Tag Archive | Group 13

Fairness in the Classroom

Holding Nyla
The teacher in this story chronicles her experiences with Nyla, a students who lives with severe effects of cerebral palsy. The teacher is anxious about working with this student considering her delicate medical state. After holding Nyla during circle time, the teacher is able to make a personal connection with the student and consequently the students feel more  comfortable reaching out to Nyla as well.
When the class orders new dolls, they also order a doll that sits in a wheelchair. When the doll arrives, the wheelchair is ill-fitting and the class writes a letter to protest this inaccuracy.
After time passes in the classroom, Nyla’s mother feels increasingly anxious about Nyla being a part of a general classroom setting and decides to move her to a different school. The class is devastated  and spends Nyla’s last week doing goodbye activities. Nyla’s mother walks in the class, one child expresses that Nyla is his best friend and that he loves her. Nyla’s mom is brought to tears and decides to let her stay in the classroom. She had never envisioned the possibility that Nyla could have a best friend.
Fairness First
The author, Walters, was a first-grade teacher. There were 16 students in her class and all of them are African Americans (like herself) .She decided to teach a social studies unit on “fairness” as a jumping-off point for talking about justice. She believes that it is important for young children to understand they have a role in creating a more just society. She has two key goals for her class: 1) to help her students understand that children can work for change despite their age and 2) to underscore that fairness and justice are not just global concepts, but that students can take action in their own corner of the world to right wrongs. She was not sure if this class unit would be successful, but she decided to do.
She had been trying to build community in the classroom. They held daily meetings where students talked with each other about their lives. they also did lessons about friendship; they discussed openly in class why some people are treated differently than others. She wanted her students to be aware of “fair” and “unfair”. They discussed what it meant to be fair in the first lesson. Ss had different answers one of which was from Inez: “Not letting other children play with you or come to your birthday party with you because of the way they look.” Ms. Walters started to realize that whether people are treated fairly or not is related to something about the person’s identity. She asked the students:
Are people always fair? What should we do when we see people treated unfairly?
Then they did two lessons on MLK Jr. When she asked: Do you think that young children can help to to change things in our world that are not fair?” only TWO said YES. Then they read The Story of Ruby Bridges and Through My Eyes. Ruby was the first African American student in William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. The students learned that young children could do something to change things that are not fair.
Ms. Walters convinced her students that “any action they take to improve our community— no matter how small—is significant.”
“PROGRESS IN TEACHING, AS IN SOCIAL JUSTICE, OFTEN COMES SLOWLY.”
Teacher Panel Questions:
How do you deal with parents who do not agree with your curriculum strategies?
How do you incorporate the LGBTQ community into your classroom?
How do you shape your classroom to include children of varying developmental levels?
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