Fall 2020 Dialogue

COMMISSION ON SOCIAL JUSTICE IN TEACHER EDUCATION

Welcome to our current dialogue.

Black Lives Matter at School

We ask that you post an initial response to one or more of these questions from October 19th-October 26th, 2020. Then, please respond to at least two posts to generate dialogues across contexts and experience. The dialogue period will be from October 26th-November 1st, 2020.

Recommended reading/viewing

Website: BLM at School

Webinar: Teaching For Black Lives During the Rebellion

(This webinar is with the editors of the book Teaching for Black Lives.)

Article: Johnson, L. L., Jackson, J., Stovall, D. O., & Baszile, D. T. (2017). “Loving Blackness to Death”: (Re) Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos. English Journal, 106(4), 60.

Discussion Questions

  • What is the Black Lives Matter Movement, and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?
  • What does it mean to teach for Black lives? Discuss the most important issues raised in this webinar; how, if at all, are they useful to your future/current classroom strategies or routines?
  • How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?
  • You are invited to respond to one or more of these questions. (To post, please log in using a Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account.) Please feel free to share experiences, dilemmas, questions, or information about particular contexts of teaching and learning (e.g., where you student teach, teach, study, or participant observe) as you explore what issues of equity or justice look like in a particular domain for a particular person or group of people. You may also feel free to recommend or cite texts (e.g., articles, books, films) that may be of interest to others on a thread.

115 Comments

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  1. For this response, I would like to focus on the third question which regards utilizing our classroom spaces. What I have gleaned from the webinar and article is that our focus as teachers should be learning who our students actually are as opposed to who we think they might be, and inviting them to bring their unique selves into the classroom. Often, I observe teachers operate under the belief that the subject matter is more important than our identities; however, we can take an alternative approach and explore who we are through the subject matter. By teaching from this perspective, I believe we would be able to: disrupt racial injustice by celebrating the positives of every race found in our classroom, transform the world by teaching our students not to blindly follow the social narratives they are fed, and humanize the lives of Black youth by treating all Black students as equals.

    At 41:00 of the webinar, Dyan begins speaking about how the first time many students learn about Black people is through the topic of slavery, which causes Black people to be labeled as victims and be viewed as a group in need of help. As the discussion furthers, the notion that Black people were not inherently slaves arises as well. With these thoughts in mind, we can imagine our classrooms as spaces in which Black students are not treated solely as descendants of an enslaved people, but as individuals with unique personalities, just like the rest of the class.

    In my mind, I am trying to imagine what this class literally looks like, physically. I see desks and work areas are arranged with the intention of encouraging students to mingle. I see posters and books with the names and faces of Black people visible for students to see. I see a teacher who does not tolerate, or allow their students to tolerate racist language or behavior to the best of their ability. What do you see?

    Thank you for reading! I will appreciate any responses received 🙂

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    • Dennis,

      I liked that you pointed out how most teachers put subject matter over student’s identity. This is something I have seen through classroom observations. I do believe your resolve of using students identity to teach the subject matter is very interesting. I believe teaching a subject based on students identity can help students be more engaged in a class. I do believe that form of teaching fits under Culturally Responsive Pedagogy as this form of teaching is very inclusive. I also appreciated your input on how to address slavery in a way that moves away from viewing Black people as victims. I think teaching students to view people as individuals rather than labels would benefit all students.

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    • Hello, I’m a pre-service teacher, and I was struck by one of the statements you made.

      “Often, I observe teachers operate under the belief that the subject matter is more important than our identities; however, we can take an alternative approach and explore who we are through the subject matter.”

      I’m currently working on a thesis in Applied Linguistics that focuses on culturally relevant pedagogy. Through that I have come across the idea of language as a resource dozens of times in multilingual classrooms. I saw both brought up in the educational context throughout the webinar (not using the same terms) and I see it again in your comment. When viewing language as a resource, a teacher values the languages of each student and uses the experiences of to enrich the class and celebrate the student. So in a classroom that meshes these two together, a teacher would see identity as a resource. Because no one expects a multilingual student to teach their peers different languages, it would follow that no student would be asked to teach their peers about their identity. Instead, it falls on the teacher to create an environment that values, and celebrates the multifaceted nature of identity and in this case Black identity. This type of environment would not feature deficit discourse and the labels that spring forth from it.

      Thank you for your comment! It helped me to make some connections and is something I’ll be thinking about in the future.

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    • Hello Dennis,

      I liked your comments on how it is important for your students to bring themselves to the classroom, embrace their personalities and backgrounds. As I can see from the another comment, and I agree, yes it is also a part of CRP (Culturally Responsive Pedagogy). IN addition, I would like to say that by helping students to be themselves, embrace their identity, feel comfortable and relaxed in the class, helps them to become independent learners and independent in life. I like that you touched the issue of feeling victim and being seen as a group in need of help. I think it is important not to encourage the mentality of victim in anyone, especially the Black students, as it will limit the abilities of their performance and with the existing gap it is important to stay away from that.

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    • Hi Dennis!
      I enjoyed reading your response. When you mentioned the importance of learning our students identities and putting this as a priority rather than subject matter, it reminded me of something my professor has mentioned a couple times “I teach students, not subjects.” As teachers, there is a lot of pressure coming from districts and school administration to teach the complete textbook and follow the curriculum. Most of the time, teachers put little effort in learning about their students interests and personal experience. I have experienced this many times when I was in my high school math classes where the notion of “being behind” and catching up was a priority. I think it’s important for teachers to not only get to know their students but actually use this information and incorporate it into the curriculum. Doing so, will increase student participation and students content knowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dennis,

      In your second paragraph you talk about what is mentioned in the video of students learning about African American history through the slavery/victim lens. Although slavery is an important aspect of history that needs to be taught in our classrooms, I agree with your idea of moving past that view and seeing our students as unique individuals. We should reframe this victim/descendants-of-slaves picture into one of positive growth and rich culture. By doing so, we acknowledge the difficult background that African Americans have in this country and we also embrace them as individuals and really show that Black Lives Matter.

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    • Hi Dennis,

      I really enjoyed reading the comment you posted on this matter. I can’t agree more with all the points you stated. As educators, we must acknowledge the uniqueness of every student that is in our classroom. It doesn’t matter what race, gender, or whichever they ally themselves too, they must be treated equally and fairly as their peers. We must also be able to connect better with the students on a more emotional and personal level as it’s just important for students to develop mentally and socially as it’s for them to develop their cognitive levels. Your points on how we must change the way we’ve taught others about the Black people’s history and culture and we have to get away from the “victim narrative” and celebrate the other significant aspects that aren’t being highlighted by history is very crucial. Creating safe and inviting classroom environments with posters and texts of black and worldly cultural references will also add to this movement where we celebrate and embrace those of all ethnicities, humanize those that are Black and those of different color, and divulge away from conforming to the previous set “norms” about how people of certain races or cultures act and think in today’s society.

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    • Hi Dennis!
      I loved your response and how open you are to hearing from other teachers through discussion. I wanted to speak on one of the last things you said in this post: “I see a teacher who does not tolerate, or allow their students to tolerate racist language or behavior to the best of their ability.” There are two reasons I love this: 1. It’s one thing for us to expect non-tolerance for ourselves, but to also hold students to that standard is equally as important. 2. Making sure that students are truly working to the best of their ability, not only on their school work but also in furthering themselves as humans is incredibly important standard to hold within the classroom.
      Good for you, You’re going to be a great teacher 🙂
      Abbie Rosenthal

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    • Hi Dennis,
      I really enjoyed how you mentioned really getting to know your students and how it is important to explore ourselves through subject matter. I think it is a really beautiful approach and it really shows what you value as a future educator. I also agree with you as you mentioned how Black students are often associated with negative events such as slavery when they should be recognized as unique human beings, just like everyone else. As a white female who attended a predominantly white school, I never had to experience this discomfort and I never even knew some kids feel this way. I had a similar response to yours because I talked about how important it is to shape the right classroom dynamic to ensure equality and comfort!

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  2. The Black Lives Matter Movement has so much meaning behind those four words. The Movement itself is a call for justice for the Black community which have been unjustly served for as long as they have been in the United States. The Movement calls for advocacy of the inequity which the Black community have unfortunately gone through. The Movement encourages others to understand what the Black community has gone through for the past centuries and to understand that the systemic racism still exists to this day. The Movement is much more than a few marches and social media posts. It is a call to society to understand that the Black community deserves the same human rights as any other race and color should not signify the way we are treated in any regard. The Black Lives Matter Movement should be a vital role in all schools. All students deserve to understand the unfairness Black people go through in our society and what we can do to support our Black community. I hope to practice all the principles provided in the article. As a future educator, I hope my classroom can be a safe place for my Black students and even if I do not have any Black students, I still plan to inform my classes on the injustice that our Black youth go through.

    To teach for Black Lives is to understand the positionality of our Black students and to understand that there will unfortunately be moments in their lives where they are unjustly assumed upon. To teach them is to ensure them, as a trusted educator, that you will have their backs and support them throughout the struggles. Most importantly, and something which I took away from the webinar was how and when we can implement these issues. For whatever reason people view the Movement as a political movement, which is not the case at all. It is a movement for basic human rights. I enjoyed hearing the webinar group mention that these are all issues which the students will discuss either in or out of the classroom. With social media being highly prevalent in our society, students of all ages will learn about the tragedies of our Black men and women, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. It is for this reason that we must incorporate the teaching of Black Lives in our classrooms. Regardless of the subject, these are issues which should be discussed at all levels. Like I mentioned, Black Lives Matter is not a political movement, it is a movement for basic human rights and all students deserve to learn and understand the history and current situation of which our Black community goes through.

    We can reimagine our classrooms by acknowledging, that as educators, we know the injustices which occur in their lives. Unfortunately, unless we ourselves are Black educators it is difficult to position ourselves in their shoes; but, as educators we must understand that these problems are out there and we will help our students in whichever way we can. Stating this is not enough though. We must participate in humanizing the lives of our Black youth. Through our actions of care and love is how our students will understand that we are there for them but they first need to understand that we know the difficulties they may be going through.

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    • jganaya26,

      In addressing your last paragraph, I believe as educators it is important to make connections with Black educators. I believe that if we build these connections, they can provide us with insight on how we can address the issue of racial discrimination in our classrooms while being respectful of the Black community. I think one thing we an also do is bring in guest speakers who can provide first hand experiences of what it means to be a Black person living in the U.S. In doing so, students will get a better understanding of how REAL this issue of racial discrimination of Black people is. I believe our actions also speak louder than our words and so I think getting involved in the BLM movement or at least showing students how they can participate in fighting for basic human rights for the Black community can be beneficial for all students.

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      • Hello!

        I agree with you, making connections with Black educators can be a fantastic way to build insight into how we can help our future Black students; however, what would your recommendation be if we don’t know any or many Black educators? Throughout my entire schooling I only had 1 Black teacher and it wasn’t until college which this occurred. I actually spoke to a teacher on the topic of there being little representation of Black teachers in California and it is due to them being oppressed throughout their entire education experience. I know this is a little bit off topic to what you stated but I thought it correlated a bit since I would love to see more representation of our Black members of society in schools. Straying back onto your paragraph, I would definitely love to make connections with as many Black educators as possible to be able to get their perspective on many of the issues they faced as students, as teachers, and how they handled them. I really believe that as non-Black educators we can do our part by informing our students of the issues that Black lives go through but having an actual Black educator speak to them is very powerful so that they could see the emotion of the speaker. Thanks for replying!

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    • I love the second to your last paragraph about how positionality of our Black students affects their unjust experiences. You are absolutely correct that as educators, we need to be able to allow the students to trust us enough to be able to share their experiences, and we need to create safe spaces that allows us to support them through their struggles. It is unfortunate that BLM has become a political movement, rather than a movement for human rights to be treated as equals. I have to wonder what history books will look like 10, 25, or even 50 years later for the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd- I have to wonder if their deaths will be whitewashed like most of the US history has been, or if their deaths will be talked about for what they truly were- they were murdered by our systematic oppression of the police force and racist ideologies. It is likely that with the track record of the US history curriculum, that we need to teach about BLM to our students, because they need to be taught to see it from a different perspective. The different perspective also creates the classroom environment that is more humanizing, because you are discussing real people and real experiences.

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      • Hello!

        I have also thought of the idea of this current BLM Movement being in future textbooks and how it will be portrayed. Will they portray they riots which occurred only a few days or will they talk about the countless days that brave members of our society spent marching for our Black members in our society? I hope our history books can shine a bright light on the members of the BLM movement and truly speak about the systemic injustices which Black people go through in this country. Like you said, I really hope history books can speak of these current matters as they really are and highlight the problems which are associated with the racism towards Black Lives today. Thanks for replying!

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    • I agree that the movement is more that just words it is the actions that follows behind the movement. It is a nonviolent movement so of course I am talking about violence but seeing others come together for a change within the black communities. As educators they should be able to know history and what is going on in todays time to understand the movement. Once the teachers understand so will the students once the educators pass on knowledge the correct way. They teach everything else teaching something most students can relate to or even seen or heard about could help.

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    • Hi there,
      Your description of the BLM was beautifully stated! I love how you acknowledged the faults, that things may not get resolved by the time we are teachers, but it is our duty to support our students and let them know the injustices of the system within our country. As you stated, unless you are a person of color, you haven’t really lived the experiences that some of your students have and I worry about that because I want to be approachable and support my students the best I can. Furthermore, I loved how you emphasized that this is a demand for basic human rights and not just a protest or political period. Its our black communities saying enough is enough and it is our duty as a nation to fight with black communities no matter what your race is.

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  3. As a (future) teacher, I can reimagine my classroom as a space that disrupts racial injustice, transforms the world, and humanizes the lives of Black youth. I can do so by not rejecting students (especially Black students and those of color), actively listening to them, and respecting them (even if that means respecting them when they don’t respect me). My classroom is a revolutionary site that will actively and consistently include every student and validate all of their opinions and experiences – especially Black students and those of color, because they are always underrepresented and underappreciated. Incorporating literacies about and for Black students and those of color will help them shape their views of the world as one where their voices matter and people who look like them matter.

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    • Hi Mariam, I couldn’t agree more on what you have to say on embracing students of all colors. It is interesting when you said respecting all students even if it means you do not get respected back. That would be a sad turnout for us educators when we are promoting respectful environment but we don’t get it back in return. I can’t imagine the emotional toll that will build over time inside of us, which will be unhealthy on the long run. We can’t have all of our students like us personally, but I believe if we set the standards and have clear classroom policy, we will get the respect from our students.

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  4. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a movement that is based on recognizing the injustices that the Black community goes through and starting to speak up against these injustices. Historically, the Black community has been treated unjustly; constantly being discriminated against and also being racially profiled. The BLM movement is attempting to bring equally and respect for the Black community while also raising awareness of the systematic racism that continues to exist today. While some people view the BLM movement as people marching or posting on social media, it is much more than that. These marches and social media posts are just the beginning to bringing information to society and involving others. BLM movement wants society to know and understand what the Black community goes through; from being incarcerated for minor infractions to being constant victims of police brutality.

    The BLM movement plays a vital role in schools. It is in schools where “the physical violence that stems from racial discrimination transpires from the (mis)reading of Black people’s bodies” (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, Baszile, pp. 60). English classes are not educating people on the complete histories of Black discrimination, instead they aid the societal views of the Black communities by purposely teaching Black culture in a negative manner. In out ELA classes we are taught that black symbolizes everything that is evil and bad. We are given texts that reflect Western culture and are told to view white as something pure. While these connections are meant only as an analysis of our text, it unintentionally disrespects and devalues the Black community. The fact that our ELA classes are also not trying to use literature or texts that Black students can relate to also shows the lack of respect towards the Black community. The BLM movement is vital in schools because it is asking schools to be more inclusive. BLM movement is asking schools and teachers to acknowledge that teaching through a Western culture lens is not culturally responsive and excludes various students.

