My Lovely GIA Home
by Jerdrema Flynt
GIA has granted me the opportunity to flourish as a teacher by expanding my mind with curriculum that develops organically through class discussions. It has given me free rein to push my students to lean into what the world around them sees as uncomfortable, be in awe of the beauty of our differences and grant me the strength to love teaching again. GIA has encouraged me to do more than just regurgitate spelling words. I can be the teacher I have always wanted to be, expect more from my students, and love them all the same. Our languages are not barriers, but lovely bridges into the worlds we call home.
As a full-figured African American, conversations surrounding my skin color, my hair, and weight are regular topics that appear during class time. Those conversations come up naturally and are a breath of fresh air to understand that students are learning daily from material and the questions relating to my existence. From being asked, “Ms. Dreme, are you from Wakanda?” to being told, “Ms. Dreme, I think your hair is magic,” I was being pushed in a direction of reading comprehension and Social Studies topics daily. Then I found out my students are singers, dancers, and lovers of color. We are entering our Social Studies world through the lens of “Hairspray.” This is a musical focused between the 1950-1960s about a full-figured White girl who has a dream of becoming a dancer. She faces adversity because of her size and people’s disbelief in her dreams, but she also learns about the discrimination and racism that is simultaneously happening with Black people. She decides to be part of the solution. We engage in these big topics through song, dance, and a ton of color. We are hitting our standards, focusing on GIA Key Values, building our 3rd grade comprehension, learning story elements, and loving that differences make us great.
My 3rd graders are special. I am grateful to be able to be a center of their consciousness and they are the center of mine every day in class. We are reading twice as much this semester and building the comprehension skills necessary to be a successful English speaker and an aware, empathic individual in a world full of differences.