Teachers met at the high school on Tuesday, August 30 to discuss the new Identity Curriculum that has been created with plans of being piloted this school year.
Motivated by race-related incidents at the national, town and school level, a group of faculty and students met in the spring and summer to create a framework for departments to create curriculum that will weave concepts of identity into existing courses at the high school organically. According to Associate Dean Brian Poon and Dean of Faculty Jenee Ramos, every department participated in its creation.
Through slideshows, activities and faculty discussion, social studies teacher Jen Martin spoke about the importance of faculty gaining a deeper understanding of their own identity and begining to recognize the complexity of identity, including the ways in which people are both different and similar.
According to Martin’s slides, one goal of the Identity Curriculum is to recognize the ways identity affects the classroom environment and individual student learning.
“ gain a deeper understanding of one’s own identity,” Martin’s slide showed, “ begin to recognize the complexity of identity, and the ways in which people are both different and similar.”
With a humorous presentation, she explained to all that in order to make relationships with students of any background, teachers must be in tune to where they stand themselves and how their own identity affects these connections. Discussions in pairs gave faculty members a chance to begin to do this.
Social studies teacher Kathryn Leslie presented next. Sheets of paper were passed out to the crowd showing the best ways for teachers to lead class discussions of these issues, including advice such as to “commit to having the discussion instead of avoiding it,” “teach students the difference between intent and impact,” and “review your discussion norms with students first, before engaging in difficult conversations.”
Next, two student speakers, juniors Eva Earnest and Lizzy Allen, talked about the many students who feel their identities are not covered in the standard curriculum and how teachers play a huge role in facilitating the upcoming changes.
The meeting ended with Poon and Ramos reminding faculty that although it is a difficult time to improve and change teaching methods due to the contract-related issues, it is no less important. Poon acknowledged that it is a hard task and that there may be skepticism that the new curriculum is too similar to attempts that have been made in the past, but that it is the faculty’s responsibility to do better and work to engage students of every background.