My good friend, John Hinds, former principal of 17 years and current leadership consultant, just published a video that I wanted to feature on the blog today for my weekly anti-racist post. Though his video does not explicitly address racism, it does encourage us to examine our own biases as he relates a story about his first tour of a school to which he had been assigned. It brings me back to a couple of books I reviewed, Talking to Strangers and Bias, in this post, and the idea that our brains are naturally wired for bias to help us bring order to our world. As many administrators and teachers are returning to work in the next couple of weeks, I think that it is important to be conscious of our tendencies to make assumptions and how those assumptions may be detrimental to ourselves and others. One way to combat this is the Bias Toolkit, which is one of the many resources you can find in my Wakelet of Anti-Racism Resources.
I really like this video from Ethan Hawke about giving yourself permission to be creative. I’ve noticed a few things in student-centered learning when it comes to being creative: students have a hard time figuring out what they really love, students compare themselves to others far too often, and students are afraid of appearing foolish if what they create is not good enough. As Hawke points out, children don’t start out with those inhibitions; our societal “norms” produce them. I believe that is to the detriment of our community. While I don’t think education needs to become a free-for-all, allowing students to do whatever they want, I would like us to spend more time in schools helping students to find out what children truly love instead of focusing on their weaknesses. And, as the late, great Sir Ken Robinson also advocated, we need to stop diminishing the benefits of creativity in our schools.
The beautiful poem, “Reimagine, Recreate, Restore” was written and performed by Jordan Sanchez for World Environment Day this month. You can’t help but feel inspired to get up each day and do something positive to preserve our beautiful world. I will be adding this to my poetry Wakelet, which also includes this blog post on Spoken Word poetry. To learn more about Jordan Sanchez, visit her website where you can also find other examples of her incredible work.
Venture Lab is all about bringing entrepreneurial learning to students. One way they do this is with Pitch Events, and you can see a variety of student pitches on their YouTube Channel. The Sunshine Sisters pitched their idea in December of 2020, and you can watch these three adorable girls talk about their product and answer questions from adult business leaders in this video.
John Hinds was the principal at one of the schools where I worked for 10 years. Since then, we have remained friends and he moved on to lead two other schools. He and I both retired in December of 2019, and he has his own consulting business, JL Hinds Consulting. John is passionate about sharing what he has learned that works when it comes to leading a school — and he is also very honest about the mistakes he has made. He has started a YouTube channel of short videos with advice for school administrators.
Though I know most of my readers are teachers, I want to share this with you in case you are considering administration or know someone who might benefit from these. The videos are about building community and paying attention to all of the pieces that come together to make a school thrive. John has been a wonderful mentor and coach for me throughout my career, and I think he has very practical and helpful suggestions even experienced administrators may appreciate. So far, my favorite videos are, “Foyer Triage” and “Collaborate with Your School Community”. (See my post, “Thinking Outside the School,” to see an example of John’s collaboration with the community.) He has more videos on the way, so please subscribe and share!
Clint Smith, author of How the Word is Passed, and staff writer at The Atlantic, hosts a new series called Black American History on the Crash Course YouTube Channel. As of today, June 4, 2021, there are 5 short videos on the channel, including an introductory preview. Though the videos are short (less than 15 minutes each), they probably already cover more Black American history than the textbooks that are currently in our public schools. For example, the 4th video covers Elizabeth Key’s legal battle for freedom — certainly a piece of history that was never covered in any of my classes.
Watching these videos can help people to understand the complexity of our country’s past and how it still has a strong hold over our present. For example, in the video that teaches about the slave codes that were written even before the United States was a country, the following quote refers to these laws of the 17th and 18th centuries:
Unfortunately, statistics show that the disparity among races in consequences for breaking the law is still true in some places in our country today. While our current laws are not overtly racist like the slave codes, they are often enforced that way.
I look forward to learning more from this Crash Course series, and I hope that teachers will be able to use it in their classrooms — though, ironically, teachers in Texas and some other states may not have the freedom to do so.
I will be adding this post to my Wakelet of Anti-racism Resources.