English language arts is a vulnerable subject. It involves self-expression, serious reflection, and deep discussion in a way that I did not understand when completing my pre-service teaching program. Entering this profession last year, I was pleasantly surprised by the complex subjects my students were eager to write about. Excited, I grabbed ahold of their engagement. We used it as fuel. My students have written essays, podcasts, and blogs on their home-life struggles, the unbelievable pressures of high school, and the microaggressive acts of racism teachers can not quite catch in the hallways. Together, my students and I learned that writing and talking about these issues creates positive change. I loved giving my students the chance to write about and discuss hard topics in my classroom. On the days when we cleared out the mumbo-jumbo of “normal” class expectations, when we simply talked and wrote about real world issues, it was those days that were special. They were meaningful. My kids asked for more days like them, and I tried to honor that request.
Seaman High School
Each year, books are challenged and/or banned from public school libraries across the country and most recently there has been an increased number of books with diverse characters banned from public schools. Removing books from public schools restricts students’ abilities to read and reflect upon these texts. Students have a right to access books depicting characters and events that they can relate to and characters and events that they can learn from. These books can become "mirrors" to the reader or "windows" to the world around the reader. Administrators, teachers, librarians, students, parents, and community members should advocate for access to books of all types for all students.
Carolyn L. Carlson
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