Friday, August 19, 2016

Emdin Teaches: Cogenerative Dialogues

August 2017 Update: Since I wrote this post, Pam Moran shared with me a wonderful example of high school students presenting a rap cypher:

Note that I couldn't find an example of a rap cypher without swears and other words generally not accepted in school. As I read Emdin's book, I'm going to think about that. I did think this was a good example of a rap cypher though with regard to "privileging every voice," listening to one another, respecting individuality, and the artistry involved. I have more to learn in this realm and if you have good examples for school use, let me know.  Below is an example of a children's rap cypher in Minnesota.

In chapter 4 of Christopher Emdin's book, For White Folks who Teach in the Hood. . .and the rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education, he introduces educators to a process for cogenerative dialogue--a process that can really serve to create a co-constructed classroom community, one where students have significant voice and choice. He begins by introducing the rap cypher, and then uses the rules of cyphers to promote cogenerative dialogue (cogen) in the classroom. He notes that the education extension of what youth do already validates their culture and positions them as experts even before dialogue starts.

I really like what he has to say in this chapter and I'd like to try it out this year. Last year I committed to a similar process, but I didn't do a good job and I didn't sustain the effort. I wonder if my colleagues would be interested in committing to this process too as I think if we do it together we'd be more likely to implement this vital process well.

I will start by identify four students who represent diverse groups from the class. We'll meet at lunch on the same day each week, a day when I don't have playground duty. As Emdin suggests, we'll begin with a small classroom issue, and I follow the decision of the group to build trust and work towards a co-constructed classroom environment.

More details about the process can be found in the tweets below and in Emdin's book. I can truly see how this effort would truly help to build a more dynamic class community.