Slice of Life: Difficult Conversations

I had to leave ILA early. That’s another story. This story starts with something I missed:  Cornelius Minor and Sarah Ahmed’s session on using the world as our curriculum.  Fortunately, Heinemann interviewed the two before their session. You can listen here.


And then there was an impromptu session wth Cornelius. Read this post detailing what must have been a tremendous experience.

This is what I’m thinking.

Gun violence against people of color happens every day. And it affects the classroom. It’s a story of a cousin of a student in my class It’s about a nine-year-old in a  neighboring town. It’s talked about at home and on the playground. All of that drama is on my students’ minds. They come to school with it. They want to talk about it. And they do, with each other. But in the classroom? Only if I bring it up. And that can be uncomfortable. I sit there in my white, female self. Wondering, worrying. Am I doing this right? Is this ok? And then I answer myself. I am an educator. I have to be talking about it. This is the world we live in. If I don’t address it I am negligent.

The conversation needs to happen. And we must be able. Because we want classrooms that foster discovery. Where students read, write, and are heard. We want it to be a place to learn about people who are worthy. Worthy of attention and understanding. A place to read about and to talk about people, of different gender and race, so that students can connect because even if they are different, they are like them.  That’s one pathway to seeing possibility in this world.

Our classrooms need to be a safe place to discover and create kindness. What happens on the playground, in the home, on the streets, across the country, comes into the classroom and must be addressed. We as educators have to listen, discuss and empower ourselves and our students with knowledge and understanding. That’s our job.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. A place to write and share. Read more slices here.





14 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Difficult Conversations

  1. Yes. If we don’t do this, we are indeed negligent. I am astounded by your ability to be current with podcasts and conferences. Your work to know more is amazing.

  2. Tara wrote about this same subject earlier in the week. I think it is very important for teachers to open discussions about what is happening in the world. I think writing teachers are in a unique position to do that given that writing assignments can involve current events and writing can be shared and discussed with classmates.

  3. I agree. But I also wonder if talk is enough. My school is not diverse. Maybe I need to somehow connect my students to the diverse world more. We do through books but it still feels unreal, as I’m sure the news feels just as unreal to my students. They can hear the news but it doesn’t feel like it is a part of our North Arlington lily-white world. Thanks for your post with links. I’ll keep pondering how to converse and connect my students with the present-day news.

  4. I did not get to attend that session either. In a few different sessions, I heard presenters mention the idea of supporting students in “reading the world”. I liked the overarching theme that literacy is more than just reading and writing print. It’s also about being a critical thinker of images and the world around us. Reading, writing, talking can all help in getting our students to arrive at deeper understandings and develop the empathy that we need in our world today.

  5. There have been many times through the years that I wish we could simply go about our daily classroom lives, and ignore that “other” thing, but we did not. You wrote the intent well, Julieanne. It is important to help students understand that they can do things that make a difference, and to allow the talk, no matter how fragile it seems.

  6. Difficult as these conversations are, when we foster honest communication, we foster knowledge, understanding, and ultimately kindness.

  7. I’m honored to be part of this blogging world where we remind each other frequently of the important conversations that must occur in our classrooms and with our students. Thanks for the links. Looking forward to checking them out.

  8. Yes! Our classrooms are ideal places for hard conversations and change. We need to guide and nurture this discussion and learn ourselves as we help our students navigate.

  9. Only with these discussions will the students be able to create a better world. Thank you for thinking out loud.

  10. Julieanne, I’m so sorry that I missed seeing you at ILA, and I hope everything is okay. Thank you for articulating so clearly what has been on my mind as a white female teaching in a 99.9% white school. Maybe even more that most, our classrooms must be “a place to read about and to talk about people, of different gender and race, so that students can connect because even if they are different, they are like them.” Hugs to you!

  11. I think it is our job to try to be a part of these “difficult conversations” with our students and colleagues. If we do not, maybe nobody will and clearly we need change. Thanks for sharing the topic and the links.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s