Monday, March 7, 2016

Settling in

I’ve decided to shift to a weekly post about my co-teaching at East. Posting after every session made me more impatient than I need to be. I was feeling a bit demoralized going into Thursday’s class because I thought the students didn’t seem to be connecting what we are doing in terms of justice work to their own lives. I worried that we were making critical literacy just another “thing” they had to do or that we were re-oppressing in unintended ways.

But … then we had class. The teachers shifted our plans around a bit so that there was more of a focus on Romeo and Juliet. They also suggested moving the desks from a circle to small groups of three. Since they know this class better, I figured what the heck. Truth is, just because it’s a circle doesn’t mean more authentic classroom discourse. And, some kids talk more in a small group than in a full circle. It was good for me to remember that we need flexibility in all we do and that changing the desk organization to different formations for different purposes is a good idea. We planned to look through some youth profile data from Rochester, hoping this would help them connect some of the larger issues we were talking about and the social issues in Romeo and Juliet (teen suicide and gang violence) to what we see in Rochester. We ran out of time though so will have to do that work next week.

We showed TURF FEINZ RIPRichD Dancing in the Rain Oakland Street from YAK FILMS and the kids really seemed to like it. They were a little surprised to know that these dancers are doing a political action to take back the streets of Oakland, but it prompted them to put together that all the social actions we’ve been showing them and talking about are “trying to make a point.” Yes! Then one young man said, “this stuff makes me angry” and another said, “I feel sad.” Yes! Yes! These comments led to a discussion about how to take those feelings to actions that would lead to change. Exhale.

Taking baby steps and checking my impatience.

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