As I stated in the beginning, I am focused on diverse literature. As noted, it’s an uphill battle. Finding quality is difficult. Finding quality diverse literature is a monumental task.
In my day-to-day conversations, in my daily social media feeds and conversations, in my personal interactions, I have been confronted with confusion, defensiveness, and dismissal.
People are confused. They tell me that children’s books are good–fine as they are, good enough, and mostly feature animals anyway. People are defensive. They have attachments to their own upbringing, their own learning, or just their routine. Re-evaluating their classroom experiences or their teaching practices requires acknowledging a deficit, challenging the status quo, and expanding their worldview. These are emotional endeavors. All of this leads to dismissal. The passion behind the task, the commitment to diversity is relegated to my individual soapbox rather than a collective project for every teacher.
It is easy to be discouraged. It is easy to feel alone. In my research, however, I found my words–my words of rebuttal and my words of personal encouragement: mirrors & windows.
Children are provided a lens in their learning, this lens can either be a mirror or a window. The mirrors are just as important as the windows. Mirrors allow them to be seen and heard, to realize their potential and reaffirm their value. Windows allow them to see others, to realize the potential and reaffirm the value of every person they encounter–whether that is now or in the future, in the classroom or somewhere else.
So, if you need a little encouragement or a reminder on why diverse literature is critical or important; remember, every child needs mirrors and windows, everyone benefits from being seen and seeing others.
The language of mirrors and windows comes from my original post, the image had a caption that led to researching the concept and finding several articles on it, including one on We are Teachers.
With so much screen time in remote learning, with so much time spent indoors, a walk around the block is probably the easiest, and greatest relief, for all of us.
And, if you need some ideas and inspiration for learning on that walk outside, here are some items to note, ask, or consider on your walks:
Read every sign together.
Find letters and numbers on a walk.
Addresses, license plates, political signs, street signs, etc.
Use a plant guide app, identify plants on your walk.
Plant species identification; read over the guides for plant care.
Use cardinal directions to describe your route.
We’re walking northwest, we need to walk ______ to get home.
Compare and contrast lawns.
Discuss make and models of cars.
Calculate lapsed time
It took 15 minutes to walk this block, 10 minutes to walk this block, what time will we arrive home?
Discuss what happened today.
Discuss the weather.
Discuss plans for the week.
Recite poems, song lyrics, favorite stories.
Generating a conversation means generating vocabulary. Discussing concepts reinforces conceptual knowledge.
I know we are all struggling to find the time and inspiration for learning; it’s hard navigating multiple platforms and sitting in front of a screen all day. So, allow yourself a break, and know that learning can still happen and still be fruitful even on a simple walk.