We are pleased to share with you today a piece from our storytelling series of reflections and noticings coming out of our convening in Tucson!
Please stay tuned for more writings from our team of storytellers and revisit the blog here to see them all in the coming months.
By Nicole Allard
“Knowing who we come from helps us to know who we are.”
Our visit to Tucson High Magnet School centered around the power of student stories and began the moment we walked through the door into hallways covered with student work, display cases with student showcases and art, outside murals with self-portraits, and a classroom activity with a family oral history project.
Having just watched the Ted Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, students engaged in a think-pair-share and then a whole class discussion, thinking through how they could change the single story about the people in their community/communities by writing down their individual stories. They engaged in a practice interview, with each other and with us as visitors to their space, asking questions and giving answers about lives and experiences. And, they were challenged by their teacher to truly engage, ask questions, and keep the conversation going.
“An answer and a story are two different things,” the teacher reminded them.
In their practice today and in the interviews they would do with their families, students were asked to seek out stories so that they could challenge the single story of their community.
As we finished our visit from Tucson High Magnet School to the Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Instruction Department (CRPI), we were honored by the students’ willingness to engage with us and share their stories and inspired by what they would create with the words of their families.
The stories continued as we talked to the CRPI staff, and we were able to hear the legacy of liberation, the power of adult learning and growth dowards liberatory practices, and how the Tucson community came together to leverage their intersectional strengths in order to advocate for equity in their schools. This all has created student-centered, positive learning communities with academic and ethnic identity development through intentional cultural content integration. There is joy cultivated through the development of trust and authentic engagement, not just with students, but with other staff and the district community as a whole. And, this was truly reflected in what we saw in our visit to Tucson High Magnet School through the co-construction of familial histories and stories.
About the Storyteller
Nicole Allard is an education consultant. She was formerly Executive Director of Educational Excellence and Innovation at Vista Unified School District in Vista, California.