In a vocabulary lesson on the word “feminism,” a student gives the word “equity” as a synonym. Humanities teacher Katrina Traylor asks the class if they know what equity means, and tells them that they should know, since they attend June Jordan School for Equity. A discussion ensues, and Ms. Traylor explains the difference between equity and equality, using movie theater bathrooms to illustrate the difference. This type of spontaneous teaching on key social justice terms is common in JJSE classrooms.
Brent Albert, Kenneth Coleman, Nia Dequis, Miles Greene
In this JJSE special education class, students are engaged in independent practice. Note how the adults use their jedi awareness powers to pay close attention to everything that is happening in the room, even when they are working one-on-one with a student. When necessary, they leave the student they are working with to provide a check or word of encouragement to another student who needs assistance.
At the beginning of the school year, Humanities teacher Katrina Traylor introduces her class to their binder, which includes 14 sections designed to ensure that students never lose anything. In some teacher’s hands, this lesson could be a rote, boring process, especially on a hot afternoon– but Ms. Traylor is so excited about the details of each binder section that it’s almost impossible for students not to stay engaged. (Note: this piece is also a good example of Clear Purpose.)
In this piece, we see several portions of Science teacher Amber Lancaster’s lesson on evolution. One of her objectives is to develop her students’ “scientist voices,” so in the first part of the lesson, when a student develops a theory that sweat causes hair to grow, she does not immediately say he is wrong but instead pushes his thinking. Near the end of this piece, at time 05:20, we see a debate among students about which finches they are studying are related to one another. Ms. Lancaster reminds students that “science is not democratic” and encourages them to support their opinions with scientific reasoning, thus supporting student voice in a format appropriate to the science classroom.
In his 11th grade U.S. History class, teacher Armon Kasmai is asking students to explore how anti-Irish sentiment may have led to the portrayal of Christopher Columbus as a hero (as a counterpoint to the Catholic Spanish elite who supposedly thought the earth was flat). When a student begins to articulate a theory, Mr. Kasmai tells the class, “Write that down– and put Carlos’ name as the source.” As the discussion continues, another student begins, “History used Columbus to make the Catholics seem… ” and Mr. Kasmai again asks the class to write down their classmate’s theory. In this way, he “names” his students as sources of intellectual opinion.
Humanities teacher Giulio Sorro establishes community in his classroom in part through regular use of a talking circle. Students move their chairs into a circle, and one person speaks at a time, holding a feather which symbolizes that they have the right to talk. In this piece, we see two uses of the circle– first, a quick check-in where students are asked to say one word describing how they are feeling, and second, a longer conversation where students are asked to share one thing they learned from the unit they just completed.
Hamster for a Sub,
Math teacher Bridget Brew establishes strong relationships with students and then pushes them in ways that are always demanding and often humorous. Note in particular: (1) Ms. Brew’s response when students miss a ridiculously easy calculation; (2) Ms. Brew’s response when a student complains that she should have given them a problem with smaller numbers; (3) Her preemptive reminder that she does not want any “Boo-Hooing” about the composition of their small groups; and (4) Her expectations for the following day when students are going to have a substitute.
Lenore Kenny says that science education is a force for social justice because being able to think like a scientist “gives you a lot of power to be used along the path of social change.” In this lesson on evolution, she trains her students in the scientific thinking process by asking them to examine evidence and analyze it by looking for patterns. She reminds students to “get in the mindset of thinking like evolutionary scientists” and asks them to “engage your mind like a scientist.”