- How am I developing critical consciousness in my students so that they are aware of the societal injustices around them?
- What knowledge and skills have I taught my students that has set them up to advocate for themselves and others?
Students have knowledge of injustice in the world, have informed opinions about it, and know that their voice and actions have value. They can advocate for themselves and others.
As a social studies teacher, I have many opportunities to expose my students to real-world problems. Every morning, for 10 minutes, we watch CNN student news, and my students gain some insight into what is going on in the world. In addition to this, we are constantly referencing current events that have some connection to the unit that we are studying; we have discussed the Syrian refugee crisis, the Flint water crisis, the war on terrorism, and other major events, and explored what we would or could do to help. One of the more immediate issues that my students chose to focus on, and that I am presenting here, is an issue on campus, in their own community. The issue of bullying.
When prompted to think of an issue at a local, community, and global level, many of my students identified that bullying and fighting is a major issue on campus. For this section, I would like to highlight the evidence that I compiled showing the process that my students took to find a solution to the bullying problems on campus. Pages 2-4 document the process that I went through with my students to help them explore “what does it mean to be a solutionary?” Zoe Weil talks about the process of being solutions-driven rather than debate-driven or discussion-driven. This distinction really helps my students on a daily basis to have productive conversations, or understand how to initiate and carry out productive projects and initiatives. When prompted, the students identified issues that they wanted to address, and as a class decided on bullying; it’s something that affects all of them on a daily basis whether they’re receiving, seeing, or dealing the bullying. Many of my students identified that a solution could be to increase adult supervision on campus to decrease bullying and unwanted behavior. To learn more about bullying, they also identified that they wanted to be able to receive more information about bullying. One resource that we have on campus is our substance abuse prevention counselor, Mr. Justin, who can come to your class and talk about anything from stress management, to mindfulness, to bullying. I invited Mr. Justin to come into our classroom and talk about what constitutes bullying, how to prevent it, what to do if you encounter it, and how to be a solutionary. Many of my students identified before the fact that they wanted to make posters to put around the campus, and after Mr. Justin equipped us with some strategies, the students chose to make posters. Page 5 of my evidence shows the students working on the posters, pages 15 to the end show the posters that my students created. All of my students expressed excitement in being able to create something to put around school that could help deter bullying on campus.
After Mr. Justin came and talked to us, bullying was still a topic that students wanted to see change in. Some of my students chose to do research about bullying, as seen in pages 6 and 7 of my evidence. One of the big writing assignments that we worked on was a persuasive essay where they could choose the topic they wanted to address. Having some students choose to do research on bullying, helped to benefit the class further because they were starting to become more of an authority on the subject. Armed with statistics about bullying, and our own school quality survey, seen on page 8, my students were able to compose well thought out letters to our principal. Pages 10-13 of my evidence show the letters that my students created, specifically referencing data that they found in our school quality survey, and in the research that they conducted on the topic. As a result of my students going through this process, my principal has been more proactive in increasing faculty supervision on campus, and giving more consequences to students who are not following rules and staying in supervised areas. I am very proud of the work that my students put into this, because it shows their ability to advocate and initiate change for what matters to them on a personal level, and for what will immediately benefit their community.