Sunday, October 9, 2016

Let Students Pronounce Themselves (On Pronouns and Identity) [Guest Post] | The Jose Vilson

Let Students Pronounce Themselves (On Pronouns and Identity) [Guest Post] | The Jose Vilson:

Let Students Pronounce Themselves (On Pronouns and Identity) [Guest Post]


Editor’s Note: Normally, I don’t post things during a break, but I’d like everyone to read this from Kurt Ostrow. Also, this is totally appropriate even right now and any time, not just the first day of school. Enjoy!
In my work as a public high school English teacher, I try to think of ways to center students on the margin.
This summer, as I celebrated the organizing that secured trans rights in Massachusetts and read the visionary platform of the Movement for Black Lives, I thought about my own responsibility as an educator: How can I continue to support trans students and students of color in my classroom?
To do this work well requires serious time and energy—both of which public school teachers desperately lack. Transforming schools into liberated and liberating spaces is hard enough without the pressures of high-stakes testingpunitive evaluations, and a ballot question to lift the cap on charter schools.
But we must, of course, keep doing the work. We must constantly reimagine what we teach and how we teach it. We must make our schools places that welcome and center, rather than simply tolerate or accommodate, trans students and students of color.*
Here’s one move I made at the start of this school year: letting students pronoun/ce themselves on the first day.
When my kids found their seats last week, I asked each of them to write on an index card their name, a phonetic guide to their name, what pronouns they use, and the answer to an icebreaker. I walked them through a model on the board:
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After I fielded questions from the floor and gave students time to fill out their cards, I modeled with my own introduction: “Hi yall! I’m Mr. Ostrow. I use he/him/his pronouns. And if I had a time Let Students Pronounce Themselves (On Pronouns and Identity) [Guest Post] | The Jose Vilson:


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