Person 1: “ Colored people are…”
Person 2: “Do you mean, people of color?”
Person 1: “Yeah, whatever.”
We’re sitting in a tight semi-circle in the middle of the room: 40 ninth graders and two teachers, for three hours of Humanities class. I’m co-teaching, as I have for more than two years, with Nadya. Today we’re talking microaggressions, and while it’s not our first time, it’s our first time focusing specifically on racial microaggressions. We started the day analyzing a variety of definitions of racism, looking for themes, and building our own definitions. Our students held this document in their laps, scribbling in the margins: racism is a system; it’s behavior; it requires power; it benefits some groups at the expense of others.
As first quarter comes to an end, the pilot Student Consultant program is off and running. As a cumulative presentation on the work and learning that has been done during first quarter, all the Student Consultants put together a brief Presentation of Learning to share with the rest of us what their goals for the year are, who they’ve connected with, and what they’ve accomplished for first quarter.
This year Burlington High School physics teachers Lisa Carpenter and Richard Meyer took the risk of moving beyond lecture, labs and textbooks. They opened their classrooms to collaborate with community partners in order to make their energy efficiency units more relevant and rigorous.
As I consider the defeat of the Burlington School district budget on town meeting day 2014, I am concerned how the state increase in school tax rate may soon impact the community satisfaction of the city of Burlington. In my fellowship with the partnership for change this year for family school partnerships, I have come to recognize how important maintaining a strong and vibrant school is to that partnership as well as to the community as a whole. We all know that one benefit of a strong school system is seen in the property value.
At Edmunds Middle School in Burlington, Vt. the standard format of having inservice days peppered throughout the year has been replaced with a model of early release Wednesdays, teacher driven committee work and professional development. Under the direction of principal Bonnie Johnson-Aten the new model combines the Wednesday early release format with the weekly faculty meeting. The work accomplished during this extended block of time rotates on a monthly schedule: committee work, professional learning community (PLC) work, supporting the one-to-one technology environment, and teacher-led professional development.
The traditional foreign language classroom made up of repetitive textbook exercises and oral recitation has evolved in many schools across our country. Madame Drpich is one of the most innovative foreign language teachers using technology in Vermont. She is one of a handful of teachers from the United States involved in VIA: Virtual Intercultural Avenues, a collaborative portal for virtual communication between five schools in the United States, Belgium and France. This is a virtual portal developed by an educator at Essex High School where students and teachers within the participating schools can collaborate on lesson planning, curriculum development, classroom discussions and projects via videoconferencing, email, social media, film and other online communication.
My name is Adam Provost and for over 20 years I've worked to help students, adults, and schools learn to explore the creative capacity of technology and new approaches to "school" and "learning." I signed on in late August at Burlington High School as a Technology Integrationist (helping teachers innovate), and also as a member of the Partnership for Change Initiative… and I've been busy!
Students from Burlington High School helped plan and facilitate intergenerational conversations on race and equity in our community last week at ECHO Lake and Aquarium Center. This event was co-sponsored by the Partnership for Change, Mayor Miro Weinberger, State Representative Kesha Ram, The Young Writers Project and other community partners.
One need only google the term "intergenerational community based learning" and a slew of scholarly articles pop up. Many provide evidence that mixing generations during learning opportunities builds community relationships, offers relevance to the world outside of school walls and fosters rigor and persistence in students.