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Affinity Groups Are a Way to Retain Teachers of Color

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I FELT A SENSE of community the moment I walked into my school as a new classroom teacher. Our guidance counselor met me at the door, smiling ear to ear. Within an hour, another Black staff member introduced herself to me and welcomed me into the community. “I make sure to go out of my way to meet and greet every Black staff member because I want you to know that you belong,” she said.

The district where I teach has approximately 14,000 students, 77.1 percent of whom identify as students of color while just 13 percent of the 1,100 educators share that Identity.  For the first two years, I was often mistaken for a student because I “blended in.” When I covered other classrooms, students would often ask me if I was a language tutor or an arts educator. When I told them that I was a STEM teacher, they would turn to me in disbelief because they have never before had a Black STEM classroom teacher. They peppered me with questions: What subjects do I teach? How long have I been a teacher? How much do teachers make and, most importantly, do I enjoy the profession?

For my students of color, representation matters because if you can see it, you can believe it. For many of them, I am often their first teacher of color. Research shows that teachers of color tend to have higher expectations of students of color and are associated with better student achievement, lower absenteeism, and fewer suspensions for students of color.

Having positive exposure to educators from a variety of races and ethnic groups for both white and minority students can help to reduce stereotypes, eliminate unconscious implicit biases, and promote cross-cultural social bonding. With diverse educators before them, my students can have “recognized access” and believe in possibilities they might not have considered otherwise. The need for this presence is not only at the secondary level, but in early childhood as well where it is imperative to build a larger diverse educator pipeline.

There is some good news. Teacher diversity rates are trending upwards in Massachusetts, a positive development. Now that we have recruited educators of color, how will we retain them? For me and other teachers of color I know, it is essential to have a space where we can share experiences without having to explain why we feel the way we do.

To support this “recognized” access” for our students, we must create spaces for educators to come together and connect through affinity groups and employee resource groups. Seeing this need, I pushed my administration to form our district affinity groups that I am now co-coordinating. In my first affinity group meeting, one educator became emotional about feeling isolated. Were there even 10 Black educators who had the same experience and challenges? Time after time, unprompted, educators and staff would say “I could write a book” about their lived experience as an educator of color in our district.

I am lucky that on my first day in my school I found my affinity group, but I needed more. Through my district affinity group, I now connect with educators across 28 schools who have various levels of support and a sense of belonging to our school community. The group allows all of us to practice self-care as we build roots and connections. Now that we have access to a strong supportive community with a variety of experiences, expertise, and perspectives, we use this space as a catalyst for addressing problems of policy and practice and to improve our teaching, The end goal is a professional learning community that is striving towards improvement of outcomes for our students, families, and educators within our city.

Ralph Saint-Louis teaches biology and chemistry at Lowell Public High School in Lowell. He is a 2021-2022 Teach Plus Massachusetts Policy Fellow.

The post Affinity groups are a way to retain teachers of color appeared first on CommonWealth Magazine.

Article: commonwealthmagazine.org

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Choose Some Disney Tunes and I’ll Give You an “Encanto” Quote for Inspiration

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“Even in our darkest moments, there’s light where you least expect it.”

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Original Post: buzzfeed.com

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Temperature Textiles Translate Climate Crisis Data Into Colorful, Graphic Knits

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Design

#blanket
#climate crisis
#data
#knitting
#scarves
#socks
#weather

Temperature Textiles Translate Climate Crisis Data into Colorful, Graphic Knits

January 21, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images (C) Raw Color

Creating tangible records of weather patterns has been a long-running practice for crafters and designers interested in visually documenting the effects of the climate crisis over time. Daniera ter Haar and Christoph Brach, of the Eindhoven, The Netherlands-based studio Raw Color, join this endeavor with their new collection of knitted goods that embed data about temperature changes, the sea’s rising levels, and emissions directly within their products’ patterns.

In each design, the duo translates data from the IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, into colorful, line graphics that represent four possible outcomes for the world through the year 2100. The titular Temperature Textiles rely on warm shades, sea level uses cool blues, purples, and greens, and emissions a combination of the two to visualize the changes.

Raw Color shares more specifics about the data behind Temperature Textiles on its site, where you can also shop the collection of flat and double knits. Follow the studio on Instagram to keep up with its latest designs. (via Design Milk)

#blanket
#climate crisis
#data
#knitting
#scarves
#socks
#weather

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An Annual ‘Giant Letter’ Installation Displays a Heartfelt Note From a 100-Foot-Tall Boy Named Bobby

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#installation
#letters
#public art
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An Annual ‘Giant Letter’ Installation Displays a Heartfelt Note from a 100-Foot-Tall Boy Named Bobby

January 21, 2022

Grace Ebert

2020 in Austin. All images (C) Giant Letter, shared with permission

Every year on December 12, a handwritten letter on oversized lined paper appears on a residential lawn in Chicago or Austin. The massive constructions, which stand between 8- and 12-feet high, are part of an ongoing project that shares heartfelt messages between an imaginary 100-foot-tall boy named Bobby and those who matter most in his life (aka his mother Lucinda, cat Mr. McFluffins, and Santa).

Chicago-based artists Caro D’Offay and Laura Gilmore began Giant Letter back in 2012 as a way to connect with their community following the tragic killings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Marj Wormald joined the pair a few years later, and together, they’ve installed 10 iterations. “We’re trying to create an atmosphere,” D’Offay said in an interview. “The person standing there can in a way feel very small but also have big emotions. It can be transformative for someone, and they’re just walking their dog.”

2021 in Chicago

During its decade-long run, Giant Letter displays have included microscopes and astronomy books, huge pencils and cups of tea, and of course, chocolate chip cookies and milk. Every piece also sets a “Bobby box” nearby that encourages visitors to drop in messages they’d like to share with the child. In the most recent version installed at the intersection of Glenwood and Albion avenues in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, a 35-foot tool stretches alongside a letter from Bobby’s mother detailing her cancer diagnosis. “I know this is a much bigger tape measure than you probably need but I want you to dream big and make giant magic!” it reads.

Organizers say the 2021 installation will stay in its current spot indefinitely, although they’re hoping to transfer the project to a museum or gallery in the future. You can follow their progress on Instagram.

2021 in Chicago

2019 in Austin

2016 in Austin

2016 in Chicago

2014 in Chicago

2013 in Chicago

2012 in Chicago

2012 in Chicago

#installation
#letters
#public art
#street art

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