When all you have to do is ask...
As you know, I've been thinking about ways to use Black History Month (and Women's History Month) to draw my students' attention to the lack of women and people of color in science and math fields. I am probably going to do something where they read about the problem and think about how they would try to encourage interest in these fields. I see it as a little like the "demand algebra" movement, where making kids aware of a problem can help give them the tools they need to seek solutions, and can even spark their interest or motivation in something they previously did not value.
I started thinking about inviting some scientists and engineers to come in and speak to the kids during homeroom. I don't want it to be a one-off; that can be valuable, but I want the kids to see many people "like them" (in terms of ethnicity) who have pursued careers in math and science fields. I want them to see men and women, people from New York, people from elsewhere, people from middle class backgrounds, people who grew up poor. I want them to hear about a range of different careers - meteorologist, engineer, doctor... and lawyer, journalist, entrepreneur, politician. It doesn't have to be just science careers. Though I don't need anything more on my plate (good grief, no), a vision of an advisory Speakers' Bureau began to take shape in my head.
Today, instead of doing one of the ten thousand more important things, I started looking up professional organizations on-line, navigating through them to find the most likely contact person, and sending quick letters explaining what I had in mind and asking for their help in finding speakers. I didn't know if I was sending emails into the void, though I certainly expected at least one or two responses.
It's only been a few hours. I have about a dozen responses. Some from individuals willing to speak, others from the people I contacted, offering to help me find speakers within their organizations, forwarding on my message.
I have tears in my eyes. I'm not usually this emotional... I guess it's just that this could really work, and with so little effort. I will go to my principal and the other grade leaders tomorrow and fine-tune the idea, then start contacting possible speakers.