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These Four Words Will Transform Your Teaching

Don't shy away from exploring ideas about gender. You don't have to be an expert to encourage great discussions.

Perhaps you'd like to teach more about gender, but aren't sure how. Well, you're not alone. Plenty of teachers want to teach about gender inclusivity, but are hesitant to start, or nervous that they'll say something wrong.

Don't worry. There's a simple, four-word question that will take the pressure off of you.

Are you ready? Here goes:

"What do you notice?"

There. It's that simple. The next time you read a picture book to your class, or look at a picture on a website, or observe a piece of art, ask your students, "What do you notice?"

Those four words put the power of exploring and questioning gender into your students' hands. The other magical part about this question is that there are no wrong answers. Whatever children notice is valid and true.

By asking students what they notice, you're teaching them to question rules and norms. You're teaching them that just because something has existed in a certain way for a long time, doesn't make it the only way. Once you feel comfortable facilitating book talks like these, you can introduce more questions, such as:

"How did you know that?"

"Where else have you seen pictures like this?"

"What other ways could the illustrator have drawn/shown this?"

"Why do you think it's like that?"

"How could you change this picture to make it different?"

"Do/does ______ always have to look like that?"

But for now, feel free to stick with the tried and true "What do you notice?" If a student brings up a question that you don't feel comfortable answering in the moment, feel free to say, "You know, I'm not sure! I'm going to do some research before I answer you, so I can make sure I give you the correct information. Let's come back to your question soon."


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