“If the structure does not permit dialogue, the structure must be changed”
― Paulo Freire
We need to have dialogues.
Dialogue within and outside of our communities, dialogue that pushes our levels of comfort and an internal dialogue about our own assumptions and biases. We need dialogue about who we are as people.
We need progress.
Progress in our communities and schools to focus on people and the issues and choices they face everyday. Choices and issues that we may not know of, readily see or want to accept to be true.
We need change.
As Carlos Moreno writes, we also all need to commit to being a part of that change and that “we must not be afraid to engage…in a discussion of these issues.” I personally feel that too many times I have allowed myself to become stagnant or one-dimensional in my thinking, complacent with how things are (the world seen only through my eyes) and have not been engaging in purposeful ways that help the world to move forward.
However, there are many educators I feel who DO help keep the dialogue, movement and charge going–teachers committed to change and authentic conversation about the world today who remind us that change is possible. Even when what we are doing doesn’t feel like it is helping, “…it is something” says Christine Newgard Hardigree, Assistant Professor at Iona College. “Keep writing. Keep filming. Keep sharing.”
When I need a reminder or encouragement, here are some of the people I turn to (a majority of whom are current classroom educators) who have written books and articles, given speeches or presentations and/or created and led organizations or groups of people dedicated towards change. They consistently are a part of the ongoing effort to help empower others–here they are (in no particular order):
People To Pay Attention To (Adult Audience):
Long time educator who has been dedicated to the small schools movement for decades. She has spent a great deal of time in New York City schools, specifically in East Harlem. Meier is the author of several publications and books, including The Power of their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem and In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an Era of Testing and Standardization.
Renee is originally from Detroit, but has spent most of her life teaching & learning in the Mississippi Delta. She is an English teacher at Mississippi Delta Community College, a National Board Certified Teacher and 2001 Mississippi Teacher of the Year. Renee is an active member of the Center for Teaching Quality Collaboratory.
José is an educator for a middle school in New York, NY. He is an avid writer, regularly blogging on his own site. He is an author of several publications, including This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education. He’s also a committed activist, web designer and father.
Ashanti is from Oakland, California. Ashanti studied Civil Engineering and worked as a construction project manager in his first career before turning to teaching. In 2004, Ashanti started The Ever Forward Club, to provide a support group for African American and Latino males, who were not achieving to the level of their potential. Branch continues to lead and mentor youth at the Club and is currently a Project Fellow at the Stanford d.school.
Pedro is a Distinguished Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA. He focuses on a variety of influencers on the quality of education, especially on social and economic factors. He is the author of over a dozen books and even more publications. He regularly engages with national media sources to share and talk about current trends in education. He has also been faculty at New York University, Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley.
Gia was a teacher for eight years and currently leads Envision. She is dedicated to providing all students with high expectations and equitable learning experiences. She has worked in both public and charter schools, many of which have been in California.
Nathan is a current AP Government & Politics and Human Geography teacher in the state of Washington. He is a 2016 National Teacher of the Year Finalist, 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year and 2014 Milken National Teaching Award Recipient. He has been acknowledged for his ability to facilitate meaningful conversations with students, tied to his course objectives and goals, about about the world in which they live in.
Richard is a Professor of Education, Editor-in-Chief of Urban Education and Director of the Center of Urban Education. An avid writer about Urban Education, Milner has been dedicated to addressing the racial disparities that exist in public school systems.
We appreciate others who are also sharing books, people to follow and resources that they look to:
- Alliance for Education – Federal Flash: Race, Equity, and Inclusion
- The Washington Post – Teaching about race, racism and police violence: Resources for educators and parents
- nprEd – Where’s The Color In Kids’ Lit? Ask The Girl With 1,000 Books (And Counting)
- The Huffington Post – Read These 23 Books And Authors When The Injustice Is Overwhelming
- EdWeek – Resources for Discussing Police Violence, Race, and Racism With Students
Starting the conversation with students earlier to develop a sense of awareness about themselves and others is of equal importance. Although it is a small stepping stone, reading relevant books with our students is a good place to begin. Books that present all angles and stories, encouraging children to learn empathy and perspective-taking. With that said, the following books are not just for children. I often find myself re-reading the following titles:
This book is about culture and background. In this book, students are asked to examine their own stories and backgrounds.
Students learn about how despite the fact that we may be different in many ways, that love, pain, and feelings are common amongst all members humanity. A great book to remind students that there are different meanings of these commonalities, too.
A young girl wanting to paint a picture has a revelation that there are many different shades of brown. The message of this book is empowering, that while we all may identify with a certain race, that even within those races we come from varying backgrounds and heritages.
This book reminds young women and men about the beauty in our bodies and backgrounds. A young girl learns to appreciate her hair and where she is from.
In this book written for, and by, primary-aged children, differences and similarities amongst classmates are shared and discussed.
This novel for young adults is a powerful story about the journey of a girl and her mother who were forced to flee their home. An accurate portrayal of what many students in schools today face, this read will certainly engage readers and gain possibly help others who have not experienced the types of trials and tribulations Esperanza goes through to understand and gain perspective.
My own call to action is to be active, not always reactive. This means continually educating myself, especially about issues that I am less familiar with or tend not to agree with. This means regularly reflecting on my own behaviors and dissecting my inherent values and learned biases. This means being involved. Consistently involved in and dedicated to meaningful work with people (like those I included in this post) and in organizations that are acting in ways that move us forward.
What is your call to action and who are your inspirations? Share them below in the comments, or tweet them and tag me @EmilyLiebtag.
For more, see:
- 14 Quotes to Remind Us We Are Changemakers
- Step Off the Direct Path, Service Something Larger Than Yourself
- 15 LGBTQ Books From Preschool To High School
- Making Sense of it All
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