Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Getting ready for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. is by far my favorite historical figure to teach my students about. Hearing him speak and his wise words have influenced me many times. In fact, when I was applying for certain jobs and was asked why I wanted it, I would always start by quoting Dr. King. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

We are spending all of this week learning about MLK Jr.'s life. I had originally been planning on having a Day of Service on Monday since we were still going to be in school, but since we were recently told that we weren't having school, I'm having to move that up to Friday.

We're learning a new word every day this week and thus far we've learned segregation and equality. Since today Martin's actual birthday, we made him a card and wrote him a note. I loved seeing some of them talk about equality and making our lives better by helping end segregation. Precious little ones...

When talking about equality today I hit a point where my kids just weren't getting it. I talked about treating them differently based on their skin but it didn't really sink in because of course I try to treat everyone the same. Then I decided to try out the Jane Elliot "Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes Experiment" but instead of using eye color I used the color of their pants. Students can wear either navy or khaki pants so I could easily split them up into 2 groups. I spent probably about 2 hours favoring one group over the others and I feel like that made them understand the concept of equality better. About half way through the exercise I had each group talk about how they felt about how I was treating them. As expected, the group that I was treating as inferior would say, "I want to wear navy pants tomorrow!" and vice versa. When we were done we talked about how we could control what color of pants we could wear but we can't control what color of skin we had and elaborated on how unfair it really was. I think it was very powerful. I'm glad that I did it but I think next time I would shorten the duration of how long I treat each group as inferior or superior because of the reactions I saw when we first started.

Also, where have I been so far this year? Well, to illustrate, this is what my life had been like.
Chaotic. Messy. Unorganized. Crazy! 

I spent some time trying to get my school life in order over our Christmas break and this is what I'm hoping the rest of my year will be like...
Organized. Planned. Ready to go! :) 

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