    As a future ELA teacher, I plan to steer away from only teaching up to Western culture standards. I hope to incorporate texts that accurately reflects the Black community. I also will constantly reflect upon my positionality and biases and attempt to avoid silencing and disrespecting my Black students. I hope to teach all my students to become aware of the injustices that the Black community as well as other minority groups. aa

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    • Hi!

      I think you did a great job of addressing the direct needs of what needs to happen in our schools if we want the BLM movement to hold true power and begin to change our communities. I am a firm believer that change starts with students and children, and if we allow their brains to expand by giving new perspectives, I think we are enabling them to create positive change. I think it’s interesting how you point out that when Black culture is present in the classroom, it is usually in a negative connotation, which I definitely think is valid. Is there any texts that you would recommend specifically that uplifts Black voices and gives them a properly represented voice? I am always trying to add more to my list!

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  5. Focusing on the third question, I definitely want to create a classroom space that is welcoming to Black youth and people of color. While I teach math, I am also an artist, and I would like to put up art that celebrates different cultures and shows Black people in a positive light. I have made collages with Black people, people of color, and women surrounded by space, planets, equations, and diagrams, hoping to portray a different image of the scientist and mathematician from the typical White male. If I have to physically cut paper to blend these images, then so be it. Art greatly affects culture, and we need more positive images of Black people. Students will not engage as much with subjects unless they feel like they can see a bit of themselves in it.

    Mathematicians often like to think that math is separate from culture, but it is not. In fact, mathematics has its roots in Africa, just like humanity as a whole and often intertwines with cultural practices. For example, the oldest mathematical object, the Lebombo Bone, features the oldest known example of counting using tally marks, and it was found in the Lebombo Mountains near Eswatini (Previously called Swaziland). Geometric patterns and symmetry are also key aspects of African pattern design, to the point that archeologists can identify where a piece is from based on pattern signatures. I want to talk about mathematicians of history that may have been forgotten, such as Katherine Johnson. It is also important to focis on the present day, however. Math’s superpower is unveiling hidden paterns, which makes it a valuable tool to uncover systemic racism and inequality, whose effects are so widespread only numbers can grasp at their scale. We should be teaching these applications so that students can be more informed of these issues.

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    • Kaley,
      This is a really great idea of inclusion, especially in a mathematics classroom. It is important to be inclusive. Granted, there are MANY cultures in the world and the walls within a classroom cannot possibly represent them all, but it will be important to represent the culture of the students present in the classroom. If the classroom has Indian, Asian, African American and Hispanic students, represent at least those ethnicities in the art and lessons in the classroom. As you stated, “Students will not engage as much with subjects unless they feel like they can see a bit of themselves in it.” How many times did you feel disconnected from a lesson because you had to no way to relate? I know that I have, and it will be vital for our students to be able to reflect in themselves to get the most out of their education. I had never really thought much about connecting mathematics with different cultures, and it is interesting to see a different point of view. The BLM movement urges the further humanization of the lives of Black youth, and we can do so by being more inclusive in our lessons. “We are committed to acknowledging, respecting, and celebrating difference(s) and commonalities” (13 Guiding Principles).

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    • Kaley,

      It was so incredible reading your post. I am a pre-service English teacher, and I have often wondered how STEM subjects could welcome a more diverse conversation into the classroom, and your answer just blew me away. What an incredible way to welcome art, history, and diversity into your classroom. I did not know the history of the origin of mathematics, and your second paragraph was beautifully written to articulate the information.

      Thank you so much for this information and your post.

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    • Kaley,

      Really enjoyed reading your post. It is so positive and I learned few things I didn’t know before (such as first mathematical object). I encourage you to follow your beliefs because they will make difference. It is absolutely true, math makes art. Look at the patterns, paintings, architecture etc. I agree that by bringing the history around the world about the subject matter, in this case it is math, is important to create Culturally Responsive Classroom. I also liked your idea about how you can celebrate different cultures through physical environment of your classroom.

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    • I love how you plan to include your own passion for artwork and even history of math to try and combat these issues in the classroom. When I first started the readings and watching the video I honestly thought that there would be less ability for me to have impact in the subject of math as compared to other subjects, but it is not just about the subject itself. I feel like one of the easiest ways to make yourself available for deep discussion with anyone is to provide a safe and inviting space, and I believe that even something as simple as a poster of Katherine Johnson or even just artwork featuring people of color is a step to end white-washed education.

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    • Hi Kaley!

      It was great to read your take and how you create a classroom that is welcoming. It is also interesting to hear from a math perspective. I am a Secondary English Education major and feel it can be easier in a sense to bring in readings, discussions, and so forth to class. Having art in the classroom that is made by Black people, people of color, and so on is great. It truly would bring in new perspectives and representation. It makes me think about how in an English classroom, that would be awesome to have and maybe have students create the art themselves. Representation of one in a space is important and can help one connect beyond the surface level. I also did not know about the math background and some of its roots. That is super cool to learn about and how you can bring that into the classroom.

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  6. Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a decentralized political and social movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people. These three words are a cry to dismantle white supremacy, end racially targeted violence, and fix the broken system in which Black people struggle more simply because of the color of their skin. As an educator, I think the most important principle in school is affirming race and ethnicity in classrooms. Race matters to many students and their families, and they have an impact on communications and interactions with teachers and other students. Students of color are reminded of their race almost daily as they face discriminatory practices and attitudes. Teachers should acknowledge the differences and be aware of ways they can influence learning.(Gloria Ladon-Billing, 2012) In my opinion, equity does not mean sameness; students can be treated differently, as long as the treatment is fair and appropriate, to accomplish the goal of student learning.

    In addition, linguistic violence plays an essential role in the spirit murder of Black youth. For example, the traditional curriculum overtly and covertly attacks the beautiful, rich language, namely African American Language, Black students bring into ELA classrooms through the enforcement of stringent Eurocentric grammar rules-thus positioning society to believe mainstream American English is superior and the only language that should be valued. (Johnson, L. L., Jackson, J., Stovall, D. O., & Baszile, D. T. ,2017) It reminds me that students are empowered because they recognize that they have unique claims to knowledge that others cannot deny. Only I have lived my life; only you have lived yours. As a language teacher, my job is to help the students to articulate, justify, and embody values they find meaningful without imposing our values on them. All students should be able to see positive portrayals of their racial and ethnic groups in the curriculum.

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  7. As a future elementary teacher, my classroom will disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth through the art on the walls, the books that we read, the historical figures and events that we learn about. I hope to bring awareness to my students of the injustices that their Black classmates currently face and may face in the future, so that all of my students can open their hearts and minds to be empathetic to what others go through in their lives and be accepting of differences. My students will be taught that everyone comes from different backgrounds and has had different experiences that have shaped their individual lives. I will teach in a way that is inclusive, respectful, actively listening to my students, letting them know that our classroom is a safe space to talk about anything on their mind. The Black students in my class will know they have a voice and they matter.

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    • Mallory,
      Hi Mallory! I think you have some interesting ideas about class. I also mentioned that there are many literary works African Americans have created that are excellent for classroom use. I am glad that you mentioned not only literary works, but art, and historical figures as well. I think students should feel safe to be themselves at school and every student’s voice should be represented in the classroom. Thanks Mallory!

      Gary Minnick

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      • I appreciate how both of your touched on the word “safe” in your comments. Having an environment of safety is really crucial to active learning classrooms. While I am a pre-service secondary education major, I wondered what types of activities you envision for your classroom. I feel like it may be inspirational to look at it from a different perspective.

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    • Hi, Mallory! I really appreciate what you did in your classroom to create an inclusive and respectful environment. I like the word you mentioned “empathetic”. You are right that all students can open hearts and minds to be empathetic to what others go through in their lives and be accepting of differences. Also, I agree with you that not only literary works, but art on the walls, books we read, and the historical figures play a important role in cultural responsive teaching. Every student’s voice should be represented in the classroom. Thanks Mallory!

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    • Mallory,
      I absolutely love your plans to disrupt racial injustices and humanize the lives of Black youth in your elementary class. As a future high school English teacher, I did not even think about using art and classroom decorations to begin to reflect the backgrounds of my students!! One thing I would suggest you could do in your classroom is to begin to teach students that it is okay to appreciate and support the Black community year long and not just during Black History Month. Growing up I only learned about Black history during the month of February, but I always felt like it was very superficial information. This also goes the same with Hispanic and Native American heritage. As a future elementary teacher, you have the power to begin shaping the minds of our future and based on your plans to disrupt racial injustices I am sure you will have a positive impact on shaping the kids of our future.

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    • Mallory,

      I so appreciate how you are looking to teaching inclusivity through showcasing that students come from all different backgrounds. It is so important for us as teachers to understand that our students all have, as you put, “different experiences that have shaped their individual lives” what an amazing way to put it!

      This is what we need in our future classrooms, not conformity or forcing students to think everyone is the same. But a celebration of our differences!

      Thank you so much for this post, it has truly inspired me.

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  8. Hello everyone!
    I am Gary Minnick and I am working towards becoming an English teacher. For this discussion I wanted to post about what it means to teach for black lives. The webinar discussed a lot of different topics and there were some ideas I agreed with and thought were progressive with a lot of potential for good and some ideas that I thought had no merit whatsoever. So what does it mean to teach for black lives? The idea of teaching for black lives is that education curricula in the United States should not overlook minorities and with specific regard to the black lives matter movement, the U.S. should not leave out great historical works by African Americans.
    The individuals in the webinar and in the article, “Loving Blackness to Death”, discussed the idea of including more written works by African Americans in educational curricula. I think the argument presented, that black Americans can feel left out if they are only bombarded by Eurocentric works in their education, is a solid argument. America’s history is short but it is filled with incredible literary works by African Americans. There is no reason these literary works are not included in the curriculum. I can easily see using Maya Angelou and Dr. Martin Luther King in my future classroom. African American children should never be made to feel inferior or less intelligent in their lives but most importantly, in the classroom where we are supposed to encourage children to learn and develop their self-esteem.
    In the webinar, the idea of defunding the police and removing police from schools is discussed. We do not live in a perfect world. Sadly, we do not live in a world where children are entirely safe from being targeted by rampaging mass shooters at schools. Someone has to do the job of bringing in the bad guys and apprehending them using force if necessary. We see a lot of instances where officers must be held accountable for their actions and as police officers, they should be held to the highest standard of accountability because we place our trust in them to keep us safe. Police officers should have to go through racial bias training and other helpful training that reduces prejudice and stereotyping. Police officers should be held accountable and placed under the most intense microscope of examination, most especially when they use the ultimate amount of force and take someone’s life away. The profession of policing in America has bad officers just in the same manner that other professions have bad doctors, lawyers, and etc. but they are often afforded great protections from accountability that they should not have.
    I don’t have a quick and easy answer about how to fix policing in America. That’s because a seemingly quick and easy answer such as defunding and getting rid of police is the wrong answer. America has had a horrible year this year. Moving into next year we will hopefully have a much better year with abundant job opportunities, businesses and schools fully open, and a vaccine for the coronavirus. When we move forward in time as a nation, I don’t want us to lose sight of the Black Lives Matters’ ideas. I want to move forward with the Black Lives Matters’ ideas of creating greater inclusion in the classroom. I want to see people and children all having respect for each other regardless of race. I want to see more accountability in policing instead of defunding. As a future educator I must do my part to empower black students in my classroom.
    I know not everyone will agree with what I have written today with regard to some of the toughest social challenges America currently faces. I expect a lot of people to disagree with me and a lot of people should disagree with me. The Black Lives Matter movement covers a lot of important and sensitive issues in America. That being said, thank you for reading my post and I look forward to hearing and discussing with everyone!

    Gary Minnick

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    • Hey Gary,

      I really appreciate the effort you took to write this post. I have to say that I am slightly envious of ELA teachers because like you said, the history of America is short, but it is not short of powerful literary works by Black authors – former slaves, former slaves who helped other slaves escape, those who lived through the Jim Crow Era (and today’s New Jim Crow Era), the Civil War, the Vietnam War, the Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Movement, BLM, as well as personal stories such as their queer identities, identities as Deaf-Black, Afro-Latinx, etc…. there are so many powerful stories that need to be heard over the course of our American history for Black folx that can easily be included into ELA, history, and social sciences classes. Unfortunately, like you said, the US government whitewashes and leaves out many of these stories and highlights the stories that are traumatizing for Black students. I have to admit my white privilege was showing when I watched the webinar, because I never once considered that the repetition of seeing one’s ancestors in shackles or with severe scar marks would be traumatizing. I feel that this is teaching students that this is all they are good for- why not teach about Black community members who have fought for their communities, such as Marsha P. Johnson, who was heavily active in the Stonewall Riots, or Dr. Drew Charles, who is responsible for how we are able to bank plasma, as these are more inspiring figures for Black students to look up to.

      I thought you were really brave to state your position of how we need cops to get the bad guys for school shootings and such. I can see what you are saying, and I agree, to an extent. I hope you can see this from my point of view without feeling like you are being attacked, as that is not my intention. I personally attended a school where we had a police officer on campus. Looking back, I remember several of my POC friends were afraid to go near the police officer, when my white friends were willing to chat with the police officer for fun during their lunch break. It wasn’t until I was much older that this was such a disparity between two groups of students. There are also several horror stories of the police using unjust policies to corral Black bodies into prisons, which is part of the school to prison pipeline system, and we see this in children even as young as 6 years old, who are thrown into jail for having temper tantrums in the classroom (which is DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE for that age). For many people, the police are not there to keep people safe, except for those who are part of the dominant society- white and privileged. Another thing to consider, is that we have to recognize that police, like you said, do not have bias training. I am worried that in school shootings, the school cops will go after the suspected shooters, and may apprehend BIPOC students as the suspected shooter because of bias, instead of going after the actual shooter. While school shootings are an issue of concern, I feel like it’s a “lesser of two evils” and I personally would opt to not have cops at schools to protect our BIPOC students, while increasing fundings to advocate for mental health resources for students, which would also benefit our BIPOC students. I recognize that cops have a hard job, but we also need to consider the factors that I mentioned above. I have no answer for how we can improve these issues, but we should take a look at what the BLM organization is striving for.

      Great post, you brought up great points and went out on a limb to discuss topics that not everyone agrees with, and it’s hard to do, especially on a platform like this.

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      • Jessica,
        Thank you so much for your reply! I think that we are closer to agreement than what you may think! I am wanting to teach high school English, so when the educators in the webinar discuss removing police from the schools I put it into the context of removing them from high schools. Of course, in elementary school it is entirely inappropriate and unacceptable for their to be any disciplinary involvement whatsoever from a police officer. I think we could remove them from inside school grounds in elementary and just have them sitting in their car to respond to outside threats like the bomb threat incident the educators discussed in Seattle. In high school, I imagine all of the fights and weapons being brought into school and I believe whole-heartedly that the Police need to have an SRO on site to deal with these kinds of issues that are well out of the educators’ scope of dealing with. The SRO should have all of the racial bias training that I mentioned before. I may have completely misinterpreted the context of what the educators were discussing when they suggested removing officers from schools in America.

        Yes! There are a great many literary works for me to incorporate into my future lessons created proudly by African Americans. I am enjoying reading all of the threads we are creating here because there are so many future educators discussing how they can bring in African American art or important historical figures to address the problem of underrepresentation the Black Lives Matter texts and webinar we have viewed discuss.

