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Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension
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Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  580 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Topics such as race, gender, politics, religion, and sexuality are part of our students' lives, yet when these subjects are brought up at school teachers often struggle with how to respond. How do we create learning conditions where kids can ask the questions they want to ask, muddle through how to say the things they are thinking, and have tough conversations? How can we ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 22nd 2018 by Heinemann Educational Books
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Average rating 4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  580 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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Pernille Ripp
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a game changer for educators as we develop a path toward social comprehension in our classrooms. Sara's practicality and inspiration are the motivation that every educator needs to navigate hard topics and help our students, and ourselves, grow as human beings. I feel like I have evolved from reading this book and I cannot wait to use all of her ideas with my own students.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
If you are a teacher, get this book. I am going to use every lesson with my students next year. It is the roadmap I’ve been searching for since I’ve begun the process of learning how to be anti-bias educator. I think it can be used for all level learners (though you may have to adapt some of the language and resources). Ahmed has clearly worked with diverse groups of students, because all of these lessons could be used with the very different demographics I’ve worked with — including adults. Abs ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
So glad to have read this for summer professional development, as it urges the importance of teaching social comprehension to students by #BeingTheChange to lead and make real, effective changes in students and our communities. Ahmed provides a scaffold of strategies and lessons that help teachers and students explore their own identities, from making identity webs, to sharing our name stories, and to writing “Where I’m From” poems. She stresses the significance of doing the hard work, i.e. work ...more
Kris Patrick
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I REread Being the Change through the lens of whether it would work for a larger community book study outside of a school. I still can't decide. Would love for anyone who works kids to read this book. Girl Scout Leaders, Soccer Coaches, Business Leader turned STEM Club Organizers, Literacy Volunteers.

Sara K. Ahmed will be the opening session speaker at the Indiana State Literacy Association 2019 Conference. Saturday, September 14, at Noblesville High School. ISLA is encouraging its local council
Alex Johnson
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ahmed's thoughts about how vital it is to bring identity into the classroom and her practical experiences in doing it were amazing to hear. As is always the tricky balance with teaching books, I kind of wish I got a little more theoretical framework alongside the in-depth walkthrough of lessons. I would recommend for all educators at any age level regardless. ...more
Renee Isom
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Helpful for all to learn and grow:
Social comprehension
Do the work first-and often
Reflection (at first I I think)
Listen to learn
Dialogical classrooms
Know and find commonalities
Proactive vs reactive

