A School Can Be The Change: Teaching Writing with a Social Justice Lens
A School Can Be A Place…
Where literacy is more than just a block in the day. More than the standards, pacing calendars, and assessments we check off. Much more than a means of defining and labeling a child, a teacher, a school.
More than something we do, school can be the place where literacy is a way of living; a means for understanding the world and our place in it, that which shapes perceptions and molds identities.
We do this with words: spoken words, read words, written words — those of our own, those of whom we know, those of whom we do not. School can be a place where words need not live in solitude, nor fear suppression and judgment. Where words do not build walls, rather tear them down through shared pain and triumph.
With words, school can be a place which nurtures identity.
With words, school can be a place where storytelling is a ritual.
With words, school can be a place that empowers all voices.
With words, school can be a place where all are represented.
A School Can Be The Change, If Those Who Lead, Also Learn
Not pictured, alongside each student, is an educator who tried the same kind of work. Alongside each educator is a colleague. They tried the work together.
Together, these colleagues make the community of P.S. 59: a school that truly is a place of great change for adults and children.
The kind of social-comprehension work that is now visible has evolved over years. However, it has grown tremendously following a book study of Sara K. Ahmed’s Being the Change (the most-recent yearly reading gift from administrators Adele Schroeter and Nekia Wise). More than a gift to teachers, Being the Change is a gift to the world. Many of the ideas — identity webs, “Where I’m From” poems, name stories, mini-inquiries and perspective-shifting conversations (to name a few) — portrayed here are anchored in the lessons from Being the Change.
To students, who courageously make yourselves visible; who unfailingly make yourselves heard, thank you. You’re already change-makers in this world.
To colleagues, who generously share your thinking, your stories, your beautiful work, thank you. You are a constant source of inspiration.
To Adele and Nekia, thank you for wholeheartedly listening (the silent force of social justice) to seedlings of change each day.
To Sara, we hope you see your footprint in our school. Thank you for showing us the way.
- This giveaway is for a copy of Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension. Thanks to Heinemann for donating a copy for one reader. (You must have a U.S. mailing address to win a print copy of this book.)
- For a chance to win this copy of Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension, please leave a comment about this or any blog post in this blog series by Sunday, February 3rd at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Betsy Hubbard will use a random number generator to pick the winner’s commenter number. His/her name will be announced in the ICYMI blog post for this series on Monday, February 4th.
- Please leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so Melanie can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, our contact at Heinemann will ship the book to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
- If you are the winner of the book, Betsy will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – BEING THE CHANGE. Please respond to her e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. A new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.