        Thanks Jessica,
        Gary Minnick

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    • Hi Gary, I totally agree with you that education curricula in the United States should not overlook minorities and with specific regard to the black lives matter movement, the U.S. should not leave out great historical works by African Americans. I also find same opinion in the article, “ELA teachers need to understand the multiple ways Black students express themselves and show a sense of belonging, which are deeply rooted in their language and shapes the foundation for individual identity” (Johnson, L. L., Jackson, J., Stovall, D. O., & Baszile, D. T. ,2017) African American children should never be made to feel inferior or less intelligent in their lives but most importantly, in the classroom where we are supposed to encourage children to learn and develop their self-esteem. To incorporate race and ethnicity in classroom, the school environment should help students learn to participate in the dominant society while maintaining connections to their distinct racial and ethnic groups. All students should feel like they belong. Respect for and support of racial and ethnic differences are essential. As educators, we are responsible for making sure all students learn to think, read, and write so that they can function effectively in society.

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  9. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a political and social movement that fights against the systemic targeting of black people and brings to light the injustices that the black community has gone, and is currently going, through. Recently, we have witnessed many instances of police brutality and violence against black people, which has ignited the many peaceful marches that fight for the racial justice of the black community. These acts of violence from police, white supremacists, and “vigilantes” is not a new thing. The black community has dealt with these acts of injustices for so long now, but with social media and the internet, the injustices can be seen by people all around the world. But, this movement is not simply about hashtags or marches. It is the call for the black community to be treated fairly and with the respect that any other race is treated with.

    I see the BLM movement play a huge role in schools. The movement can spark conversations between students and teachers to recognize how the black community has been oppressed in the United State. In English classes, we are only shown books written by white men. In History classes, we are shown history as it has been told by the white man. In math classes, we give credit to only European mathematicians for the math that we learn. This movement can change the way we present information, text, history, etc. to students that reflects how other cultures have impacted our education.

    As a math teacher, I can show my students that not all math was created or influenced by European men. I can show the many achievements and influences the black community has brought to mathematics, especially those of black women. I want my classes to learn and be aware of the injustices against the black community, and be able to see their race and culture in a positive way, not only in my class, but in all of their classes.

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    • Hello jsoto17!

      The BLM will definitely play a huge role in our future classrooms. I really like that you brought up it will bring up conversations on the various issues between students and teachers. In a time where we are learning how to be culturally responsive educators, having these deep and meaningful conversations with students is so meaningful. And it is even more important we talk about this now as they are a part of the change. This movement will definitely change the resources we utilize in school to teach and we will shift away from teaching through only one point of view. I am excited for your future students. I see that you are passionate about bringing change to your classroom and the lives of your students and teaching them that math is influenced by many races will be so beneficial to them. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. Hello, everybody!

    The discussion question that I would like to focus on today is discussion question number one. Prior to reading the article “Loving Blackness to Death” and viewing the Teaching for Black Lives During the Rebellion webinar, I believed that the Black Lives Matter Movement was a collective gathering of individuals around the world coming together in solidarity for the Black community. The movement which includes the protests and solidarity demonstrated in person and via social media outlets is an outcry to the injustices that Blacks have experienced time and time again from police brutality and racism in general. This police violence has taken away the lives of many innocent individuals due to the color of their skin. Moreover, many of the families who have lost their loved ones due to police brutality have not gained the justice they deserve. Therefore, the time came where we said in unison, “Enough is enough!”

    After viewing the webinar, I realized that this movement is not recent. In fact, the textbook Multicultural Education in a Pluralistic Society and Mr. Wayne both summarize that this movement did not recently unravel. As a matter of fact, both sources mention that the Black Lives Matter Movement has been seen before in John Muir Elementary School in Seattle. The administrators and educators of this school wanted to bring attention to this social issue and demonstrate solidarity considering that majority of the students were predominantly black and brown students. Therefore, the goal was to affirm Blackness and that Black Lives Matter within the educational realm. Despite the threats that were made, the efforts of those supporting the movement was successful and lead to other organizations nationwide. Here is where I learned that this powerful movement has been seen before and it is this type of momentum that we need to push for change. The change can be made within our classrooms. For this reason, I do believe that the Black Lives Matter Movement plays a significant role in schools. As educators we must refrain from feeling fear of having these discussions that will help students see the violent experiences and racism that Blacks continue to experience in the twenty-first century. Fundamentally, it is vital for educators and those aspiring to join this profession to be reflective and include the experiences and the history of the Black community within our curriculum.

    In essence, as an educator I want to show my students that I care and demonstrate it through actions. For example, having open and respectful discussions along with including literacies that allow Blacks to see themselves and not feel invisible in my classroom. I want them to feel seen, accepted, and valued. Above all, I want them to know that I see more to them versus the prejudice that our society and the education system has imposed on us regarding the Black community. Essentially, the article allowed me to see that the racial violence that unfolds in various communities seeps into classrooms and for this reason I intend to use the resources the authors have gathered to educate my students and bring awareness to them all. Through these teaching practices, not only would I be doing my students a service, but will be contributing to a very much needed social change that can improve the world we live in. We need to teach our students how to be accepting regardless of our backgrounds and help them become better human beings overall.

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  11. Jose Estrada
    How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?

    We can reimagine our classroom space as educators as source of information that can teach students of tolerance, equality, and humanization of black youth lives. Its essential to inform students of community power, citizen’s rights and government responsibilities. In informing students it can aid in creating more responsible citizens that can cause change in society in a effective matter. In classroom activities included viewing racial justice leaders who fought for equality in the 1960s such as Martin Luther King Jr or Malcolm X can educate students on real life figure who took to the action for change. Student can read these sources and connect them to today social issues. Open discussion can during lesson activities can be a platform for students to express their perspective and to form a solid understand on humanization of black youth. Students can compare their experiences and thoughts on reforms and what change means to them. It is with much importance that teachers should define words such as bias, narrative, and perspective for students to make there own ideals and views on issues having to do with social in justice, transforming the world, and humanize the lives of black youth.

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    • Hello Jose!

      I’m a junior at Penn State looking to be an English teacher! I really like your idea of teaching about racial justice leaders and allowing students to connect these past events to modern-day issues. However, I think it would be great for teachers to actually incorporate more recent events in our curriculum. When we only teach Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, we teach to our students that racism has ended. This is extremely dangerous for students, particularly when confronting systematic racism. When they believe racism is no longer an issue, they won’t step up and help change the world for the better.

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  12. From what I’ve learned from the webinar, in my opinion teaching for Black lives means to be supportive of my future Black students by way of acknowledging and understanding that systemic racism exists in our education systems, acknowledging that my students have likely undergone this experience in their academic spaces, and finding and utilizing strategies to combat unfair, segregating institutions. As a future educator, I must strive to include a pedagogy that is culturally responsive and that creates an inclusive atmosphere for my students. This will require my perpetual learning of cultures that are different than my own, understanding and incorporating students’ interests in the curricula to engage my students into their learning, and creating an environment where all of my students feel safe and supported. In the webinar, it was discussed that throughout school systems in the United States our first interaction as students with Black history is through the history of slavery. As mentioned, this is extremely problematic and does a monumental injustice to our knowledge and appreciation of Black accomplishments, stories, and culture. As a result, we unwittingly and unforgivably dehumanize and disenfranchise the Black community. This is important to understand as educators head to the classroom to teach. Teachers must represent and support an accurate, wholesome teaching of Black history including extraordinary figures, inventions, theories, experiments, art, novels and much more to enrichen and reinforce our knowledge on Black culture, but more importantly to support and represent our brilliant students.

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    • Hello Ali, I appreciate your response, and agree with so many of your points regarding teaching a more empowering and complete history, and creating a more empowering and more equitable educational environment for our young Black Americans. On thing I somewhat take issue with however, is a characterization of teaching Black history as ‘wholesome.’ Although I don’t think this is your intention, of of the great injustices of history education is ‘heroifying’ historical figures. For example, we teach Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks as these wholesome, leadership figures, when in reality their struggle, while non-violent on their end, was extremely dangerous and was filled with so many other important individuals.

      Again, I don’t imagine this was your intention, but to teach a full, truthful history, means to teach a problematic, terrible one, as that is the history of this country. I think that in teaching that problematic history, we can help our non-Black students empathize with the struggle, and can help our Black students feel reassured that the pain they feel is real, and that we teachers, as representatives of larger society, are taking steps to empower them.

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  13. Hello everyone! Today, I would like to focus on discussing question number three. Our responsibilities as teachers are to create a safe, inclusive environment that will educate students to understand acts of racial injustice and systemic oppression within society. It is also our responsibility to design a curriculum and provide the appropriate support for our students to achieve success beyond our classroom. The article entitled “‘Loving Blackness to Death’: (Re)Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos” discusses how Black youths have experienced both racial and symbolic violence within society. When teachers ignore or refuse to intervene when they witness acts of racial discrimination on school grounds, they’ve “kill(ed) the spirit and humanity of Black students” (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, Baszile, pp. 61). Our actions reflect our beliefs and positionality. If we refuse to acknowledge or discuss how racial and symbolic violence continue to exist within society, we are devaluing and disrespecting the Black community. In my future classroom, I intend to take initiatives to learn about my future Black students’ experiences, cultural backgrounds, and learning styles. In doing so, I can integrate literature, media, and activities that will address their academic or personal needs. ELA classrooms can be transformed into a safe, positive environment that promotes inclusivity and educates students to examine their positionality. It’s imperative for students to understand the political and social significance in participating in meaningful discussions regarding racial injustice and activism. Structural racism remains a prominent issue within society and the education system as Black students are expected to abandon their culture to adopt the conventions of American English.

    As a future ELA teacher, I plan to design a curriculum that will foster my Black students’ learning and integrate literature that reflects their identities. The article states, “When we reject the multiple identities our Black students bring to the classroom, silence their voices by centering the lived experiences and stories of Europeans, and disrespect them by lowering our expectations and over-surveilling their bodies, bullets are shot at them” (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, Baszile, pp. 61). It’s imperative that teachers constantly reflect on their positionalities to examine how specific beliefs and biases can affect how we treat our students. If we begin to doubt our Black students’ literacy skills and ridicule their academic performance in the classroom, we are promoting “Westernized ideologies, values, and beliefs” (pp. 62). We can avoid these situations by integrating educational strategies, literature, and media in the classroom to humanize Black students. In my future classroom, I intend to include literature and media that accurately represents the Black community and educates students of systemic, racial injustice within society. When reading literary texts or watching specific videos, we must address the stereotypes or Westernized narratives forced upon the Black community. We can celebrate diversity by acknowledging harmful, inaccurate representations of the Black community in literature and media. In doing so, our students can learn to examine how their biases and positionality has affected their perspectives towards other cultures. I intend to constantly educate myself and my future students on how we can work together to acknowledge and challenge notions of racial and symbolic violence that exists in various communities.

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    • Good evening a.le,
      I think what you were saying about acknowledging our own biases and allowing the students to become more accountable for their own bias will speak volumes to the student and the classroom. By holding all parties responsible and focusing on all around education will not only help in the classroom but will also pave the way for a better tomorrow and changing the future for all. We must not be silent anymore as this matter is on the forefront.

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  14. When it comes to reimagining the classroom as spaces of disruption, reconstruction, and humanization, I want to look at the value of community. In many of the guiding principles provided, there are plenty of points that all point to having a strong community that surrounds the individual. In the Western world, there’s a huge push on the individual succeeding and you see a lot of people who tout their success as people who can pick themselves up from their bootstraps and muscle through adversity with their own strength. Although these feats are commendable, they try to show off the strength of the individual when, in reality, they could not have gotten to where they are without the help of somebody else. Whether that be family, friends, mentors, or supporters, there are plenty of people involved in one person’s success.

    I would keep this at the forefront of anything I plan in the classroom. I want to emphasize to students how they are a collective and that they as a unit can accomplish so much more than each of them can individually. What that also means is understanding how language will shape the environment of my classroom. The first three principles of BLM reflect how I want to conduct my classroom no matter what activity we are engaged in. Having a classroom where empathy and love to each other is where we operate from means that any conversation, from difficult conversations to everyday check-ins, are lead with an open heart and kindness.

    In “Loving Blackness to Death”, Johnson et al explore and explain the violence that black students experience in the classroom. Without using a critical lens in the texts that we approach in class, the prior knowledge we have students access, and in the language we speak, we can reimpose the violence that students experience outside the classroom and bring it into an environment that is supposed to be loving and helpful. As an ELA teacher, I need to structure my classroom to include Black student voices and reject societal norms of violence against Black bodies through different aspects of my classroom. I want to be a part of the social reconstruction that I want to see on a major level, but with what I can do, I can build a smaller community right in front of me with students so they can see what a classroom operated on love for who they are looks like.

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    • Hi Bianca,

      Beautifully said! You’re so right, classrooms can and should be built around a “collective unit” that embraces and places community at the forefront. As ELA teachers, we have the ability to transform our classroom into inclusive spaces that are grounded in empathy, kindness, and understanding. And by creating these safe spaces, we can foster tough conversations on issues such as racial injustice and systematic oppression.

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  15. Hello Everyone! I’m Dallas Dyal and I’m in the process of becoming an English Literature teacher.
    Just delving right into to a little bit of all the questions:
    The Black Lives Matter movement is a social and political movement calling for justice, change, and reparations for the Black community. I think a way that can translate into the classroom is just like what Jesse spoke on in the panel, by no longer perpetuating this idea that Black history is just slavery. By teaching all of our students but ESPECIALLY our Black students, the truth and impact in history behind the Black community we can really do an incredible number on empowering our Black students, and creating educated driven allies out of the rest of the classroom. Outside of just teaching our students this way I think it’s important that we (future teachers) continue to stay current in the conversation. Yes, there are a lot of resources available right now and it’s easier to participate in conversations because we are actively in the midst of a Civil Rights Movement, but we can’t let this momentum in ourselves die down as the spotlight shifts off in our culture. We need to continually uplift, listen to, and heed the words of our fellow Black educators when it comes to what we need to be doing in our classrooms.
    A word that really stuck out to me when reading the 13 Guiding Principles was Affirming, and how it is our duty as growth-minded educators to in every way be Black affirming, be Queer affirming, be Trans affirming. By creating this environment of affirmation in our classrooms we are able to connect with our students and their communities on a deeper level. If we have this set of values that we uphold as part of classroom rules I think we can cultivate those same values in our students as individuals, and that’s really important to me when I envision my future classroom.

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    • Hello Dallas Dyal!
      Congrats on being on your path to becoming an English Lit teacher. Staying current in the conversation is highly important for us to continue to do through our educational journey. I totally agree with you that we must continue to push for change and we should not let the fire in us die down as the spotlight shifts off. Using positive affirmations is highly important in the development and self-efficiency of all students as it allows them to believe in themselves and thus lead to change. But now more than ever, the affirmation of Black, Queer, and Trans is essential in transforming and leading our students to grow their minds and increase their understanding of others and thus improve the future of our country. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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    • Hello Dallas,

      I agree that as future educators we need to also be caught up in current events as these events could have an impact on our students. I personally think that while some parents might not appreciate teachers teaching about other cultures and their customs, it is necessary. Exposing students to other cultures is also a great way to begin teaching students to embrace other’s differences. That being said, the BLM movement is especially important to teach in a classroom as it is asking people to acknowledge the true history of the Black community and how the Black identity is more than connecting it to slavery. I also agree that we need to listen to our fellow Black educators when it comes to figuring out what it is that we need to be doing in our classrooms to spread awareness and educate our students on the BLM movement. Black educators could also help us find accurate texts and documents that accurately represents the Black community. Thank you for your thoughts and contribution to this discussion !

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    • Good evening Dallas!
      Affirming. This is an important aspect to all of our students. We as educators do not know what all is going on in the life of our student. We can empathize and we can listen but ultimately we need to affirm and reaffirm on a daily basis. If we are truly an active listener we can become better and have a better understanding of what is going on within our students. By making this adjustment in our own life we can be better.

