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Posted on November 17, 2012 3:41 am
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Yasar Bodur
Yasar Bodur
Reps: 614
Angry Parents
When I hired Ashley last year as the 5th grade teacher at my school, I had great expectations. She was a recent graduate of a good teacher education program. When we met for the job interview, she talked to me about her passion for teaching for social justice. She was a very promising young black teacher. This year she and the other 5th grade teachers (three experienced White teachers) planned an activity to use in a lesson on inequalities in society. As part of this activity, they decided to separate their black and white students into two different groups. Black students were given privileges. They could play games, watch videos, have a longer recess while the White students were told to put their heads down and sit quietly at their desks. The purpose of the activity was to show the students how inequalities in society can lead to hostile feelings in people toward each other. The teachers discussed this activity at the end of the school day and thought that it was successful in each 5th grade classroom. The very next day I received phone calls from a lot of parents asking to meet with me because they were angry about this activity. All the parents who called were White. I set up a time to meet with the parents but I realized something interesting when I looked at the list of the parents. The ones who called and wanted meet with me were parents of Ashley’s students. Some of them implied on the phone that they wanted her fired. However, the other 5th grade teachers who had done the same activity in their classrooms did not get a single complaint. I have to think about a way to respond these parents and explain to them that their reactions may be biased. I do not know how to go about this without making them more upset.
 
     
     
 
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Solution 1
Posted December 9, 2012 10:51 am

Sarah Hogan Johnson
Sarah Hogan Johnson
Reps: 163
I'm not against this activity, however, I can see why you're getting parent phone calls. I would not have divided the class by race. I would've had them count off by twos or divided the room in half according to seating arrangements. The students could have been put in alphabetical order and split in half. Any way you do it, it should be a random selection. By dividing the class by race, it seems like you are trying to teach the white students a lesson. Not to mention that these are children and most of them probably haven't developed any sense of racism. This may confuse them and make students uncomfortable. I would be fine with the activity if the class division was selected randomly. However, if my child was in this class, I wouldn't agree with this activity either as it stands.
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Danielle Brock
Danielle Brock
Reps: 100
I found this study to be entertaining.
  Posted on: March 1, 2015 11:07 pm

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Solution 2
Posted December 9, 2012 4:45 pm

Wendie Sikes
Wendie Sikes
Reps: 57
I would explain to the parents that all the 5th grade teachers did the same lesson so that they understood that this was not an instance of a black teacher pick on white students. I would apologize if it appeared that way and be sure to adjust the activity for the next school term. I had a teacher that would do the same type of activity every year. He however chose students based on how he thought they would react for dramatic purposes. He used stickers and some of us were pink and some green. Those of us who teach at the same school with him still discuss the activity and it usefulness.
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Solution 3
Posted December 8, 2012 2:33 pm

Amari Hagan
Amari Hagan
Reps: 115
I would call a meeting for the parents to come. At the meeting I would apologize for any inconvenience that the 5th grade teachers had brought on them for planning this activity. Then I would explain to the parents that all of 5th grade teacher planned this activity in all of their classes and that Ms. Ashley had not done anything out of order or wrong. They would be told The activity was to show how inequalities in society could led to hostile feeling toward each and with them showing up to a meeting, like which is being held. Also that the activity did just what teachers set out to accomplish from the students. I would ask them to explain why Ms. Ashley, whom a great teacher, is so bad and why should she be fired. When she was only doing her job and teaching her lesson.
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Solution 4
Posted December 1, 2012 3:02 pm

Sha'keela McClendon
Sha'keela McClendon
Reps: 141
This makes me think of how my time teaching will be like as an African American teacher. My advice to you is to simply explain that Ashley was not the only teacher that conducted this lesson but rather the entire team did this lesson. The lesson was approved and it was to show the students inequalities in society. Apologize on Ashley's behalf but tell them that Ashley nor anyone else will be getting fired. Maybe you can explain to them that Ashley is well qualified for this job and she has passed all the certifications of becoming a teacher. Stand strong with Ashley, she wasn't wrong when she did this lesson. As you can see there are still some people in the world who are biased.
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Solution 5
Posted December 5, 2012 12:34 pm

David Sanders
David Sanders
Reps: 143
The activity to learn about discrimination is probably a good one although I'm not sure where it fits in core curriculum. The problem is the selection of black and white students. This can only serve to irritate groups to passions that we are trying to eliminate in our society. You would never do this between Jews and Muslims or Catholics and Protestants. Just divide the class half and half, make on side priviledged and the other not priviledged. Same lesson learned without picking on a sore subject.
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Solution 6
Posted December 4, 2012 11:17 pm

Jill Graff
Jill Graff
Reps: 104
If these parents want her fired (which she should not be in this instance) have them give you reasons as to why they think this way. When all thoughts and explanations have been entertained, bring in your other 5th grade teachers and explain to the parents that their classes did the exact same thing too. Have either yourself or the teachers explain the meaning behind the lesson and then see if any of them still want to have Ms. Ashley fired. I think they will see their mistake and maybe you will have apology letters the next day instead of phone calls.
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Solution 7
Posted December 5, 2012 8:48 pm

Kristine Morris
Kristine Morris
Reps: 153
I believe that this could have possibly went into a different direction. They could have possibly done different scenarios to show the results in different situations. Such as, spilt based on race, then spilt based on gender, then spilt based on age, and so on. The could possibly break away from the situation looking like a teacher is favoring others. Especially if you are of one race and do not favor the other. Parents want to look after their child and one thing they do not want to see is their child treated differently than others. The teachers could have possibly had the students write an explanation of the purpose they saw of the project and what results they saw. Also, the teachers needed to discuss the purpose, so the students could see it in that perspective. This would also allow them to take something home to share with their parents instead of just by word of mouth.
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Solution 8
Posted December 7, 2012 10:54 pm

Art Buff
Art Buff
Reps: 111
While in school students understand or say they understand (some just smile and nod with the others) the reasons things are happening in an activity. I love the activity and think it was the most unique teaching assignment I've ever heard of. However, when a student is asked by their parents what they did today do you know how they probably responded? "We had to sit with our heads down while the black students got privileges and a longer recess". Now while they were telling the parent what they did they most certainly did not explain why they were doing that. As to what should happen to Ashley; nothing. The entire 5th grade team discussed, agreed and implemented the exercise. More to the point you approved it. Some parents are more sensitive to things and jump to unfortunate conclusions about the intentions of teachers and the outcomes they are trying to achieve with their students.
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Solution 9
Posted December 8, 2012 7:26 pm

Ariane Anderson
Ariane Anderson
Reps: 114
This is a very sensitive topic. As a principal you know the teacher’s intentions where to educate their students on inequalities in society. Explain to the parents it was not Ashley decision it was a decided by all of the 5th grade teachers and the teachers did not cross any boundaries or offend any of the students. Enlighten them on the purpose of the activity.
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Solution 10
Posted February 28, 2013 8:41 am

Candice Williams
Candice Williams
Reps: 102
2 suggestions. 1) I think that it could have been elaborated more in the activity, such as splitting up the students in not only white/black sides, but also if they are a boy/girl, or other differences the class may have.
2) Im sure the students went right home and told their parents their teacher tried to make them feel as her ancestors may have felt. The parents need to be explained the purpose of the lesson, and stress that it was not to make the kids feel any differently about each other, but it is an important part in history they need to be aware of.
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