California Educator

October/November 2019

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emotions and lived exp eriences. Th e project compels students to ref lect on their lived experiences and acknow l- edges their perspectives without making judgments. It asks teachers to embody a ref lexive stance in using digital video technology to represent sociocultural realities. By being reflexive, we are eval- uating our positions of privilege and our implicit biases, which helps us develop an asset-based approach to learning without patronizing our students or pathologizing their lived experiences. e first time I facilitated this project in Selma during summer school, I wit- nessed the transformation of Ricardo. Ricardo struggled with writing and did not complete the written narrative before we started voice recording. Instead, he told me he had a story about how bully- ing has affected him, and I told him to go outside with his laptop to record it. On presentation day, he requested to go last. e lights were off, the room was dark, all eyes were on the screen, and then Ricar- do's voice became audible: "Always being called stupid, sometimes you feel like you are. And you don't want to try anymore. I still have nightmares about it, being called retarded. It's the reason why I can't sleep. I tried taking medicine for it, but I can't. It doesn't work. My mom thinks that it's just that I don't want to sleep. And I don't want to tell her the truth. And if I told my dad, he'd probably make fun of me about it. … I want to be treated like I matter. Like I actually exist." The moment his video finished, one o f h i s c l a s s m a t e s w a l k e d o v e r a n d embraced him. I saw a shift in how oth- ers saw Ricardo and, most importantly, in how Ricardo saw himself. Toward the end of the day, Ricardo slipped me a handwritten letter, which read: "ank you Mis. D. you help me get out of my shell and help me improve. Thank you you are one of my fravrit techer." Students leave this project and class knowing that their voices matter and their stories are valuable. The project brings people together because as we get to know each other's stories, we learn to be more empathetic. One student wrote in her ref lection, "I enjoyed making a spoken narrative because it feel good to let everything out, it also help people because then they will know how to han- dle the same situation you been through. Also what I really like about doing this is, when you open your mouth, you are also opening your heart, and knowing that someone truly hears what your feeling." Judy Her Duran, Sanger Unified Teachers Association member, is an English language development teacher at Washington Academic Middle School in Sanger. Several examples of student work from the Digital Storytelling Project; for more, see This story is part of "Teaching Through Trauma," our special report on how educators are handling students who are coping with the impact of traumatic events in their lives. The second installment of the series appears on page 20. Read more at teaching-through-trauma. 19 O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 019

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