My project started with the shared thoughts of my dear friend and fellow teacher, Leah Aguilera. Leah explained how she was teaching a SEL lesson to her 2nd grade class about how we may have similar or different feelings in a given situation. She showed a photo to model this that pictured two children with different facial expressions after experiencing the same thing. She asked her students what was the same about them and what was different. What she noticed, as in many teaching moments, was something outside of the objective of the lesson. Out of all of the things her students named none of them would say that both students were African American. She began wondering, "Are they afraid to say this? If they are afraid, why? Do they not have the language?"
When she shared this it sparked something in me. I had also seen this with my students. Even in adults. At times, people become afraid of not being politically correct and then are left to say nothing or to be "color blind." We decided that we wanted to give our students the language to talk openly about others and themselves in regards to ethnicity and identity.
Words we decided on to help our students define include: indigenous, ethnicity, immigration, migration, generations, and identity.
This started with a survey that Leah made for our students to fill in before we began this journey with the idea of giving them the same survey after our teaching to see what the students learned. The pictures show the first surveys given. "IDKY" stands for "I don't know yet", which I explained is a perfectly okay answer for now. It is interesting to note that one of my students refused to answer the questions that asked her about her identity.
I am a teacher and mother who has been spending time with kids in multiple ways for over 15 years. This includes coaching gymnastics, and working with K-5 students in both public and private schools in Oakland.