Hedreich Nichols

Hedreich Nichols

At The Intersection of Columbus Day and Hispanic Heritage Month

Listening to a wonderful teacher read the legend of La Llorona to her class on Mexican Independence Day eve, I began to ponder the intersection of Columbus Day and Latinx Heritage Month. There is irony in the fact that we celebrate an explorer who opened the floodgates of Spanish colonization, which essentially meant the downfall of the original inhabitants of the Americas and the Caribbean, the descendents of whom we celebrate this month. 

Armed with that truth, it is fitting that we highlight the societies that were growing and thriving before European contact, especially on holidays when we may not have grown up with the diverse stories that paint a well-rounded picture of historical happenings. Here’s your homework:

Who had dinner with the Pilgrims and what are 5 facts about their way of life? 

Who discovered Columbus shipwrecked on their island?

Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights hero, but what were life and death for him like once he started speaking out?

As we near what I now prefer to call Indigenous Peoples Day, let’s get more of the story out there. Telling all the stories is a great way to center narratives that have not traditionally been centered. You’ve got a week to prepare and here are resources. 

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/meet-survivors-taino-tribe-paper-genocide

And for good measure, the legend of La Llorona

Let me know how it goes!

Five Ways To Elevate Your Practice This School Year

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Sometimes, it’s the little things. And as you know, SmallBites is always about the high impact little things. Below are 5 ways you can elevate your practice this year.

  1. Know your state and district laws. “ban crt” and “don’t say gay” type legislations are in over 500 jurisdictions in the country. UCLA’s interactive map and corresponding resources will help you keep abreast of the latest laws that may directly influence what you can and cannot include in the teaching and learning loop on your campus. Knowing the laws, as well as your district’s stance can help you navigate the complexities of teaching truth in America in the 2020s. If you are at the district level, consider what your legal and administrative response will be and let teachers know in advance what kind of support they can expect.
  2. Integrate diverse narratives. After finding out what laws are, do your best to push your students’ critical thinking by challenging them to research lesser known stories and narratives. Here is a month of SmallBites Episodes and resources to help you plan and research diverse narratives; and shape conversations around diversity and equity.
  3. Teaching on a homogenous campus? Not possible! Sameness has more to do with culture, zip codes and melanin. Here is an article that is worth the read. In short, diversity matters–and it’s all around us.
  4. Inclusivity is the opposite of judgment. Just let that sit. 
  5. Reduce your consumption of incendiary media. Fight the algorithms by broadening your searches and reading articles from a variety of sources. If you’re in the classroom, teach your students to do the same. If you are at the district level, consider making media literacy a campus initiative and start an awareness campaign of the types of words and articles that make us mad and divide us. Awareness is the start, consuming less is the goal.

Teaching is harder than it’s ever been and the plates of educators are overflowing. Still, we all want to be better. Let me know how this podcast episode helps you and feel free to DM me on Twitter or IG to ask any lingering questions you might have.

SmallBites: Hispanic Heritage(s) Month(s)

As you know, if you’ve listened often, I am not a big fan of relegating cultural literacy to certain months of the year. However, since most campuses are highlighting Latinx communities this month, I do hope you’ll represent the diversity of the cultures on your campuses. This week, please refer to my most recent Edutopia article for great information on how to respectfully give voice to diverse Hispanic communities throughout the month, throughout the year. 

BTS Edition: Losses, Gatekeeping and Selfcare

Queen Elizabeth, 9/11 and Mourning

As I thought about the pomp and circumstance surrounding the death of the Queen, the national remembrance of 9/11 and how we, as a country, grieve, it occurred to me that our losses are ranked. And those rankings reinforce our caste system, our gatekeeping. Why, for example, are flags lowered for government officials and foreign dignitaries? Are those losses more profound than the losses suffered by “regular” citizens?

If we accept grief rankings, where else might we be reinforcing structures that do not honor and value people equitably? How do those systems and structures subtly influence the way we approach building classroom and campus culture?

What Is Normal Anyway?

What kinds of inherent structures of honor are in place on your campus? Who do “norms” honor and center? Are there “norms” that can be rethought? Let these questions guide your reflections this week. And to support you in being a reflective practitioner, listen to Angela Watson of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club in her powerful interview with Jennifer Gonzales. Being rested, balanced and regulated is THE best thing you can do to propagate a positive, supportive campus culture. Setting strong work-life boundaries is key.

Finally, if you feel grief over the loss of the Queen, at the thought of 9/11 or at any other world impacting event; be true to your feelings. We feel what we feel, and that’s ok. If others feel those losses less acutely, that’s ok too.  Reflection and acceptance are perfectly balanced, leaving no room for judgment. 

