As a future teacher, it is very important and also my responsibility to integrate social justice in my teaching process. In order for students to understand what social justice is, I, myself, need to model that for my students just like I would model how to use reading and problem solving strategies. Social justice, to me, is the distribution of opportunity and privilege throughout a society. In a perfect world, everyone should have equal opportunity to learn and to be successful in whatever they do. If I do not model what equal opportunity is for my students in my classroom, it will be harder for them to understand the concepts and to fight for their human rights in the real world. My responsibility is to show, and provide that to my students; a safe environment in which they are not held back for reasons having to do with their culture. Things like gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class, language, religion, and my own biases should not effect the opportunity my students have to succeed in my classroom and in the outside world.
My plan is to be an upper elementary teacher, and with that, it is important to make sure all students feel a sense of mattering. I need to teach my students the basics of social justice and allow them to feel safe enough to where they can share their ideas, opinions, and experiences with the class without fear of rejection. A good way to start this out is to do what my professor did in the current class I am taking. She had us, first individually, write down three things we want from our classmates when having open discussion about culture and social justice topics. We then formed groups of about five to share what we all had and to challenge rules they felt as though they could not live by. We then combined the expectations we all had in common and came together as a class to share what we came up with. If one person could not live by a rule, they spoke up and we had a conversation about it to find if we could keep in on our list, remove it from the list, or modify it. This is something great that I would love to do in my own classroom. This will give every student a sense of belonging and voice that matters to everyone; because it does.
There is nothing I would hate more than to have a student feel like they can’t speak up for what they believe in or even share their own experiences with the class. It is my responsibility to make sure my students know the importance their perspective has on their own and that change is not possible without a voice. The goal is to pull them to participate in class discussion, not to push them. One thing I am still trying to learn is how to get everyone to participate. I can do everything I can to prepare the students and make them feel calm and secure in their environment, but I need to figure out what I would do if there is still that one student who does not want to participate. One way could be to have them lead the discussion, have them come up with topics they want to talk about so they are more interested and likely to have had experiences that relate to said topics. That is one idea, but I know it will not work for everyone so it is something I still need to work on.
As a future teacher, it is my responsibility to model social justice in my classroom, having the students be the center of their own learning, and realizing and expressing to myself and to my students that I, nor is anyone, perfect. We all can learn from each other by sharing our opinions, ideas, and experiences, participate in active listening, and even giving responses and respectively challenging what others have to say if there is something one disagrees with. This plan is rough, but I do know it is, again, my responsibility to integrate social justice in my teachings.