Each and Every Child: Teaching Preschool with an Equity Lens Reflections, Part 3 – Developing a Strengths-Based Approach When Teaching Black Boys 8/11/2020
As a group, these were our reflections on this segment of the book:
1. What information from this week's reading have you used in your practice?
-looking for strengths in the children – were they communicating something with their behaviors, are the teachers taking time to be reflective or just jumping in to stop an unwanted behavior? Using intentional teaching and building relationships.
-Our conversation turned to how Covid is showing a lot of issue with equity. Some families can afford to have their school-age children in child care or pods when they can't be in school, but that is not something available to all families. For children with special needs, they are not all receiving the services they qualify for and need. Some families to do not have the ability to go online to inform schools that they do not have access to Wi-Fi. There seems to be a "schools vs. child care" situation, as discussed in this article in the New York Times. To summarize Ibram X. Kendi, we need to stop talking about the achievement gap and start talking about the opportunity gap. In addition to the documentary No Small Matter, there is a new documentary about "Reimagining Education in America" called Starting at Zero.
In addition, we have all found it important to build relationships with the individual children and their families. One group member shared how during center tours, she would ask parents what their child's super power was (How do you see your child?). Relationships help build experiences that are more meaningful and give you a better understanding of appropriate expectations. Other members of the group have used visual tools.
2. We discussed the word "verve" and how we can include it in our programs. This led to a discussion on being advocates for children and speaking out when others in the program are not reflective in their practices and don't notice the biases that are present. One group member mentioned A Chance in The World as a resource. The conversation continued with the thought that sometimes teachers have their own agendas they are trying to meet and may unintentionally disregard what the children truly need and that we should work to do what will bring each child to their own highest level – having an "absolute intentional regard" for children and seeing them in the purest light we can. Maya Angelou's quote about children seeing adult faces light up when they enter a room was mentioned. Oftentimes, teachers use words such as hyperactive when they could use the word "verve" instead. We need to reframe how we are looking at children.
3. We discussed the story of Hakeem on page 71 and our similar experiences. One group member shared that there was a local program that provided teacher:child interaction training and parent:child interaction training for children with extreme challenging behaviors. We talked about how some Zero Tolerance policies may force conversations to happen and that social work and the field of ECE intersect. In addition, we talked about the School to Prison Pipeline and that children should not always have to hear "no", causing them to receive the message that they are always doing something wrong. As teachers, we need to be sensitive to the children's needs, and our own biases, and we need to work through the challenges that children face. We need to teach social skills instead of focusing on the "no". We need to be aware of the power that labels have over children. The book Raising Lions was mentioned as a resource.
4. We discussed how to make our programs more welcoming for Black boys. Ideas shared were to find someone who can speak their language when they first begin in the program, help them find positions of leadership within the setting (strengths-based). For example, a child who likes to run could be the leader of the "running club". Encourage staff to ask themselves "How do I support him?" instead of asking "What am I going to do with him?" Provide access to people who look like and talk like them. Fill your classroom with diverse photos, diverse books, photos of the children enrolled and their families. Have the difficult conversations, don't just check a box saying your classroom has the diverse materials. Integrate these conversations into day to day practice, don't wait for there to be an issue. The book You Can't Celebrate That" was mentioned as a resource.
5. In closing, Maya Angelou was mentioned again in reference to doing better when you know better.
Multicultural Literature: https://www.readingrockets.org/teaching/experts/rudine-sims-bishop (providing Windows, Mirrors and Sliding Glass Doors)
You Can't Celebrate That!: Navigating the Deep Waters of Social Justice Teaching by Nadia Jaboneta https://www.redleafpress.org/You-Cant-Celebrate-That-Navigating-the-Deep-Waters-of-Social-Justice-Teaching-P2497.aspx
Raising Lions: The Art of Compassionate Discipline by Joe Newman http://www.raisinglions.com/raising-lions-method-bio
A Chance in the World by Steve Pemberton https://www.stevepemberton.io/book
Why Are Child Care Programs Open When Schools Are Not? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/parenting/schools-day-care-children-divide.html?auth=login-email&campaign_id=118&emc=edit_ptg_20200808&instance_id=21095&login=email&nl=nyt-parenting®i_id=95722728&segment_id=35608&te=1&user_id=ab89ca0bc1a06430d84f1eda7ecd2539&fbclid=IwAR1hJi09HTW4VOUSLds5zBpEuFkILv5PV5qmKbpGm0qu2Gf2bKt0odX0Z7Y
No Small Matter https://www.nosmallmatter.com/
Starting at Zero: Reimagining Education in America https://startingatzerofilm.com/