I have worked on creating a curriculum and developing lesson plans for sixth graders related to tolerance, understanding of difference, and inclusion. I have used my experience at The Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) [part of NAIS'S People of Color Conference] and my work with two national nonprofits, Seeds of Peace and Repair the World, along with self-study to create the curricular aspect. I asked several students – who attended SDLC and who are part of the Equity and Inclusion Committee – to help me with the lesson plans, which examine various topics, including: stereotypes, implicit bias, gender, and race. The lessons are presentation and activity-based and provide students the opportunity to listen to others' narratives. This teaching needs to start in the formative years, so we can create a generation of open, aware, engaged, and tolerant citizens. The goal of the work is teach tolerance, inclusion, and openness to diverse viewpoints—something which is becoming increasingly important. The sixth grade students were very engaged and asked to go deeper into the issues presented.
The student leaders from the Upper School facilitated a "find your people activity." We prompted students with several statements, including: "Find people with the same religion as you, the same race, eye color...etc." After the activity, students were broken up into smaller groups for a group debrief. The student leaders asked, "How did it feel to be part of the majority and to be part of the minority?" They also asked, "Was it difficult to find people with whom you share the same identity?" To which a sixth grader responded, "It felt better to be part of the majority, but I felt unique when I was in the minority." The goal of this activity is for students to be aware of who's in the room, and to understand the people with whom they are sitting in classes beyond the surface impression.