As a school for social justice serving a largely working-class, Latino and African-American student population, the mission of June Jordan School for Equity is not just to prepare students for college, but also to prepare our graduates to be agents of positive change in the world.
Consequently, our pedagogy (a fancy way of saying “the way we teach”) is expressly designed to help our students understand the forces of marginalization they have experienced growing up, and thus to begin the process of freeing themselves from oppression, including especially the internalized oppression (or self-imposed limits) which we see preventing so many students from meeting their potential.
We are in the process of clearly defining the JJSE pedagogy, in order to support JJSE teachers on their path to becoming masters at the art of teaching for social justice, which in turn will provide all JJSE students the opportunity to develop the self-confidence and self-discipline they need to become not just authentic intellectuals, but also leaders who will work on behalf of their communities and create a more just and humane world.
We believe that this project represents real accountability, in contrast to the test-based accountability that is so popular in education today.
1) Warm Demander: develop your students as human beings first
Family & Culture: understand & honor the strengths of the community
Authenticity: model vulnerability and humility, be an ally, respect your students
Clear Boundaries: Show Strength, Listen & Affirm, Challenge & Offer a Choice
Growth Mindset: believe in the “impossible,” embrace failure
2) Safe Classroom Community: protect your students in a potentially dangerous world
Prevention: clear expectations, talk about values, Teacher Voice, One Mic
Rituals: Mindfulness, Talking Circle, Strong Start, Strong Finish
Jedi Awareness & Control the Mood
Intervention: assume positive intent, keep it in perspective, deliberate escalation, when to stop the curriculum and when/how to remove students
3) Knowledge of Students: start where your students are, not where you want/imagine them to be
Prior Knowledge: what do students know? what are their experiences? (misconceptions?)
Student Voice: what do students care about? what do they think? (examples of activities like sort, chalk talk, dot voting, etc.)
Individual Needs: differentiation without tracking, adjusting instruction based on formative assessment
Choice: students should have real choices about how and what they learn (this does not mean we let students study whatever they want, but rather that students should be active in driving their own learning)
4) Students as Intellectuals: develop your students as a community of warrior-scholars
Inquiry: there is no “right answer,” questioning, evidence, students as sources of knowledge
Collective Accountability: classroom as intellectual community
Code Switching: academic language & discussion formats
Intellectual Challenge: high-level multicultural texts, complex problems, big ideas, less is more
5) Teacher as Coach: let your students do the work
Metacognition: students should know how they learn & how to self-assess
Academic Skills: binders, annotations, note-taking skills, etc.
Culture of Revision & Practice: models of excellent work, multiple revisions, guided practice
Team Work: heterogeneous groups, clear roles, focus on the process, address status
6) Social Justice Curriculum: teach a curriculum that helps students understand the real world
Clear Purpose: students know what they are doing and why it matters
Relevance: the curriculum helps explain the real world & oppression (social justice curriculum in math, science, humanities, arts, language, special education/life skills, multicultural curriculum, community connections, & cross-curricular connections)
Encourage Dissenting Opinions: critical thinking is the goal
Human Values: the curriculum is grounded in justice, fairness, dignity, & cultural strengths
PHOTO CREDIT: MARCUS HUNG