Promote Equity and Unity
Create a Dignity Bulletin Board
As a Spanish teacher, I want to help my students gain a greater sense of the world as well as a sensitivity to other people, an appreciation of other cultures, and a respect for cultural and ethnic diversity.
This year I wanted to demonstrate symbolically that everyone is part of something greater than themselves, no matter what our differences may be. I wanted to create a bulletin board that would draw students' attention and make them think.
The original subject for the board was Diversity (every year the guidance counselor and I organize Diversity Week, so Diversity is usually the topic). But this year, I wanted something broader.
Then I heard a sermon on Dignity. It was about treating each other with dignity and respect. And it dawned on me: Dignity is a trait that transcends diversity and cultural boundaries. It was the perfect word. It promotes both equity and unity. It binds all human beings together. And it advances the celebration of all cultures, languages, and races.
And Dignity is a great word to use to cultivate positive behavior. We all want to be treated with dignity and respect.
To demonstrate the idea of dignity for everyone, I wanted to include a picture of every student in the school. It took me a weekend of printing, cutting, and pasting to put it together, but a friend came over to help me. Next year, I will ask for help from my colleagues. I think teachers could have a lot of fun working together on this project.
The Dignity bulletin board includes six elements:
- Large letters spelling the word Dignity, onto which I pasted small cut-out photographs of every student in the school
- The words Respect, Protect, and Promote above the word Dignity
- A copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- The names of the 15 languages spoken at our school
- Flags of the world
- A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that begins "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?"
In my classroom, I talk about the concept of dignity whenever I hear students calling each other names or not being kind to one another. I tell them that this classroom is my little piece of the world and I expect them to maintain their own dignity and respect the dignity of every other person in it.
The response to the Dignity Bulletin Board has been so incredible that I am sure I will do another similar one next year. The students really love it! Several teachers have used the board to start discussions on Dignity and have built lessons around it. Parents enjoyed looking at the pictures as they waited for their parent-teacher conferences.
The feedback has all been positive. I've had students, teachers, and administrators thank me for putting up the bulletin board. Between classes, groups of students huddle around the board looking for their picture and those of their friends. When I see them studying the board, I like to engage students in chats about dignity and what it means.
A former student of mine, Dezi Ware, said of the board:
Students reflect [on the board] and realize the differences between themselves and their friends. Then they realize what effect one culture, lifestyle, creed has had on their lives. If they look further into it, they will comprehend that everyone is much alike. We are all human, and [being treated with] dignity is a birthright.
She believed that following the ideals set forth on the bulletin board—being worthy of dignity and respecting others—could "stop racism, discrimination, segregation, and fights between countries/clans/creeds." And could lead to peace.
I wish this bulletin board could have such an influence. But, I'm just pleased that I can make a difference with the students at my school and share the idea with others.
About the Author
Cynthia Moore is in her twelfth year of teaching Spanish at Waynesboro High School in Waynesboro, Virginia. The school, nestled in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, serves 887 students in grades 9-12. Moore serves on the school's Attendance Committee and she believes that a school climate that fosters respect and a sense of self-worth also fosters better attendance.
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"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?" quote - A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.