I can talk about race in the classroom

Over the last few months I have been researching and designing a unit that any parent, volunteer or teacher could use in an elementary school classroom to foster a race positive environment that enhances the cultural competence of the group. I have been collaborating with Sam’s 3rd grade teacher, who opened her doors wide to the offer after I had been volunteering all year-once a week during math (of all things-not my forte). After building relationships with the students, and her, it was an easy and seamless transition for Sammy’s mom to be reading stories and talking to the kids about who they see, and often don’t see in books.

I can see myself in the books I read
I can see myself in the books I read

The impact of this unit-which we delivered once a week for four weeks-is palpable in her classroom.  The comfort level students have with talking about people of all colors, about race, and difference, and the changes we all can make on our communities is evident in their larger discussions now about history, fiction, and current events. It feels different when you walk in the room–a cohesiveness that I didn’t feel before exists now.  Granted, I am biased. But, as soon as I find a way to measure such a shift empirically I will!

This weekend I will be presenting this curriculum along with other components of my; “I can talk about race in the classroom” workshop to administrators, educators and education majors in Augusta. A few months ago I presented another version of this to a group of students pursuing a masters in counseling. This June, I am speaking to a symposium on early childhood educators. This is wildly satisfying work, and after years of volunteering to do it, it is gratifying to be sought out and paid!

Eventually I hope to offer the curriculum itself through this site, or another avenue. This was one of my big goals for working part time this year, and it feels really exciting to see it in action. Have any of you done work of this nature in the schools in your community? What were your discoveries? Or if you haven’t but would like to, what do you feel would be most helpful to get you started with your planning?

Gathering the poem (week 3 of 52)

gathering a poem, week 3
gathering a poem, week 3

Each week for one year, I have set out to write a poem. The process, as outlined here, includes a visit to a body of water weekly where I “gather” material for the poem (I force myself to draft a complete poem at that time-knowing it will be revisited) and some sustained writing time during the week, so that I can “publish” (print and paste in my poetry journal) one a week. Marcel has joined me for two of the “gatherings”.  Every week a montage is made to help me remember fleeting thoughts, lines, nuances, sounds, and the other stuff of a poem.

This week’s poem-which is still in process–but which I will share, because it delights me for several reasons is inspired by Marcel, and this playground which will I imagine be a significant part of their childhood landscape. Continue reading “Gathering the poem (week 3 of 52)”

When a Sunday is a Sunday

bubbles

One of the most remarkable things I have noticed about my shift to part time so far, is that a Sunday has become truly a day of rest.  For the past eight or so years,  Sunday was anything but restful for me. Sunday was the day to get everything accomplished: the laundry, the house cleaning, the groceries, the bills, the return calls, and emails, the to do lists, the arrangements for help the following week, the fall clothes out and ready, the summer clothes packed or given away. Sunday was when my Monday obligations would crawl up into my spine as soon as I stopped working on my Sunday ones. Sunday was often sewn with guilty thread around the edges for the time I wasn’t spending at play with the boys.

Now that I do not go into work on Monday, I have this day to write, and tend, and connect, and take care of what else I need to. It allows Sunday’s potential to spread her arms upward to the sky and be whatever we want her to.  Yesterday that looked like almost eight hours at the skatepark, a picnic, coaching Marcel’s soccer team, cooking a delicious dinner, and an early night to bed. My sense is that this is wildly close to what I dreamed a Sunday could like with my family.