Creating Classrooms for Social Justice
Many discussions and writings have been made about the “educator of social justice.” What does this mean? This post will explain some basic classroom practices that teachers can use to teach core subjects and advocate for social justice in the classroom.
Social justice means recognizing the power we have to make positive changes and take action. This is something teachers do every day in many different ways.
Teachers may include classroom practices to make this concept more explicit. The idea of providing students with the opportunity to observe how positive change occurs and how they can become leaders in bringing about that change is a fantastic one.
The fact that many social justice practices are also considered to be best practices in education should not be underestimated. Social justice is not something that should be included in the curriculum of public schools. This is a situation in which both options are available. Teachers can provide high-quality content instruction while also fostering a socially just environment in the classroom. A social justice orientation can be incorporated into any number of classes. Neither is this something that can only be done in diverse classrooms, nor can it be done in classrooms lacking in diversity, nor can it be done in urban classrooms – or any special category of school.
It’s a way to teach and be that supports high-level thinking throughout our lives.
Connecting with Students’ Lives
When making curricular decisions, take into account, value, and draw on the diverse learning experiences of your students. Simply learning a little about each student’s background, whether they are from another school or have a particular interest, can be sufficient. Students’ contributions must be acknowledged and valued to create a classroom that fosters social responsibility among its participants.
Connecting to Real-World Problems & Multiple Perspectives
You should make what you teach relevant to the current world. They are not barriers that can block out the reality outside of their classroom.
You can link to any news item that is currently in the news. If you have heard something interesting, ask your students questions about it. Everyone knows that teacher strikes, honeybee declines, trash pickups, and even Robin Williams’ death will come up in conversation at some point. This is an excellent opportunity to teach children higher-order thinking skills.
Identifying the difference between fact and opinion
Understanding your point of view as well as the perspectives of others
You can make sense of all of this information and come up with your own “truth.”
The classroom is not the appropriate setting for teachers to impose their beliefs on students. When you are assisting students in learning how to think critically and form their own opinions, you must choose topics about which you are comfortable being pedagogically neutral.
Create a Classroom Community
Allow students the opportunity to express themselves. Students must be taught how to participate in group discussions. Teachers can encourage students to share their ideas as well as respond to the ideas of their classmates by providing positive reinforcement. The role of the teacher is to encourage students to make connections between the big ideas underlying the lesson content and to do so through questioning.
In the classroom, collaboration can be encouraged by a variety of means. Students are taught how to be “academic brothers and sisters” in the classroom. While we all know that siblings can get on each other’s nerves from time to time, we also know that it is possible. Your siblings, on the other hand, will be able to rely on you for their support, honesty, and loyalty.
Teachers can also examine the materials used in their classrooms with a critical eye. Is the collection of stories, books, and other materials presenting a unified storyline? For them to include diverse examples from different aspects of society, you should rewrite what you currently have.
Include authentic assessments
The authentic assessment method can be used by students to share their knowledge with real people and to engage in the type of work that takes place outside of the classroom setting. You should make certain that any letters written by your students are mailed to someone who will read them. A few years ago, I was taken aback when I walked into a classroom where students were encouraged to write letters to a fictional zookeeper. They were tucked away in the teacher’s pile of homework. I thought the letters were fine, but I suggested that they be revised and sent to a zookeeper instead of to the public. It was revealed to the students that multiple zookeepers are responsible for different animals at a zoo. Each student selected a zookeeper to whom they would address their letters. This prompted further investigation into the animals under the care of the zookeeper. Compared to the previous letters, these were more complete, more personal, and simply better. They received responses! These responses demonstrated to students that they can bring about change in their lives — that they are change agents.
There are numerous other ways in which you can advocate for social justice. Just a few examples of the numerous approaches I suggested. You are not required to participate in all of them to be social justice-oriented. When you look around your classroom, consider small ways you can incorporate the concepts presented here into the practices that are most effective for both you and your students.