This is not a book review. It is a celebration. Officially released in December 2019, Cultivating Genius caught fire in the pandemic era, becoming a widely popular resource for ensuring equitable classroom learning experiences. Two years later, this masterwork by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad via Scholastic Publishing deserves its spotlight – better yet, birthday candles – for a few key reasons.
My first recollection of Hispanic Heritage Month was when I was around 14 years old and had recently arrived in Nashville, TN when we moved from Puerto Rico, because my mother took a position as an editor of a Spanish language magazine whose offices were based there. My previous experience in the U.S had been in extremely diverse places—New York, Chicago, Texas, Florida— but here, in 1988, I was the only “Hispanic” student in my high school, and it was the first time the full month would be officially celebrated in the U.S.
Keep our children in school and out of the school-to-prison pipeline: A parent’s concern about COVID-era school discipline
As a parent of two African American boys, I am concerned as we begin to navigate our way back into the school building. I am worried that this new era in education could make my children and other BIPOC children vulnerable to disproportionate school discipline, especially exclusionary discipline. Schools are under increased pressure to keep children and teachers safe, and removing a face mask or breathing on someone could spread sickness; this undoubtedly makes for a more tense learning environment. With new rules in place, it concerns me to think that BIPOC may bear the brunt of these new consequences and be subject to exclusionary discipline practices at higher rates than other students.
Right now our schools are closed and we are facing a national crisis that is exposing inequities in education like never before. Teachers are struggling to maintain relationships and engage students. Students are struggling to find the motivation and the resources to succeed. When this pandemic is over, schools will have to rebuild their communities, their relationships and readjust their expectations. To successfully rebuild authentic relationships, we must recognize the role race plays in our society, in our schools and in ourselves. And we must know how to talk about it.
Leaders from Rumi to Grace Lee Boggs to Whitney Houston have all reminded us that we can’t achieve love, liberation, or transformation externally without first loving, liberating, and transforming ourselves. We have to start by looking in the mirror, loving ourselves, and being the change we wish to see in the world.
When we as teachers teach by example, our students become more engaged and can witness the process at work. This simple assignment, meant to stretch my students, also challenged me. I reflected on my practice, and it helped our school level biases. When students have the agency to problem solve, it also opens the doors for us as teachers to lend to the process. When we think about the many ways to impact change in the daily educational experience, we often forget those voices who are being educated. When asked, my students thought critically about change and learned how to advocate in the process. Their voices were valuable in the conversation to improve education, instructional procedures, and operations.
“What will your students remember in five years?” was a question asked during one of our professional learning sessions with Transforming Education. Usually when you recall a memory, you associate it with a certain emotion - whether that is happiness, sadness, excitement, or anger. When building lessons for our novels this year, I wanted to focus on that question in my 7th grade English class. What will my students remember from this? What could I teach that would build a deeper connection to their own emotions? That is how I came up with this unexpected yet rewarding experience.
Young. Gifted. Black. I remember as a youth hearing others speak of me as an intellectual but completely rough around the edges. The truth was, I was a high risk student by all measures - I grew up in an impoverished one-parent household in a rough inner city neighborhood where some temptations swallowed other boys like me. I survived, but by all measures I probably shouldn’t be where I am today - excelling as a successful father, husband, and educator. How did I do it?
When educators make over 1,500 decisions on a daily basis, how do we ensure that these choices are consistently oriented toward the holistic development of each of our students? This is the question that our team at Detroit Prep and Detroit Achievement Academy sets out to answer each school year as we develop our annual goals.
Supporting our Trans, Non-binary, and Gender Non-Conforming Students through Mindfulness and an Anti-Oppression Framework
Jersey Cosantino, teacher and student of mindfulness studies, explores the ways that educators can offer mindfulness through an anti-oppression lens to our transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students. By integrating mindfulness practice and anti-oppression work, educators can offer students an additional tool to build resilience and foster positive-emotional well being.