The Day After: What Do We Tell the children?

Dear friends,

Last night I watched the states turn red across the map and I was overwhelmed by feelings of uncertainty. I received call after call, message after message of friends calling me in tears. I, like many others, was stunned. In the face of that disbelief come true, I began to wonder: what will school look like tomorrow? What are we supposed to say? What am I supposed to say to friends calling me in tears?

As we enter our classrooms, today and in the coming weeks, we must recognize that many students feel unsafe and vulnerable in their own country and classrooms, and that this fear is not conducive to living nor learning. As educators we are supposed to remain “neutral,” but we need not remain silent in that neutrality. It is crucial we do speak, that we make space for conversations, and that we listen.

But how do we do this? Where do we start? What do we say, and how do we say it?

While I don’t have the answers, I recognize that no one has the answers – only ideas. It is with this in mind I share with you two resources to support you in the coming weeks:

“Teach them, third, how to be responsible members of a civic society. Teach them how to engage in discussion—not for the sake of winning, but for the sake of understanding and being understood. Students need to learn…to question taken-for-granted assumptions, to see their own biases, to take feedback, to challenge one another. We need to teach students how to disagree—with love and respect. These skills will be priceless in the coming months and years as we work to build a democratic society that protects the rights of all people ― regardless of the cooperation or resistance those efforts face from the executive branch.”

  • Some guidance from Teaching Tolerance’s post The Day After:
    • Begin within. Prepare yourself first to engage in difficult conversations surrounding the various topics—racism, civil rights, immigration and so forth—that the election has raised. Then develop a game plan to do so with students. The distinct life experiences, cultures, languages and backgrounds represented in your classroom can lead to high-stakes conversations that are uncomfortable at times. Work to draw a connection between the diversity of our country and the diversity in your classroom.
    • Get back to instruction. This is not to imply that you have pushed instruction aside, but the election season has taken its toll on us all. So think of this as a time to press “reset.” Try new instructional strategies. Talk to a fellow educator about a lesson that works well in their class. Use a new read aloud or app. Step outside of your box and go for that project or unit you always wanted to try. Focusing on delivering new, exciting instructional content to your kids is a way to reinvigorate the classroom and yourself.
    • Strengthen your classroom community. Think about the go-to strategies for building a classroom community. Choose some activities in which students build relationships and understanding with each other. For example, play a collaborative game together or break out a classic morning meeting book. These types of activities can help transcend politics and breathe life into a divided classroom.
    • Create space for reflection. As adults, we have our hopes for what this next presidency will accomplish. We have specific issues that are personal and close to us. The same is true for your students. Share with them your thoughts, and allow them to share theirs with you and their classmates. Students are often more apt to put these types of thoughts down on paper, so consider a related journaling activity.
    • Discuss what respect means. In a recent Teaching Tolerance survey, teachers mentioned over 500 times that respect is the number one rule in their classrooms. Think about spending some time breaking down the essence of respect with students. What is it? Who gets it and why give it? Find ways to encourage students to pay respect to the democratic process and the office of the presidency itself, regardless of who occupies the executive seat. Emphasize that using a critical lens and holding our elected officials accountable is not the same as being disrespectful or uncivil.
    • Look—and plan—ahead. New presidential administrations tout goals for their “first 100 days” in office. There is a great deal of strategic planning involved. How about the next 100 days in your classroom? What will you focus on? What standards will you cover? What accomplishments await your students at the end? Consider involving students in 100-day plans of their own (for example, class projects or individualized plans to reach a reading level or similar achievement).
    • Talk about losing with grace. One candidate will lose this election, and countless people will have poured their time, energy and hopes into that person’s campaign. Take the opportunity to talk with your students about what happens when you try really hard for something—and you don’t get it. This could be in sports, academics, personal relationships or something else. Remind them that we all lose and confront failure, but it’s how we recover that matters.

Wishes of strength in the coming weeks,

Hania

September 30th | Week in Review

2016-09-30-01

¡Hola a todos! The month has passed by very fast. As we end September, think about the accomplishments and hard work people have done in just this one month to advocate for diverse literature and how much work still remains.

Blood Orange Press has begun a campaign to publish books where “people of color and Native communities can tell their own story.” If you want to support them, their project is titled #ReadInColor.

— Our Facebook friends Latinos in Kid Lit just shared the cover reveal of The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra. The release date is March 7, 2017. Keep your eye out for this book that’s expected to “crack up kids and grown-ups.”

–Our friends at Lee & Low Book celebrated their 25th anniversary this year, so we would like to congratulate them for encouraging diversity in kids literature.

— Congratulations to Sandra Cisneros and Rudolfo Anaya for receiving a National Medal from President Obama for their contribution to Latino Literature. Check out the rest of NBC News’s list of all the Latinos Who Were Honored With National Medals for Diverse Art, Humanities.

– Lastly, in Facebook, Rethinking Schools encourages us to find out more about the Zinn Education Project- Teaching A People’s History. “Zinn’s work offers an alternative perspective that students need in order to think more critically about key issues in history,” expressed commenter William Thomas.

 


Image: Esperanza. Reprinted from Flickr user JoelleW under CC ©.

Welcoming New Writers: Alin Yuriko Badillo Carrillo

¡Hola a todos!Photo of Alin Yuriko Badillo Carrillo

Me llamo (my name is) Alin Yuriko Badillo Carrillo. I am a new Master’s student in the Latin American Studies program at the University of  New Mexico. I received my undergraduate degree in Environment and Natural Resources and International Studies with minors in Chicano Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Wyoming.