Happy Back to School, see you next week with more SmallBites.

Freedom: Reparations, Atonement and Mass Atrocities, with Sarah Federman (Pt. 3)

Listen to the final installment of the interview with Sarah Federman here.

In this final installation of the conversation on responding to mass atrocity harm with Sarah Federman, we talk about practical ways we can acknowledge and help diverse stakeholders, both those who suffer fallout in the form of ongoing structural inequities, and those who are perhaps unwittingly complicit. We also talk about how those who research and work with difficult topics like mass atrocities, social justice issues, genocide, etc., can circumvent burnout.

Listen to part 1 here. Listen to part 2 here. Buy Sarah’s award winning title, Last Train to Auschwitz: Grounded in history and case law here.

Last Train to Auschwitz traces the SNCF’s journey toward accountability in France and the United States, culminating in a multimillion-dollar settlement paid by the French government on behalf of the railways.The poignant and informative testimonies of survivors illuminate the long-term effects of the railroad’s impact on individuals, leading the company to make overdue amends. In a time when corporations are increasingly granted the same rights as people, Federman’s detailed account demonstrates the obligations businesses have to atone for aiding and abetting governments in committing atrocities. This volume highlights the necessity of corporate integrity and will be essential reading for those called to engage in the difficult work of responding to past harms.

About the guest:

Sarah Federman is an Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School of Peace Studies. She is the author of the award winning Last Train to Auschwitz: The French National Railways and the Journey to Accountability (2021). She has also written for the Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Business Ethics concerning the corporate obligation to atone for participation in mass atrocity such as genocide, slavery, and violence associated with colonialism. In 2022, she testified before Congress concerning the responsibility of U.S. banks to respond to their slavery ties. This summer her co-authored anthology “Narratives of Mass Atrocity: Victims and Perpetrators in the Aftermath” will be published by Cambridge University Press. Federman comes to this work after a decade as an international advertising executive working with companies such as Google and NFL.

Freedom: Reparations, Atonement and Mass Atrocities, with Sarah Federman (Pt. 2)

Listen to the episode here.

Yes, it’s summer. But I’m back anyway!

This is part 2 of a conversation with Sarah Federman on enslavement within the context of mass atrocity ‘reckoning’. (Listen to part 1 here.) Highlights in this conversations include suggestions and recommendations for impactful apologies and ways to acknowledge ties to harms that still impact communities in the present. The Baltimore Sun provides an exemplary template for what needs to be said–in government, in corporations, in organizations–in order for us to heal and move forward as a nation. This episode begins to explore ways to talk about present day ties to mass atrocities of the past without indicting people who themselves may be struggling with poverty or disenfranchisement. It also acknowledges the difficulty of the “it wasn’t me, I wasn’t there” argument. Come back for part 3 next week. 

About the guest:

Sarah Federman is an Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School of Peace Studies. She is the author of the award winning Last Train to Auschwitz: The French National Railways and the Journey to Accountability (2021). She has also written for the Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Business Ethics concerning the corporate obligation to atone for participation in mass atrocity such as genocide, slavery, and violence associated with colonialism. In 2022, she testified before Congress concerning the responsibility of U.S. banks to respond to their slavery ties. This summer her co-authored anthology “Narratives of Mass Atrocity: Victims and Perpetrators in the Aftermath” will be published by Cambridge University Press. Federman comes to this work after a decade as an international advertising executive working with companies such as Google and NFL.

Freedom: Reparations, Atonement and Mass Atrocities, with Sarah Federman (Pt. 1)

When we celebrate Juneteenth, we celebrate the freedoms given by the 13th amendment that only came to Texas 2 and a half years after the original proclamation. Upon closer inspection, this freedom was not only late in coming, but it also marked the beginning of mass illness and deathJim Crow laws, segregation and gaps in wealth and education that still prevail even in the face of ever evolving laws and social programming designed to repair harm that we have yet, as a nation, to formally acknowledge. 

Juneteenth and Mass Atrocity

Thinking about this celebration, beyond BBQ, led me to a Marketwatch interview of Sarah Federman, award winning journalist and author of Last Train to Auschwitz, a book on the French railway’s journey to accountability in their complicity in deporting over 76,000 Jews and other civilians to Third Reich death camps. 

I’m lucky to have her on SmallBites to talk about what she learned in her research and how her knowledge of corporate and community atonement can help us move forward as we confront our own Colonial complicity in mass atrocities like Indigenous genocide, Black trafficking and enslavement and mass incarceration. 

Join us next week for Pt. 2 where we talk more about reparation models that work and what we can do to make a difference personally. 

