There is much more to people than what is on the surface – our appearances. It is essential to build an awareness of this fact because it is so easy to make judgments, form stereotypes, and determine abilities of others based solely on what we see. Students are key starting points for this process. We must teach the youth of today to take the time to know someone before creating an opinion of them. If established early, many conflicts and difficulties can be averted simply by recognizing that people are both unique and similar to one another.
How can teachers and schools call attention to seeing with more than our eyes? Below are some ideas for constructing awareness in the classroom:
- Reflection Writing. Provide opportunities for students to write about themselves – how they see themselves and their abilities..
- Starters – I Am From…..; I Am……; If I……; Who Am I….; I Will Be……; etc.
- Reflective journaling
- Provide a prompt for students to write about for 5 minutes.
- Make it a routine – do it daily, weekly, etc..
- Sharing. Provide opportunities for students to share insights of themselves. Establish guidelines that encourage openness – no laughing, everyone listens, welcome questions, etc. Share writings, drawings, pictures, stories, traditions, artifacts. Display student work in the classroom..
- Discussions. Ask students how they SHOW their identities to others. How do they let others see beyond the surface? Brainstorm different ways to show who they are, what they believe in, their traditions, etc. Talk to students about how negative attitudes and behaviors have a lasting effect on people..
- Role-Play or Give Scenarios. Practice how to show identity. Allow students to solve hypothetical situations..
- Conflict resolution skill-building. Teach students that everyone does not need to agree all of the time. Provide opportunities for students to learn and practice how to handle conflict effectively and respectfully..
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