For the last two years, I have participated in several CRE workshop Sessions facilitated by Dr. Michelle Knight. I am a social studies teacher at The School for Human Rights in Brooklyn. The CRE workshop sessions truly helped me to work better with my ninth and tenth grade students. These sessions have been some of the most useful, informative sessions I have been a part of since the beginning of my tenure with the Department of Education in 1981. We have discussed and done many exercises based on but not limited to the Danielson Framework for Teaching through a CRE lens, where we were able to link the three major tenets of CRE to Danielson’s Framework for Teaching.

These workshops deepened faculty’s and staff members’ understanding of competencies identified in Danielson’s Framework through a culturally relevant approach. They also helped us to apply the knowledge we have acquired to our own school context by developing examples of highly effective, developing, and ineffective teaching practices. Using the core tenets of CRE—Student Learning and Achievement, Cultural Competence, and Sociopolitical Consciousness— we were able to facilitate activities at our school which were initiated by the students such as “March Madness.”

The student government, in collaboration with faculty members, held various competitions between the different grade levels (grades 6-12), staff, and other events such as “family night.” Some of these events were hosted on Saturdays, as well as in the evenings, in order to facilitate parent participation. The activities boosted our students’ sense of collaboration, improved morale and school spirit, and they helped us to build a community with common goals. The upperclassmen got to know the younger students better, and opened lines of communication between the 6th to the 12th grades. These activities applied the tenet Sociopolitical Consciousness, which speaks to “Culturally Relevant teachers supporting the sociopolitical consciousness of their students, so that students were able to develop a critical stance toward inequities in their schools, communities, and the larger society.” All of these events were planned and executed by the student-leaders.

These sessions helped me to develop a diverse array of pedagogical approaches that I use in my classroom. They helped me to improve my relationship with my students. I also learned what a culturally responsive classroom looks like. The sessions helped better my understanding of the social aspect of Danielson’s Framework using that CRE lens. Danielson’s Framework for Teaching includes Domain 2a which refers to “Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport.” An example of how I’ve applied this is my students were able to share their work with their peers by projecting their classwork on our Smart Boards, which allows them to facilitate class discussions.

This year, one of the school’s major objectives was to promote argumentative writing by analyzing different points of views. Our students hold very strong opinions about various societal problems and events related to these issues, especially those involving Civil Rights or the violation of such rights. Every time there was a news report referring to police brutality, gang violence, or the use of excessive force by the police, the student held informal and formal discussions. This proves that the best classroom and teachers are those who are facilitators rather than attempting to be the sole reservoir of knowledge.

by Emmeline Bien- Aime)

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