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November Newsletter: Responsiveness and Action

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Dear AmazeWorks community,

Tuesday is Election Day, and belonging is on the ballot. Nationwide, there are legislative efforts to prevent brave conversations about identity and difference from happening in our schools, hindering countless students from showing up as their full, authentic selves. 36 states have made efforts to restrict essential education on racism and bias in schools. Frankly, our work is under attack.

However, there are so many anti-bias leaders striving to champion belonging for all. While 36 states are attempting to restrict anti-bias education, 17 states are working to expand it. Minnesota is updating social studies standards to include more perspectives from people of color and greater discussions on systems of oppression. Illinois became the first state to mandate that Asian American history be taught in elementary and high schools. Louisiana is expanding scholarship eligibility for students taking African American history. We know our voices and actions have the power to make legislative change.

This month’s newsletter channels Responsiveness, one of the AmazeWorks Conditions for Belonging. We share anti-bias resources to bring into your classrooms and workplaces, guide mindful reflection on challenging conversations, make an informed voting plan, and more. We know that belonging for all is possible because we see evidence of powerful cultural change through individual and collective action every day. This month, we encourage you to reflect on how we can respond to the needs of our communities to bring belonging to life.

Resources

Middle School Lesson

Click here for a middle school lesson on ABE Foundations: Responsiveness and Action.

This lesson for 7th and 8th graders teaches students that their decisions have the ability to affect positive change within themselves, their families, their schools, and their community. They can make responsible decisions around the things they say, the way they behave, and how they interact with others. When students feel confident with themselves and can respect the identities and differences of others, they will be better equipped to call out instances of mistreatment and stand up to injustice against themselves and on behalf of others.

Ethos in Action

Mindful Reflection – Intercultural Communication and Conflict
We often have many difficult conversations during election season with people who have different political ideologies, cultures, values, and communication styles. The following questions can help you consider how identity, lived experience, and cultural backgrounds can show up in communication and conflict. This exercise can be utilized to practice mindful reflection on conflict in your workplace, classroom, interpersonal relationships, or other community spaces.

  • Describe what happened:
    • What did you see and hear? 
    • Describe behaviors and actions without interpretation.
  • Feelings:
    • Name YOUR feelings in response to the situation.
  • List assumptions, reactions, and interpretations:
    • What specific thing did you react to?
    • What are your beliefs and assumptions about the situation?
    • What are your interpretations about the behaviors you saw? 
    • “The story I tell myself is…”
  • Clarify your interpretation:
    • Is there any other way to look at this? What are alternate explanations?
    • What evidence might someone else point out to show me that my thoughts aren’t completely true?
    • Could there be different cultural interpretations?
    • Are there external or personal factors that might influence the behavior or situation?
  • Check your explanations from a different cultural perspective, lens, experience:
    • Share your reflections with a trusted colleague, friend, or community member.
    • Build your intercultural background knowledge.
  • More balanced interpretation:
    • Rewrite your thoughts about the situation in a more balanced way. Stick to the facts.
  • Make a plan:
    • How will you change or respond differently? 
    • What follow-up conversations need to be had in order to move through miscommunication or conflict in a healthy, productive way for you and the other people involved?
    • How will relationships and trust be fostered, built, repaired?

These questions were adapted from the following sources: We Can’t Talk About That at Work! by Mary-Frances Winters, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond, and The Onward Workbook: Daily Activities to Cultivate Your Emotional Resilience and Thrive by Elena Aguilar. Click on the image above to access a handout for this exercise.

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