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  16. Our country today actively working towards change for the better. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a social movement in protest of police brutality, systemic racism, and unfair acts against the black population. It has brought upon us a time of reflection on what we can all do together and loudly to overcome these injustices. As a teacher whose number one priority is to create a culturally inclusive and culturally aware classroom, the 13 guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter Movement will absolutely be leading my teaching practices. It is important that students have a safe place to voice their thought and opinions with one another. Only through this will we promote constructive conversations about racism and foster student understanding.

    To teach for Black Lives means teaching a curriculum that is far more inclusive and representative of in all content areas. As stated in Teachinhforblacklives.com, “Teaching for Black lives means that we can’t relegate Black history to certain historical time periods or events and we must include Black lives in all aspects of the curriculum including science, math, literature, and the arts”. The webinar brought up many very interesting points. One of these, and the one I found to be most important, includes defunding the police and removing them from schools’ campuses and instead reinvest the funds in restorative justice counselors. I believe that doing so would be highly beneficial for students currently and in the future. This action would move away from punishing students and instead create positive relationships with students that provide guidance in learning from their mistakes. They also discussed an initiative they called A Year of Purpose. As stated by Jessie Hagopian, “It is an initiative that asks teachers to reflect on five questions about their practice in relationship to anti-racist pedagogy and we want them to reflect on that before the first day of school and check-in throughout the year with other educators about their progress toward their goals in anti-racist teaching”. This strategy of reflecting alone but also coming together as a group throughout the year is a great way to discuss our feelings and thoughts with others on the racial injustices of our country and will allow us to share thinking, speaking, and listening practices in our classrooms when we discuss this in our classrooms.

    Having discussions and teaching students about racism in classrooms is very important to bring up to students, as I believe that change in our country will only be brought about through the education of individuals. In our classroom, this should be done through open discussions with group guidelines where everyone is respectful and comes in with an open mind. As a future Science teacher, in my classroom, this could be addressed by discussing with students that racism exists even in the field of science. This could then be further analyzed by presenting them with past scientists of color and what unfairness they had to overcome and also presenting them with current articles that explain how this is currently still in issue. The class could then have an open and safe discussion of racism and how that could impede the progression of scientific knowledge of the world.

    “Teaching for Black Lives.” Teachingblacklives, http://www.teachingforblacklives.org/read-the-introduction.

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  17. Teaching for black lives means acknowledging and uplifting the multifaceted and three dimensional personhood of our students. As a pre-service teacher, this is what I’ve seen and felt. Growing up in a family of different racial identity, I learned in college the identities that were assigned to me and from there I had to realize and learn to celebrate my own intersectionality. Something that stuck out to me was when the panel restated that teaching for Black lives is more than incorporating content. I believe it would be all too easy to put some books on the shelf in my ELA classroom and call it a day. Therefore, the idea of bringing in different types of knowing and asssessment of that “knowing” is critical.

    When we talk about teaching, now especially in the era where lectures have fallen out of favor in pre-service teaching programs, I think we have an opportunity to create a new precedent. The previous methods of teaching expected students to get in line with the material being taught. The new methods focus on meeting the student and in taking that futher we could not just meet our different annonymous learners, but take in the personhood of our students and teach our specific classrooms.

    At the end of the article “Loving Blackness to Death”, there is a list of resources and I want to incorportate resources that celebrate my Black students. I want to go futher than that promote ways of knowing that value my Black students. If we are truly to value diversity then we need to value our BIPOC students, their ways of knowing, and their ways of expressing. When it comes down to it, I feel quite overwhelmed with all the duties and expectations of being a teacher. I don’t expect to know everything by the time I graduate or even after years of teaching. The continual learning is what drew me to teaching but is the most intimidating aspect as well. Some days, I wish I could establish my own school after graduating, but since I don’t see that as being an entirely viable option, I wonder what other teachers have done to reimagine their routines and strategies to meet their Black students.

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    • Hello Rose, I love your comment! I totally relate to that overwhelmed feeling when I think of all the expectations that we’ll have to shoulder as educators, but I find some comfort when I remember that our intentions will always be providing the best learning environment for all of our students. Your comment shows how committed you are to providing an open, student centered classroom that celebrates and teaches on diversity. Your willingness to continual be learning, and support your BIPOC reflects on how successful you’ll be. Best of luck to you on this journey!

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  18. Hi everyone! Today I will be discussing question number 2.
    As a future educator, we want all of our students to feel comfortable, safe and motivated in a school environment. While watching the webinar, I learned and understood new methods that will benefit my classroom. In order to be a successful teacher, I need to make sure I am teaching for black lives. We are the gatekeepers of the school and we need to encourage, love and promise we will be there for them.
    Although some teachers might be scared to bring up conversations in the classroom, we have to acknowledge that these conversations are being brought up outside the classroom already. It’s important to discuss the issues in class, so students understand and get the correct information and resources. Scaffolding difficult topics in the classroom can encourage all students to grasp a more understanding of The Black Lives Movement and what it means. We need students to recognize that this is not a political discussion, but the importance of their basic human rights. As an art teacher, I will form a daily activity that will allow students to be able to independently use their learning to analyze and interpret persuasive works of art such as political cartoons and propaganda. This will be based on current social issues in society. I will create as many opportunities for my students to voice their thoughts and opinions so that they feel empowered and motivated.

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    • Hello Fabiola,
      Great ideas i like very much your view on teacher student relationship. We must be the change we want to see in the world in our classrooms which as teacher is to help the world become an equal, responsive to change, and free for all. These topics can be difficult to break down so different medias, and presentation of the issue can help students understand these complex social issues. Visual, oral, or written aid can all be used to help students understand. A picture of what social movement look like, what equality speeches say, and what primary sources of people that lived during racial protest in the 1965 have written.

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  19. As a future educator, I plan on reimagining classroom spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth by treating my students and their families as human beings with complex emotions and voices that enhance the world around them. In the classroom, this looks like educators valuing their students’ voices, cultural backgrounds, and talents they have to offer. This should always be done in a professional manner, but not without caring undertones. Students thrive in environments where they feel safe, heard, and seen but this cannot be done without caring for students and having their best interests in mind. In the classroom, this looks like educators spending the time to get to know their students and families, asking their preferred pronouns and using them correctly, pronouncing their names correctly and being authentic to students. Creating a classroom community where students have the support and solace, they need to be engaged in learning is vital for greater learning outcomes. I hope my future class will feel welcoming, safe, and genuine to all that enter. I will know this is working through the actions and cues of my students. I hope to make a difference in my students’ lives by showing genuine care and interest in them as humans while being through supporting their educational needs. One way I plan on implementing this in my future classroom is by having an in-class student library filled with diverse authors and various subject matters ranging from social justice rights to history to graphic novels to engage a variety of students and disrupt racial injustices often found in literature classes of the past.

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  20. Our classrooms are settings for opportunity, enlightenment, and discovery. Each time students enter the classroom, they bring with them their unique identities, experiences, and culture. Too often, these elements have been dismissed and over-looked. The reimagination of our classrooms should start there, with the acknowledgement and appreciation for the contributions from our students. These contributions are vast and should be celebrated.

    Unfortunately, this celebration will not be enough. Since there has been a long, pervasive history of oppression in the classroom, educators must intentionally work to undo the damage. In the article, Loving Blackness to Death: (Re)Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos, the authors state, “…to empathize with Black students and their suffering, we argue that ELA classrooms must become revolutionary sites for racial justice by shedding light on Black lives and creating classrooms where Black youth are empowered through Black literacies and tools that uplift and support the humanity of Black people” (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, and Baszile, 2017, p.62). Even though ELA is not the discipline I desire to teach, I feel this statement applies to all classrooms, including math, my subject of choice. Rather than using texts and novels, math educators can use relevant, overarching topics in their lessons to bring awareness and provide opportunities for expression and perspective. STEM fields have historically been dominated by white males, and this is a reality that needs to be changed. It’s our job as educators to help not only Black youth, but all youth, realize their potential, their strengths, and their dreams. If STEM was inaccessible to a student or their families in the past, educators must increase access and help students to see themselves as mathematicians, scientists, and engineers.

    Furthermore, the narrative in math classrooms has been centered around names like Isaac Newton, Carl Friedrich Gauss, and Leonhard Euler. Math educators should work to expand their curriculum to include the contributions of Benjamin Banneker, Elbert Frank Cox, and Annie Easley. Guest speakers from all walks of life should be invited into the classroom to tell their stories and share their accomplishments, so students can catch a glimpse of their own role in transforming our world. These are only pieces to the much larger puzzle that educators and their communities need to cooperatively complete. As Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, and Baszile state, “…it is going to take a collective effort from teachers, police officers, doctors, politicians, researchers, families, children, youth, and community members to eradicate Black tears and that can start with, in, and through the curriculum we teach and our pedagogical practices (2017, p. 63).

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    • Good evening Danielle,

      Your comment about the current curriculum is spot on. Students are not introduced to or taught about other contributors throughout their studies unless they take a course that is designed to bring to light the contribution of others. Students need to see a variety of people for inspiration. We talk about relevancy and making the subject interesting for the student but when we sell the student short we are not only keeping the student from an appropriate education we are also preventing the student from knowing the truth.

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  21. For this discussion, I want to focus on the third question. I am a future math teacher and I definitely want to create a classroom environment in which Black students feel safe, free, and welcomed. Dyan Watson’s letter to her son gave me a better understanding of what it is to create a classroom space that disrupts racial injustice and humanizes the lives of the Black youth. Watson provides her past school experiences to express the fears she has about her son going to school and how she hopes his teachers will treat him. A fragment from the letter that really stood out to me was when she talked about how she and some of her Black peers felt “happy, free, normal” when white kids were not around, but once the white kids arrived they “became black and invisible.” Watson then expressed that she wanted his son’s teachers to “help him love being on his skin, make a space for him in their curricula, so that he sees himself as integral to this country’s history, to his classroom’s community and to his peer’s learning.” None of our students should feel “invisible,” or out of place when they come to our classroom. Sadly, the reality is that our students feel this way because they do not feel well represented in the curriculum. The article “Loving Blackness to Death: (Re) Imagining ELA Classroom in a Time of Racial Chaos” clearly shows how within the English classroom, Black Students do not feel represented. The books that students read are mainly written by white men and the language that is used to “describe Black bodies derives from disdain, disrespect, and devaluation of Black people” (pp. 60). Unfortunately, this is not only true in ELA classrooms, but in any other subject as well. In math classrooms for example, often we only give credit to European mathematicians. In an art classroom, we may not display art from African American or any other minority artists. Regardless of the subject we teach, our classrooms need to be sites for social justice where Black youth are empowered through Black literacies and tools that support the humanity of the Black community.
    As it was mentioned by Jesse Hagopian in the webinar and by Dyan Watson in her letter, as teachers, we should strive to know our students well. We should not look at any student through hurtful racial preconceptions. As teachers we should respect students for who they are and for the promises of who they will be in the future. It is necessary that we reframe the way we see our Black students, so that we can look at the strengths they bring to our classroom. The identities of our Black students should never be ignored in our classroom.When we are able to learn about the talents and strengths of our students, we can help them and encourage them to develop a passion for the things they enjoy, so they will feel more welcomed and represented in our classroom. In addition, the voices of our Black students should not be silenced and we should not be centering in the lived experiences of Europeans through our curriculum. As suggested by Jesse Hagopian, we should be working with other teachers to find different ways to better teach our Black students and challenge anti-blackness in our classrooms.

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  22. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been taking over the globe, and for good reason too. For far too long, minority groups, especially those of Black decent, have been continuously discriminated against, targeted with harassment and unjust hate, for the mere difference in their skin color and customs. Just because they may look and act differently from others does not give the right to others to put Black people into a subcategory, as we are all part of the same human race. Black Lives Matter is not about giving special treatment and glorifying Black people above everyone else (although I believe they deserve the utmost respect for the endless work they bring to the world), but rather, the movement is about shining light on the inequality they face daily and collectively working to change systems of social injustice to bring equity for all people. This applies to ALL Black people, from Black women to those in the Black LGBQT+ community, bringing restorative justice those left behind and eventually bringing justice for all people.

    It is crucial for teachers to see the important role BLM plays in schools, as we have students of all backgrounds. It does affect us because the violence and harassment we see on the news is the reality for some of our own students, and as a professional, I believe that it is my job to ensure the success of all my students, from academics to outside of school. In the classroom, promoting BLM starts with first reflecting and understanding our personal positionalities as the teacher. Understanding who we are and how it affects our view on the world opens our eyes to see the different perspectives and lives of others. I have heard too many stories about Black students being automatically labeled as “loud”, “speaking in improper English”, “disruptive and disrespectful”, and “gangsters” just because of the way they dress, the way they talk, and the way they act. The ones guilty of this are the ones who fail to see their positionality biasing their epistemology. However, I do not blame them, as they were “uneducated” through the propaganda that is the American education system. Instead, I point fingers at the westernized, white centered curriculum that is taught across the nation. Sometimes directly, other times hidden, the curriculum focuses on white supremacy. To battle this, the next step is to focus on the assets and strengths our students have. Going back to Black students being labeled as loud and disruptive, instead of focusing on a negative aspect, we can change our perspective to see that they are social learners and use humor to communicate. Bringing out the students’ funds of knowledge, showing positive representation of Black people in text and media, respecting their culture but not throwing the word “culture” as a panacea for misbehavior, and teaching our students self-responsibility and motivation to disrupt and radically change the systemic racism to bring freedom for all are several ways we teachers can show our support.

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  23. In response to question three, it’s important to create a classroom environment that is safe and positive for students. They need to feel comfortable in order to be themselves and communicate what and how they feel. As a future Physical Education teacher, this is vital to create for my students. PE is an outlet for student’s freedom of expression through movement while developing and increasing their self-esteem. Having an environment like this provides a safe space to educate students about the systemic racial injustices of the Black community and how they can help change that. It starts by getting to know my students and their cultural backgrounds and interests. Showing my students that I care for them and their successes outside of the classroom. Making sure that I am taking the role of a learner and acknowledging my students for who they are. In that way, I can support them and provide engaging content of their interest in various ways and platforms. All of these strategies create a safe space to engage in discussions about the injustices the Black community has faced and continues to face, as well as ways to teach students how to disrupt these injustices and challenge them. Students need to be educated about these systemic issues so they can take steps in the direction of overcoming them and being a voice for the change our society needs.

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    • Hello Carly,
      I agree with you the classroom environment is an important factor in reflecting what society needs to be like. Creating the environment in the classroom that should be in society will make students see the differences and might understand the topic and content better making the lesson plan better all around. As educator we need to be educating them on the material that has to do with black lives matters, and we must show them how o create an opinion that reflects their opinion.

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  24. Hello,

    I was extremely moved by the webinar, and it was the best webinar I have attended in my current credential program. I will be purchasing the book. I am Deaf and use ASL as one of my primary languages, and I also wanted to take the time to thank you for having ASL interpreters for the webinar, as that is a rare commodity of access to have, unfortunately, and it shouldn’t be a rare commodity.

    One of the most important issues that came up during the webinar was how not all experiences of Black lives are the same and identities are interwoven into multiple identities to create a space where we can dismantle racial injustice by allowing individuals to have a voice to discuss their own experiences. I appreciate the multiple identities that were discussed such as Black Queer, Afro-Latinx, Black Muslim, etc., but I wish the Black Deaf community could be mentioned as well, especially in the presence of a Black space where Deaf Black participants may have been in the audience since ASL interpreters were available.

