The murder of George Floyd and the beginning of another historical life changing world event, a racial justice movement, occurred within the last 9 teaching days of the 2019-2020 school year.
The students in my third grade class and their parents may or may not have been expecting acknowledgement or a comment from their teacher about this turning point in our country. We were days away from the “celebration” of the end of an exhausting and traumatic year that was interrupted by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Thoughts and words were shared within the classroom and the school communities during the last days of an unprecedented school year. Final goodbyes were said. Virtual hugs were given. Life went on into the transition to summer vacation.
The words that we share, read and hear, the ones that we choose to say or not to say make an impact. It may last for as long as a topic is trending. The impact of words might have the power and potential to resonate with us for however long we individually “survive” through this time in history.
The following are collections of some words that may have impacted and influenced educators in different ways over the last decade or so.
The last list, along with so many other words and names not mentioned yet, hold the power to change the narrative for educators and students.
What if these words and topics were addressed and used more frequently in structured and respectful conversations in the school setting, even at the elementary level?
What impact could these words and ideas have during weekly lesson planning, staff meetings, parent communication, and data analysis?
Would the conversations be uncomfortable?
How would students benefit from the use of these words and topics in their learning spaces?
Some teachers may agree that the topics from the first 3 word lists have always held a higher priority than the last one prior to May 25th, 2020. How important are they now, given the current state of the world?
Summer vacation during the time of Covid-19 invited many educators to get comfortably uncomfortable and take the journey of digging deep into the truths of racism.
What is one of the biggest and most important truths?
Having the choice to learn about racism is a privilege.
After the choice is made, words can either be used to try to keep things as “normal” as possible, or they can dramatically change the narrative.
Actions do speak louder, but the words are the place to start.
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■ Elementary Educator for Equity & Cultural Responsibility
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