About the guest:

Sarah Federman, PhD Conflict Analysis and Resolution ’16, pictured here at Union Station in Washington, DC

Sarah Federman is an Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School of Peace Studies. She is the author of the award winning Last Train to Auschwitz: The French National Railways and the Journey to Accountability (2021). She has also written for the Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Business Ethics concerning the corporate obligation to atone for participation in mass atrocity such as genocide, slavery, and violence associated with colonialism. In 2022, she testified before Congress concerning the responsibility of U.S. banks to respond to their slavery ties. This summer her co-authored anthology “Narratives of Mass Atrocity: Victims and Perpetrators in the Aftermath” will be published by Cambridge University Press. Federman comes to this work after a decade as an international advertising executive working with companies such as Google and NFL.

Cool for the Summer

This summer comes after the most trying time in education since the era of bussing and integration. I don’t have any stats on that, but having lived between most of those two Big Educational Events, I can’t remember anything harder than the last two years. Educators are exhausted and leaving the profession in droves.

If you are leaving, go, be brilliant, you’ll be fine.

If you are staying, rest, then go, be brilliant, you’ll be fine.

If the above statements don’t feel true, please get whatever support you need to get healthy and become the you you want to be. 

Finally, if you are fortunate not to have a set work schedule, give yourself to do absolutely whatever you feel like doing as much as you want. Rest IS productive.

See you in fall, and thank you for being a part of the SmallBites audience.

Talk It Out Pt. 3

This is the final episode of a 3 part series.

Restorative practice is a big undertaking and is best done school or district wide. So if you are a classroom teacher, where can you start?

How Do I Lay a Foundation for Restorative Practices?

At the beginning of the year, build a strong, inclusive foundation. Building an inclusive classroom is not about what’s in the books or on the walls, it’s about building community. Establishing and imparting a vision for an inclusive, supportive learning community can be done on every grade level. We’ve all seen the posters; “In this classroom we are kind, honest, respectful, etc.” But in a world where people are so often everything but, how do we teach those skills? 

Step 1

First, tell your students that everyone is an important part of the learning community and explain that being excluded hurts. Teach them to notice who is being excluded and to invite them to the table/team/group. Remind them of how great it feels to be included and ask for examples. Then teach them to invite others into their groups. Teach them to notice when someone is being excluded. Explain that they don’t have to be besties with someone to make room for them.

Step 2

Second, Teach civil disagreement with games like This or That and Would You Rather. Having students pick a side and justify their answers using ‘kind words’ is a skill. Teach them to accept differences in opinion and not to be emotionally tied to their choices. The “my choice is good, your choice is bad” mentality divides us.

Step 3

Finally, Use collaboration to build community. Use teams that work together and help each other. Have students discover learning more with the help of the community of learners than from you. Set collective goals with collective rewards. The more students can engage with each other, the deeper the connection.

Once students feel connected, they begin to hold each other accountable. And when someone violates the code, the ground is fertile for the restorative process.

If you have further questions about what this looks like in practice, please feel free to connect over Twitter, Instagram or per email at 5SmallBites@gmail.com.

Warning Shots

No matter what you think about the most recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, two things are true: 

1. The shooter felt like an outsider. 

2. In his despair, he began to blame others for his misery and took action against them. 

This goes deeper than hate or racism. 

How do people walk among us and feel such misery, the kind that inspires acts of rage against random, unsuspecting people? I don’t have a study to cite, but I believe that we all contribute. The question is what?

 I am not saying the blame for a shooters actions lie at our feet. I am, however, suggesting that when we turn away from “playground shenanigans” to “let boys be boys” or when we look away when students draw circles around their friends and work to exclude others, our unwillingness to build a more inclusive climate in our schools may sow seeds. 

No, of course every student sitting alone in the cafeteria is not going to grow up to become a mass shooter. However, according to studies cited in this NYT article, anger, isolation and resentment are the common thread linking mass shooters and domestic terrorists. 

Once again, I am not laying the blame at the feet of educators, there is enough of that happening already. I simply want to call on the group of people who I innately believe, as a whole, have the best interest of students at heart, to intentionally build a culture of inclusivity on campuses. No kid should eat alone. No kid should be consistently chosen last for the team. No kid should be left out of group work when students choose. That means you teach your students how to include because there is humanity in including others. It means, you become more inclusive at school with other teachers, at home with others in your community. It means you draw bigger circles around your ‘usses’.

Being more inclusive may not stop the next act of violence against any community, but it will make the ground for these acts less fertile. That’s an outcome we all need.

Learn More

Taking to kids about difficult subjects-All the Kids Are Not Safe

Merging and managing divergent beliefs in learning communities