Recognizing International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Explore the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Proclaimed by the United Nations, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities promotes the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities every year on December 3.. The day raises awareness of the political, economic, social and cultural aspects on how disability affects people around the world. The theme of this year’s observance is “United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for, with and by persons with disabilities.”
Recognize International Day of Persons with Disabilities in your school. This paper from Inclusive Schools is for educators looking to improve and expand inclusive educational practices in their schools. The resources from Understood can help you build a stronger, more equitable, more inclusive workplace.
Seek out voices and resources. “The principal said I couldn’t go to school because I was a fire hazard.” Judy Heumann, regarded as one of the founders of the disability rights movement in the United States, passed away in March 2023. Her activism was instrumental in passing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973–the crucial federal legislation that entitles equal access to education for all students. Heumann’s 2018 TED talk describes the activism that led to the law’s passage.
Making December Inclusive
As we approach the end of the calendar, schools often have traditions and celebrations that focus on winter holidays. To ensure that all students feel included in your school’s practices, here are a few links that can spur conversations among educators and in the classroom:
Our One Schoolhouse team is a grateful bunch so every November, we ask our staff to share gratitude statements:
Charnelle: This year, I am incredibly grateful for the amazing people in my life. Whether it's my friends, family, or even the One Schoolhouse team, I feel so blessed to have so much love and support around me, especially during tough times. It's a reminder of just how important it is to have people who truly care about you by your side, through thick and thin. When you have a support system like mine, it feels like you can take on the world.
Delinda: I am grateful for the gift of family, and the love and support they've given me. I know having a loving family is not guaranteed. I am fortunate to still have both of my parents; in their 80's, they are healthy and active. My two siblings and I are close and take every opportunity we can to enjoy each other's company. My daughter and her family live nearby allowing me the opportunity to see my two young grandsons regularly. My definition of family may be different from others, but I hope they find the same love, strength and support in their "family" as I do in mine.
Lynnae: I am thankful for the farm, even when sheep get out of the pasture, or deer eat the fruit trees, or I manage to trip over a buried rock, or an irrigation line breaks. It's always something, but it's always real and satisfying.
Sarah H: I am wholeheartedly grateful for the Academic Leaders who have proactively jumped into the study of generative AI, recognizing its vast power to shape the future world our students will live in. Their willingness to dive into this complex field reflects their forward-thinking approach and dedication to shaping the future.
Erin: I’m thankful for family, friends, and community and for the opportunity to build new relationships and while deepening old ones.
Liz: I am grateful for rest. I'm learning that finding time to meditate and making my sleep a priority isn't just good for me. When I'm rested, I'm not just taking care of myself--I'm also taking care of my family, my friends, and my colleagues. I'm thankful I'm finding opportunities to slow down.
Kim: I am grateful for my life thus far, for all the experiences I've had near and far and for the people I've met along the way. People make everything more meaningful, and I'm grateful for those who have come into my life and have helped shape who I am today.
Amy: I am grateful for simplicity - for a cool fall breeze, porch sitting, singing birds, and happy pups frolicking in the yard.
Brad: Right now, I'm particularly grateful for all the helpers out there in the world -- including and especially for the helpers in our schools.
Sarah W: This autumn, I’m feeling particularly grateful for
the health of those I love, mugs of warm morning tea, a house full of teenagers who make fun of me, a cute pair of sneakers, my gym community, vegan soups on Sundays, cat memes, and the fortune of living in a safe place.
Curt: I am grateful for Fall weather, nachos, golf cart rides, football games, and fire pits. More importantly, I am grateful for the people in my life that I get to share these things with.
Seanta: I am grateful for all the good things in my life. I sincerely appreciate all the help I receive from others. I am in the process of becoming the best version of myself. I am forever grateful for all the technologies that allow me to keep in touch with my loved ones.
Lindsay: I am grateful for my family and all of the wonderful adventures we take together.
Ella: I am grateful for the gift of my family and my home. I am constantly in awe of their support, and truly feel that home is wherever I am surrounded by their love.
Jasper: Embracing new beginnings in a new city with loved ones fills me with a unique sense of gratitude and anticipation this fall.
Now more than ever, collaboration matters, because as Wang & Lester (2023) note, “unlike K-12 science and mathematics education, there is not currently a research foundation for K-12 AI education.” Our academic communities can develop a grassroots research foundation by pairing teachers to work together within academic disciplines, across disciplines, and most importantly, outside of our schools.
This fall, I had the pleasure of co-facilitating the Association for Academic Leaders course “Leading Your Team in Understanding Generative AI” with Sarah Hanawald. Two participants, both chairs of performing arts departments, expressed apprehension about how they would incorporate AI into their classes.