I first thought this may not apply to high school classrooms, but now I see how it can and should fit in all classrooms. I feel it applies everywhere and I hope to proactively introduce and implement it in my universe of obligation.
Beth Honeycutt
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite a few practical ideas of how to engage students in thinking and talking about their world.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teacher-resource
Excellent resource! Can’t wait to implement these ideas in the fall. Such an important resource...
Karen Szymusiak
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A must read for every educator.
Caleb Johnson
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked it.
Mary Lee
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, professional, adult
Hands down one of the best professional books I've read. This is a book that has given me some important shifts I can make in my teaching, my thinking, my personal life. ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think many of the lessons naturally lend themselves to middle school or high school audiences. As a fifth grade teacher, I can use some of them as is, but would need to adapt others. There is still so much value in this book, without even lifting lessons directly from the pages. The advocacy and prioritization of these conversations in classrooms is a critical, essential, conscious move toward supporting open-minded people in our work as educators. The inclusion of these lessons really cannot ...more
Margaret Boling
6/30/2019 ~ One of those books that leaves the reader thinking for a long time after leaving the pages. The activities for adults to lead with the students in their classes/clubs/teams can be done at a superficial level, or lead to much deeper conversations and awareness. Reading the book is a powerful reminder of how important social comprehension is and experiencing the conversations can lead to much greater empathy among our students, classmates, and work colleagues.
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2020
4.5 stars
The beginning felt overly familiar (Responsive Classroom/Open Circle -esque), which is not to say the ideas presented there are unimportant, just not novel. However, the author moves into some really interesting lessons that are primarily geared to upper elementary and beyond (though a few could be adapted for as young as K). Easy to read, but left with much to consider. Bravo. Buy this resource.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Practical ideas, not much fluff.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every teacher needs to read this book.
Laura Komos
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An absolute must-read.
Andee Marley
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
waiting until book club to update!
Melissa Jung
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
SO practical and so valuable.
Jennifer Mangler
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: profdev, education
Ahmed proposes a very thoughtful approach to helping our students explore their identities and have difficult conversations. The book includes lots of food for thought and some good, practical ideas.
Amy Balk
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent practical lessons on identity, empathy, and anti-bias. Can be used in upper elementary though early high school.
Cindy Gerwin
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
WOW! I am on two committees at school that will have an impact on school culture. When I think of school culture, I think of a place that attends to social emotional learning as well as nurtures academic curiosity and celebrates diversity. There are so many practical and powerful lessons in this book for both the entire school community (modeled at staff meetings and extended into the classroom). Conversations that honor diversity can sometimes create a discomfort, but that doesn't mean that we ...more
Kim Clifton
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This set of lessons isn’t necessarily original material (I think every workshop I’ve attended has started with some sort of identity map or “Where I’m From” poem) but their compilation is what makes this book so exciting. With Ahmed’s framing, nothing is just a one-off “get to know you” activity, but a key step in helping students build empathy and perspective-taking. Ahmed is so smart about how she takes difficult, abstract concepts and illustrates them on a small scale for students. For exampl ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is an absolute game changer and I highly recommend it for any educator to quickly grab a copy. So many of us struggle with having a skill set that helps guide students through conversations that are challenging or social comprehension. Our Twitter chat #BookCampPD highlighted the book for two weeks and held two Saturday chats focused on this. You can find a @Wakelet of these conversations here (if needed, scroll down to August 18 and 25). I sure w ...more
Brittany Soder
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarian-reads
A powerful book about transforming the classroom from a static room into a dynamic community where students learn how to embrace identity as well as think and respond to our increasingly polarized and political world. Ahmed calls on teachers to embrace their humanity when teaching children how to tackle the world around us. No longer can we clutch to the "authority" given to adults to look down on children. We must work with our children as intelligent human beings, Ahmed's work illustrating the ...more
Joy Kirr
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have already incorporated one of the lessons from this book, and I'm excited to incorporate more next year at the start of the school year. Our classes will then be able to have tough conversations about identity and how it affects our views, reactions, and feelings as we listen to the news, as we read books, as we write. I will be able to talk about "intent" vs. "impact" and much more regarding social comprehension. I feel my middle school students need me to take more time to listen to the n ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As I read this, I found myself questioning my own way of being in the world. I created an identity web. I created a four column chart with notes about "what's in my heart," "my thinking," "my identity," "my ideas for action." I thought through what others think about me and formulated "I am" statements. I noticed my bias in action. And more. Each of these personal thinking experiences served as a catalyst for deeper reflection.

Sara Ahmed's easy-to-do suggestions for instruction have inspired me
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really rich, practical guide to encourage social comprehension and awareness in children and teenagers.

This book is a guide pitched (to my eyes) primarily at Middle to High School Students. Its primary goal is to teach social comprehension or "how we make meaning from and mediate our relationship with the world." Thus, it takes as its starting point that understanding our world and our place in it is of vital importance in education, as important as seemingly standard subjects like math, read
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
“This work isn’t about shaming people. It’s about making the implicit explicit. Honesty is the number one step in creating an anti-biased classroom environment and it begins with us.”

At the beginning of the summer, a friend of mine recommended I read this book. She thought I would like the content in it and that I would find a lot of important ideas and work to do in my classroom. She was absolutely correct. I found the audiobook available on Hoopla so I took a chance and checked it out. I appre
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this is a book every teacher who cares about their students' social and emotional well-being (and cares about our world) should buy and read. Sara K. Ahmed shares some easy to implement lessons that tackle some of our hardest issues today: racism, xenophobia, sexism, politics, religion, and sexuality that our students struggle to comprehend. She offers ideas for creating conditions where kids can feel safe to ask questions and examine their beliefs without being judged or preached to. Sh ...more
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