The reading this week definitely gave pause for reflection. Parker Palmer said, “We are not fully human until we recognize what we know and take responsibility for it.” Turning our head or doing things just because it’s part of the job or not part of our job are not acceptable excuses for not taking a human stand when necessary. Palmer also said we are “in but not of” the institutions. Dan Edelstein wrote about a liberal education that promotes “independently minded individuals” and Dr. Sonia Henry wrote about medical students losing their empathy. The writings reminded me to do the right thing, the human thing, and what I would want someone to do for me or my children. I could share and say academic things that relate to this, but instead I’ll share a story about basic human needs.
If you have a weak stomach or you are eating, don’t read the rest of this blog. Not too long ago, I walked into the office to the most putrid smell I have ever smelled. It filled the entire office to the point where I thought I would vomit. When I asked my secretary what happened, she motioned to a little boy and said mom was on her way (she lives about 5 minutes from the school). The kindergarten boy had an explosion…the kind where there was brown up and down the back, coming out the socks and shoes, and everywhere in between. The mother had given the child a laxative and it hit him while he was on the bus riding to school. We always have spare clothes for kids who have accidents and the staff is happy to help out, but this was going to require a shower. When nobody showed up, I looked at my Assistant Principal and said get a bag and off we went to the nurse’s office loaded with wipes, clean clothes, and a little boy who needed somebody to the right thing. I told him I had a little boy once and that it was ok to have an accident. I cleaned him up from chest to toe and handed the soiled wipes to my AP while she held the bag. I told her that sometimes you have to override the decisions of others and do what is right for the child. Some people were willing to let that little one sit there until mom arrived (which didn’t happen until 40 minutes later). When I brought him back to my office all cleaned up, I asked him if he felt better. He didn’t say a word, he just walked over and gave me a big hug. As the principal of an elementary school, I can definitely say my most important job that day was to do the human thing and clean some poop. I told my AP that the lesson of the day was, we don’t let kids sit in sh!t.
I love the timing of this week’s blog readings. My faculty meeting on 3-6-19 centered on incorporating inclusive pedagogy to reach our students of color. My faculty is all white ( I would love some diversity and I have personally tried to recruit teachers of color – this is my 2nd year at this school and there has been little turnover). Our central office is also advocating for a more diverse group of educators as evidenced by an email stating this just last week. I believe the first step in advancing inclusive pedagogy is to be self-aware as educators and this is what my meeting focused on. In the Hidden Brain article, the author talks about the unconscious message we give to children. Awareness is needed so we avoid this. I’ve always been a believer in heterogenous groups and the research supports this type of grouping. I was surprised about how MUCH of a difference a diverse group makes. The statistic of $42 million increase in firm value related to female presence says it all. Another article we read related having a sense of belonging to improve academic success. As an educator, I definitely want all students to feel like they belong. For my meeting, I presented the need and benefits of inclusivity, discussed strategies I had researched, and shared videos from some experts on the topic. I also reached out to a principal of color to get her advice. She was positive about my plans and gave me some additional resources. My staff was engaged during the meeting and receptive to the strategies. My next step is to invite some guest speakers in to gain their insight. I also plan on reaching out to a parent of color who has been an excellent role model for his son. Here’s some of the items I shared with my staff: Subgroup Focus: Strategies for teaching black students: The Right Mindset – believe in their ability to learn. Positive Racial Identity – books, video clips, people who have contributed, High Expectations, High support, Much Love Character Education, Social Justice (older.maybe), Learner of Culture Money – match to grades/working hard in school Video (5.23): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY4vSsZYIOk Why Black Males are failing academically. Video (4.22): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1POE0XHF7Ks Principal Kafele –Attitude of the Teacher – Favorite Quote – He who cannot dance will blame the drum. Video 19.11: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX78iKhInsc&t=122s
Why Black Males are failing academically. Video (4.22): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1POE0XHF7Ks Principal Kafele –Attitude of the Teacher – Favorite Quote – He who cannot dance will blame the drum. Video 19.11: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX78iKhInsc&t=122s