D.C. Teacher Published in Rethinking Schools

Science teacher Ellen Royse and Rethinking Schools editor Bill Bigelow.

We are pleased to announce that Ellen Royse, a teacher from our Stories from Our Classrooms social justice writing course, had her article published in the spring 2017 edition of the Rethinking Schools journal.

The article, “‘I See Birds Everywhere I Go’: Engaging urban students in the natural world” begins as follows:

I grew up in rural Kentucky, where the outdoors was an endless source of entertainment and intrigue. I played in the creek in the summer and wandered through the woods year-round. In the winter, from the warmth of the kitchen table, I watched cardinals, tufted titmice, and downy wood-peckers duke it out at the bird feeder. I learned to associate wild animals and wild places with a mix of comfort and adventure.

I grew up believing that the woods were a place where kids were safe to roam and follow their imaginations. However, I soon learned that my Urban Ecology class of high school seniors in Washington, D.C., had a very different perspective. Many of my students, who are primarily Black and Latinx from low-income backgrounds, were wary of the outdoors.

The first time I tried to take my students into Rock Creek Park to sample understory plant species, there was a small revolt. “No, Miss. We can’t go there. It’s not safe!”

They were worried about pollen allergies, poison ivy, and attacks from mosquitoes, snakes, and other animals. More deeply, they were afraid for their personal safety. Away from the protection of street lights and watchful neighbors, the woods became a maze where people were vulnerable to attack. The isolation and density of the forest shielded clandestine activities from the public eye. [Continue reading full article on line.]

Royse participated in the first year of the Stories from Our Classrooms course. A high school science teacher at Capital City Public Charter School, she also plays a leadership role in the annual Food Justice Youth Summit.

This is the fifth article published to date by one of the teacher writers from the course. The others are:

Beyond the Word Gap: Are efforts to boost kids’ vocabularies before kindergarten missing the mark? by Amy Rothschild, The Atlantic

What are you: Engaging Parents of Multiracial Children in Preschool by Makai Kellogg, Huffington Post

Home Visits: A Powerful Family Engagement Tool by Debbie Polhemus, Edutopia

Teaching Islam in a Catholic School by Gregory Landrigan, Teaching for Change

We look forward to more articles by D.C. area social justice teacher writers to contribute to the all-too-scarce collection of published descriptions of classroom practice by teachers themselves.

Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017 |

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