Anti-Marginalization Design Team
A newly formed anti-marginalization design team is examining how the ICSD’s curriculum can support students in developing anti-racist understandings and practices.
About 26 educators are participating in the group’s first cohort, some of whom already met twice over the summer to begin weaving anti-marginalization lessons into the district’s existing case study and project-based learning work at all grade levels. This includes examining how to fit anti-marginalization and anti-racist practices into content standards and instructional strategies, using experiences that are inquiry-based, involve original research, involve fieldwork and collaboration with experts, require students to synthesize learning from multiple disciplines and are in service to global and local communities.
The group is being led by Lisa Sahasrabudhe, teacher on special assignment for culturally responsive teaching practices; Mary Grover, the district’s inclusion officer; and Dr. Heather Hill, associate professor of education at Ithaca College. The group has also consulted with Dr. Sharroky Hollie, a national educator and expert in the area of culturally responsive teaching. Building teams, in partnership with existing initiatives like My Brother’s Keeper and the district’s equity team, will push the work forward for each school.
During a two-day workshop in August, the group worked to shift their collective “gaze” to the margins. They took the Project Implicit bias test, read Banks’ work on multicultural education and social justice, wrote poems about their identities and shared with their peers, and participated in a field study at Buffalo Street Books. From there, they began to construct a framework for curriculum reform that will allow students to explore deep and meaningful essential questions, often through transdisciplinary experiences. This will also permit students to learn the vocabulary of oppression and justice, and give them the opportunity to identify and address real issues of bias within their communities.
Teachers in the group are designing new curricular units or refining existing ones to include anti-marginalization or anti-racist work, linking the practices to New York State social studies standards. Some existing lessons – for instance, a first-grade human rights case study at Northeast Elementary – already lend themselves to an anti-marginalization lens, while other case studies will be created from scratch. One example may include building a case study looking at Ithaca’s connection to the civil rights movement and how community members have worked to fight racism, said Deputy Superintendent Lily Talcott.
While anti-marginalization encompasses multiple forms of oppression, the group is using race as a focal point to start, Grover said. “It can be so easy to connect to gender, sexual orientation or class,” she said. “Those things can be more comfortable. We wanted to make sure that the conversation was really clearly focused on race. The skills and strategies that we’re using there, we can use for other forms of oppression or marginalization.”
Next steps include thinking about the skills and competencies students should have related to anti-marginalization at all grade levels. Case studies and project-based learning units will continue to be developed and implemented as curricular shifts continue, and students will be brought in to provide their voice to the work as the process continues.