H4- Honor family/community involvement in the learning process.
In my interpretation, the commitment to “honor family and community in the learning process” requires a teacher’s sincere communication and outreach to transform a child’s experience of constructing new knowledge from an isolated experience to one that colors their whole world. This January I had the pleasure of collaborating with families and community to help lead the K/1 students on the MLK March, an annual event led by our school to celebrate and continue the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of our student’s parents remarked during the days leading up to the march, “I think MLK Day is the most anticipated holiday celebrated at *******!” This may be true. The MLK March is an opportunity for our community to show our commitment to peace action, and we invest a great deal of heart into its manifestation. Most classes have as many family members as there are students show up to march. Our neighborhood community supports our celebration as well. Police volunteer to block off the street so we can walk down the middle of it. The Langston Hughes Center donates the use of their historic auditorium as a space for our community to gather, speak, and sing. Every year at least three other elementary and middle schools join our celebration. A man has been volunteering his time to teach our school African American freedom songs bi-weekly for many years now; and he leads the songs at our celebration. Students from all of the participating schools spend weeks rehearsing poems, songs, and speeches to share on this day. Every micro-community collaborates to offer a token of what they see as continuing the work of MLK, and our K/1 community is no exception.
As evidence of my participation in this historical community celebration, I present a photograph that our classroom aid took of us marching and singing together. However, one photograph does not convey the feeling of camaraderie I felt with families and communities as we planned and participated to demonstrate our unity for peace and justice action.
I feel my bond with families was strengthened as a result of helping to organize and lead this meaningful community event. I notice family members are more trusting to talk with me about their children’s school experience in general. As a result, I have gained useful insight into the concerns and expectations that families hold for their children. Moving forward, I can use this valuable information to inform the work that I do with these students. I found that collaborating with families and community to manifest a meaningful authentic learning experience like the MLK March was empowering. One of my overarching teaching goals is to help connect student’s learning experience to the greater community. I hope to continue this work with greater frequency and involvement as I grow my teaching career.