Week of February 8, 2016

Dear Staff,

As you all know, the admin team recently took a planning day to assess the needs of our school community and begin to flesh out plans for next school year.  During these meetings, we take a hard look at where we are currently and where we are headed.  We analyze our collective strengths and weaknesses and then start to brainstorm ways in which we can improve our existing programs.  We are constantly striving to diversify our community as we strongly believe that all schools should be microcosms of society, and that differences are to be celebrated as they make all of us richer, wiser, and more well-rounded human beings.  Because we are committed to creating (and maintaining) an inclusive community of learners, it is essential for us, the educators, to stay acutely aware of our surroundings and to be vigilant about keeping our finger on the pulse of that sense of inclusion.  Barbara Coloroso touches on this topic a lot through the context of bullying and hate crimes.  She speaks of the courage it requires to move from being a bystander to a witness and the role we, the adults in these children’s lives, play in helping children acquire such skills.  So as we continue to explore the complex issues of diversity and inclusion, it is our job to stay consistently aware of ourselves as well as others and to remain open-minded to the perspectives of others.  The article below about micro-aggressions is yet another piece to this awareness puzzle.  In an upcoming staff meeting, we will be exploring these issues is greater detail, along with Barbara Coloroso’s Ted Talk message which has been highlighted in previous blog posts.  We hope these messages strike home with each of you and serve as a launching pad for us to have some very important conversations, with each other and with our students.

Juli, Leslie, and Marianne

No, You Can’t Touch My Hair

by Robyn Jackson


The other day as I was disembarking my flight, a woman in the row ahead of me turned and said, “Is that your natural hair?”

Her traveling companion assumed she was speaking to her and said, “Huh?”

“Not you,” she swatted at her travel companion and pointed at me. “I was talking to that one.” She repeated her question much more loudly this time. “Is that your natural hair?”

Everyone in our vicinity turned and looked at me.

Here we go, I sighed to myself. You see, this type of thing happens to me all the time not just when I’m traveling but when I am conducting trainings or giving keynote addresses. I am frequently asked if I am “all black, or mixed with something else,” or told that I am so “articulate,” or I’m asked about my hair in ways that are invasive or downright insulting (yes it’s all mine and no you cannot touch it). Over the years, I’ve learned to handle it with as much grace as I can muster, choosing (most of the time) to be generous and extend the benefit of the doubt, but that doesn’t mean that these subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) reminders of my “otherness” don’t take their toll.

And if it is happening to me, I know it is happening to our students.

In fact, every time a child is told that she is “pretty for a dark-skinned girl,” or that “he speaks English well for a immigrant” or that he is “talkative for an Asian kid.” Any time a student of color is asked if he plays ball, or is encouraged to rap, or is assumed to be from poverty or a single home. Any time a student’s culture is reduced to their food (“You’re from Ethiopia? Oooh, I love Ethiopian food!”) or a stereotype (“I bet your hair is really pretty underneath that head scarf. It’s a shame that you never get to show it.”) or a movie (“I just saw Straight Outta Compton and I finally get why you’re so angry all the time.”), they are being marginalized.

There’s a name for these brief, everyday exchanges that seem innocent but actually send denigrating messages to students based purely on their race, gender, ethnicity, or sexuality. It’s called micro-aggression. And, while it is more subtle than say burning a cross in someone’s yard, it’s just as insidious. Here’s why.

Micro-aggressions often happen unintentionally. The person committing the micro-aggression typically means no offence and may not be aware that they are causing any harm. And if you don’t know that you are hurting your students, it’s really hard to stop it.

Now, I know that this conversation makes some of you uncomfortable. Others will accuse me of too much political correctness. But those of you who want to do all that you can to make your classroom a safe and welcoming place for every student will do well to consider how you may be unintentionally committing micro-aggressions. The more aware you are, the more you’ll be able to avoid it.



The Week at a Glance

Monday, February 8th:
Juli at HS campus all day doing teacher observations.
Tuesday, February 9th:
K7 Teacher Appreciation Dessert Tray!!!
Wednesday, February 10th: 
Lucia Washam Teacher Leader
1st Grade Performances
Valentine Poem Sharing (K-5)
Juli in Greensboro at Homebase Meeting
Thursday, February 11th: 
Juli in Greensboro at Homebase Meeting
Friday, February 12th: 
Looking Ahead….
February 18 – Kindergarten Gallery Crawl
February 18-19 – MS (6/7/8) Dance Performances
February 22 – CSD Lottery at HS Black Box
March 2 – Butterfly Project – 6th Grade
March 3 – 2nd Grade Children’s Theater Field Trip
March 4 – 2nd Grade Art Gallery
March 4 – 7th Grade Field Trip to Bodyworks at Discovery Place
March 7 – 4th Grade to JA Biztown
March 7 – Parent Advisory – 7:30 at HS
March 9 – Proof of Concept – 5th Grade
March 10 & 11 – 3rd Grade Wax Museum
March 11 – 5th Grade Opera Load In
March 14-18 – 5th Grade Opera
March 17-19 – MS Musical – The Lion King
March 17 – 3rd Grade Walking Tour of Charlotte
March 18 – 7th Grade Asia Day
March 21-24 – 5th Grade Opera
March 25-April 3 – SPRING BREAK
April 4 – Classes resume

Important Reminders:

Report Cards will be emailed to parents on Tuesday, February 16th.

VALENTINES:  Please check in with students individually to make sure they have a plan for completion as we know this can be stressful and overwhelming for some families. Let us know if you have any situations that require additional help.  Additionally, please gently encourage families to focus on the actual Valentine rather than the “presentation” or a “gift” that may come with it.  Thanks for all of your help!

Teaching Tips by Marianne:

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