Everyone wants to belong. As educators, we not only have the task of educating students, but also the responsibility of creating an environment that is inclusive of young people with different ethnic backgrounds, languages, values, socio-economic and academic levels.
When I moved to a new school in the late ‘90s, one of the first things my new principal told me was that there was a lot of racial tension at our school. Our school included African American, Hmong, Latino, Pacific Islander and White students. I was told that recent conflicts in the neighborhood created an atmosphere of distrust on our campus.
Project Showcases are one of my favorite events in schools. The showcase is the culmination of a unit where students learn deeply and present their understanding in a variety of interesting and creative ways. Families and community members get to listen, ask questions, encourage, and learn. I’ve seen hundreds of student presentations over the years, but there are a few presentations that, in my opinion, were extraordinary. The students described below were incredibly knowledgeable but it was the way they presented that made a lasting impression.
All I Heard Was Crickets I was excited about the lesson I designed for my classroom observation. Students were going to make predictions about a text we were going to read as a whole class. What could be more exciting? I projected a covered image and slowly revealed partial images of the picture. Students were asked to make predictions about the picture.
My mentor walked into my classroom in the middle of the school year and asked, "What happened?" She was referring to the classroom climate that had clearly eroded. I was frustrated and angry about student behavior. She pointed out that my class was not the upbeat, positive place she witnessed in September.