Collage Colorado on the Denver Teacher Strike

Collage Colorado supports the DCTA/Denver Teachers’ Strike! As readers may know, negotiations between Denver teachers and the district regarding fair and adequate wages have reached an impasse. On Friday, January 25th, after 93% of DCTA members voted to authorize a strike, DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova petitioned the State of Colorado to block a strike for up to six months! This move would render a strike meaningless. Denver teachers responded by officially requesting that the State not step in, but we’re awaiting the decision.

We are… dedicated to an unshakeable belief that… financial burden should never be a barrier to quality education.

Although Collage is a private entity, and despite the fact that our classes are presently hosted at a DPS school, we stand with teachers. From our mission, “We are… dedicated to an unshakeable belief that… financial burden should never be a barrier to quality education.” That conviction goes in both directions; money should not be a factor for students or teachers! Teaching is a science and an art, and in the world today more (perhaps) than ever before, a quality education is a basic necessity for life. With it, anyone’s odds of livable pay, adequate health care, and a quality end of life go up tremendously. All that said, we may have to modify some plans depending on if the strike happens, as Collage will not cross picket lines.

We are encouraging all of our supporters to email DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova and tell her that you support Denver teachers, and believe they deserve a fair and living wage for their work.

All the Updates

Happy New Year, Fam!

After a couple months of hibernation (as we here at Collage celebrated the holidays and prepared for 2019), we’re back, and we’ve got some big things coming!

To begin with, our second Collage@Odyssey term being this week at Odyssey School of Denver! This term we’ve expanded the course by two sessions, as we dig deeper into issues of immigration, race, class, gender, and more! Collage@Odyssey provides a differentiated and grade-appropriate curriculum that can be tailored to any student’s needs, however we find that generally, the format is most accessible to students in grades 3 and above. Email Cameron or Maníge at collagecolorado@gmail.com for more information, or to register your student.

Also, the Shop will be closing in the next few weeks. After a few-month trial run, we’ve decided that merchandise is not a direction we wish to pursue at the moment. We’ll still be producing posters and other materials for homes and classrooms, but we’re considering other avenues to make those available to you.

Finally, because Collage Colorado supports DCTA and Denver teachers, and because we refuse to cross picket lines, we may be forced to make modifications to the Collage@Odyssey syllabus and agenda. We will provide details as they are available.

Keep an eye here for more details soon. Cheers, Fam!

#WhenIBegan Art Prints Are Here!

They’re here! The first run of (large) #WhenIBegan art prints arrived today, and may we say, they look gorgeous! Check them out in the Facebook Shop; more pictures coming soon!

And of course, watch the video that inspired it!

Revolutionary Read of the Month | October, 2018

The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson

As you may have heard, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying is something we take very seriously here at Collage Colorado, and so we thought it was appropriate that this month we feature a book about feeling different, how scary that can be, and why maybe it doesn’t have to be so scary after all.

Jacqueline Woodson’s new children’s book The Day You Begin is phenomenal – a book that manages to really capture the feeling of realizing that you’re different from your peers, and that they don’t always see that as a good thing. The books is beautifully illustrated, with rich artwork accentuating numerous – anxious – perspectives. Fear not, though, as Woodson makes sure to end on a high note. Pick it up and check for yourself!

The Details:


#WhenIBegan

See our dedicated #WhenIBegan page for more details about the Instagram campaign inspired by this book!

Consent is for Everyone

Let’s Talk About Consent…

So, I suppose we were always going to get to this post eventually, because consent is a major part of being part of a home, classroom, or community. It’s something really basic to being a person who interacts with other people.

This post is happening today, though, because the topic has become so utterly and painfully immediate that it clearly needs to be addressed; from the #MeToo movement, to accusations against numerous respected figures, to the Kavanaugh hearings… our own President has even mocked assaults against women. Our children and students hear these things on the radio and online, see them on TV, and know we’re talking about the issue. If we are, so are they, and that makes this an incredibly important time to have this conversation with them.

[RESOURCES FOR DISCUSSING CONSENT ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE!]

So, What Can I Do?

This is obviously a really serious and delicate issue, and we understand that it can be nerve wracking to think about bringing this stuff up, but evidence shows that beginning discussions about consent at a young age keeps kids safer, and eases the more mature conversations later on. Besides, there are lots of great tools that can help – the conversation is important, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating!

Before I start, let me explain that we at Collage Colorado are not therapists, and that these suggestions come from our combined years of experience teaching and parenting. You are welcome to disagree about anything we say here, and we welcome discussion! That only helps everybody keep everyone safer, and more respected.