I am originally from Tlaxcala, Mexico, but I was raised in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I am the first in my family to graduate from high school, college, and soon a Master’s program. Not only am I first generation but I am also a DACA recipient- a temporary permit to reside in the US. I am an immigrant and not ashamed of it.

Living in a predominantly white community made me eager to learn about my raza (people). It is then when I discovered my passion for the Americas and inspired me to understand the way communities function. This is the primary reason why one of my concentration tracks within my Latin American Studies degree is in Urbanism and Community Development. I am devoted to creating a peaceful and comfortable environment in the community I choose to reside in upon the completion of my studies.

I look forward to discovering new books to improve the K-12 cultural education and our own intellectual minds. Moreover, I am excited to hear your thoughts as we cross educational boundaries together!

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo

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WWW: Stand up, Stand together

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks for joining me again this week! While this month has not been focused directly on activism, I have still been showcasing some resources on activism and Haiti, tying our themes from this month and the last together. My first two posts this year showed activism in forms that were different than the protesting we might immediately associate with the word. However, since we at Vamos a Leer are focusing on loving one another, community, and self-love, this week’s post will be focused on the Haitians and Haitian-American activists who are standing (quite literally) in protest with Dominicans of Haitian descent in the recent Dominican Republic-Haiti Deportation crisis. For those of you who have not heard about this, you can learn more from Michele Wucker’s article or from this NPR broadcast. This crisis, which involves the mass deportations of thousands of “Dominican-born Haitians,” or second/third generation Dominicans of Haitian lineage, is sparking upset globally. After spending this past summer learning Haitian Creole and visiting the country for myself, I am particularly invested in this topic. But more than anyone, Haitian and Haitian-American activists are upset and are taking a stand on the behalf of Dominican-born Haitians. Continue reading

WWW: Reparations and Confronting the Legacy of Slavery in the Island Nation Known as the First Black Republic

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Another week has gone by already! And just like that, we are into February. Thanks for reading again. Hopefully 2016 has gone smoothly for everyone reading! I know we are feeling the pace increase a bit here.

As February takes hold, and many classrooms turn to studies of Black History and the Civil Rights Movement, we at Vamos a Leer are turning our focus to the history of Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbean people. In this post in particular, I am addressing (very briefly) the widespread history of slavery and its implications particularly within Haiti and other Caribbean countries.

Besides open immigration flows, there are people of African descent in every country in the Western Hemisphere in large measure because Africans were taken forcibly as slaves and transported from Africa to the Americas from the 15th to the 19th century, used as human barter in exchange for goods, spices, and outright income. As slaves, Africans were treated as goods; they were bought, sold, traded, beaten and killed for disobeying unjust rules and regulations set by their owners. Side bar: we acknowledge that this is a difficult topic to teach, but also want to emphasize how necessary it is to have these conversations in our classrooms. For a brief overview of what to keep in mind when teaching about slavery writ large, see the article “Tongue-Tied” by Teaching Tolerance. Continue reading

WWW: She’s Just a Child…Activist.

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks again for joining me this week! Last week, I featured Ana Teresa Fernández’s work in my post describing how activism can be practiced in different forms; art being one of them. This week, I will expand on the idea of activism in different forms, focusing more specifically on children as activists. As Keira noted in her Sobre Enero post, January is about focusing not only on how to teach young people about injustices, but also offering ideas for how they can take a stand against them. So, this week, I will provide online resources to introduce some really important young activists who have made a big difference in their country, Colombia, since they spoke up.

Farlis-CalleThere were more than 4,000 child deaths in Colombia in 1996 due to civil war and La Violencia, which had already been underway for more than 30 years. Graça Machel, a well known humanitarian sent to study the impact of civil war and violence on children, visited Colombia that same year. When 15-year-old Farlis Calle Guerero heard the call for children’s testimony at her school, she organized as many of her classmates and friends as she could to present testimony to Graça Machel on how the war had impacted them. Bringing these students together to create this presentation led Farlis to the realization that they (her classmates and the rest of the youth) could be the solution to the violence. After the presentation, Graça reported back to the U.N. while Farlis and about two-dozen of her classmates got to work organizing and participating in peace meetings, which led to the creation of “peace zones” and “peace carnivals.” The movement, which turned out to have the participation of more than three million Colombian children, became known as the Children’s Peace Movement. Farlis and her classmates were able to start a movement, with the help of UNICEF, that created an international voice for children’s rights in all countries. Continue reading

WWW: Back in Activism!

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday break. Thank you for joining me again. This semester we are kicking off with a focus on activism. You may notice that many of our upcoming posts connect and highlight important activists in Latin America, the organizations they belong to, or the programs they founded. In honor of the focus on activism, I am highlighting some of Ana Teresa Fernández’s recent work on “erasing” the U.S.-Mexico border—using art!

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Back in Activism!Ana Teresa Fernández is a Mexican-American artist. She and a group of thirty volunteers teamed up to paint the border fence in Nogales, Sonora a light blue color in order to blend it with the sky. In her video about the project, Fernández talked about the fence as a “symbol of hate and pain.” She thought to change that by making it invisible (at least a piece of it). Her work constitutes activism “because it re-contextualizes a possibility. It makes you not see the border — just for a split second — and [makes you see] how two countries can exist, or coexist, peacefully,” said Fernández in an interview with Raquel Reichard from Latina. To her, the problem of the border fence is that it divides two groups of people who could otherwise live in harmony. The idea, while earning support from many people, sparked hate in some who have taken to writing hate mail and nasty correspondence to the artist. Continue reading