September 22: Hard Conversations

I guess I missed another day yesterday. I just had a little too much on my mind. There were some hard conversations yesterday that got me pretty riled up and also made me super proud of my kid. But those aren’t the ones I’m planning on writing about tonight.

At the beginning of the year, I put up “You Belong Here” posters in my room from Emily Meadows.

You Belong Here Poster

She created these posters specifically for classrooms and currently has 25 languages available. If you’re wishing you had them for you room, click here for her graciously shared Google Drive folder.

Yesterday, my daughter discovered that one of the posters in my room had been purposely torn. This was the second time it had happened. Of course, I replaced the poster, but that didn’t quite feel like enough. I talked about it with my wife, who happens to be an amazing ES counselor, and realized I had not talked about the posters with my students and I needed to have a conversation.

So today, it became my ‘design of the day’ which is usually some sort of slightly random, unusual product or design that I share with students to start a conversation and get us in the proper frame of mind for class. I was not sure what to expect from the conversation or how my students would react. Jordan is a conservative culture and our school has not fostered many conversations around the topic of inclusion.

The conversations were fantastic. I was really impressed. I set the stage, told them what had happened and then asked them why this would be designed for display in a classroom. Students listened to each other, shared their knowledge and insights, asked questions and respected each other’s views. There were students that we’re very knowledgeable about the flag and identity and those who it seemed had not ever really talked about it with anyone before. It made me see how important it is to help students have these conversations and provide a space for them to question and learn.

One group continued the conversation well into class when we moved to work on projects. They were sharing with each other about the different beliefs of their religions and where they thought some of those ideas came from. It was wonderful to hear them talking with each other, and most of all, listening to each other.

I’ve got three more classes to have this conversation with tomorrow and I’m excited to see how those go. Today was 8th grade and a pretty mature group. Tomorrow I have two classes of 7th grade and they still have some maturing to do, as they should at this age. It will most definitely make for a different conversation, but I’m excited to provide the space and see what comes of it.

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