We had the pleasure of visiting GDS High School and attending the Private Schools for Public Purpose (PSPP) conference! We presented some experiential learning activities we do in our 5th grade classroom (two of our favorites, our drawing activity and pom pom simulation, and some new ones like our factory simulation in our Econ 101 unit!), along with how we talk about race and socio-economic status in our classroom. We were privileged to spend our workshop time with thoughtful, justice-oriented educators.
Unlike some other presentations we have done, this space was small and intimate, and we loved getting to hear from everyone and have a dynamic discussion. We heard all about affinity groups, equity work, and innovative programming at other schools.
This workshop with awesome, critical thinking educators has left us thinking about:
How we can avoid students trying to have the “right” answer during our discussion our activity, but not transferring that to their actions outside of the classroom?
Why do adults consistently ask if we are afraid the white kids will “feel bad”?
How do we continue to address the root of this question verbally and through the work we do with students, families, and fellow educators?
What pushback do we expect from adults?
The importance of sitting in the discomfort of honest investigation/realization- for example, one question brought up to us by a couple educators in the room was: What do we do with students repeatedly saying they feel "lucky" after an experiential activity or being "grateful" for their circumstances. What does that mean? How do we continue to push them to go beyond the idea of feeling lucky and think more about implications and the structures in place?
The importance of teaching that race is a construct - in student’s words it means everything and nothing - it’s confusing! Ignoring it won’t make it go away!
Overall thoughts and feelings: It is empowering and rejuvenating to connect with fellow educators at conferences and discuss the complexities of social justice education. While our students were upset (and indignant!) that we would both be gone for the day, they were excited to hear we would be putting adults through some simulations and wanted to know if they get “just as mad” and "how would grown ups act doing the work we do?!" We assured them that adults have even stronger reactions and that adults also have to step up and do this work. They wholeheartedly agreed.
Sending gratitude to everyone we met at PSPP-- Onwards!