Part 1: Looking into my Knapsack! Blog post by Karen Bender

The first and most eye-opening element of this course for me has been learning about my own white privilege and realizing I have not earned everything I have in my life. Chapter 1, Section 3: Unpacking our Knapsack stated it perfectly, “The key is to be aware of these behaviors and their impact on us both personally and professionally.” (Perez, iBook) I surely knew this on some level before, but this is the first time I am being vocal about that understanding. This understanding was needed for one of my beginning classes to be a teacher. I needed to understand my advantages better because it makes me see the disadvantages of others a lot clearer too. Understanding both, I am able to make a safer, trusted environment for all of my students.

How do I plan to apply this? I thought I might be clever and say I will unpack my knapsack. But, that isn’t how this works. I will always have these privileges with me. But, I can recognize that white privilege very much exists and do my best to not be a part of that privilege. When I call on students or ask for volunteers, I will remember this. When I plan assignments, make groups, and/or award, I will remember this. When corresponding with families, I will remember this and do my best to make all families comfortable. From day one in my class, our community will be built on mutual respect for one another. Some of the ways we will do this are the following: Rafe Esquith’s levels of behavior, biography driven instruction and getting to really know one another in groups, and our own autobiographical narratives. I really enjoyed learning about my own classmates through that first assignment and Chapter 1, Section 1 reiterated the importance of getting to know all of your students!

As a teacher, I will physically be helping unpack backpacks.  Also, I will recognize and help other students recognize the items not able to be seen inside too!  🙂


SCARBOROUGH, ONTARIO: AUGUST 27, 2015– (left to right) Deshawn Bourne, 6; Alanna Buckmaster-King, 6; Ashwin Mathivanan, 6; Aayan Mohammed, 5; and Manni-Lynn Roman, 6, from the Glamorgan YMCA Summer Kinder Program pose for a photo with new backpacks in Scarborough, Ontario on August 27, 2015. (Michelle Siu for Toronto Star)


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