Identity. Such a simple word, for such a strong meaning. I have never been one to truly know how to show identity, but I had supportive teachers and family helping me along the way. Like I mentioned in the previous blog post, I was never top of my class or even the smartest in any of my classes. In fact, I struggled a lot with identity because I thought people were judging or identifying me based of my extra reading or speech classes I was taking. Another piece added on top of my struggle was my culture. Being Jewish, in a school of only four other Jewish people, definitely did not help with this crisis. However, by the time I reached high school, I was able to become more aware and appreciative of my identity
with the help and guidance of my teachers and family. These two main supporters always comforted me and made me realize that my struggles didn’t define me, nor that I’m alone in this matter. Instead of hiding identity, they chose to promote this inside the classroom. It felt nice to see that everyone was dealing with similar issues, plus I was able to finally become more self-aware, confident, and knowledgeable about what identity stands for.
What is Identity?
If you are one to share this similar struggle with me, I am here to tell you what identity is and how you can change the perspective you may think people make about you. If you ask Google the meaning of identity, the response is simple, “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is”; however, identity is so much more than the platonic response given by Google (Oxford languages and google – English). Identity is nurtured with the idea of each individual child’s construction of knowledge, confidence, and individual and social identities. Through finding your identity, “children will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities” (Understanding anti-bias education). The goal of antibias education is to ensure that no child feels superior to another, but rather equal people. Children should feel proud of who they are and will become. The job of a teacher and caregiver are to support children in this journey and teach about respectful language towards others, as well as how to feel comfortable in different environments, specifically home and school culture. Within antibias education, the goal of identity branches out from more than just individualism. Social identities play an equally important role in the child’s development as individual identities do. Social identity refers to the categorizations of the society in which we live and how individuals all around share similar ideals. Some examples of “social identities include (but are not limited to) gender, racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and economic class groups” (Understanding anti-bias education). I guarantee you that no one is alone in this matter, but it is up to the teacher to help decrease this issue in coming years. This starts by having teachers nurturing children’s individual and social identities in the classroom, making sure they know they are accepted.
Observations of Identity
As we just discussed, it is mainly up to the teacher to introduce this idea of accepting your identity. There are certainly different ways this can occur, but I will only give a select few on what I have observed being in a preschool classroom. Through the Community Action Partnership in Adamstown Elementary, I have been afforded the pleasure of observing the teacher in this classroom. The first thing I noticed when walking into the classroom was the idea of family pride, which is included in the definition of identity. The teacher put together a “family” tree, where all students (with the help of parents) brought in a picture of their family to be placed on this tree. It is important to note that all students are included in this activity and up for their observation throughout the whole school year. Within these pictures, one can notice all the unique qualities that make every family different from one another but can also appreciate that at the end of the day, family is family, a group of people who care and take after one another. Another observation taken within this classroom is learning respectful language to describe who they and others are. It is hard for preschoolers to know who they are at such a young age, but the teacher is trying to nurture these ideas in little items around the room. Based off learning respectful language, both body and verbal, children are developing the knowledge of identity. Before they are dismissed from carpet time, the children must use their helping hand to pick someone to go after them. I see helping hands in two parts; the first being that it teaches the basic skills of being kind. The second part to this little activity is children becoming self-aware of how they want to act and how others around them respond to this gesture. They are able to acknowledge that no one person is standing out or special, but they are actually equals, which would also help them develop and be comfortable in the school culture. When someone asks you about your identity, how will you respond? Have the people around you helped nurture the ideals behind identity?
Oxford languages and google – English. Oxford Languages. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/
Understanding anti-bias education: Bringing the four core goals to every facet of your curriculum. NAEYC. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/nov2019/understanding-anti-bias