Helen Anderson is the Manager of Curriculum and Research at Harmony Movement, a not-for-profit organization that delivers educational programming on equity and inclusion to youth, educators, and social service providers, empowering them to become leaders of social change. Helen completed her Ph.D. in Theory and Policy Studies in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, focusing in her research on social justice and anti-racism education. She has taught at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University and has worked with numerous community service organizations to address issues such as racism, food security, gender-based violence, youth violence, and homophobia.
What is it that stands in the way of truly empowering educational experiences? Fear. Fear of who we could be and fear of who we are. Fear that others will misjudge us. Fear that their judgments will be correct. Fear of losing power. Although fear may make school equity movements feel slow and fruitless, hope can remind us of the powerful tools we have at our disposal that make a difference in youths’ lives.
At a time when educational equity is clouded with fear, I look for hope. I found that hope recently at a conference on education that transformed the way I think about teaching and learning. The Lost Lyrics Symposium, was a conference focused on creating an education system from the ground up, guided by the needs and input of young people, parents/guardians, and community members. It highlighted the need to address the disconnect between the lived realities of many students and their experiences of school. Read more
Taucia Gonzalez is a student at Arizona State University pursing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Special Education. Prior to becoming a full time graduate student, she taught in a culturally rich school community that promoted and supported bilingualism and biliteracy. Her research interests focus on the intersections of culture, language, and disability within an urban context; with particular interest in how ideologies create and control spaces.
If you ask my daughter, Camila, about her teacher, she will tell you, “He is the best teacher in the world.” I had heard other kids praise Mr. Bandera as well. Last January I spent two weeks launching a poetry inquiry in their class. The kids were taking turns sharing out something they held in their heart. One boy enthusiastically threw his fist in the air and shouted, “Mr. Bandera because he’s the best teacher ever!” Wow, I looked over at the small statured teacher with the disheveled button up shirt; his tie a little off center, wondering what it was that made him the best teacher ever.
What do kids know about good teaching? Honestly, I had yet to see guided reading groups in his classroom, so I had my own critiques of his teaching. I knew that the school was under a lot of pressure to raise their test scores, so I thought that might be a way for me to convince Mr. Bandera to incorporate guided reading. Maybe there were a few things I could teach him, being that he was a fairly new teacher. Read more
JoEtta has a passion for equity that has been present all her life. As the Director of the Equity Alliance at ASU, she connects with educational leaders who want to engage change and transformation. With a blend of humor, sensitivity, and professional insight, she has helped hundreds of individuals develop the dispositions necessary to use an equity lens for decision-making related to student achievement. A talented speaker and workshop leader, she has worked with school systems across the United States in addressing issues of equity.
Most of the time when school administrators and professional developers get together to discuss the practice of teaching, the talk turns to technique. They’ll debate for hours on end regarding the best way to teach students to read and make meaning of text. They’ll talk about fluency, decoding skills and a lot of specific strategies and/or programs that teachers should use to facilitate this learning. At times, the conversations even extend to “evidence-based practice” – which by the way, may or may not mean there is evidence that pertains to the specific population of students in which they are referring.
One subject that rarely comes up, though, is heart. That’s a shame too, because while a teacher with a strong repertoire of skills is valuable to have on staff, it’s the teacher with heart that reaches more students and motivates them to achieve more than they ever thought they could. Indeed, teachers with heart are the best teachers in the school. Teaching for equity comes naturally to these teachers, as they possess the dispositions and mind-sets that actively enlist students to achieve at – or sometimes even beyond – their potential. As a former principal, I’ve seen this first hand. Read more