Facilitating One of my favorite roles this year is facilitating our Voices sessions or cultural competency training. Racism is focus area this year. In concert with other campuses we’re exploring institutional, interpersonal, and internalized racism (and privilege).
The first interpersonal session was a parent panel where I invited families to share their immigration stories. A majority of our students’ families are recent immigrants whose daily reality is starkly different from most teachers’ experience. There was not a dry eye in the room as our guest shared about their sacrifices for family. Families left behind, limited work options and the hovering possibility of deportation are just a few of the issues our families carry quietly as they raise their children to obtain all the opportunity they can. Sometimes I think “I get it” because I too am an immigrant to this country. Listening to our families puts me in my place every year as I realize how little I know.
One of my heroes, Bryan Stevenson, speaks often of changing the narrative. Considering the immigrant background the majority of our students claim, it is easy to focus on the issues such as:
These themes are important to be sure, however framing my immigrant students primarily in the negative aspects of their heritage reduces them to a snap shot in time and an indistinguishable monolith. Parent panel is my favorite session because of the insight gleaned from listening. Just listening. As a teacher I often feel as though my interaction with parents is one-sided. It is my job to communicate our classroom's going on's to ensure a productive home - school relationship. Equally important is that families take the instructor role and educate their educators on the lives of their children. Narrative is my favorite medium of instruction. Facilitating offers the opportunity to create more spaces for listening, and interacting on a deeper level with the amazing adults who love our kids to school every day.