How do you deal with hate in the classroom? As teachers, I know we all work on building safe and productive learning communities–places where the young people entrusted to our care can thrive. But sometimes the world creeps in. Kids hear hurtful comments and see hurtful actions–on media, from adults or others in the community, then bring them to school to test out their impact on their classmates and peers.
And frankly, for whatever reasons, we live in a society where hate has become normalized. So what do we do about it?
This is where #USvsHate comes in. Mica Pollock and a small team of teachers in San Diego decided to take advantage of the many anti-hate lessons freely available through a variety of organizations (Teaching Tolerance, Facing History and Ourselves, the Anti-Defamation League, Rethinking Schools, the Bully Project and more) to open up spaces for students (kindergarten through college) to learn about the origins of hate, to explore their own experiences with hate, and to create messaging to publicly refuse hate.
Last year, I was fortunate to join the leadership of this effort as director of the San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP) along with a team of SDAWP teacher leaders. We piloted lessons–some directly from the organizations listed above, and some we had created or adapted for our own contexts and academic requirements–and had our students create anti-hate messaging. I had a front row seat to the empathy and creativity of San Diego students as I helped judge entries from the #UsvsHate contests in November, February, and April. (And of course as I implemented #USvsHate into my own classroom!)
I traveled to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama in July with our team as we presented #USvsHate to the team at Teaching Tolerance. And it made its national debut this week!
Join us in the effort to refuse hate and to amplify student anti-hate messaging. Read the article in Teaching Tolerance for more background information and check out usvshate.org for lessons to use with students, examples of winners and finalists, and protocols and supports for opening up potentially difficult conversations in the classroom.. Our collective action can and will make a difference!