Manifesting Windows and Mirrors in Classroom Curriculums

Looking at Curriculum Development as Windows and Mirrors

Over the years, educators have seen how education has evolved in many ways. For example, many curriculums have been developed to reflect only one perspective. But at Renton Prep we seek to have a curriculum that reflects multiple cultural, philosophical, and diverse perspectives. Marci Chang and I, Emily Chant, are currently studying at the University of Washington’s U-ACT Program. This is an accelerated program to attain a Washington State Teaching License and a Masters in Teaching. One of the first projects that we did as a cohort was to look at curriculum development as windows and mirrors. How exactly does this correlate with the academic aspect of learning? There is a link to windows and mirrors that give students access to a new point of view. Renton Prep is in the process of carrying out this new idea in education.

Curriculum Development as Windows and Mirrors. Why?

What could be the importance of figurative windows and mirrors in a curriculum? Our curriculums should have a strategic balance of learning about others and reflecting our students’ lives. Literally speaking, windows allow us to see into the outside world from within something else. Whatever it is, a window allows us to peer into another reality and possibly, another person’s experience. On the other hand, a mirror allows us to see a reflection of ourselves.
During our staff professional development training, Mrs. Chang and I had the opportunity to lead an exercise for our colleagues. This exercise allowed for a much deeper understanding of one another’s background. The exercise executed the following steps:
  1. Sit back to back with one another.
  2. Have markers, colored pencils, and crayons at hand
  3. One partner will interview the other partner for 3 minutes about a place they call home. The catch is: the real location cannot be disclosed just described.
  4. While the person being interviewed describes their home, the interviewee draws what they think their home looks like based on the responses.
  5. After the 3 minutes are up, the partners switch turns.
  6. This exercise is repeated for 3 rounds.

The activity enabled each colleague to gain insight about others. Much like the concept of windows, we were able to see through the details our colleagues shared and create our own ideas based on it.

Demonstration Through Text

Following this exercise, the staff took a visit to the Renton Public Library to choose a children’s book that demonstrated the concept of both windows and mirrors. In other words, a book that taught about somebody else’s experience but also reflected the experience of our students. Windows and mirrors is a great metaphor to explain the importance of students seeing themselves and understanding others through text. In fact, text selection is important. Connections excite students, meaning it is important to choose texts that are uniquely relatable to each student. During the first week of school, teachers executed many lessons that had these pivotal components to a balanced curriculum. It’s amazing to watch as students unravel new academic avenues. It opens their eyes to the vastness of education and the power it has on their lives.

Diversity Matters

Our world is becoming more and more diverse. Each year, schools are flooded with new students from all parts of the world. This exposure is necessary for growth in students. Meeting new people and understanding various cultures, backgrounds, and lifestyles helps each student paint a bigger picture of life as a whole.

“Diversity matters in classroom learning materials, we need windows into the experiences of others, and mirrors that reflect our culture and identity.”

Edutopia

Diversity is so important. The idea of windows and mirrors goes beyond books – diversity can be built into all kinds of learning resources. Therefore, it is crucial that students see themselves in all aspects of their classroom. In addition, educators need to foster an understanding of others so that students can grow to be able to work with all kinds of people.

A Work in Progress

Everyday is a work in progress at Renton Prep. From our teachers, to our students, to our parents, and staff members, everyone is working toward a goal. Sometimes, it’s the same goal, other times, they are completely different. Each step adds much weight to the overall picture, which is improvement, growth, and advancement in our work. As teachers work to include “windows and mirrors” in their lesson plans, students will continue to see others from a broader lens. Contact our school today to learn more about education here at our school.