In the Classroom
Our faculty uses multiculturalism as a lens through which to select and evaluate new material for their programs. Lower and upper school teachers evaluate the content of the curriculum to ensure that all students have both “windows and mirrors.” Our Co-Directors of Diversity collaborate with faculty to enhance cultural competency through grade-level curricular review. This process focuses on highlighting materials, topics, and texts that represent a variety of viewpoints, ideologies, and perspectives in the classroom.
Subject Area & Teachers: Social Studies; Kindergarten Team
At A Glance: Kindergarteners learn about self and family as part of the Identity unit in Social Studies. Why study identity? Positive self identity is the first step towards becoming a compassionate, respectful, and engaged member of a diverse community.
Goals of Study:
- To build positive self identity for all children
- To make explicit the diversity within our community
- To highlight our connections and our differences
- To give children language to talk about who they are
- Monthly self portrait work
- Inside/outside observations
- Identity circles
- Family study and shares
- Gender and gender stereotypes unit
- Books and conversations
Subject Area & Teacher: English; Sabina Piersol
At A Glance: Students read and study the graphic novel trilogy, March, by Georgia Congressman John Lewis (co-written by Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell). Following their discussions regarding activism, justice, and the civil rights movement, teachers of color are invited to join in the conversation with students.
Why does does the fight for racial equality still exist in the United States? What are its historical underpinnings?
What is the Civil Rights movement, and how did it change the course of history?
From personal to system-wide levels, how can we work to toward achieving more equality, justice, and harmony in our society?
By the end of this unit, I will be able to:
- understand the philosophy of nonviolence
- explain why civil rights activists in the 1950s and 1960s chose nonviolence as a way to attain equal rights
- identify and evaluate the efficacy of a variety of nonviolent strategies that civil rights activists used
- assess how the civil rights movement changed the course of history in the United States
- identify and evaluate the efficacy of strategies we can use today to combat racism (on both personal/small scale and systemic levels)
Students spent a month engrossed in March, the award-winning graphic novel trilogy by Georgia Congressman John Lewis (co-written by Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell). As an outgrowth of their study of the novel and its historical context, the sixth graders expressed a genuine desire to better understand the past in context of the present day. In particular, they wanted to know more about how our country’s legacy of racism as well as the ongoing struggle for racial equality might relate to members of our own community.
In response to the students’ curiosity, three SF Day teachers of color were invited to speak about their life experiences, their views of setbacks and progress, and ways in which they each respond to racism and strive for justice: Rodney Ewing, art teacher and working San Francisco artist; Loren Moyé, Co-Director of Diversity & Dean of Faculty; and Damian Crosby, 6th Grade Advisor, P.E. teacher, and basketball coach. Mr. Ewing, Mr. Moyé, and Mr. Crosby all shared generously about life experiences both painful and enlightening; they also helped the students understand that activism can take many forms, often beginning with introspection and work on oneself.
As a culminating activity for this interdisciplinary Civil Rights unit, students wrote an essay to identify, explain, and evaluate three different responses to racism: one example from the novel, one from history, and one expressed by Mr. Ewing, Mr. Moyé, and/or Mr. Crosby. Our first hope is that these young scholars gained an increased understanding and awareness of the challenging racial issues facing our country; ultimately, we hope they will also become passionate about responding to injustice in thoughtful, constructive ways.
Subject Area & Teacher: Social Studies; Dara Carroll
At A Glance: In history, our eighth grade students reflect on the impacts that colonization and genocide have had on our country and on Native people.
Truth & Reconciliation
In eighth grade, the social studies curriculum focuses on the region now known as the United States of America. Students start their study at the beginning of human history on the continent and then focus in on just a few of the many Native, Indigenous, and First Nations of North America. This leads us to then examine European invasion, colonization, and genocide of Native people and the resilience and resistance movements that allowed many Nations to survive to today. Throughout the unit, we pause to ask how the power dynamics of earlier times still persist in the US, and to look at how Native history has been intentionally erased by Americans and Europeans. The unit comes to a close with time to learn about modern forms of colonization, particularly foster system policies that target Native communities and remove Native children from their community. Based on this unit's study of oppression and resistance, containment and liberation, we end with a reflection on healing and the work of the Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Over Indigenous People's Day weekend, students wrote their own Truth and Reconciliation Reflection on how they hope to repair the harm to Native communities.
"When I think of ways that I might of harmed or offended Indigenous People, I don't think of what I have done, but rather of what I haven't done. For years I have not acknowledged the importance of the First Nation people and how they have impacted my life. Every year “Columbus” day comes around and I think ‘Yay! I get a day off', but I don’t acknowledge the history behind the holiday...We can start by making sure that other people are aware of the problem that the Indigenous People face. It is important for people to make sure that the cycle isn’t continued. Retelling the history we’ve learned in class to other people can spread awareness and cause a change in society’s belief."
- 8th Grade Student