Friday, November 18, 2016

Year 7: Week 12 - The Work Ahead

Usually every year this post is about my trip to Lorado Taft with my 5th graders. This trip wasn’t insignificant this year. This was the year that I went to the trip after four days of being sick with a cold, rallied and made it through the week. Lot of cold medicine, thankfully great weather and other supportive teachers helped get me through the week. However I don’t really feel like embellishing on the tribulations of being sick on a trip and honestly, the trip hasn’t really been on my mind.

It’s been a week and half since the election. The results felt devastating for my family and me.  I’ve looked for affirmations that the Republican leadership doesn’t accept or subscribe to the sexist, and racist things that the president-elect said during the campaign, and those reassurances are few. In their place are atrocious, offensive and um-American ideas like discussing the Japanese internment camps of WWII as a precedent for Muslim registration. You may say that this doesn’t represent the view of the president elect or the Republican party. If that’s true than why does this ignorant and racist person get to speak on television and why isn't the Republican leadership calling this out for as being ridiculous and chastising the individual who made this assertion?

As a teacher, this election has realigned my focus. There’s been a gradual shift from focusing on music education as my primary focus as teacher to primarily focusing on social justice and educating about democracy. When I first started teaching ten years ago, I didn’t think about how the songs that I taught affected the way students saw themselves, each other and society. I didn’t think about how I was educating my students to be citizens. Over the years, I shifted towards thinking about music as a way to teach about student identity, social issues and their place in an inclusive and diverse American society.

Between moments of great grief, frustration and fear, I got to planning. I don’t care who says it, a man on the street, a student or the president. Language that is not inclusive and respectful of the great plurality that is the American experience is not going to be welcome or tolerated in my classroom. I will continue to teach about social issues.

I’m not talking about politics. My students should not have to wonder who will take care of them if one of their parents dies because they have two dads. My students should not have to wonder whether their grandparents can visit from out of the country to come watch them in a concert because they are Muslim. My students should not have friends and family who have been unjustly shot by police because they are black. And my girls should not be made to feel inferior, objectified and limited in their opportunities.

These are issues that have been politicized, but at their core they are civil rights issues. I will continue to teach about these rights and someone thinking that this places me in one side of the political spectrum isn’t going to stop me, because my students and my son being valued and accepted as an American goes way beyond politics.

Time to get to work. I’m putting together a woman in music unit for my 5th graders to discuss the underrepresentation of woman in the music industry. I’m organizing a president’s day assembly focusing on America as a diverse and inclusive country and I got Civil Rights music coming up in the Spring with my 8th graders.

It’s go time. The time is now. The work is hard, the conversations will be challenging, but it’s the job. More than ever I’m proud to be a teacher and hopeful that out of all of this, I can make the world a better place one students at a time.

No comments:

Post a Comment