    The Black Deaf community often will suffer from language deprivation, due to the schools they are placed into, not getting the services they need to be academically successful with linguistic fluency, or even being overlooked and being labeled as “troublemakers” due to policing and school policies, racist ideologies of teachers, and by the time Deaf Black children are realized to have hearing loss and need access to signed languages, it is already too late and the window of opportunity to acquire language naturally through our innate ability to learn language from other humans has closed. Not only that, due to the school to prison pipeline system, many Black Deaf do end up incarcerated for no faults of their owns, and are not exonerated because the legal justice system does not provide adequate access to language, or maybe they simply do not have the linguistic skills to understand ASL interpreters, forcing the injustice of staying in prison even longer (although may have never should been there in the first place).

    This is important to acknowledge because Deaf Black people do exist, and as educators, we will have Black Deaf students. We need to acknowledge that they are experiencing even more oppression than their Black hearing counterparts because they are being oppressed from their skin color, but their language skills (using signed language, or maybe not even having a language at all) causes even more barriers and injustices when navigating within the dominant society. It is heartbreaking to hear when we have Black children physically brutalized within school environments from misbehaviors that are DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE, such as how the presenters told stories of how one girl was fingerprinted and sent to the jailhouse for having a temper tantrum, or when another girl was sent to jail for not doing homework. Although I do not have the research in front of my hand, I have to wonder if there are MORE incidents like this among Deaf Black students due to the language barrier. I would love for Deaf Black students to be able to have role models to look up to, to know they can be successful, when they see other Deaf Black people being successful. I would also love to see our education system to stop policing students through harsh punishment measures to teach a lesson, and allow our students to feel safe in a space where they can blossom into their very best selves, without feeling traumatized, or revisiting prior traumatic experiences.

    I am in my 4th year of teaching, and currently teach at a school where it is predominantly white. I’ve always struggled to come up with how I can safely teach about Black Lives Matter in a way that my job will not be on the line, and while getting the support with students’ families. My privilege as a white person is showing, and until this webinar, I never once considered the fact that our American History curriculum is traumatizing for our Black students because often when discussing Black history, it is always the same thing- discussing MLK, or slavery. Instead of having the negative aspect on the American History curriculum upon Black History, why not make a positive spin on it, and talk about influential members that are often not talked about, such as Marsha P. Johnson, as the presenters mentioned. I can use this approach in my classroom by incorporating influential members of the Black community that ties directly to the subject matter that I teach, which makes it more humanizing.

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    • Hi there, Jessica Ann! I appreciate the thoughts you pose in response to this outstanding webinar. One point you bring up that has been on my mind for the past few weeks (since I have been specifically learning and experiencing the topic in my teacher preparation courses) is the final point you bring up regarding the knowledge gap (or modified knowledge) experienced in American history curriculum. I definitely agree that you can and should include information about stories, people, events, etc. that were “muted” and not discussed in history courses, especially that of Black history. If we continue to ignore and deprive all our students of such history, this ignorance will only pose additional struggles and challenges in the constant work towards equity and social justice. I think it is also key to note that filling this history gap in other subject areas aside from just history class helps students realize the importance of these topics, the importance of their lives and voices in school (and society!), and helps show a teacher’s love for their students by preparing them for not just classroom assessments or standardized tests but for the world within and outside their classroom walls. Additionally, these curricular implementations (filling history gaps, acknowledging falsified/missing/underrepresented information, and promoting equity and social justice) are beneficial to every single student sitting in the classroom. This information is important, relatable, and necessary to everyone in our classrooms including ourselves in acknowledging that we are humble learners – whether teaching or not – for the rest of our days.

      On another note: I was also thrilled to see ASL interpreters in this webinar! I am an ASL learner and hoping to write about the inequity and injustices in public education systems towards students who are deaf and hard of hearing in my undergraduate thesis and inquiry projects. If you are willing, I would be very interested in learning more about your teaching pedagogies (and their inspirations) as a teacher who is Deaf and uses ASL.

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  25. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a movement for racial justice with a focus on the elimination of white supremacy and the dismantling of systems of violence and oppression that take as their generalized target the Black community. Now, schools operate as microcosms of the larger social structure, and therefore the systems of prejudice and violence enacted within the larger social structure are transposed and repeated within the bounds of school and the educational experience. So, as a prospective teacher intent on educating and empowering my students so that they might effectively participate in the struggle of & for human/civil rights (BLM very much included) and take part in reforming society, the principles of the BLM Movement will be invaluable in meaningfully shaping both my curriculum and my classroom toward those ends. On the one hand, a principle like empathy (#2) will always stand me in good stead: especially as a white man, it will be fully necessary for me to complexly imagine all of my students (and their families and communities) if I’m to connect with them and build a trusting and open pedagogical relationship. It seems to me that diversity (#4) – and the honoring and recognition of it — neatly flows out of this empathy, in that by learning about my students, and demonstrating genuine curiosity about their lives and interests, they will be more likely to follow my lead, to reciprocate, and to honor their fellow classmates in a similar manner. The principles, altogether, appear to have the worthy goal of making sure that no one is ignored, that no one stays silent because they were passed over in silence, or, worse, coerced or threatened into silence. Because of the sadly unprecedented levels at which Black people are marginalized via prejudice, hatred, neglect, etc., the Movement’s focus and emphasis on Blackness has caused some critics to label the Movement as exclusionary; but it is not that; it is inclusive of everyone, while recognizing that Black people are the most highly victimized, exploited, cheated, etc., and therefore we must work “collectively, lovingly and courageously [work] vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.”

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  26. After watching the webinar, it got me to really think about what it meant to teach for Black Lives and the significance behind it all. I believe that teaching for Black Lives means to recreate the curriculum and material that is currently being taught to students across the country. During the webinar, Dyan Watson talks about the ways U.S. history books introduce Black people as slaves. She quotes, “If you always see me as something to be helped, then I can’t be human. And so you humanize me by seeing me as your equal, as a member of a community that has good things and bad things, and you celebrate the goodness about my past. And you also don’t portray me as a victim.” This was a really powerful statement and it really made me question my education up through high school. Why don’t we talk about all the resistance that Black people have been apart of? Why don’t we talk about allyship in these classes? Why are we only getting a one-sided perspective on a culture and community that has so much more to celebrate than be looked down upon? So when teaching for Black Lives, we as the future of education leaders, need to recreate the material that students are currently learning from and discuss those questions with them. I believe that can be a great place to start.

    Another issue that was raised during the webinar was the John Muir Elementary School Movement to protest systemic oppression. This sparked a national movement that pushed against anti-Blackness, white supremacy and stood up for Black Students in the face of white supremacist threats. My biggest takeaway from this was how one small elementary stood up for their students in the midst of all of these white supremacy threats. It’s such an inspiring thing to see how one tiny school can come together with their community to raise awareness that reaches across an entire country. As a future teacher, it’s important to not only represent for our own culture(s), but for other cultures as well. This is all useful to my future classroom strategies because our jobs as teachers hold more value than what most think it out to be. We, as teachers, are role models to the future generations of students and showing them that we care about more than just the education aspect of it can really speak to the heart.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts!

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  27. To teach for Black lives, means to celebrate and affirm Black people in society. One of the most important issues I noticed is how we are first taught and introduced to Black people. First thing we learn about them is that they were slaves. We do not start by learning about which Black person first made a huge impact in Science or Math. This is useful information I am taking to apply when teaching about Black lives, to start by celebrating them. By celebrating Black lives we can educate students and the community regarding accomplishments and goodness of Black people. I would love to incorporate a routine where we can take each month to learn about different cultures. I can start with Black lives by simply bringing up what may be going on at the moment in regards to them and society. In bringing the talk up I hope students will feel encouraged or moved to speak their thoughts. When talking about this, I want to remind students that the classroom should be a safe zone for them to share and acknowledge that if they do not wish to share that is okay too. It is important for us as future educators to note that there are sensitive topics out there that we can not force students to talk about or share.

    We can disrupt racial injustice by introducing the students to different racial perspectives in society. This can be done through discussions, readings, films, and community events. The more we can teach the students about this, the better they can understand one another. They will hopefully carry this understanding of one another with them as they grow so they may share with the world. We would have to restructure the education system and in doing so I believe we can humanize the lives of the Black youth.

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    • Jtorres58,
      I agree, the way information about Black (African American) ancestors is presented to students is already limiting the humanization of Black people. Imagine a small, rural classroom with no Black students and their only information about the Black community starts with slavery. We need to be culturally responsible and offer all students the opportunity to be represented equally, and not solely in a negative light. The current generations have ALL been affected by the previous ones; in rules and regulations, culture, standards, and just about every aspect of life. One of the main principles of the BLM movement is pushing beyond what we have become accustomed. We are breaking apart the things that we have “accepted” in our county’s past in order to forge a new order where all are presented equally, treated equally. We are ALL human beings, and it is about time that we are all treated as such.

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  28. In response to the third question, creating transformative, emancipatory classroom spaces that labor and fight for social justice must first begin with the educator. Before entering the classroom, educators make a pedagogical, political, and personal choice to struggle and strive for the liberation of the oppressed or to conform to the White hegemonic ideologies in schooling and continue the system’s oppression. Those who chose to become an agent for change, must realize the corruption and violence within the system and decide to work against it while within it. These choices should then become commitment to social justice that does not solely exist in the classroom, but in all aspects of life. Also ,before entering the classroom, educators must recognize their own oppression or privilege and work against their own biases or dominant ideological conformities. This deep critical analysis is hoped for by writers of article, “’Loving Blackness to Death’: (Re)Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos”, and is necessary for it gives educators pause and aids them in recognizing the unconscious ways they perpetuate violence in the classroom (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, Taliaferro Baszile 2017). Educators possessing a life duty for disrupting racial injustice, humanizing the lives of minority youth, and transforming the world is mandatory in creating transformative, emancipatory classrooms. Then, they can enter the classroom and infuse their space, practice, and curriculum with these goals.
    Building an inclusive, empowering community begins with getting to know each student in and out of the classroom and fostering these relationships so students know they are heard, understood, and respected. In the webinar, Jesse Hagopian emphasizes educators realize there isn’t one singular Black experience. And, the article says when Black students’ prior knowledge, experiences, culture, literacies, and languages are marginalized, educators are (un)intentionally enacting a curriculum of violence. This marginalization, seeing one student’s experience as similar to another’s because of aspects of their identity, can be seen as common in classrooms, and is just one of the corruptive tendencies within the system. In order to combat this, educators must demonstrate to all students that they understand students’ lives as varied, individual, extraordinary, and above all, valuable. In addition to creating communities for social change, curriculum must follow suit. In the webinar, Dyan Watson says she never saw Black people in textbooks unless they were in shackles or standing next to Martin Luther King Jr., and she wished for a curriculum that showed Black people as ordinary and extraordinary. You could say education has “missed the mark” in truly efforting for social justice because while it did implement Black voices and Black narrative, these voices and narratives only operated around themes of suffrage, oppression, and pain. This is violence against Black youth because it overtly and covertly teaches them that these are the themes of their life, this is where they were and where they are going, and this oppression and violence against Black people is “normal”. Educators must implement Black literacies with themes of power, success, wealth, freedom, happiness — kind of like the White literacies students have been studying for decades.

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    • Hi Emmy, I absolutely love your plans on building an empowering, inclusive classroom environment to disrupt racial injustices and recognize oppression within the education system. Your discussion on how educators can work against racial, political, and systemic violence within society aligned with my own teaching beliefs as well. For instance, I agree that we can only enact change and build an empowering classroom environment if we constantly examine our positionalities and biases. In doing so, we can recognize how our students are affected by acts of racial discrimination or violence inside and outside the classroom. As a future ELA teacher, I agree that we need to implement literature and media that reflect accurate representations of the Black community. Our classrooms can be structured to encourage Black students to share their experiences, cultural background, and learning styles in the classroom. As you discussed in your post, social justice can only be achieved if we are determined to reject and address norms of violence against the Black community in our classrooms.

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  29. Hello everyone! My name is Liz, and I am a future ELA/ELD teacher.

    Black Lives Matter is a resistance movement for the liberation of Black people from violence and oppression. Its roots are in the murders of innocent Black people, often children, at the hands of police and the lack of repercussions for the perpetrators. BLM connects to schools because, as the authors of “‘Loving Blackness to Death’: (Re)Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos” put it, our classrooms contribute to the dehumanization of Black people by “perpetuating whiteness and anti-Black racism” (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, Baszile, pp. 61). BLM offers many lessons to guide my classroom practice. One lesson is that fighting racism is an active process. It involves more than just adding authors of color to the curriculum or having a Black history month. It needs to be ongoing, integral and transformative. It necessitates that I take an offensive not a defensive position towards dismantling racism. Another lesson is that resistance is a collective process that is strengthened by community and collaboration. The webinar discusses how the “exceptional” individual narrative devalues communal efforts. Anti-racist work in the classroom will be a joint labor that the students and I do together. Further, I will work with other educators and community members to become part of a collective voice for positive change. An additional lesson is that liberation is an affirmative process. It is about seeing the pricelessness of Black students and Black life, and it includes loving and supporting Black women, Muslim students and LGBTQIA+ individuals. As a future teacher, I commit to a classroom that celebrates “Blackness as a dynamic and ever-changing onto-epistemological entity that supports the ingenuity, brilliance, and humanity of Black children, youth, and adults” (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, Baszile, pp. 61).

    I think teaching for Black lives requires a root and branch opposition to racism and its many violent manifestations. The authors of “‘Loving Blackness to Death’: (Re)Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos” urge educators to “acknowledge that there is no distance between Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Black students who sit in our ELA classrooms” (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, Baszile, pp. 62). They go on to highlight how the exclusion of Black voices and literacies from curriculum and the devaluing of African American Language are both acts of violence. Teachers need to recognize how this harms Black students and puts them in a position of needing to take “two sets of notes” and to code-switch. In the webinar, Jesse Hagopian talked about his Ethnic Studies class and how when he chose to forgo multiple choice tests for collaborative projects, his Black students were better able to identify and brainstorm solutions for problems than the white students. This is a perfect illustration of why educators need to recognize how our approach to knowledge, and what we count as acceptable expressions of literacy, can serve to promote inequity rather than assess capability. I love the idea of expanding the notion of text and communication in the ELA classroom to embrace multiple literacies. Bringing in contemporary media practices would heighten student interest, endorse the value of different forms of expression, and give students the opportunity to share their expertise with the class. Another take away from the webinar and article is the importance of fighting a monolithic image of Blackness by bringing in multiple voices and experiences into the classwork. Anti-racist curriculum also needs to critique master narratives and the “hidden curriculums” that come with them. Humanizing Black youth does not just involve the curriculum, but also requires creating a space that welcomes and embraces Black students. We need to advocate for our students against school policies that misread and police Black bodies. Teachers have a responsibility to not shoot our students with “metaphorical bullets” (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, Baszile, pp. 61), but to invert that paradigm by showing them unconditional acceptance, by promoting and listening to their voices, and by treating them with the utmost respect.

