The importance of using aspects identity to create community during CREW is becoming even more critical as the school year ends. I notice the identity conflicts are arising with our sixth grade students. They are displaying very inappropriate behavior toward each other. They criticize the appearance of others, their family backgrounds, and even their socio-economic status. The girls in this grade are forming groups based on certain characteristics and are harassing others who may appear different from the “in group”. The name-calling and racial slurs to each other have been increasing and it is influencing the learning of specific students, especially the students who have disabilities and/ or whose religious beliefs or cultural backgrounds are different. My Assistant Principal assures me this is just a phase that this age encounters, and they will be friends in about two years.
My goal for the unit changed slightly from when we started the seminar. My original idea was more focused on inclusion and embracing one’s given identity (mainly race or background). However, as we continue to read and discuss issues regarding identity, my learning goal for my students’ has changed. At the end, my desire for my students is not only to recognize their identity but also to truly understand the factors that influenced or shaped the formation of it and to accept and celebrate it, instead of denying it. I want students to think about the characters they read in literature as a way to understand themselves. My goal is not to convince my students to have a specific opinion or conclusion about their identity or others, but to acknowledge and celebrate differences among all identities.
As I reflect in my own viewpoints regarding identity, I can honestly say there have been changes in how I view certain situations. Attending and participating in this seminar has helped and is helping me think about how I interpret situations. It is clear our beliefs and sense of identity shape how we think about and react to situations. However, I have also learned it is important to think about the identities or values of others as well. As I have learned in this seminar, I want to inspire my students to think about their own ethics or values and how it influences their formation of identities and perceptions of others as well.