict Resolution & Sense of Justice

•    Imagination & Playfulness

•    Care & Love of Nature

•    Global Awareness

To find out more information about this project or to find books that teach these concepts check out their website http://www.childpeacebooks.org/cpb/index.php

 

Starting Small (Book Reference)

Here is another reference for educators to find children’s literature that can help teach ideas of anti-bias curriculum along with ideas of inclusion.

This is a book that Teaching Tolerance A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center produced to assist parents and teachers to teach concepts of tolerance. Teaching Tolerance’s main idea is to “provide teachers with resources and ideas to help promote harmony in the classroom.” In the back of this book they have a section called “Bookshelf” that has a complication of books relating to themes such as:

  • Racial and Ethnic diversity
  • Families
  • Ability Differences
  • Getting Along
  • Dealing with Feelings
  • Developing Values
  • Hands, Ears and Eyes on

This is a great resource guide to help build curriculum that teaches tolerance and inclusion that is combined with literature that supports and fosters life long learners.

http://www.tolerance.org/sites/default/files/kits/Teachers_Study_Guide.pdf

Teaching for Change (Book Reference)

I found a website that essentially is a group of educators who have compiled and continue to research books that highlight “people of color as well as social just themes” for people of all ages. Here are some of Teaching for Change’s mottos:

“Teaching for Change is proud to offer a diverse selection of titles that encourage children and adults to question, challenge, and re-think the world beyond the headlines.”

“Unfortunately, our collection runs counter the industry norm. In the last 10 years, fewer than 10% of children’s books published in the U.S. were by or about people of color. In our Teaching for Change Bookstore, about 85% of children’s books sold are by or about people of color.”

When exploring their website it was super easy to look up children’s literature that pertains to a specific category or theme. Like saying if you wanted to find a book that talked about Asian heritage or culture you could look under that category and finding a whole list of books that fit their requirements. Some of their other themes include: Africa, Afro-Latino, American Indians, Anti-Bias Education, Arab and Arab-Americans, Asian Americans, Black History, Board Books, Central America, Civil Rights Movement, Cuba, Different Abilities, Dominican Republic, Economic Class, Education, El Salvador, Environment/Climate Justice, Freedom Schools, Families, Gender Identity, Grandparents and Elders, Graphic Novels, Haiti, Holidays, Immigration, Labor, Latino and Latin America, LGBTQ, Malcolm X, Music, New, Organizing, Palestine, People’s History, Poetry, Race and Education, Read Aloud, Selma, Slavery and Resistance, SNCC, Spanish/Bilingual, Sports, War and Peace, Washington D.C., women Children and Young Adults, Women-Adult Fiction and nonfiction, White Identity, and age groups.

This is the way in which they choose what books are on their website and in their book store:

“We carefully select titles to ensure access to:

  • Progressive politics, poetry and literature
  • Young adult fiction with real-world themes
  • Multicultural titles for pre-K-12 teachers and parents
  • Independent publishers

Works detailing a “people’s history” – including that of African Americans, Latinos/as, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, Native Americans, labor activists, international populations, and women.”

http://www.tfcbooks.org