In Jay Wamsted’s 8th grade math class he chooses to go right for the conversation on race and culture when the opportunity arises. “After all, why not try to know each other a little better?” Learning happens, he says, when students and teacher can be authentic with each other.
To address the variables and obstacles that hinder equal education for all students, school leader DeAnna Miller recommends Teaching for Racial Equity: Becoming Interrupters by Perry, Zemelman and Smith as a tool to support critical conversations in schools and communities.
The Caring Teacher asks educators to reexamine how and why they teach the way they do, to record reflections, questions and thoughts toward the goal of reducing bias and increasing student success. Linda Biondi believes every moment spent in reflection will be worth it.
Educators of English learners and marginalized students owe much to the scholarship of James Cummins, who has helped dispel myths around home language use, developed the concept of social and academic language, and provided actionable strategies to empower learners.
In response to the murder of George Floyd, people have offered lists of actions to take to fight racism. Rita Platt adds another: Get anti-racism books into your community. Read, talk and share. Help people deepen their understanding of white privilege and systemic racism.
Racial “microaggressions” do harm to students’ self-image and health, says teacher Cheryl Mizerny, who has spent a decade studying this common teacher behavior and how to avoid it. Learn ways to recognize these often unintentional slights and better support all students.
Matthew Kay shows how to establish and maintain a positive classroom community that allows teachers to begin to broach racial discourse with our students in a healthy and productive way. Teacher Nicole Warchol finds Not Light, But Fire “smart, supportive, and necessary.”
Meaning well and teaching well are not the same – a painful truth that ELA teacher Dina Strasser’s exponential learning about race has helped her realize. She uses the story of her unit based on Gary Paulsen’s “Nightjohn” to underscore the difference between intent and impact.
If you value student discussion, Not Light, But Fire is for you. If you value students working through big issues, this book is for you, too. Teacher Andrea Clark finds something usable and important for teachers of all grades in Matthew Kay’s thoughtful, engaging book.
Reading “Not Light, But Fire” inspired Sarah Cooper to change the way she frames conversations about current events and history – which very often involve race, ethnicity, religion, politics and other incendiary topics – to build understanding, not emotion.