Windows and Mirrors

Students need to see themselves in the curriculum and learn about others in order to understand and appreciate multiple perspectives
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About This Strategy

When looking through a window, we have the opportunity to see new things, and when the sun hits the window just right, it turns the window into a mirror where we can see ourselves reflected back. The Windows and Mirrors strategy is a journey both beyond and within and is designed to support teachers to reflect (mirror) and reveal (window) to ensure that students are engaged and empowered learners by providing them with continual opportunities to see their lives, interests, histories, cultures, perspectives, and experiences represented in the content in addition to learning the same about others. The strategy, based on the work of Rudine Sims Bishop, can be used when designing lessons in any content area, and particularly with literacy, social studies, history and/or humanities lessons.

Implementation Steps

30 minutes

1. Read the Curriculum as Window and Mirror article linked in the resource section below to build your understanding of the concept of Windows and Mirrors. Developing this background knowledge will prepare you to create a Windows and Mirrors learning experience for your students. 

2. Using a Google images search, identify 3-5 images that serve as a mirror for you, and select 1-2 of those images to share with your students. Tell the story behind each of the images you select. This will both strengthen a personal connection with your students, and provide a model for them as they engage in their own image search and share.

3. Provide your students with the opportunity to explore and identify 3-5 images that serve as mirrors for them. They can do this through a scaffolded Google images search. Have them select 1-2 images to share with you and their classmates. 

4. Select a grade and subject area appropriate text to analyze with your students where they can identify if aspects of the text reflect their experiences or provide them with an opportunity to learn about the experiences of others. You can refer to the Teaching Tolerance Perspective Texts, NNSTOY’s Social Justice Book List and/or Newsela’s Black History and Beyond Text Sets linked in the resource section below for text ideas. Use the BetterLesson Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning (CRTL) Lesson Plan Template linked in the resource section below to create a lesson plan that is responsive to the needs of your learners.

5. Debrief the experience with your students by asking them questions such as, “What were some of your most powerful learning moments during this experience?” and “What was most challenging about this experience?” 

6. Plan to implement Windows and Mirrors lessons throughout the school year, ideally at the beginning of new units of study.   

Related Resources

Explore the resources below to learn more about the Windows and Mirrors in texts that students read, and also about the importance of including diverse texts for students in your classes to read.

Questions to Consider

1. When you were a student in the grade(s) you now teach, how well were you known by your teachers? What difference did it make for you as a learner?

2. What are some ways you can build upon what students share about their identities, histories, interests, and/or experiences to ensure that they are represented in the curriculum?

3. What are some ways you can integrate what your students want to know about other identities, histories, interests, and/or experiences into your curriculum?

Tech Tools

Google Images Search

  • Google Images Search is now embedded within Google Doc and it allows students to search for pictures intuitively by key words.

  • This features supports this strategy by allowing students to quickly search for imagery representing their windows and mirrors.

Related Lessons

Explore the lesson published by Teaching Tolerance included in the resources below to learn more about the Windows and Mirrors strategy.

Social Justice Standards on Identity

Explore the resources below to learn more about the Social Justice Standards on Identity, and also to explore a lesson about unpacking identity published by Teaching Tolerance.