#T2Tchat: A Conversation About Anti-racism & Education
Your fellow educators came together during our recent Twitter chat to discuss ways of creating inclusive and representative spaces – spaces where every student feels welcome and able to learn. We’ve collected this roundup of a few responses to each question, and we hope you’ll find some inspiration, an insight to take away, or a new PD resource to explore – or all of the above!
You can see more – and add your own voice to the conversation! – by scrolling through #T2Tchat on Twitter. Special thanks to our moderators, educators Ashley Washington and Jonathan Bolding, for facilitating the discussion. We hope we’ll see you join an upcoming #T2Tchat, too!
- What has been an important source of learning in your own anti-racist work?
- What is something you are wrestling with in your anti-racist work?
- What questions can educators ask to start conversations in their school community that will lead to anti-racist actions?
- What is a school or classroom rule, norm or practice you have changed or would like to change to foster a safe, representative and accountable school community?
- What actions can educators take to get students involved in thinking critically about racial justice outside of the classroom?
- What is one way you are continuously striving to understand and learn about your students’ lived experiences?
- What is one next step you’re committing to as an anti-racist educator? How will you stay accountable to that commitment?
What has been an important source of learning in your own anti-racist work?
“I am reading more policy and research: Glenn Singleton’s Courageous Conversations About Race, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. And following EduTwitter and Facebook conversations to learn from fellow teachers, counselors, etc.” —Educator Shveta Miller
“Reflecting on my personal experiences as an African American student and educator, as well as collaborating with a diverse group of educators, students, and parents has been key for me to create a culturally sensitive learning environment for my students.” —Educator Coach Q
“I’ve been reading and going through my picture books to make sure that there are mirrors and not just windows. I’m starting conversations with pretty much everybody and listening to them while I wrestle with my own biases.” —Teacher Barbara Gruener
“[My] biggest step was the first step. For me that was learning about my own bias and recognizing we all have them. … It gave me a foundation to recognize I had work to do. #EduTwitter is still the best PD in town on any given day!” —Teacher Aymee Tiffany
“I work in a district where we have been investigating improving our ability to be culturally responsive and this work started with learning around our own experiences with privilege, how our bias can impact our actions and what we can do to make systemic change.” —Teacher Amy Campbell
What is something you are wrestling with in your anti-racist work?
“How do I do the work on my own to relieve the burden of Black educators and friends while still ensuring that I am amplifying their experiences and concerns?” —Teacher Molly Castner
“Understanding the bigger picture for our students. Our students more than ever need access to resources and opportunities! I want to be a constant resource for my students.” —Teacher Traniece Brown-Warrens
“I’m letting myself wrestle with these questions: What am I still uncomfortable with teaching? Why? And what tools do I need to do better?” —Teacher Rachel Hansen
“How do we get the urgency across and the need, without closing doors? How do you keep those who need to listen, listening?” —Educator Ashley Washington
“Something I am wrestling with in my anti-racist work is making sure I am using appropriate language. For example, I recently learned to use terms such as ‘enslaved’ as opposed to ‘slaves’ when discussing enslavement of Black people.” —Teacher Natasha Akery
“Gaining active participation while the momentum is here. This is not a trend; it’s life. How do we build trust within communities and foster positive relationships with all stakeholders when there’s mutual fear?” —Educator Tiffany Alexander
“How to work with administrators and teachers who are not as far along with the work, but be unapologetic about the need for uncomfortable conversations.” —Educator Emily W.
What questions can educators ask to start conversations in their school community that will lead to anti-racist actions?
“Ask questions to be answered honestly. Do you feel like we are representing the whole student body? If you were a POC would you feel validated in this school environment?” —Teacher Roseanne Esposito
“I think posing questions that foster self-reflection should precede initiating conversations with others.” —Teacher Nicole Jennings
“How do we create a community where ‘school spirit’ is founded on the idea that ALL teachers and students feel a sense of value? What makes staff want to come to work? How do staff make students want to come to school?” —Educator Patrick Mongrain
“Start with where each person is in this work. This will be different for each person. It may be best to start with: ‘What are your thoughts on…? What is your definition of racism? How do we better serve our students in this work? What resources exist to help when developing anti-racist curriculum?’” —Educator Denise Williams
“How can we equip our students so there is less fear and more knowledge? And more positive action?” —Teacher Janet Myers
Questions 4 & 5
What is a school or classroom rule, norm or practice you have changed or would like to change to foster a safe, representative and accountable school community?