    Here are some resources for ELA :

    Poets.org has a BLM anthology of poetry

    https://poets.org/anthology/black-lives-matter

    Lesson ideas celebrating Black poets

    https://poets.org/collection/lesson-plans-celebrating-black-poets?mc_cid=d894edd320&mc_eid=a65ff85a4b

    Here are some lesson ideas for Ross Gay’s poem “A Small Needful Fact”

    https://poets.org/lesson-plan/teach-poem-small-needful-fact-ross-gay

    A Middle School novel that includes multiple Black identities is Jason Reynold’s Look Both Ways. It deals with inequity but also humanizes and celebrates its many young characters. He also has a series, Write. Right. Rite., that has short video creative writing prompts. The topics are not related to BLM, but he engages the students with love and respect, so I am including it here.

    https://guides.loc.gov/jason-reynolds/grab-the-mic/wrr

    EJ Hill’s durational work, Excellentia, Mollitia, Victoria, would be a good platform to discuss student’s experiences with school. The article includes student writing samples written in response to his work.

    https://hammer.ucla.edu/blog/2018/11/ej-hill-and-the-summer-of-silence

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    • Hi Elizabeth,

      First off, thank you for providing those resources. It’s always nice to know where I can find more helpful information concerning these topics. There’s so much out there that we don’t take advantage of. It was because I saw you provided resources that I chose to read your post, and I’m glad that I did. You brought up a few points that either I hadn’t thought about, or hadn’t thought about in a while. One of those things was how much we are losing as a society by silencing millions of voices. Everyone has a story to tell and we aren’t hearing a lot of them. Our students aren’t either because of the homogeneous nature of the curriculum and educators. As a white teacher myself, I have periodic moments of guilt for possibly adding to the problem. Do these students really need another white person in charge, telling them what’s important and what to learn? I can’t dwell on this however, or let it dissuade me, because I know that teaching isn’t the only thing I’m supposed to be doing; I’m also there to encourage the voices of my students and listen to what they have to say. Your other point about how few black voices are taught in the classroom made me think of a paper I wrote concerning the black voices I was exposed to as a youth and how I had many black heroes, but they were all either entertainers or athletes. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but now that I look back I can see that I was continuously taught which perspectives mattered in our society. I only got one side of the story and I had to take it upon myself to learn about other views that our education system and other institutions didn’t promote. As you mentioned, we got Black History Month where we would briefly learn about the black leaders and innovators that fit into the prescribed narrative, all the while skipping over other important black voices that encouraged dissent, like Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, etc. Since we get to teach in the fantastic realm of English, we get the chances to let this voices be heard, which could hopefully inspire our students to realize that something is wrong and have their voices be heard as well. As you said, we have to listen, and we have to respect.

      Like

  30. The Black Lives Matter movement has been an ongoing fight towards ending oppression, violence, and the killings of Black people in the U.S. and all over the world. Our history with the treatment of Black individuals has been truly devastating and horrific, and even currently exists within our more “progressive” society. With the murders of Michael Brown, Jonathon Price, Breonna Taylor, Georg Floyd, Damian Daniels, and thousands of other human beings that died because of the color of their skin, our youth are becoming more aware and informed about the ongoing injustices that happen everyday. Social media and technology has helped take our blind folds off and see how the world that we live in truly is.

    From the article “Loving Blackness to Death”, I can definitely agree with the 3 metaphorical bullets that are almost embraced and accepted within curriculum and what educators teach at school, “the bullet of rejection, the bullet of silencing, and the bullet of disrespect” (P. 61). While I was in school, my K-12 education focused on European/American history, proper English pronunciation and writing, and only talked or mentioned Black history when it was in the form of oppression. I remember our class focusing on slavery, segregation, and Martin Luther King. However, it wasn’t until I went to college that I learned about the Black Panthers, Assata Shakur, and Malcolm X: such powerful influencers to the progression of the Black community. Yes, we touched based about Martin Luther King, but we, as students, deserved to learn more about other powerful Black individuals. Even as a Spanish major, I learned things about how Black people influenced amazing things that we, as Latinx individuals, love. I have also noticed that AAL is sometimes viewed in schools as “ghetto” and wrong, and of course, this language will not help you with college essays, scholarships applications, and other writing skills to move up in higher level academia. From a young age, black students are already being told that the way they act, talk and simply exist, is the wrong way.

    As a future educator, I want my black students to know that they are extremely powerful and smart, and can succeed in anything that they set their mind to. I will provide different authentic texts from Black perspectives in my curriculum, so they get to see some form of representation in their education. I also need to acknowledge Black families and the cultures that my students participate in. I will set high academic standards for my Black students, as well as accommodate for the needs that they need. I will acknowledge AAL as an appropriate way of communication and my students will not be rejected, they will not be silenced, and they will not be disrespected in my classroom.

    Moving on as a future educator, I want to remember this quote from “Loving Blackness to Death”: “Although physical violence against unarmed Black youth happens in the streets, the idea of violence against non-white bodies begins in the classroom” (p. 60). Racism can easily be enforced in the classroom, and it is my job, to change this and bring justice and change to our future generations.

    Jazmin M Benitez

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    • Amaris,
      I like your statement, “As a future educator, I want my black students to know that they are extremely powerful and smart, and can succeed in anything that they set their mind to.” I agree, that too many times, teachers have used their personal bias to undermine the ability of Black students. This should never be the case. I know that this movement, BLM, is pushing for advancement for the Black community, but as the principle addressed: “We are committed to collectively, lovingly, and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people” (13 Guiding Principles). I want to reflect on the statement, “by extension, all people”. This starts in the Black community and moves outward to the rest of society. We are all in this together, and it takes more than one community to achieve this goal. I want my future Black students to know that they have tremendous potential; I want all my students to know that they have tremendous potential.

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    • Amaris,
      It is very saddening to see that even in today’s “progressive” world, we still have racism and oppression, things we think of being in the old days. I’m sure a majority of us went through the same European/American focused curriculum, from learning white history to perfecting the English language in order to be seen as educated. I often see that while we do learn about slavery, segregation, and individuals such as Martin L. King, but you are absolutely right that we only learned about the oppression. We touch base with the Civil Rights era, but merely acknowledge that it happened, and still, the perspective of white people being the hero is forced upon us. Instead of just acknowledging the atrocities, us educators should facilitate discussions with our students to understand why the oppression is so bad, relate that to modern times, and ask how we can be an advocate to change the systemic racism many still face today. I really respect you for saying “I will set high academic standards for my Black students, as well as accommodate for the needs that they need”. Too many times, Black students are seen in negative light, with teachers having low expectations academically, as well as labeling them to not be successful in the future. Black people are very capable, if not more, in highly skilled performance as well as achieving the highest success. We absolutely can not expect our students to fail, otherwise they will already be put at a disadvantage before entering your class. I am grateful for people like you teaching the great leaders of tomorrow, so keep up the good work and good luck!

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  31. Hello, my name is Mariel Tomes. I am a first-year graduate student at Austin Peay State University focusing on elementary education (K-5).

    The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was established to help break down the walls of traditional structure and establish a new standard of how our society represents Black lives. It is demolishing the injustices brought upon Black people and opening a new dawn in the representation of equality. Since the Civil Rights Movement of 1964, society has changed drastically, but in other ways, it has not. There is still a sense of second-hand existence that some people have attached to being a person of color, and that is what NEEDS to change. We need to establish the humanization of Black lives (Johnson et al, 2017).

    Many schools are typically a hub of diversity. How I see the BLM movement effecting education is there will be a higher sense of regard when dealing with all students, not only Black students; more focus will be brought to how teachers respond and react to all students. Where there has previously been a divide in the treatment of Black students in education, I believe there will be more attention placed on equal treatment. Teachers should embrace restorative justice and be “committed to collectively, lovingly, and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black [students] and, by extension, all [students]. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.” (13 Guiding Principles). Teachers can develop personal goals that reflect the principles of BLM at school.

    “When Black students’ prior knowledge, experiences, culture, literacies, and language are marginalized, ELA [English Language Arts] teachers are (un)intentionally enacting a curriculum of violence” (Johnson et al, 2017). It will be vital that we acknowledge the knowledge, experiences, culture, literacies and language of Black students; of all of our students. Imagining how we would like our classrooms to look, resemble, and represent is something that many will visualize before entering the education profession. Part of our journey will be reimagining our classrooms so that they open the doors to transformation and progress within the Black community. By expanding our curriculum offered, we can broaden the information presented amongst all students, inspiring reform that will carry students through the rest of their lives. We have to be able to reflect our student’s experiences and incorporate them into the lessons.

    The BLM movement is a ground shaking movement that requires people, all people, to think and question the things that they have accepted in normative society. Whether people want to acknowledge its existence or not, it affects everyone; this includes teachers and most importantly students. One of the key aspects to progressive teaching is including current events within the classroom; events that affect the lives of students. THIS affects the lives of students. The time for change is now, and teachers can potentially hold the key to the future, a better future, for all.

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    • Mariel,

      I was drawn to your last paragraph, where you state that the BLM movement requires /all/ people to think and question the things they have accepted in normative society. I am considering how different communities process these realizations differently. As Black Americans have lived their lives in a society that racializes them, I assume their understanding of American society and the racism from its foundation up and the realizations that come from this act as a validation to the abuse they have endured from predominantly white people and institutions. For white Americans, it’s quite a different experience to process how oneself has unintentionally or intentionally dehumanized a group of people through several actions one had always thought of as “normal,” and that’s where we see guilt and defensive happen. It’s quite a reckoning, but so absolutely necessary.

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    • Hello Mariel,

      I really enjoyed your post and thoughts. Like you, I believe this movement is something that does not just affect us but our students. As teachers we should align ourselves with movements that fight for equality and bring light on the message to speak about it with our students. In your third paragraph you mention we should acknowledge the experiences, culture, literacies and language of our students. I agree and feel like multicultural education is important in our future of teaching. Here at Long Beach we focus a lot on this topic and feel your school is pushing the same education. As teachers we need to use our students strengths and knowledge to help teach them and learn more about them.
      I also like your last comment on teachers holding the key for the better future for all. Our job is to educate and help grow the youth. The BLM movement is looking for equality of treatment and representation. We need to help share the message and help our students.

      Jose

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  32. Good afternoon. My name is Serena Baron and I am an education student at APSU in Tennessee.

    The Black Lives Matter Movement is a response to the systemic racism and injustice that has been a part of this country since the beginning. With every little step forward, there exists such an enormous resistance toward a more just and equal society. To dishonor the many lives needlessly lost is not an option. To ignore the suffering and oppression of so many is not an option. In order to achieve real change, it seems only reasonable that we should start in the classroom.

    The 13 guiding principles that are presented by the Black Lives Matter Movement layout a diverse framework of ideas, providing a safe and respectful environment of inclusivity. Taking these ideas and incorporating them into the classroom is essential in creating a safe and nurturing environment for all students. By empowering students and celebrating differences, we can affect change and give every student the support and nurturing they need to succeed. Representation matters.

    As Johnson, et al. (2017) discuss the literal violence that faces Black youth in this country, they connect this with the symbolic violence that is perpetuated in classrooms across the country through the curriculum that is being taught. While the focus of “Loving Blackness to Death” is on the ELA teacher, the ideas span to every teacher. If we, as a country, are ever to move forward and realize the dream of equality, we must face our ugly history and try to heal. If we are ever going to achieve an equal and just society, we must reimagine how we teach our children. “[…] ELA classrooms must become revolutionary sites for racial justice by shedding light on Black lives and creating classrooms where Black youth are empowered through Black literacies and tools that uplift and support the humanity of Black people” (Johnson, et al., 2017, p. 62).

    By changing the classroom structure, teachers have the ability to transform our society by countering the Euro-centric status quo. As teachers, it is our responsibility to create a safe and nurturing environment that is diverse in thought and representation. Teachers have the ability to make every single student feel important.

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    • Hello Serena!

      When you mentioned, “…we must face our ugly truth and try to heal”, it made me think about some of the comments that people, who oppose BLM, have made about our tragic history: “Slavery was in the past” or “Get over it”. Like you have said, we need to address the issues that have arisen because of our history today. This change can happen in the classroom by providing support to our Black students and including various authentic texts. Black students need to see representation of themselves within the texts provided for lessons and in the classroom.
      I believe that the 13 guiding principles will provide a safe and respectful environment for inclusive classroom management.

      I wish you the best as a future educator!

      -Jazmin Benitez

      Like

    • Hello Serena!

      Your first paragraph is very powerful. With everything that has happened so far this year and in the past as well it is very important that we do not dishonor the needlessly lost lives. Lives which ended prematurely and only because of the color of their skin. I certainly agree that starting in the classroom is an appropriate way to further educate our students on this matter. I truly enjoy the part of the quote stating, “we must face our ugly history” because to this day, there are many people who do not accept the injustice to Black people which dates back centuries. Until we as a society, learn to accept the history of the nation for what it is, it will be difficult for change to happen. On the contrary, though, that is why as teachers we hold a huge responsibility in informing our students on current issues. Like you said, by countering the Euro-centric status quo, we can build a classroom which revolves around diversification and create an environment which students will enjoy coming to.

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    • Hey Serena! The statement, “In order to achieve real change, it seems only reasonable that we should start in the classroom,” I couldn’t agree more with it. Children spend a majority of their lives learning in the classroom. So the way we construct our curriculum and the content we teach in our day-to-day lessons are both things that need to be adjusted for the future. This statement also transitions well into the Johnson quote, “If we, as a country, are ever to move forward and realize the dream of equality, we must face our ugly history and try to heal. If we are ever going to achieve an equal and just society, we must reimagine how we teach our children.” This ultimately says that we need to change the way we think and treat others and that starts with what we teach in the classroom. By promoting creativity and celebrating our differences, curriculum across the country can transition to a culturally-responsive pedagogy and really create a difference in our future.

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  33. Hello, I am an education grad student at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee. I am posting about in response to how can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?

    Although the article is centered around an ELA classroom this can be implemented into any classroom across the country. The idea is to disrupt what has been overlooked for years and take a step back and look at what has occurred in the past while correcting the future. Although the underlining behavior may not be prevalent in all classrooms the injustice is lurking out there just waiting for someone to say the wrong word or make a statement that conflicts with the change that is necessary in the classroom. Accountability is key for the classroom to change from top to bottom. The teacher must take into account their bias or unconscious bias and check it at the door. The students must do the same no matter their background or preconceived ideas that they had prior to entering the class. The curriculum needs to be overhauled and reviewed to be inclusive. As a future middle school social studies teacher my goal is to make sure that the subject matter is taught to be inclusive to all students represented. The history of the US is not pleasant and in the past information has been glossed over as well as parts have been omitted. This is an egregious error on the part of the past educators who did not represent or teach in a manner that was inclusive. Students will learn better when the subject is relevant to them and when an educator omits a part of history this is a disservice to not only the student but to the past. When teaching aspects about history it is imperative to tell the whole narrative. This allows the Black student to take pride in their history and learn more about the past. By engaging all of our students and making them relevant in the classroom will make great strides in our future.
    As a teacher it is our job to be well informed to educate ourselves, to be better educators for the classroom, and be an example to our colleagues. We must be accountable for our actions as they speak louder than our words. When a student sees that we are trying to be better not only for ourselves but for them as well this will instill a positive value on the subject matter and in return make the student care about the world around them.
    By addressing the problems of the past and discussing them in an open forum in the class allows the students to bring real world changes to the class and their lives. When we remain silent we are cheating our students out of knowing what is right and how to deal with issues in the world around them. Breaking down barriers that keep the teacher from teaching and the student from learning are problems that will not go away immediately but by addressing the issues and taking them to heart we can show to our students that their education is important and that their life matters.

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  34. Regarding the second question, to teach for Black lives means to affirm and celebrate the goodness of African Americans and their accomplishments. What this means is that we must investigate the curriculum to reshape how African Americans are being portrayed in schools. To teach Black lives also means to realize that there is no single Black life experience and that we have we look at Black lives through an intersectional lens. To teach for Black lives means to create humanizing experiences for Black people so that they feel empowered and foster resistance against the structured racism that menaces them. In watching the webinar, there was much to contemplate about how to support and teach for Black lives.

    One issue that was brought up in the webinar was that when schools teach anything that is about African Americans, the first thing that is taught is slavery. Dyan Watson mentions that it is important to realize that “Black people weren’t inherently slaves.” However, for many years, the first time that young people learn about African Americans, it would be about slaves. Dyan Watson then explains that when this happens, it perpetuates the idea that Black people are “victims” or “something to be helped”. This issue causes an imbalance that affects how young students see Black lives and how Black lives see themselves. We do not learn about the African Americans’ accomplishments in the resistance or their great contributions to the U.S. As Educators it is important to find ways in which we can celebrate the vast richness of Black lives’ past contributions to Society and include it in the curriculum. As a future teacher, I want to make sure that I raise awareness of this issue and give my students the opportunity to question why this issue is so prevalent.

