Saturday, September 26, 2020

COVID-19: Anti-bias early childhood

 This morning, we kicked off the 2020-2021 school year's 

Anti-Bias Early Childhood Working Group, an initiative of D.C. Educators for Social Justice (DCESJ).

I am proud to be a part of this group of educators! 

Early childhood educators work to meet the needs of every child, to ensure that no child is invisible or left out of learning. Anti-bias is inherent and integral. We are working with humans, we are working with CHILDREN, we are building the future. 

This work is particularly challenging during this time of COVID-19. Virtual learning requires many new skills and so much additional planning and preparation. Teachers of young children are working with parents and caregivers in a much more intimate way than ever before, with families right at their child's hip for learning. Although technology allows us to personalize education for children, it is extremely difficult to create some of those generic and fertile preschool experiences that foster so much social thinking for young children - you know, playing together in dramatic play and struggling over who gets to play with what, creating a block tower together and learning how to respond when a classmate accidentally makes it fall over, or sharing space when painting and drawing together on a class mural. So many of these experiences feel impossible to create virtually....

...and yet, teachers are trying! Oh my! I am in awe of today's early childhood teachers!! 

The teachers I met in today's working group session have anti-bias, anti-racism, and social justice at the core of their practice, and work hard to weave these essential ideals into lessons. We spoke of ways that the working group might best support teachers during this very challenging and difficult year. We are looking for ways to share resources, especially "low prep and practical" virtual anti-bias lessons. We are sharing ideas to support teacher wellness and self-care, during such a stressful time.

Book and music choices can go a long way to introducing social justice ideas. Visual art and storytelling can provide amazing opportunities for children to wrestle with big questions. Our close and personal work with families during this time - this, too, is an asset, an opportunity to create a true community, with teachers taking time to explain the why behind certain lessons, including parents in our thinking, and seeking their support.