Teachers, where would we be without them? Over the years I have been amazed as to how teachers have been able to change the lives of children, with the use of simple hacks. Just like Liz Kleinrock. In light of recent political and social events in the United States, the California teacher decided to take a stand and set aside the usual school subjects of math and reading, to talk about another important topic: consent.
Kleinrock, who is a third-grade teacher at Citizens of the World Charter School Silver Lake in Los Angeles, posted an image on her ‘Teach and Transform’ Instagram and Facebook page, showing a handwritten chart she shared with her students, summing up the import faces of consent. The chart includes everything from what the word means, what it sounds like, what it is, and when it is needed.
Kleinrock has a background in social-emotional learning and social justice education, serving as her school’s diversity coordinator. In 2018, she was one of the winners of the Award for Excellence in Teaching from Teaching Tolerance Project, and it’s easy to see why. In her post, Kleinrock explained that her lesson was inspired by the media coverage of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has recently been publicly accused of sexual misconduct by three women, including psychology professor Christine Bleakley Ford.
The situation had her thinking about the foundation skills that should have been in place to prevent these incidents from happening. To help the students understand better and have a hands-on idea of what it meant, she had her student do a writing activity about consent and permission in several role-playing scenarios, in which they asked her if they could give her a hug to give real-world examples of what consent does and doesn’t look like.
The post reads:
“I’m saying the word ‘yes,’ but my tone and my body language are so clearly uncomfortable so I ask, ‘Can you read my body? Can you read my face? How do you think I’m actually feeling? Or I’m laughing and saying, ‘No, not right now.’ I look happy and positive, but the words coming out of my mouth are still no. It’s the tone and delivery.”
Due to the children’s age, she pointed out she didn’t consider mentioning sex since the children were only in third grade. The main lesson she wanted the students to understand was how to respect space and physical boundaries, interacting with each other. She plans to expand the consent lesson to clarify the idea of “secrets” on her chart, encouraging students to come forward if they learn information about a person being harmed or has been sexually abused.