As an educator who sees the purpose of education as a means for liberation and making society a more just place, I am beyond excited to join the Action Civics teachers. I am looking forward to having access to resources that support my class in connecting their education with community. My goal as a teacher is to connect curriculum to the real world and that what is learned in the classroom is not separate from my students’ every day lives.
In my freshman English class, the essential question for the year is “How does our education give us the tools to become agents of change?” Each unit, from personal narratives, to short stories, to poetry, to research will explore this question. We began the year with a short unit on defining the concepts of leadership and agency. Within this unit, we discussed issues in the surrounding neighborhood, the United States, and worldwide. I emphasized that the skills we would learn in class would help further develop the critical thinking, reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills to become the leaders this world needs to address these issues.
In the short story unit we broke down classic literature such as “The Lottery” to develop our understanding of tradition, status quo, and when to challenge the status quo. During the poetry unit my students used poetic devices they learned to express their opinions on personal and community issues. For example, after learning about the murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Ezell Ford, many students shared poetry expressing their frustration on this injustice and called for change.
Currently, we are analyzing the novel, Catching Fire, and examining the themes of power and resistance, drawing connections to historical and current events that connect to the theme. In a few weeks, we will begin our culminating research unit where we will explore issues that impact us such as the Prison Industrial Complex, partner with community organizations, and work on creating or supporting resources that help address the issues.
I am fortunate that this organization exists to support my work in social justice education. I can’t wait for my students to meet other youth doing similar work within their classrooms that contribute positively to the community. Surely this network will only strengthen the connection between classrooms and community that will create critical thinking agents of change that will make this world a better place.
English 9 Teacher
Pathways Community School
Los Angeles, California