TITLE: Honoring Urban Student Identities in the Classroom
This writing, this experience of mine, parallels the experiences of our students who exist in all of their intersectional identities. What does it mean to honor our student's intersectional identities? It means to question how the history of slavery, colonization, immigration, and inequalities between major identity markers like class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion is affecting our students. It means to use our students as a point of reference for our work. I offer these stories, and authentic instructional strategies as a way to bridge these questions and their answers. I chose to explore these questions through an autoethnography method. I am doing this to reflect on my experiences, and my teaching, and to inform myself of better classroom instructional strategies I can implement to honor student identities. An autoethnography is one method of diving deep into experiences in order to understand cultural and societal realities. This method sheds light on the aspects that make up a cultural experience and uses that to inform and reflect on research. My data source is myself, my experiences, and my journey through education and life. The answer to my research question is in understanding how intersectional identities intertwine to create experiences that at times may be extremely difficult to share. Students hold this choice to share their intersectional identities, but that choice is made easier by educators who are committed to listening. Students will most likely refrain from doing so unless an educator builds rapport and holds space for them to do so. Building inclusive classrooms using the research based instructional strategies mentioned in this paper may help show your students you are committed to their education as well as their personhood. These findings indicate the need for more educational resources for educators. For example, texts or seminars that provide research based strategies, strategies for reflection, addressing implicit bias, or trauma informed approaches to racial injustice both in the classroom and out would assist educators in staying well informed about student needs. By doing so teachers can learn from this work, students can learn from this work. We all have something to learn from each other. This is the work that is necessary to begin making beautiful spaces for our students.
THESES DEFENDED AND APPROVED: December 2022