Elementary Resources to Support #Dreamers and #DefendDACA

Last week Donald Trump made good on yet another one of his campaign threats, and effectively ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. As you've probably already heard, this will end the ability for almost 800,000 young people in the United States to go to work, school, and live, out from the shadows. But this action doesn't only impact "Dreamers". It is also a statement to immigrants, undocumented and otherwise, that they are living in an increasingly hostile country.

Since then I have been wondering how I can best support Dreamers in my elementary classroom. Even though my students are too young to be Dreamers, they are still deeply affected by the end of DACA. Many of my students have been anxious since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign, founded on racist anti-immigrant rhetoric. Now that Donald Trump is in office, actions like the decision to end DACA only heighten the climate of fear and anxiety.

This year, I am aspiring to teach resistance in a way that is more consistently integrated into the curriculum, rather than responding to the day-to-day calamities. Still, this week I am looking for a meaningful way to respond to DACA decision.

I want to add, that creating space for conversations about respecting immigrants is not only for those of us who teach immigrants and first-generation Americans. This conversation is for all of us who aspire to teach children to be kind. While I'm not yet sure what my lesson will be this week, here are some resource I'm consulting:

Book Lists

There are many great lists out there of books featuring immigrants. These are just a few that I have relied on recently. As I look for a few favorites, I am trying to also look for immigration stories from beyond Mexico. When talking about Dreamers it is important to note that they come from a wide range of countries including South Korea, Poland, and Pakistan.

Colours of Us: Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration

Read Brightly: Books about Immigration for Kids

Anti-Defamation League: Children's Literature about Immigration

Lessons and Activities

Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE): #ThankYouforBeingHere Campaign

United We Dream: #HeretoStay Toolkit for Educators

Here in New York City, it is our first full week of school. In some ways, this makes it seem difficult if not impossible to find space for conversations about DACA and immigration. At the same time, it makes it feel that much more vital. If I can begin the school year making an unequivocal statement about the kind of classroom I am leading - one where we talk about current events, and we talk about topics that may seem taboo, and we talk about oppression and ways to resist it - it will only serve to benefit my classroom in the long run.

Ultimately, looking for the "right" time to have these conversations, usually ends up silencing them altogether. Yes, our academic curriculum matters. But kids can't learn in an environment where they feel scared or that their identities don't matter.

Yes, it is true many of us have administrators who aren't supportive of these conversations. To have these conversations may put us at risk professionally. But that risk is small in comparison to the actual risk to our immigrant families and students.

I know that whatever I choose to say will be imperfect. But I am choosing to say something. If you're having a conversation or planning a lesson for your classroom, I hope you'll share in the comments below!


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