A specific tension I find in my classroom and others, since the very theme and framework in our school elicits conversations in race, identity, and society, at times, especially in the lower grade, tensions arise due to the subject matter. From class to class, both students and teachers operate on different definitions and understandings of race, power and identity. This has adverse effects, and definitely an area of growth in my own practice, as well as my school as a whole.
In the time of social media, more than ever, there is an urgent need for students to have platforms to express themselves, and engage in work of self-discovery, identity exploration, and learning from each other. On top of this, there is also an opportunity gap. There is a wide disparity between our district, our black and brown students, and their white counterparts from neighboring affluent communities. We are a district heavily grounded by test scores and data, yet especially with the current move, increasing the caseload to social workers and school psychologists, there is a severe need for authentic social emotional learning and spaces where this can occur. This unit and approach builds community, allowing our students of color to explore and express themselves through shared language, while simultaneously bolstering their reading and writing skills, addressing the disparity in test scores.