Their feelings were completely valid, especially given that both actors and writers were striking due in no small part to the threats AI posed to their livelihoods. However, after connecting with one another and hearing from other educators outside of their discipline, their attitudes shifted towards a place of curiosity, which allowed them to ask questions like “How might we incorporate generative AI tools into our classrooms?” Through the course they discovered tools they could use to help and I look forward to checking in with these teachers down the road to learn about what they have discovered in the intervening months.
As educators, we want our students to be discerning consumers of information. As a science teacher, I want my students to be scientifically literate. Now, we need to account as well for the budding realm of AI literacy, which “is the ability to readily engage with AI by leveraging AI tools, systems, and frameworks to effectively and ethically solve problems in a wide range of sociocultural contexts” (Wang & Lester, 2023). Just as elementary school teachers help their students develop literacy skills using the “I do, we do, you do” framework, Academic Leaders need to provide the same scaffolding for the faculty and staff in their schools.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to approach this challenge, consider these tips:
Lastly, perhaps the most important tip of all is to give yourself grace through this process, and recognize that this technology is both so new and developing so quickly that we are truly a community of learners together with our students. As educators, we have the opportunity to model this process of lifelong learning, not only for the development of meaningful learning experiences but for our own sanity as educators. Generative AI is going to fundamentally change the way schools operate and change is hard.
As adults, we don’t remember learning how to read. No doubt, it was frustrating and confusing and confusing at times, but we persevered. In the end, it gave us a whole new perspective on and ways to interact with our world. Generative AI has the power to do the same for us.
Wang, N., Lester, J. K-12 Education in the Age of AI: A Call to Action for K-12 AI Literacy. Int J Artif Intell Educ 33, 228–232 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40593-023-00358-x
ilana is teaching an additional offering of our highly-requested, members-only course Leading Your Team/Department in Understanding Generative AI beginning November 27. Leaders will learn strategies for teaching adults about generative AI and will be given guidelines for leading conversations about what teachers need to teach about generative AI.
In November, we recognize and celebrate the diversity of our community. We observe Native American Heritage Month, acknowledging the colonization, resistance, and resilience of Native and Indigenous communities, and seeking out accurate and inclusive narratives of the Native and Indigenous experience.
We commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience on November 20, and Transgender Awareness Week, from November 13 - 19 to ensure our schools can be communities of understanding, safety, and belonging for trans students, and to stand against the violence the trans community faces.
Our monthly recognitions are part of how we strive to build for belonging, working towards a community where every member feels valued, heard, and empowered. To learn more about these newsletters, read our blog post on how and why we acknowledge.
Native American Heritage Month
Reflect on the history and context of Native American Heritage Month: November was first designated as Native American Heritage month in 1990, and Native American Heritage Day is observed this year on November 24. In this blog post, Native Hope, an organization that “exists to address the injustice done to Native Americans… to bring healing and inspire hope” writes to describe what Thanksgiving can mean to Native Americans: “Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Day give us the opportunity to reflect on our collective history and to celebrate the beauty, strength, and resilience of the Native tribes of North America."
Rethink your approach to teaching about Native and Indigenous peoples: First Nations, an American Indian nonprofit, provides schools and educators with “4 Reasons to Rethink Your November.” Resources from the Native Knowledge 360° Education Initiative, a project of the National Museum of American Indian, can help you and your school in “transforming teaching and learning about Native Americans.” Their site provides extensive educational resources and professional development to ensure that your teaching about Native and Indigenous people is accurate, inclusive, and affirming.
Listen to Native voices: Novelist Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho) profiles independent high school student Jeffrey Martinez (Sicangu and Oglala Lakota): “For many teenagers, leaving home for college is an escape. For Jeffrey, it seems like a solemn duty… Somehow the seven Lakota values applied to Jeffrey Martinez are an equation that equals escape, not from home but from a system made and not made for people like Jeffrey.”
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Explore the origins of the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience: The first Transgender Day of Remembrance was held in 1999 as a vigil to commemorate the murder of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman in Boston, MA and to remember all trans lives lost to violence. In 2014, the Trans Day of Resilience art project was founded “for and by trans people of color” in partnership with The Audre Lorde Project (New York City, NY), BreakOUT (New Orleans, LA), and Forward Together (Oakland, CA). Both commemorations seek to call attention to the violence that affects trans people, and to remember and honor the diversity, strength, and resistance of the trans community.
Learn the facts about trans students’ experiences: The Transgender Day of Remembrance / Resilience is preceded by Transgender Awareness Week from November 13 - 19. This infographic on Transgender Youth in Schools identifies the challenges and supports that affect trans students’ experiences. If your school chooses to hold a vigil on November 20, In Memoriam lists for 2017 through 2022 (from GLAAD) and for 2023 (from Human Rights Campaign) can be found online.
Listen to trans students’ voices: Trans youth on GLSEN’s National Student Council talk about the support they need from educators and allies when schools observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance / Resilience: “We have to talk about the death and suffering of trans people to develop a comprehensive and widespread understanding of why it’s happening, who is causing it, and what resources need to be compiled to prevent it.”
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)