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“But, I just don’t have any more time in the day and curriculum to add one more thing.”

How many of you have said this or heard this? Here at Park, teachers have always included aspects of diversity into their curriculum. In some of our grade level teams, issues of diversity, race, immigration, and identity are key anchor points. For example, one grade level focuses on immigration. Another grade level focuses on diversity in the continent of Africa.

Many of our teachers are taking small actions to make a big impact with diversity and identity. Recently, at divisional meetings, our Lower and Upper Division faculty went through an exercise where they were asked to come up with “hooks and do-nows” or make little changes in their lessons to be more inclusive of diversity.

What was fun about this exercise is that teachers were instructed to, “NOT think like a teacher. Please think like a learner, a student, and a receiver of information.” Why? Because, too often, as teachers, we think about what is not possible — not enough time, not enough room, not enough resources. When we think as learners, we are excited by the possibilities and the opportunities to broaden our engagement.

“Think like a learner.”

In teams, faculty were given notecards with different subjects on them: English, Math, Science, Reading/Writing, Language. For lower division, we gave them additional cards with time-periods like “Morning Meeting” or “Buddy Time.”

courtesy of WheelDecide

courtesy of WheelDecide

In a very Wheel-Of-Fortune manner, we spun the wheel that had multiple categories of identities such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, gender, and family structure.

Teams of teachers were asked to come up with as many quick activities, hooks or do-nows. In less than 40 minutes, these teams came up with over 212 different ideas!

Below are some highlights from these teams

  1. “Companies like Target are shifting towards removing ‘girls toys’ and ‘boys toys’ designations. Is this important? Why might some people support this? Why might some people resist this? Should other companies do the same?” (socioeconomics and gender)
  2. “Noah’s Ark Project: This is a story from the Bible about Noah’s Ark. Taking account gestation periods, animals on board, and amount of time traveled, how many new animals should have been born by the time the flood was over?” (religion and science)
  3. “What role does language play in shaping racial identity? Why do you think that?” (language and race)
  4. “When thinking about race, how might language serve as a connector? How might language serve as a barrier? What examples have you seen in our world/your lives?” (race and language)
  5. “Make a list of the things you use in a given day or week. Let’s add the cost of how much things cost in a day, week, month, year.”  (math and socioeconomic status)
  6. “Read a book with multicultural characters or issues. Then, have students tell the rest of the story or what happened after the book ended.” (race and writing)
  7. “Write the characteristics of your family. Have your buddy write the characteristics of their family. Together, talk about the words you have in common and the words that are unique to your family.” (buddy time and family structure)
  8. Develop postcard partners with another school that may have a different racial student demographic than ours.” (race and writing)
  9. “Put out sets of books that feature characters of color as the main focus. Have students do a turn-and-talk to summarize the stories to each other.” (buddy time and race

The goal of this exercise was to demonstrate the small actions that lead to big changes in our community. By engaging in little moments, we set the foundation to have bigger conversations throughout the year.

What are some of those “small actions” that you have tried in your day?

Peace and Park,

Liza