This is particularly true at East High School, as the students are so diverse. Looking up and down the hallway outside my classroom door, I see a sizable sample of the two thousand students at East. I’m still struck at how different they look: Asian, Pacific-Islander, Hispanic, Black, Native Alaskan, White, and multi-ethnic. All told, about 70% of our students are ethnically diverse. This creates opportunities for some amazing discoveries and unique challenges in the classroom.
This week, a student began to sing while doing the dishes (one of the daily student jobs). When asked what she was singing, she replied, “It’s a Samoan song my mother taught me.” Another student in the classroom sang us a traditional Hmong song. When a teacher assistant joked that he and one of the students might be brothers, the student shot back, “But I’m Black and you’re White!”
I’ve found that while students at East are adept at noticing differences, like all high school students, they’re also generally accepting and curious about where others are from, what languages they speak at home, and what traditions they hold.