This week in class we talked about what social justice really is. When I think of social justice I think of the hot-topics of politics and the injustices of the world today. So, how exactly is social justice played out in the classroom? According to Dr. Brocato, social justice is, “a set of steps we take to bring about more equity over time to meet the needs of more; social justice is closing the gaps between the haves and the have-nots; social justice is leveling the playing field.” After some reflection on this definition I thought of some powerful pictures I was shown in my undergraduate studies and I think they display social justice in the classroom in a great way.
The first image shows equality. Equal is not always fair or what we need. Why we need a classroom that treats students equally, we must also have equity in the classroom. I view equal as Tier 1 of RTI, because all of the students are receiving the same instruction, it is the general education classroom. However, Tier 1 doesn’t meet the needs of all and that’s where equity comes into play. When we have equity, students are receiving what they need. This may be through a small group with the teacher that addresses the similar needs of students. Equity also moves into Tier 3, as the small group may not be enough for a student and the student begins to receive special education services. The action items of the student’s IEP should be equitable and allow the student to do their best, which might just be in a different way from others. In my special education internship I was able to help create equitable lessons and experiences for my students. Its amazing what can be done for students so that they can participate in the general education classroom setting, especially when technology is involved. One way we created an equitable experience for students is by scanning in math workbooks, cropping the pages, adding the pages to a powerpoint slide, then adding a text box over the blanks or answer boxes. By doing this, my students were able to write their own math answers. It is amazing to see what students that have been put into a box as “inadequate” can do when they are given the supports they need.
As teachers, we must do everything in our power to create an equitable classroom. When we do this we are promoting social justice. Not only should we do this because it is the right thing to do, but because it sets an example for our students, who will one day be in a position of either promoting justice or not, and we can hope that our examples points them to promoting justice for all.