Community in Action

Community in Action Week was a success!  The week, and Community in Action Day in particular, provided an excellent opportunity for the children to engage in our ongoing diversity work across grade levels.  As our conversations for the past two weeks have surrounded the themes of identity  and intersectionality, it was rewarding to bring the entire Preschool together to participate in these conversations together, and visualize the diversity of our school community.  As the Puppies, the Beavers, and the three Kindergarten classes entered the Lower School Music Room and gathered to start our assembly, the Beavers were visibly excited to continue these investigations.  We were so touched by their open hearts and open minds.  

We began the day with a Preschool Assembly.  Facilitated by our new Director of Diversity, Semeka Smith-Williams, we kick started the day with a viewing of a faculty and student intersectionality video.  In this video, various members of our school community shared about aspects of their identity – specifically disclosing some of their identifiers.  

After the assembly, we met in the Dance studio with the Puppies to play a game called “Four Corners.”  In this game, we asked the children various questions about different aspects of their identity.  Depending on their answers, they would travel to the corner of the room which had an answer with which they most closely identified.  Some of the questions we asked your children were…

  • If you had to choose, what’s your favorite color? (pink, blue, black, none of these)
  • How do you travel to school? (train, car/taxi, walk, other)
  • Learning in school feels…(just right, tricky, easy)
  • How would you describe your skin color? (light, dark, in-between)
  • Do you have siblings? (Yes, no, I wish I had siblings)
  • Do you feel like… (a girl, a boy,  both or neither?)              

Once the children had traveled to a corner of the room which they most closely identified with, the teachers facilitated conversations between the Puppies and the Beavers about what they noticed.  Are there a lot of children that identify this way? Why or why not? The dialogue was rich and the activity helped the children build connections with children who shared similar identifiers.   

After our Assembly and Four Corners, we headed back to our room for Morning Meeting.  Our greeting for the morning was to finish the sentence: “I’m Proud to Be…” Here were their responses.

Lucia: I’m proud to have a big family

Harper: I’m proud to be a girl

Charlie: I’m proud to come from Germany

Pearl: I’m proud to love sparkles

Téa: I’m proud to love the word “seashell” and to be a very fancy girl

Emerson: I’m proud to have two dogs

Ruby: I’m proud to have my squirrel shirt

Elfie: I’m proud to feel beautiful on the outside but also in my heart

Cate: I’m proud to have a family

Milo: I’m proud to be Persian, we have our own holidays!

Jake: I’m proud to be an active person in my family

Arjun: I’m proud to be a Skylander lover

Harry: I’m proud that part of my family came from a different country, because before I thought all of my family came from New York!

Jalen: I’m proud to have stuffed animals at home

Asher: I’m proud to be a 4 train lover

Ava: I’m proud to have my sister as a part of my family

Erica: I’m proud to be a Californian

Alex: I’m proud to have peach skin

Steelo: I’m proud to be 5 years old

Ezra: I’m proud to be 4 and a half

Vivian: I’m proud to be a big sister

Denisse: I’m proud to have olive skin

Sara: I’m proud to live in a city with so many different kinds of people

Carmen: I’m proud to be a daughter

Later in the day, the children colored their Identity Branches, each with a different vision in mind.  To culminate our CIA day, we sat together in a “Celebration Circle.”  During this time, each child shared their completed Paper-Doll Self Portraits (they came out so well! – make sure to visit the bulletin boards in our hallway to get the full experience) and shared their identity branches.  As they shared, each Beaver beamed with pride.  We thank you for your support with these conversations.  It was evident that every child felt connected, proud and invested.  We loved watching them confidently discuss the ways they identify.  

We continued our work with our Buddies on Thursday, playing a game called “Mingle Huddle.” A take on freeze dance, the children bopped around until the music stopped.  When the music stopped, they were asked to find a huddle with their buddy and to try to come up with as many identifiers as they had in common.  It was amazing to hear the fourth graders engage our Pre-Kers in independent conversations about their gender, race, ethnicity, religion etc.  Time with our Buddies is always cherished, but Thursday’s visit  felt extra special.

One topic of conversation that emerged during our CIA week conversations was the notion of being an ally.  As we introduced different identifiers, the Beavers recognized the varying injustices that surrounded these topics:  Who says girls can’t play football?  Why are people judged by the color of their skin?  Why can’t a boy wear a dress if that’s what feels comfortable?  This conversation initially began after a reading of Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey, which tells the story of the first women’s baseball league.  Here are some of the Beavers thoughts as we read:

Elfie: Girls can do baseball, football or anything they want.

Ruby: Yeah, remember the golden rule, treat other people the way you want to be treated

Harry: That’s not nice to say girls can’t do baseball.

Arjun: It’s stereotype.

Cate: There are lots of boys and girls in this entire life

Elfie: If girls want to play basketball, they can play.

Milo: Very long ago girls weren’t able to do the things that boys were. Like they couldn’t be the bosses or they couldn’t even wear certain things. Like they always had to wear dresses and I know a lot of girls don’t like that but they didn’t have a choice

Cate: Girls… they weren’t allowed to do what they wanted to do

Steelo: But today women are the boss of men.  Woman don’t have to cook the men can cook for women now in these days. My mom doesn’t know how to cook so my dad cooks for my mom

Cate: My dad is a better cooker. My mom always messes up the pancakes

Emerson: Thankfully in the 1980s and in the 19’s later MLK, he decided that this world should change. Fight with your words and not with your hands.

Tea: Why did Katie not know that she would have a chance to play baseball?

Milo: Did you know, in the 1970s no girls were allowed to either cook or be in a kitchen.

No matter their theories (accurate or not! :), in these moments, the teachers encourage the Beavers to think critically about what they could do when they witness moments of injustice or perpetuated stereotypes.  Empowering children to see themselves as changemakers or allies is crucial.  On Thursday, we did some role playing to practice how to be an ally.  The teachers acted out various situations where someone was being treated unfairly due to an aspect of their identity.  We asked the Beavers to step in as the ally.  Here are some of their ideas about how they would be an ally.

These discussions continued today as we read One by Kathryn Otoshi.  This book examines the platitude “It only takes one”, providing context through characters of color.  While Blue is quiet, Red’s a “hothead” who likes to pick on Blue. The other colors don’t like what they see, but no one speaks up.  Then One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up, stand together, and count. Here are some of the Beavers’ responses:

What is an ally?

Tea- someone who stands up for others.  An Ally can say hey Red, that is not nice you should stop it and be nicer to Blue.

Why don’t any of the other colors say something to Red?

Carmen- Because Yellow would feel bad for Blue, but maybe she is afraid of Red.

Milo- I think she would be scared because she might blend in with Red.

Elfie- They might feel sad when someone is giving them a put down.

Why did Red get bigger?

Pearl- because no one stopped him.

Tea- I would say, STOP PICKING ON THE NICE PEOPLE!

…You would feel not so small.  Can you please stop picking on us, we love you bye.

Ruby- Stop doing it, we don’t like it we are going to run away from you unless you stop it

Jake- be nicer to us, we are smaller than you. We are nice colors too, you know?

Asher- He has to be little because he was not nice

What would make red feel better?

Steelo- Stop it you are making him feel bad and small

What does the phrase: “Sometimes it just takes one” mean?

They all chanted: One person!, one color!, one Beaver!

Happy Birthday to another Beaver! Thanks for sharing delicious cupcakes and a reading of The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew DayWalt.

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