A few weeks ago we spoke about Social Justice issues in our ECMP 355 class. We were prompted to reflect on our class. We could talk about social justice issues in online spaces, our role as an educator in promoting social justice online, etc. This topic was a hard one for me to write about. I have written and re-written this blog countless times and still don’t feel comfortable with the outcome.
When I think about social justice all that comes to mind is AAAAHHHHH….To say this topic makes me nervous is an understatement. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, I do, I just don’t know how to put my opinion and feelings into words that make sense to others. Speaking my mind is something that I have a hard time doing and I find it really intimidating. Therefore, I tend to sit back quietly, keeping my thoughts to myself. I don’t know if I’m afraid of being mocked, or ridiculed or if it’s mostly because I don’t feel educated enough on the subject to really put in my “two cents”.
Even though I feel uneducated and intimidated, I think it’s really important as an educator to be an ambassador for social justice, however, I didn’t really know what that meant. So I took to the internet and found an article called Creating Classrooms for Social Justice that was written by Dr. Tabitha D’ell’Angelo. She made some really great points that I will sum up quickly, but I encourage you to read the article for yourselves.
Summary of the basic classroom practices written in the article Classrooms for Social Justice:
- Connect to the students lives. This can be as easy as considering value and building on the diverse prior learning experiences of your students when making curricular decisions.
2. Link to real world problems and multiple perspectives. You can do this by making sure what you teach is relevant to what is going on in the world. Give students the opportunity to ask questions or present a topic they have heard about. This will give them an opportunity to learn high-level thinking skills such as:
- Discerning fact from opinion
- Figuring out their own and other’s point of view
- Interpreting all of this information to decide on their own “truth”
It is important to choose topics that you can feel pedagogically neutral about so you can support your students journey towards being a critical thinker, as opposed to imposing your beliefs on them.
3. Create a Classroom Community by giving students the opportunity for their voices to be heard. Teach them how to participate in a discussion. Teach and encourage them to be “academic siblings.”
4. Include Authentic Assessments which are opportunities for students to students to write for real audiences, share knowledge with a wide audience, and engage in the kind of work that occurs outside the classroom.
From these points and this article, I definitely feel like I have some tools to be an educator for social justice.
Also, check out this youtube video of teachers giving examples where they used specific aspects of the curriculum to teach about social justice.
What are ways that you are an ambassador for social justice in your classroom? Are you following the basic practices stated above? Do you have any others to add? Leave your comments below!
Before I sign off I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes