Classroom Vision (2020-2021)

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Note: I try to use auditory and visual directions in my class. These include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Closed Captions

  • Large text formats and text-to-speech made available

  • Spanish & English in class and virtually

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress, Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand."

I want students to ”study to struggle.” This saying is based on artwork by radical Chicanx artist Cesar Montero.  As noted abolitionist Frederick Douglass once orated:

 

 

Students should see the work they do in the classroom connected with the work they do throughout their lives, in their homes, and in their communities. We learn to change unjust systems around us by learning about social change and our history of peoples’ struggle. 

 

We will write Community Norms in each of our classes. We will also go over:

  1. Impact Prep Community-wide Expectations

  2. Class Expectations for Community Dialogue

  3. What is Restorative Justice?

  4. Relationships

  5. Positive Recognition

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Our school-wide and class expectations are more important than ever as we prioritize everyone’s safety during COVID-19. 

Impact Prep Community-wide Expectations

  • First 5/Last 5:  When leaving and entering class, students will...

    • Line up silently, receive directions, enter the classroom, take out materials, and complete Do Now’s independently at the start of every class.

    • At the end of class, complete exit tickets and turn them in upon exiting the classroom.

    • ONLY exit the classroom when dismissed by the teacher. 

    • Backpacks will be off the entirety of class unless otherwise directed by the teacher.

  • Tracking Speaker, or, the “one mic” principle”: Students are expected to engage with the ONLY person who “has the mic” when they’re speaking.

  • Volume: Students will practice projecting loudly and proudly while speaking in class. 

Restorative justice (RJ) is a set of practices that use non-punitive responses to improve the lives of people. RJ practices focus on fighting the negative effects of institutions like policing, prisons, and even schools. People who practice RJ do so to challenge oppression in communities by using conversations and conflict resolution strategies. 

As a teacher, I am committed to understanding students' lives before I ever judge their behavior. I will always try to look at the way my biases and power impact how I talk to my students. I hold my students to the same expectations.

It is our task to fight for a world that works for regular people. Using R.J. is just a start to changing the conditions of our lives.

 

***Ideally, I would like to build toward a future model of youth-led restorative justice. No one knows what the needs of our students are better than students themselves. I invite you to watch this local example of RJ at Holyoke High School: https://player.vimeo.com/video/375539959.

Mx. Alex’s Expectations for Community Dialogue → We will discuss these the first week of school. 

  1. Assume good faith in your fellow neighbors.

  2. Know whether you need to "step up" or "step back" 

  3. Please ask yourself "Why am I Talking?” 

  4. Please recognize and respect others feelings, background, and cultural differences. 

  5. We have “one mic” so do not interrupt or speak while others are talking.

  6. Have fun!

 

Relationships

  • How will we affirm identity, build community, and cultivate leadership? 

    • History isn’t carried on the back of one person but on the backs of many people that work together. We can’t do anything alone! Our classroom community should encourage leaning on our neighbors. I can’t succeed when I know there are people in my community that can succeed alongside me but need extra support to do it. 

  • Name and bios Wall 

  • Student affirmations activity→ Jars are set up for the year/semester so students can write self-affirmations notes to themselves

and...

  • Community-based learning

    • Ex. students will illustrate their own storybooks and host storytelling workshops with younger students at Impact, or at neighboring elementary schools/organizations.

  • Establishing Community Norms

Community norms will be generated by students and re-evaluated at the end of Fall semester and beginning of Spring semester. 

Positive Recognition Systems

  • Recognition is for the benefit of all my students and not the privilege or reward of selected students who meet specific standards.

  • Recognition can and will look like…

 will use the raincheck cards to check in with my students! Available any time in class and available to be dropped off in a mailbox on the teachers’ desk.

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I am committed to creating a classroom culture rooted in empathy and the needs of my students.

 

I will always invite students to advocate for themselves and for others. If there are instances where my students would like to address problems with my teaching directly, I invite them to bring them up without fear.

I acknowledge that even public calls for concern come from urgent need and passion.

 

We will practice conflict resolution in a full-class talking circle, or during small group resolutions so students can be heard.