Sunday, June 21, 2020

Fighting the Good Fight

As the country has found a renewed sense of duty to the ideals of equity and equality, I've been pretty quiet on here. Why? Well, 1) I'm exhausted after a long school year, and 2) Social media is typically not my first choice for where to have these conversations. Meanwhile, I've been fighting for equitable treatment for the refugee students I work with locally.* Based on these experiences, I would ask anyone reading this to consider a few things, all of which have occurred in the past month for my kiddos.
  • Not all of our families know how to use email, even if they have an email address. If you get the sense they aren't connecting that way, or if you find out that it is not a good form of communication for them, please be willing to consider other options.
  • Not all of our ELL families speak Spanish. Putting information out in English & Spanish does not mean that it has been made accessible to every family. Along these lines, don't assume that every kid with darker skin is Mexican and give them Spanish copies of everything without even checking to see if they speak any Spanish!
  • Not all students live with their parents, sometimes other family members speak better English, and many other cultures are more extended family-oriented than Americans tend to be. Please recognize and value that extended support system, and don't just see it as a negative that the parents aren't the ones in contact with the school.
  • Please spell names correctly, and if you can't figure out how to pronounce them at first (which is understandable at times!), take the time to learn to say them correctly. It makes me so sad when teachers my kids have had for months still don't know how to say their name...and sometimes even avoid calling on them for that reason (which is not good teaching/learning practice).
  • Be aware that there are a lot of untold stories. Did you know that, according to the CDE EL Guidebook, Karen is the 18th most popular primary language among our students in Colorado? Yet most people have never heard of it! Due to the news, more people have heard of the Rohingya, another oppressed minority in Myanmar, and sometimes I hear responses such as, "Oh, they are from Myanmar, so they are Rohingya." Yet the Rohingya people are just one of many groups that is being driven out! I don't expect everyone to know this, and I probably wouldn't if it weren't for my work with these families, but just be aware that there are a lot of stories out there that you may not know about.
Finally, I want to say that I have made each and every one of these mistakes myself, and I never want to judge, because most of us are just trying to do the best we can. However, as Maya Angelou says, "Do the best you can, and when you know better, do better." I am writing this in hopes that more of us can know better and do better!

*Note: I am not trying to compare anything, this is just where my energy has been focused.

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