Be You Campaign
By Dr. Sharroky Hollie, Executive Director, The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learniing
Late winter and spring are my favorite seasons of the CLR year because I am visiting schools and observing CLR instruction. As a teacher of teachers, I get to see how my students are infusing CLR into their daily instructional practices and how schools are implementing changing mindsets around being more culturally and linguistically responsive to all students. In short, I have a chance to check in on their VABB status.
This year, a developing theme has been this: how are schools/classrooms validating and affirming the students' cultural behaviors in the instructional context without having to "codeswitch"? The explicit validation and affirmation of students around their cultural behaviors is the key to your successful CLRness. VAing your students triggers building and bridging, and by extension your students’ buy-in to being situationally appropriate. Your VA has to be intentional and purposeful;consistent and authentic; proactive and reactive (use teachable moments).
When do your students have the opportunity to be who they are in the instructional context? BeYou is the acrostic that I am using to stimulate educators to be conscious about planning for students to keep their cultural and linguistic behaviors as assets in school and not turn them into liabilities. BeYou, the acronym, is the creation of Carrie Eicher, assistant principal in the North St. Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale School District and it stands for:
BeYou as a concept is a challenge to us all to ensure that students can be who they are at school. It is a direct rebuttal to the often used SLANT posters and protocol that has become so ubiquitous in schools. SLANT stands for Sit up tall, Listen, Ask questions, Nod your head, and Track the teacher. Note that there are many variations of SLANT. We want students to BeYou (VA) and to SLANT (BB) situationally. As it stands now, the use of SLANT is imbalanced when looking through a CLR lens. It proves to be an over emphasis on our students acting a certain way, typically in alignment with the school culture behaviors and expectations. BeYou is not meant to counter this dynamic. It is intended to create more opportunities for structured ways for students to be themselves culturally and linguistically.
Starting now with the hopes of building momentum into the Fall, we want to start a BeYou campaign. How does it work? First, you have to intentionally plan on instructional activities whereby students are utilizing their cultural assets based on the Rings of Culture or the Iceberg Concept Culture. Then, you have to evidence it. Take a picture. Record it. Get student testimonies. Last, send it out via social media - #BeYou and #validateaffirm to Twitter @validateaffirm. VABB is about both - validating and affirming and building and bridging. Let's make sure we are authentically doing both by allowing our students to be who they are first.