The school where I teach is a relatively high-preforming PreK-8th Grade Magnet School. The school is predominantly Black and Latino students, with a few Asian Americans, Caucasians and religiously diverse students. Many of our students have parents that are immigrants, and some are immigrants themselves. Our school celebrates its diversity through the magnet themes of “exploration and innovation.” Our lessons and curriculum are expected to exemplify hands-on and student-directed learning. Our students are expected to learn through curiosity an intrigue in order to inspire them to always further explore new ideas and innovate them in the ever-changing world. Many of our students have never left New Haven, and almost none have traveled far due to economic restrictions. Our students crave and become extremely engaged in hands-on situations, and when visiting places inside and outside of their city. The majority of the literature they are exposed to comes from school, so I would like to provide them with a vast array of types of literature through this unit.
Almost all of our students have experienced a traumatic event in their early lives. Many of our students have chronic behavior problems as a result of this. This is the very reason that inspiring our children to love learning, to find truths and to seek justice is crucial to their success. Many of our students were not exposed to anything educational or literary until their first days in Kindergarten. Some students have witnessed violence, death, extreme poverty, and crime. Many have witnessed both the American Justice System and the Department of Child and Family Services at work. Some are homeless while others lack familial or parental presence. These conditions make identity establishment particularly confusing and difficult, especially if families are not supportive or present a lot of the time. Many of these students cannot find an identity, or would even know how to verbalize a need for one. Helping students to find their voices and their expression is a tenuous and meticulous process full of failures and lack of connection. Our school does not contain the resources to help many of these children within our walls, leaving many children completely lost.
Luckily, our teachers and staff alike are a highly dedicated and caring team of individuals. We as a staff feel that once we can engage our students in learning, we can launch them into caring about something, or about finding a way to express who they are. This unit will provide the means and resources to connect our students to others who have experienced what they have experienced emotionally and physically. That is the beauty of literature: so many of us can relate and connect and find solace in the mutually experienced feelings of complete strangers.