We have kicked off 2021 with a fresh perspective! Despite the distance from our community during COVID, we are taking a closer look at our community and who lives here. This past month has been an exploration in the places people live and the jobs they do. We’ve been fortunate to have a few visitors (safe with masks) to tell us about their jobs too!
There are many types of communities and different types of people who live and work all over the world. We looked at communities ranging from here in the Verde Valley to ones in different countries. For example, in one lesson we focused on the question, where do people live? We saw dwellings in other places such grass huts in developing nations and high-rise condos in large cities. These examples are representative of how such diversity can exist in one planet.
“As I started reflecting on our vocabulary words,” says Shara, “I planned to teach ‘community,’ ‘home,’ and ‘citizen.’ I wondered, how do we handle equity, justice, kindness, and advocacy in talking about community? When I reflected on what it means to be what we call a ‘good citizen,’ I wanted to show that there are many people who live here and contribute.” We looked at citizens not by legal meaning but by who is here, and how people contribute to the place they live. Such important distinctions can be overlooked without a conscious effort to bring equity into the classroom. Here, we teach our youngest community members about the importance of all of us others regardless of difference.
People contribute to their community in many ways. The students in our class thought of amazing ideas like pulling weeds, helping a neighbor and recycling. They had the aspiration to help our global community too. To demonstrate this in action, we invited members of the community to represent their jobs and the ways they contribute. For example, our firefighters came and discussed their service and work.
Our own assistant, Briana Fletes, has been sharing her culture and Spanish language background with the kids as well. She has been with the school since last year and has begun in 2021 to lead a Spanish-immersion story circle each day. Recently, she read, “We are the Same, We are Different, We are One” in Spanish. Of her experience teaching, Briana says, “The kids pay attention to the stories in Spanish. They are listening, they don’t just space out because they don’t understand me. They often later will remember a word from the book and ask me what it means. At this age it’s perfect for learning Spanish because they’re so young and soak up everything they see.” In the past, she has done drama performances of classic stories using props to show the story while speaking Spanish.
We love our community and are eager to share our learning space with others when we can more fully open our classroom to community partnerships. Sharing stories helps us all learn about each other.