More Reading Worth Your Time

via GIPHY

Going back through all the tabs I have open to share, the oldest seems to be a piece Michael Doyle wrote early this month. He’s writing about fixing a ceiling fan.

I have always focused on the black wire, the live one, the one with the power and the glory. The neutral one, not so much.

Read the piece and get his message about power and who can and can’t make change. But also know that I read that piece and thought about the many students over the years I’ve known. Students I’ve decided needed exactly this help from me or needed exactly this support from family or whatever it might be. All the students for whom I have known so clearly what they needed. How often was I focusing on the black wire and ignoring the neutral one?

Yesterday, at EdCampNova, I had the chance to see Michelle Haseltine (among many other awesome educator friends). I got to talk with her some about this field trip. Such an opportunity for her and her middle school students! It was a good reminder to me of how often things happen because a teacher is willing to grab an opening, reach out to someone, take a risk. It takes time and energy and there are many things in teachers’ days that take time and energy. But, wow, what we can achieve if we grab the chance when it comes by.

Another friend I saw at EdCampNova was Tim Stahmer. He wrote recently about one of the great challenges when it comes to using tech (personally and in education). Tools that are free are difficult. Someone has to pay for things. If we aren’t paying money for them, we’re paying in some other way. And, at some point, they may not be free anymore. (Tim explores this far more eloquently than I.)

I am not a big superhero fan. If I don’t see Avengers or Infinity War, I won’t be disappointed. But I make sure to see, in the theater, movies that I want to financially support. Recently this has included Wonder Woman and Black Panther. I enjoyed Wonder Woman, but I loved Black Panther. Loved it. Match Black Panther up with Jose Luis Vilson and I am sold. He does a masterful job of bringing the ideas of Black Panther and explaining what that means in education right now.

Science Goddess shared her newest data story recently and it is, as always, amazing. She looked at the comments used on report cards, K-12, in her district and compared based on different groups – gender, income, etc.

Even though most of the text is pretty much the same across student groups at the elementary level, the bottom line is there are some differences in how we talk about boys and girls…and for students of colour…and students from low-income backgrounds…and those who receive special services.

You can read about how she did it and what she learned. Both of those things fascinate me.

These last two pieces seem to fit together. The first is from Kin Lane. He writes about his “white male spreadsheet”. It’s an analogy that helps understand how we see the world.

Growing up, my spreadsheet was pretty basic, with a limited number of columns, and information available. As I grew older and gained more experience new columns would appear, but my spreadsheet was very much crafted by my family and the world around me. I didn’t have any notion of the hidden columns, just that as I grew up, new columns would magically appear, and soon I learned if I traveled and expanded my reality other new columns would sometimes appear. However, if I stayed in my white world, and operate within my male reality, columns pretty much stayed as they were.

The second one is from Jess Lifshitz. She writes from a different perspective than Kin, from the perspective of one who doesn’t feel she and her family fit in this world. She helps us, those of us who do seem to fit, understand what it means to be shown to be other all the time. What it means to have your differences highlighted. What it means to be casually treated as if you are not valued as much as others.

And over and over and over again, this world provides us with reminders that we are the “other,” that we are different, that we are not the target audience for so many of the events of this world.  And there is a particular sting, an extra hurt, when the moments that remind us that we are the other are created by the schools our children attend. Because then it is not just we, the adults, who do not feel as if these spaces are meant for us, but our children are made to feel as if the places where they spend the majority of their days are creating spaces and events that are not meant for them either. We do not have to seek these opportunities out in order to feel sadness about them, we are surrounded by them.

For those of us who do fit in this world without effort, those of us with comfortable spreadsheets, we do not even notice these ways we make others feel they don’t fit. Our spreadsheet hasn’t included them yet. We have to be willing to listen when someone else points this out to us. We have to be willing to add another column to our spreadsheet.

2 replies on “More Reading Worth Your Time”

  1. Thanks for sharing my work.

    • jenorr says:

      Thank you for continuing to write and help the rest of us learn and grow. I am sure that writing like you do takes some time and energy and you have plenty of things in your life that take time and energy. I appreciate that you carve some out for this.

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