Windows and Mirrors: Learning About Difference—and Belonging—Through Books

>>Natalya: This made
Grace sad for two reasons. She didn’t like Natalie and she
didn’t have a daddy of her own. Grace felt less and less and like being
the pink and floaty kind of princess. She couldn’t imagine making–>>I think windows and mirrors and the
nice metaphor to explain the importance of children seeing themselves in text, and then students learning
about others through text.>>Touch your nose if your dad
doesn’t live with you, yeah, me too.>>Text selection is really important, and I think when students can see
just even the slightest connection, they’re so excited.>>Natasha: Reach Academy has
seen an increase in diversity. We’re seeing students
from all over the world. Many of our families have
been impacted by trauma. We need high quality teachers in
Title One schools that really believe in our children and their
capacity to learn and not just look through
a deficit lens.>>Natalya: I’ve known I wanted to be
a teacher since I was in second grade. For me, I wanted to be that
teacher who looked like my students, who understood the struggle of what it
means to be a smart little black girl. When I was little, I loved to read. As I got older, I wanted to see myself
reflected in stories, because I started to become aware of my own identity.>>So our question this morning
is, what is your favorite book that we’ve read this year, and why?>>Student: “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughter” because it made me learn
about new cultures.>>Student: My favorite book is
“Crown” because I could relate to it.>>Student: Okay, mi favorito libro es…>>Natasha: So many of our families,
they feel invisible in this society. They haven’t been seen, they haven’t
had a voice, and how do we ensure when they walk through the doors
of Reach Academy that they feel like they are somebody,
that they are important?>>Natalya: It’s really important that
students see themselves in all aspects of their classroom, and
feel valued and respected. It’s also really important to
foster this understanding of others, so that when they grow
up, they’re able to work with all different kinds of people.>>Natasha: We live in a
world now where we have to build alliances across differences.>>Natalya: All right, you are going
to get to create a character today. Somebody that you wish was in a story. So what is their hair like? It is like yours or is
it different than yours?>>Student: When I first came to this
school, I didn’t have any friends, and like, I want to make
her just like me.>>Natalya: One of the reasons I love
teaching is watching those a-ha moments in students. Sometimes it’s just watching
them get excited about something. It’s really heartening to see students,
who may be judged for so many things, be these brilliant little people who
are going to one day run the world.

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