Saturday, May 09, 2020

Thoughts on Teaching & Learning : Learning from Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

Over the past several weeks, I have found myself doing a lot of reflection trying to get this online teaching right.  I keep meaning to get my thoughts on paper but then get caught up in the day-to-day work of teaching in this pandemic era.  I know if I can catch my breath, there is a lot to learn and reflect on during this time. So, I decided that every day in May, I will share my thoughts on Teaching and Learning.  This is Day 9.

I have come to rely on the weekly NCTE Member Gatherings to keep me energized during this time at home.  As much as I love a live event, I realize how many people I have come to know because of these online events--people who I've never had a chance to hear in person.  Last week, Dr. Gholdy Muhammad (@GholdyM) was part of the NCTE Gathering and if you were not able to attend, you need to watch her talk. You'll probably want to watch it more than once. It's incredible.

She read a bit from her new book,  Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy. I have a copy but haven't had time to read it yet. I am planning on it being a summer read and decided to join the Book Love Foundation Summer Book Club so that I have others to think with around the book,

In the video of Gholdy's talk, I keep replaying her words at minute 14:30 and listen over and over to the 60-90 seconds that starts there.  It is one of the most important minutes that we, as teachers need to hear.

In this segment, she talks about the stories we tell about our students. And how often when teachers start talking about students in a deficit lens, she stops them and says, "NO. Start again."

I have been thinking about these words all week--NO. Start again.--such powerful words that make us stop and think about the stories we are telling about a child, a family, a group of students.

So many times, in my 30+ years that these words would have been helpful.  I have gotten much better at speaking up against negative talk about children and families but there are still times when I just don't know what to say.  NO. Start again. Seems perfect.

More importantly, I am thinking about these words for my own self-talk. Without intending to, on days when I am tired or frustrated, I too start telling a story about a child (to myself or to others) that isn't the story of the whole child, that doesn't account for all of his or her genius.  These words, "NO. Start Again." will hopefully pop into my head now, reminding me that the story I am telling is not okay, not true and not necessary.

During this time of online/pandemic teaching and learning, social media is full of stories about children and their families. Let's think a little more deeply about the stories we tell about our students.
What stories are we telling about our students? What stories do we tell about their families? Do we start from a place of love and genius or do we start from somewhere else? And why? If we start from somewhere else, let's tell ourselves, "NO. Start again."

Thank you Gholdy Muhammad for this hour of brilliance and love.  I can't wait to read this book.

1 comment:

  1. "No. Start again." I love this! One of the things that has been most surprising to me about remote learning is how different strengths and interests have emerged during this time. The quiet kid who comes during lunch every day just to visit. The girl who is really bright and articulate, but does lackluster work, emerging as an actress. The girl who spends every single afternoon painting and drawing and has a gallery hanging on the wall in her bedroom. I know these kids so much better. I can teach them so much better. And like you, I'm looking forward to reading CULTIVATING GENIUS this summer!


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