REMEMBER! If you feel you or someone you know is being bullied or their consent is not being respected, tell a trusted adult.

First off, remember to talk to your kids at their level. This might seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering, because many educators’ and parents’ first fear in talking about consent is the belief that they’ll have to talk about “mature subjects”. You don’t! Not unless your students are ready, and if they are they’ll let you know (by asking questions, and because you likely already have a gauge on their maturity level to begin with). Start small… You can always add more detail later, as they need it.

Next, let your kids lead the conversation. Kids get consent at a basic level already. We all do; we all know when something doesn’t make us feel right, or makes us feel like our trust, our space, or our bodies, haven’t been respected. Once you’ve given kids a few prompts (ex. “How does it feel when somebody touches your hair when you don’t want it?”, “How do you feel when you don’t want a hug, and someone gives you one anyway?”), they will likely take off with it, which leads us to…

Now, on to making some agreements! Whether at school or at home, one very good way to reinforce the ideas that you and your kids or students have discussed is to write them down. Get a piece of paper or a board, and record 3-5 agreements about bodies, boundaries, and consent. Make sure your kids or students guide this step, too. Then have everyone (including you) sign the agreement.

After that, let kids ask questions. Really, this is true always, but for tough conversations like this, it’s especially important to check in one last time before the conversation is over. This makes sure there aren’t any hanging problems, misunderstandings, or uncertainties (at least as much as we can manage).

Finally, check in again later. Explicitly talking about consent should be a regular practice… when appropriate. It’s important to check in periodically to make sure that our kids still get it. It can take many times repeating a concept for kids to fully integrate it, and that goes for this concept, too. Making consent a regular check in also makes the conversation infinitely easier than having to have it as a reaction to something later. How often you check in is up to you, but whether parent, educator -whoever – make this conversation a habit.

Talking About The News

Talking about consent is a fantastic time to talk about what’s going on in the news, too, and vice versa, and all the same “rules” apply here, too. Talk about the Supreme Court hearings or #MeToo at your children’s level. And don’t worry about the details; ultimately, they matter far less that the overall concept, that all people have a right to determine what happens with their own bodies, and furthermore a right to stop others from violating or impeding that in any way.

Final Thoughts

Of course there’s so much more to consent than all of this, and the discussions each of us has will look different every time, depending on our kids, depending on what’s going on in the world, and so on. It’s important to know that for children of color, immigrants, and refugees here in the US, consent is an even more tenuous and potentially triggering topic; people’s race and religion can further change the impact of both the consequences and conversations around consent, and it’s our responsibility to be aware of this.

At the end of the day the most important thing is to keep talking. Destigmatizing conversations about consent make the world a safer and happier place for everybody.


Resources:

Although no resource is perfect, there are a few good tools that can help you to discuss consent with your kids or students (or colleagues!), including some fantastic videos.

  • “Consent for Kids” – This video talks about consent at the most basic level, and we believe it is appropriate for children starting around 6 years old.
  • “Consent: It’s as Simple as Tea” – This is consent for adults (and possibly teens). This video contains “bad” language, however it remains one of the best – and most concise – explanations of the importance of consent that you’re going to find. Our own Maníge Giles uses this video and the video above for her OWL classes; both are fantastic introductions to the idea.
  • “The Day You Begin”, by Jacqueline Woodson – This book is not actually about consent, but it is about racism and feeling othered, which is a major issue in addition to consent.

There are lots more resources out there, and you can be sure that as we find them, we’ll share them here on the blog, but in the meantime, if there are other good resources that you’ve found helpful, let us know in the comments!

Thank You!

Thank You!

Collage Fam, you are amazing! Over the past two weeks, as we covered Banned Books Week, behind the scenes we were running our first-ever Collage Colorado fundraiser. Thanks to the generous donations of a number of supporters, we raised $555 for Collage materials and programming in September! Collage Colorado, LLC strives to work on a non-profit basis, to make our courses an materials accessible to as many people as possible. We cannot do the work we do without your support, and we deeply appreciate your contributions. Thank you!


These donations have already provided:

  • 15 NEW Books for the Revolutionary Reader Library (loads of new reviews coming soon!)
  • Crafting and multimedia classroom supplies, including: crayons, chalk, poster boards, markers, glue, and more
  • An HDMI to Lightning Adapter (to expand multimedia content in the classroom)
  • 1 Student Scholarship for a future course!