    Another issue that was raised is that when we teach for Black lives, we must realize that there is no one Black experience. Jesse Hagopian mentions that it is important for educators to know that “teaching for Black lives means understanding that all Black people experience institutional racism, but there is no singular Black experience.” He mentions that educators must take an intersectional approach when it comes to teaching Black lives effectively. We cannot simply pigeonhole Black lives into one kind of person. As a future teacher, I will take the time and effort to understand my students, looking at, and considering all aspects of their identity so that I can better serve their needs.

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  35. Hello,

    My name is Ricardo, and I’m set on becoming a high school physics teacher.

    I have always the Black Lives Matter movement to be a reaction to the egregious injustices perpetuated by the police and other law enforcement institutions. A reaction to the racist, prejudicial policies and barriers in ‘the system’, as well as these anti-black sentiments in our culture and society at large. The education system in our country has been an institution that harbored these racist sentiments, and perpetuated this anti-black culture. I believe this movement has brought the conversation on reforming the education system to the forefront. Conversation on changing the way curriculum is structured, changing how we interact with students, and changing the way we teach.

    I’m not exactly sure how I will reflect the edifice of the Black Lives Matter movement in my future practice. Scientist have long thought that their respective disciplines did not apply to such matters of culture. For a time, i held a similar belief. I kept thinking to myself, how could I possibly bring these topics up in a science class? There was something said in the webinar that I wholeheartedly agree with, and this is to take a break from academia. This is what I intend to to—I don’t want my physics class to be all physics, all the time. i will make the time to bring up these these topics and have these conversations. I want to talk about what is happening in our society, to validate the struggles involved with and identity. I intend to make sure to make the students visible in the curriculum; to show them that there are black scientists, female scientists, and LGBT+ scientist. The student can only be so engaged, seeing themselves in what they are learning can get them engaged. I’m not too sure what it means to teach black lives, maybe that is due to my inexperience, but I think this can be a good place to start.

    Like

    • Hi Rick,
      Thanks for your thoughtful, honest post. You said: “I don’t want my physics class to be all physics, all the time” — and I’m sure that your future students will appreciate this intention. Of course we have goals for student learning determined by the common core state standards, but our students are more than their proficiency in the subject at hand. That is what I get from your post, the idea that we can be creative about the spaces we create as teachers. One does not have to be a teacher of the humanities to incorporate values like representation, e.g. when you state that you “intend to make sure to make the students visible in the curriculum.” Like you, I’m still figuring out what it means to teach for black lives — but it is better to start somewhere than to not start at all; and I agree that this is a good place to start. As a prospective English teacher, I also aim to offer representation in texts read for class. But I know I can do more; for example, I plan to conduct my classroom as a zone that is intolerant of discrimination; I will promptly call my students out if they are crossing lines that should not be crossed, and plan to model this behavior in my own speech and actions. Hopefully we can continue to stay engaged with the Movement to learn about how BLM can inform our teaching and the shaping of our curriculum.

      Like

    • Hey Ricardo! Your post really resonated with me because we are both still in the process of learning what it truly means to teach Black Lives, yet we understand that there is a need for reform in the education system. Your quote, “I intend to make sure to make the students visible in the curriculum; to show them that there are Black scientists, female scientists, and LGBT+ scientist,” was powerful. I have a similar mindset when it comes to teaching. I believe that anyone can be who they want to be in this society (this is the mindset that I was taught growing up) and that, of course, starts in the classroom. So as future educators, we must carve a path for our students in which they can truly believe in themselves, for who they are and what they strive to become. We need to open up opportunities of discussion that make our students feel represented and that we truly support their future goals. By doing this, we can empower our students to be creative and explore their interests for what they want to become in the future.

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  36. Hello. I am Kelsey Hayes from Austin Peay State University. I am currently a Special Education Major.
    I am first responding to the question, what is the Black Lives Matter Movement and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all? The Black Lives Matter Moment is a decentralized political and social movement advocating for nonviolence civil disobedience in protest again incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence again black humanity. In the article “Loving Blackness to Death,” it stated that racial violences that unfolds in many communities have made its way into English Language Arts. The curriculum in the ELA damages the humanity of the black youth. Teachers of the ELA unintentionally silences their voices by the stories and experiences of the Europeans. From that example, teachers are continuously teaching violences among many races. Today’s curriculum needs to change, which I will get more into. I already see my class as a strong multicultural environment. I will have posters on the wall that reflect many cultural diversities. When I give out content to my students, I will make sure that there is no silencing voices. The content will be open-minded and will relate to all diversities. The discussions I will hold will be respected and honest.

    What does it mean to teach for Black lives? In the historical context, we are beginning to see the types of struggle now. The first big issue is the students are demanding to have police free schools. By giving police free school, the students will feel more comfortable entering the school building. With the money funding for the police in schools can now be used for the students advantages. Teachers also need to add to the struggle. Having discussions about these difficult topics is by no means politicizing the classrooms. All types of students need to be aware of all these topics. This is simply educational. The curriculum needs to be changed to a multicultural curriculum. Content needs to be diverse. We all have to understand that this rebellion was not just caused by the horrific murders. It was caused by the recurring experiences that all Black communities. The webinar mentioned to have a “year of purpose.” This will be included at the beginning, middle, and end of the year, not just in February. February is Black History month; however, it does not need to be just one month. Everyday needs to have an understanding of the Black culture.

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    • Hi Kelsey,
      Thank you for your post! I enjoyed this part in particular: “Having discussions about these difficult topics is by no means politicizing the classrooms.” You go on to say that all students need to be conversant in these topics; in other words, no student should get through school without possessing knowledge of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and how the current systems of oppression (informed by history) necessitated BLM’s formation.
      I agree that these discussions are necessary. We and our students are political creatures, whether we admit it or not (some people call themselves apolitical, for example). We cannot let the fear of what might come out of certain types of conversations prevent us from having them. There is reason to think that the topics we want to talk least about, the topics that make us the most uncomfortable, or which are intensely emotionally charged, are indeed the ones that are the MOST important to bring out into the open. Otherwise, we risk dividing ourselves via misunderstanding, shortsighted judgment, contempt prior to investigation, etc. And we cannot afford to divide ourselves further. Those in power rely, in part, upon the failure to organize by those posing a threat to their claims to power.
      I also agree that one month is not enough: we need to teach for black lives as much as possible, and by extension teach for all lives — but we must begin by helping our most marginalized, our most victimization-prone, if we are going to effectively teach for everyone.

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  37. Hello, I am Vandy Rife and am working on my Masters from Austin Peay State University.
    I want to discuss how we can reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth. I picture having a classroom that has posters of Black people on the walls with motivational sayings, as well as all races. I want to have a book shelf full of books with authors from all races, and diversities. There should be open discussions that will be fair and honest for Black lives. I want to make sure that discussions are held between open-minded students and want to reinforce the respect that should be shared with all. While watching the webinar I was shocked to think that some only talk about Black people during the month of February and want to make sure that, it happens all year long in my classroom. I want the students to help me in choosing the books that need to be read for a deeper discussion and will make sure that all diversities are on the list. I believe that if I show my students that everyone matters, then they themselves can learn from example and become more tolerant of each other and have more pride in themselves and their past.
    When a student feels respected and is happy in their lives then they start to show that in all aspects of their lives. A student who is in sports or other kind of extra-curricular activity can then be a beacon to those around them. It only takes one person to change the world and if Black students, as well as other races, become more and more involved and happy with themselves, then they can start to move into more and more political fields. Step by step the world is going to be changed and we will have the solidarity of the American people to see us into the future. The students are our futures and teaching them tolerance as well as love and respect for themselves will lead to stronger individuals. For change to happen teachers will need to be the change that occurs. Teachers will need to embrace the Black lives in their classrooms and work with them to understand the culture and the future all in one.

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  38. The racial chaos of our time and the dehumanization of the Black lives within the classroom weigh heavy on my heart as a teacher. As an English Language Arts teacher, however, I see great promise in the disruption racial injustice and transformation of the world by creating an alternative space in the classroom, a space where all students are encouraged to express who they are as unique individuals alongside the familial, social, and historical factors that contribute to their identity. I do agree that the traditional texts presented in the ELA classroom, which are primarily white, Eurocentric texts, or texts that present Black identity as narrow in scope, not only silence the Black voice, which is a gross injustice against them, but are, in fact, hostile. Here, I am not suggesting that ELA teachers are deliberately relegating Black lives to the margins—most ELA teachers are merely working with the curriculum that they have been handed, and this list of books and other texts does not serve the whole community. Ideally, American schools would no longer dedicate an entire year to British literature; instead, British literature should be part of a world literature class. This adjustment would make room for multiple world literature and American literature classes, where Black voices might be better heard. And, the texts selected should portray Black people in both “ordinary and extraordinary” ways in order to reveal the true dimension of Black lives.

    While watching the podcast “Teaching for Black Lives During the Rebellion,” I was impressed with panelist, Dyan Watson’s letter to her son in which she describes her experience of being bused across town to integrate a white school in Southeast Portland, Oregon, and the invisibility that she felt within that school. In her narration, she helped her audience imagine the alienation that she felt when she and her friends arrived to school at 7:30 a.m. and had ten minutes to freely roam the corridors and enjoy the company of one another before her white peers arrived. In these fleeting minutes, she states that they felt “happy, free, normal.” Watson also states that she never saw Black people represented in textbooks unless they were in “shackles” or “standing with Martin Luther King, Jr.” and that teachers treated her as an exception to the racist notion that Black people are inferior to white people. Watson then prays that her son will encounter educators that will resist racist stereotypes and allow him to both share and celebrate his inner being with his teachers and fellow classmates.

    As teachers, we truly are the “gatekeepers” to students’ lives, and we have the power to help transform Black lives’ in education and beyond the doors of school. Building community through genuine sharing should be a part of the routine in any class. The simple sharing of a song on a daily or weekly basis, whether the genre is hip-hop, jazz, soul, reggae, dance, etc. would help open up communication and spotlight the talents of African Americans and people of African descent. A teacher could even provide the lyrics to a song, so that her students could reflect on the artist’s unique experiences. Other texts celebrating the contributions of Black people should be brought and studied in ELA classrooms, such as music, paintings, poems, novels, autobiographies, film, etc. Until the cannon of literature is re-envisioned and has been reconstructed to be more inclusive of Black experiences, ELA teachers need to bring in additional texts celebrating the accomplishments and lives of Black people. The teacher should also join hands with other teachers to build a base to resist those people who attempt to disrupt the affirmation of Black lives in the classroom.

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  39. Hello, my name is Emely Costa, and I am an undergraduate student at Framingham State University, located in Framingham, MA. I am a senior, and I major in English and minor in Secondary Education.

    I want to discuss the question of “how we can reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and the lives of the Black youth?” As an English Secondary teacher, I picture having a classroom that has posters of Black authors on the walls, Quotes written by Black entrepreneurs, philosophers, authors, etc. As well as many Latinx, Asian, and other races displayed throughout my classroom. I imagine my classroom having a mini library with many diverse books with authors from all races and ethnicities. I want to include and prioritize open discussions that will be fair, honest, and respected for Black lives. Also, I want to ensure and ask that all discussions being held, whether in small groups or as a class discussion, must be led between open-minded students, and I want to make sure each student respects one another. Also, I want to make sure that they see that I respect them as well. Although I am their English teacher, I am also their advocate, friend, and listener. I want my students of the Black youth to be valued for all of their thoughts. My students will not have “metaphorical bullets” that “kill [their] spirit and humanity of Black students.” (Johnson, 60) My Black students will be respected and equally treated as others. I will not just introduce Black literature in February. It was disturbing to hear in the Webinar that schools only focus on Black people during Black History Month. However, my students will access all literature throughout the school year.

    Moreover, I would love to have students help me pick out books that they’d love to read. My students will feel respected, accepted, and valued. As teachers, we are crafting and guiding the students, and they are the future of our worlds. We must accept and appreciate all Black students, Latinx students, and other students of color. To build a better future, we need to create a safe space for strong leaders to grow. For change to happen, teachers will need to change. From our classroom layouts to our English, and other subject curricula. Teachers need to embrace Black youths’ lives in their classroom and embrace and accept all cultures.

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    • Hello Emily,

      I enjoyed your post and it made me think back to a classroom I went to observe last semester and a video I saw online. They also had a library of books all over the classroom. Students got to pick what they wanted to read and they got to rate the book for their peers. It was something to allow students to be engaged in stories they wanted to learn about, and students often rely on peers for suggestions on books over teachers.
      I think your way of reimagining your classroom will help your students be able to learn about more cultures and people of color in your classroom. There are plenty of great authors of all races and letting your students decide what they want to read is valuable. I believe your classroom culture will help students become more educated and be able to see different cultures when reading to become well rounded individuals.
      Good luck on your class library in the future, and I am sure people can help you fill it up.

      Jose

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  40. Hello Everyone,

    My name is Lisa, I am a nontraditional student at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville Tennessee. I would like to discuss question number one. After reading the article Loving Blackness to Death and viewing the Teaching for Black Lives During the Rebellion Webinar, I understand that the Black Lives Matters (BLM) is a coalition movement, originating in the African American community. It is my understanding that they campaign against violence and racial injustice towards black people. I have read the thirteen guidelines that the BLM at School list and agree that their intent is well and sound and should be included in the curriculum.

    As a future teacher, it is important to me that all students feel safe no matter what color their skin is, what gender they may be, or what language they may speak. I want all students to reach their highest level of achievement, without discrimination.

    While I attend APSU, I live and work in a rural area. Where less than two percent of the population is Black or of Mixed race. Although the percentage is 1.9%, I do not want any of my students to feel less important, invisible, or rejected. It is my belief that bringing the BLM beliefs into the curriculum would broaden the expectations for everyone in my community and bring unity and kindness towards one another, no matter what color skin a student may have.

    Am I wrong to believe that promoting the BLM at School guidelines would benefit here in my community? Or does my community need the guidelines more than any other community? Input would be greatly appreciated.

    Respectfully,
    Lisa Bledsoe

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  41. This is Javia Anderson and I am a future English/Literature teacher. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement is a call-to-action for social and judicial reform for African Americans in America. BLM started as a way for many African Americans to bring attention to the countless amount of lives being lost due to excessive force and brutality from the police. The term “black lives matter” has gotten a lot of mixed reactions because many people across the country have been blind to the issues people of color have been facing in America, so to put it simply I will give a metaphor. If you have two children in front of you and one is injured while the other is doing okay, who will you respond to first? The injured child or the unharmed child? You would help the injured child first because they require your immediate attention. The other child still matters, but the child who is injured needs to be the focus of your attention right now until they are better.

    The role of Black Lives Matter in school will play an important one because it will teach the youth how to properly discuss and treat racial disparities with an open and unbiased mind. By showing the history and impact of black lives and why many want a change for them, it will help decrease the number of people confused, or even ignorant, of the concerns of the Black community. BLM will guide my teaching practices by giving me an opportunity to impact lives and grow future allies who believe in equality for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, color, and ensure a welcoming environment for questions concerning how to assist and help the movement. To teach for Black Lives is to give the whole undiluted history of the struggles of African Americans and find a way to encourage students, of every race, to continue to strive for a difference for their selves and peers. To teach children that the first instance of learning about black people in, how Dyan Watson spoke in her webinar, history books shouldn’t just be about slavery and the cruelty Africans and African Americans faced for thousands of years, but to show us in a positive light as well. Yes, we should tell the dark parts of history, but there were, and are, many African writers, inventors, poets, navigators, businessmen, and many more incredible works. I would want to dedicate part of my classroom to discussing how African Americans have impacted things in our everyday lives because I realized not many children know a lot about Black leaders besides MLK Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks. All three are very important, but they were not the only ones fighting for equality in the country. I want to teach my students about the first black sailor or the first black pilot, so they will have more knowledge about the amazing feats and challenges they had to surpass to be where they were.

