Teaching After Parkland
Yesterday as I was leaving school, I sat on the train and read about another deadly school shooting.
This morning, I had to walk back into my public high school and face my students.
Without getting into the realm of any Chicago Stereotypes, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the issue of guns in schools is very real for them, and for me.
Thanks to the combined efforts of SAT testing and a field trip, my 3rd period class had six students in it today. Six young men who have demonstrated to me countless times that they are question-askers and sense-makers and critical thinkers. Today I didn't push anyone to work on the projects they had been assigned.
Today, I just listened.
I listened to six young men talk about school shootings. I also listened to six young men talk about school-adjacent gun violence. Violence involving students in neighborhoods, by the train stations, just outside schools. I listened to young men asking me if we could learn about these things. If we could find the math in them and talk about them and learn about them, so that they might be able to begin to understand.
The kids know. They are so painfully aware.
We need to act. We need legislation, we need gun control, but we also need to listen. We need to hear our children and we need to understand the ways in which these things affect them. And we, as teachers, need to help them to learn about the causes of these tragedies. We need to use this as a sad but important opportunity to give them the knowledge they need to make a change.
So I believe that will be my challenge over the next few weeks - to help my students use math as a lens to look at these big problems and come up with solutions. I think we owe them that much.
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As an educator, Abigail Johnson reflects on several relevant topics impacting today's students in mainstream classroom settings.