Where are we going from here?
Being an educator in a new city is daunting. It is a challenge to navigate state and district systems, to connect with activist teachers, and to continue the work that was once begun halfway across the country. Being part of the Transformative Teachers group has reminded me of three things: 1) start with what you know in your heart is right; 2) remember your source of passion in the classroom; and 3) use and share your connections. So, where do I go from here? I start with social justice, I use poetry as a source of passion for both myself and my students, and I start connecting--both widely and wildly.
Knowing that many of my students are talented and bold spoken word artists, I signed my school up to be part of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement’s (PYPM) slam league. I also know that many of my students are craving outlets for change…ways to change themselves, ways to change their families and communities, ways to change this beautifully crazy world. And this, this is precisely where I can leverage transformative teaching practices. In addition to utilizing social media and other means of connection to reach out to potential colleagues, networks, collaborations, I also plan to rely heavily on the ‘voice and storytelling’ domain of transformative teaching to support students in using their realities and experiences to enact change and create justice.
I hope to inspire my students to take their poetry from the stage to the recreation centers, boardrooms, and council meetings of their communities in order to address the socio-political issues they care so deeply and passionately about. Spoken word poetry is nothing new, but each and every one of my students’ voices is a new chance, a chance to not only have stories heard, but also to fulfill the innate need for people to speak up for themselves and attempt to right what they feel is wrong in our city. Who knows, maybe my students will create the next iteration of the guerilla poetry movement. We’ll see…my students will decide what they want to do with their words. Let’s all be ready to listen up!