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    • I loved your post, Javia. The misunderstanding by so many of what the BLM Movement is trying to achieve is really frustrating – your metaphor puts it so succinctly. I also think your position on teaching about the many great accomplishments and struggles that faced so many, and not just focusing on the well-known, is really important.

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  42. This is Brian Geary, and I am a working to become a Middle School Math teacher. Our classrooms can become spaces that disrupt racial injustice by disrupting ignorance. Ignorance is the foundation of racism and a critical element of racial injustice. Without ignorance there is no racism, at least not at the level that exists today. People often fear what they do not know or understand, and the classroom is an excellent way to provide a new understanding, an understanding of what it is really like to be black in America based on actual accounts of Black students, not on assumptions or stereotypes. Open discussions and dialogue will help humanize Black youth as other students learn the difference between reality of Black lives in America versus the lingering stereotypes that exist in society. But before the classroom can reach the point where students share their perspective, there needs to be a level of trust among the student, their teacher, and their classmates. Students need to know that it is safe to share their experience without fear of repercussion, ridicule, or for their experience to be dismissed because it is different from their classmates. That level of discussion and trust does not happen in one day. That kind of openness and comfort within the classroom builds over time and starts with the student building a level of trust with their classmates and their teacher. It is up to me, the teacher, to ensure that my classroom provides the venue for students to share their experiences, have a healthy dialogue, and increase our understanding of the realities of what African Americans experience in America. When that happens, we can humanize Black youth and work to weed out the ignorance that drives racial injustice.

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  43. Hello, my name is Lauren Freeman. I am a graduate and undergraduate student in Clarksville, TN.
    The Black Lives Matter movement’s main purpose is to show the mistreatment of people of color in society. Sadly, the African American race is put under a negative stereotype that gives people the idea that either they are not safe or are, in some cases, better than those of color just because of their skin color. It is also a sad fact that our country’s history is sometimes used to defend or justify the mistreatment of those of color, when in fact it should be a lesson not to do so.
    In America’s school system, kids of said race are put under a negative bias by teachers. For example, when a student of color isn’t doing well or can’t seem to focus, teachers use their race to justify not giving them the guidance or attention they need. Instances like this cause numerous, if not hundreds or thousands, kids of African-American descent (or even mixed races) to go below the school system’s standards and sadly, the student is nowhere near at-fault.
    While looking at the BLM at School:13 Guiding Principles, I believe it would help schools become an open door for support. Sadly, a lot of schools say they have a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying, and in a lot of cases if a bullying incident is found it is either ignored or the person accused is suspended or expelled, end of story. I believe a school can use these principles as a guide to be more open and assisting. I understand schools don’t want to be scrutinized under the public eye when an incident occurs, but as often as I’ve seen it occur, it should not be ignored. I believe schools should be more honest when it comes to these moments, and be more open to assisting the victims and even the attackers, instead of just throwing it under the rug. Doing the latter causes principles like these to be ignored, if not mocked, which in turn hurts the students while the school tries to save face.
    I believe schools should be more open and honest. I understand it may cause an extremely difficult challenge, but I feel it necessary to focus on all problems, not just the small ones. That way kids, including those of color, have a better chance.

    Like

    • Hi Lauren! Your comment about how most reported bullying is ignored or drastic action being done is a sad part of our education system. I know from personal experience what it is like to be ignored as a person of color and as a student from the very school system that shouts how unbiased they are while being hypocrites. I also believe that more schools should be honest and forthcoming with their internal affairs because sometimes the correct amount of justice is not being done until too late. Like in the stance of Gabriel Taye, an 8-year-old African American boy who committed suicide after being bullied for a numerous amount of the school year. He reported his bullies and little was done which led to his bullies ganging upon him in the school bathroom, where a security camera showed the abuse from the hallway and the teachers in the school failed to report the incident to the child’s family. Schools need to be held to a higher standard with their internal cases, so another instance of this complete disregard of child safety and negligence should never happen again.

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  44. My name is Amanda Bailey and am a grad student at Framingham State University in Massachusetts. I am a future middle/high school English teacher and will reimagine my classroom to be more inclusive. We will read novels and poetry by Black writers, stories with Black protagonists. Students will see strong Black women succeeding outside the household and Black men as doctors, lawyers or even engineers. The historical figures we study will go beyond Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X. All students will see themselves as good people, as heroes in the stories we read. All students will be heard in my classroom, their opinions respected and their experiences acknowledged.

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    • Hi Amanda!

      I really like your ideas on incorporating literature from Black writers and artists. It’s a great way to create an inclusive classroom. I think it is important for all future educators and current educators to start moving away from the white dominated curriculum. It is our responsibility to teach our youth about all cultures and give them more than just the negative and cruel acts that the Black community has endured throughout history. It also is important to create a safe and open space for students to feel comfortable to discuss tough conversations and dialogue respectfully with other students. Students need to feel valued and respected and incorporating content from other ethnicities can help in creating that atmosphere.

      Like

    • Hi Amanda,
      I really like how inclusive you are planning to be in your classroom. Growing up I think I only had one English teacher who had the class read literature by Black authors. I feel like classrooms need to be more inclusive and more welcoming of literature from different cultures. This helps create conversations within the classroom on stories that are different than the usual conversations on books like Romeo and Juliet. I also think it is great that you will be highlighting Black professionals in your classroom. Especially professions that are typically white dominated.

      Like

  45. What is the Black Lives Matter Movement and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?

    My name is Dominique Miller, and I am a student at Austin Peay State University. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a global foundation and movement advocating a change in black communities. A non-violent movement protesting all racial motivated violence and incidents of police brutality against people of color. The injustice of all the black communities have led to the Black Lives Matter Movement and is seeking a change that would better the justice system.

    The Black Lives Matter Movement is an important movement and many people around the world have heard about. The roles it could play in school systems can be helpful to students and teachers as well. For the ones who does not fully understands the movement and what it portrays the school system can help out by doing activities, field trips, and even joining in with other schools for programs to further educate the students and teachers.

    Many things go unnoticed and these principles would be a great guidance for my teaching practice. Building a bond in and out the classroom amongst students of all race and respecting the difference(s) and acknowledging that it is okay. These principals have a purpose in many schools and possibly help students and teachers that feel out of place. It could help me as future teacher to understand certain aspects of teaching in different environments.

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  46. My name is Madison Boykin, I am a undergrad student at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville.
    The Black Lives Matter movement is the movement of how people of color are mistreated and trying to make all lives equal. The Black lives matter movement is trying too provide equality to all humans because one race isn’t being treated equally. One quote I really like to describe it is ” all lives don’t matter til black lives matter” this meaning how are all lives going to matter if black ones don’t so once black lives matter is real.
    In American schools I think teaching Black lives matter in school can put all students in a position at a young age too see race or any of that doesn’t matter. I believe you are taught to believe in things and no one is born thinking one way or the other. If we implant Black lives matter in schools it could help the issue go away.
    If we have students trust and build relationships with all our students it will help transform the world because teaching that every student is just as important as the next can make a difference. Having a one on one relationship with students and showing that they matter no matter how they look what there race is or any of that can change the world

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  47. Greetings. I am a credential student from California State University of Long Beach. It is motivating to be getting ready to teach at this time because all of us are questioning the “traditional” school environment and starting to notice that it needs to change. In the webinar one of the speakers mentions how students made a change by creating and signing a petition to get armed law enforcement out of the school. Then when they got enough signature the schools followed through and were able to use the funding for other resources such as counselors. The the speaker mentioned how the schools are now focusing on helping students rather than punishing students. That was an amazing statement that should not have to be said and that we should all know. Schools are not made to punish students!. Schools are suppose to help students. This reminded be of the school to prison pipeline system that I just learned about this year from other students.

    Another great take away from the webinar is how it is not political to discuss racial injustice and the BLM movement in the classrooms. But it is political to not talk about them and ignore. It is important for students and everyone to notice and discuss topics such as racial injustice. As the speaker pointed out, we mind as well provide a safe space for students to discuss these issues in class because they are already talking about them outside of the classroom in their personal lives. I then went to the BLM at School link which took me to 13 guiding principles. My take aways are similar to what I am learning in my credential classes. That we need to acknowledge and support a diverse learning environment. We need to make sure all students are represented in the classroom and that the curriculum is relevant to the students as well as embracing each student for what makes them different. That differences should be viewed as an asset instead of deficients.

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    • Hi Bryan! I completely agree with your statement that talking about racial injustice and BLM is not political and how the choice to not teach these subjects is political. To teach history, the good and the bad, is a teacher’s duty to their students to help them learn about the world they are about to become a part of. It should not be a political statement that people of color suffer social and racial injustices in the world because it is, and sadly should not, common knowledge. Safe spaces are an excellent idea for the students to feel no judgment and freedom to speak about issues they feel are adding pressure on them as a person. When we, as future teachers, have this approach, it makes me hopeful to have a society with fewer prejudices and more equal opportunities for all people with no bias for skin color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or anything else that in the past used to cause division amongst us as human beings.

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  48. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a movement that advocates for non-violent disobedience in protests against the acts of police brutality and racially motivated violence against black people. I see it playing a big role in schools with it being taught to the youth. As a future teacher, I can reimagine my classroom as a space that humanizes the lives of black youth. I will make sure to talk about the movement and let my students know and understand what is going on. In doing so, I will make sure to respect and listen to my students and make sure they do the same thing.

    Like

    • Hello Nina!

      I also see how this racist ideology can play a big role in our schools. It is the jobs of educators to change and support Black students within their education. From the article “Loving Blackness to Death” we can see how Black students are being silenced because of the texts in their education and feeling like they do not belong, “When we reject the multiple identities our Black students bring to the classroom, silence their voices by centering the lived experiences and stories of Europeans, and disrespect them by lowering our expectations and over surveying their bodies, bullets are shot at them” (61). Educators need to provide authentic texts and from perspectives of Black individuals within the curriculum in order to change the mindset that European history and linguistics is better in this society. Educators also need to provide high expectations for Black students and let them know that they believe in them.

      It takes one teacher to change the life of a student in a positive way. This is something that I want to remind myself when becoming a teacher.

      -Jazmin Benitez

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  49. My name is Amanda Melcher, I am a senior Secondary Education student at the Univerity of Nerbaska-Lincoln and I would love to touch on the first question posed. The Black Lives Matter movement deserves a place in our classrooms. BLM has worked day-and-night to amplify Black voices in America, and it is my job as a White English Teacher to make sure I am working to amplify Black voices in my classroom as well. The Black Lives Matter Movement has worked to shed a light on the injustice Black Americans receive every single day in our Country. Black Americans have to fight to walk through a door that is held open for White Americans.

    Our classrooms are no different. Our Curriculum is created for White students. Standardized tests are created for White Students. As an English teacher, I look at the books I am given to have my students read, and I only see white people in the pages staring back at me. White Authors writing White characters. Is Huckleberry Finn really the best we could do for Black representation?

    To tell a story that happened to me at one of the predominantly-white schools I am stationed at. I proposed the book “Long Way Down” written by Jason Reynolds for our students to read. “Long Way Down” is a book about a young Black man trying to decide if he is going to continue the pattern of vengeance that has haunted the men in his family. His father and brother have already been killed because they followed the rules in their community. The main character has to decide if he is going to follow the same rules and welcome his premature death, or if he will break the pattern. It is a beautiful book narrated in poetry-prose written by a Black author telling an authentic story that some Black Americans live every single day. I was told by the school district they chose not to have the students read the book because they did not want their students to be uncomfortable.

    That is where I disagree, students should live in the uncomfortable. We as teachers should teach our students to THRIVE in the uncomfortable because that is where growth comes from. We cannot expect our students to understand what is happening every day in the world around them if we do not show them. If we as teachers do not welcome a conversation about the uncomfortable. As a White teacher, it is my role to amplify Black voices in my classroom, and I will not allow these voices to be silenced because they make people “uncomfortable”.

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    • Hello Amanda!

      I really enjoyed reading your post. I like the fact that you understand your own positionality and are able to try to make change in your community to empower the voices of our Black members of society. I am sorry that your district did not allow you to advocate for the book and fully agree with you in saying that it’s important that we are made “uncomfortable” of certain situations. That is what will encourage change and if we, as a society, allow ourselves to become too comfortable with how our world is transforming, we will sadly see no change. As educators, it is important we make our students “uncomfortable” but in a healthy manner. We must make sure they understand that the lives of our Black citizens are in danger to the systemic racism in this country and it is only due to the color of their skin. As teachers, we hold a huge responsibility in informing our students and if we do so correctly we can cultivate a generation of students who are caring and understanding of each other, regardless of race.

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    • Hi Amanda, thank you for sharing your experiences in your post. I agree that it’s imperative for educators to examine our positionalities and biases to understand how we can transform our classrooms into inclusive, safe environments. As future educators, we must encourage our students to engage in sensitive, important discussions regarding race and racial injustice. I’m truly sorry that your school district did not support your proposal and ideas on integrating literature that accurately represents the Black community. I agree that our students should engage in honest, raw conversations regarding racial injustice and discrimination in the classroom. Our role as future educators is to inform and educate our students on the societal and cultural norms enforced upon the Black community. In doing so, students will learn to examine their positionalities and biases in an inclusive, safe environment that fosters such learning. We can transform our students to be social justice advocates and critical thinkers who can enact change within society. I agree that it is important for students to understand how being uncomfortable is an indicator for them to learn and reflect on their beliefs in the classroom. Our role as future educators is to examine how our curriculum can promote inclusivity and address systemic racism in the classroom.

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  50. Hello, my name is Luke Brown, and I am a student at Austin Peay State University. My statements come from my time at an underprivileged school, with a true understanding of the real struggles in the lives of many Black men and women. I am glad to share and open up about issues that face this country daily. Overall, I am glad to come to this forum and talk about an issue that has faced our country from the beginning. The Black lives matter movement preaches tolerance towards black lives and demands social equality for black men and women. I think the statement Black Lives Matter is a statement that everyone should agree with. But in many cases, the movement itself seems not to be a big factor when it comes to students at school. I think the movement demands others to agree with certain policies that really don’t correlate with actual black lives in the school. I think we should all know and understand that judging someone on their race is terrible and has no room in society. So, in this case, using the black lives matter hold me as an educator to respect others and teach the kids around me to accept and learn from others to get a better understanding of why certain kids and cultures act and believe the way they do. I really don’t need to Black lives matter movement to guide my teaching practices but use the statement to raise awareness in my classroom. To teach for black lives means to express the beauty and expressiveness of their culture and express how they, with many other races, are the future of this country. Teaching black lives means understanding that with struggle comes a fulfillment for the next generation not to have to go through these tough times and become a true society of equality. The topic raised in the webinar was that certain students thrive with a good home structure, especially through the pandemic that’s going on today. This information is crucial based on many lower-income students being faced with this problem of lack of resources to then being able to learn based on outside influences. I will be able to use this information to help my students have every chance to pursue and learn the material needed to perform successfully throughout the school. The first step to providing equality in the classroom would be to give everyone a chance to talk about where they came from and who they are, and who they want to be. This gives all students a chance to share the problems in their lives and give other students the struggles to know the struggles that each person faces in society truly. This small thing of just sharing each other’s stories can bring each person together to make a system that allows students to feel and understand problems and gives them a way to make the changes in their lives.

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