“I need to make my classroom materials more diverse, whether it is decorative or curriculum oriented. I need to be aware and make sure that everyone feels represented.” —Teacher Tammy Tomazoli
“Ditch dress codes. Instead of kicking a student out, talk with them and discuss what’s going on. Too many are quick to put out students.” —Teacher Joshie G.
“We have community circles a few times a week where students can share what’s going on in their lives. We have established norms, right to pass, no put downs, and confidentiality. This gives them the opportunity to speak without judgement.” —Teacher Tracy
“I changed to personal goal charts so students choose learning outcomes for a unit that are personally relevant, meet them where they are and take them where they want to go. I only assign homework that is equitable. No ‘zero tolerance’ anything.” —Educator Shveta Miller
“Not sending students to the in school suspension room when they have reached 8 lates.” —Teacher Naje Jones
What actions can educators take to get students involved in thinking critically about racial justice outside of the classroom?
“Reading and reflecting on events occurring in real time can encourage students to process this information and facilitate meaningful discussions. Encourage students to look at their own community and how these issues impact where they live.” —Teacher Molly Castner
“What I have been doing is leaving space to listen to what their lives are like, and pushing them to think what the next step is. Everyone has to start somewhere. Most of our students are connected to an amazing Boys and Girls Club and I want to invite them in more.” —Teacher Aymee Tiffany
“Bring what they hear and see outside school (scenarios, conversations, signs, etc) into class and practice addressing it/discussing/responding. Make identity charts that help them see who surrounds them, who they know, how their experiences are limited by their exposure.” —Educator Shveta Miller
“We must model what we wish to see in our students – and provide our students with as many opportunities for learning with regard to racial justice as possible: research, discussion, relevant articles, project-based learning, choice boards, etc.” —Principal Denise Williams
“I think the first thing we can do is provide an opportunity for them to talk. Ask what they’ve seen on the news and their thoughts. I teach 2nd grade and one of my students shared a picture from a protest she attended with her mom. This opened the door to more conversations.” —Teacher Tracy
Questions 6 & 7
What is one way you are continuously striving to understand and learn about your students’ lived experiences?
“Through phone calls home, conversations, coaching and learning about their history by reading and researching. Give opportunities for student voice in a safe and inclusive classroom.” —Teacher Naje Jones
“By sharing my experiences, when appropriate. It builds a sense of understanding and belonging. Students are more open to sharing their thoughts and also receiving information when they know you will do the same. No sage on the stage.” — Teacher Tiffany Alexander
“To learn you must be willing to listen. I spend a lot of my time at the beginning of the year involving my students heavily in goal setting and in instilling confidence in them that they are safe with me. Once they feel safe and rapport is built, they open up!” —Teacher Ashley Traucht
“Listening and asking questions. The door to my office is always open, any paperwork can wait when a student tries to connect. I (try to) always follow up on any restorative work or student-initiated conversations to make sure they know they have continued support.” —Educator Patrick Mongrain
“I learn about students through writing – we write letters back and forth, they have open-ended writing prompts and also low stakes, un-assessed ‘write to learn’ opportunities. I know there is a story behind behaviors and those stories matter to me.” —Educator Shveta Miller
What is one next step you’re committing to as an anti-racist educator? How will you stay accountable to that commitment?
“I am participating in anti-racist PD and have brought in other educators who can help to make important changes at our schools. Calling others in to the work provides a support network and accountability simultaneously.” —Teacher Molly Castner
“I commit to: (1) being open to listening and discussing the *tough issues* with stakeholders, without judgement (2) giving a voice to the unheard, and (3) being the CHANGE that I hope to SEE in my students.” —Educator Coach Q
“I just have to be better. I have to listen more, follow up more, and engage the community more. I commit to pushing a little harder on staff, students, and teams while offering them support and grace – taking more risks and being ok with my own failures.” —Educator Patrick Mongrain
“By continuing to seek, learn, and reflect for myself while leading opportunities to grow with others. Facilitate more professional learning opportunities and continue to put in the work while leading teachers which will help our students flourish.” —Teacher Tiffany Alexander
“I’m starting a group where we share culturally responsive lessons within our school boards. Also, asking students to help develop the lessons.” —Teacher Naje Jones