The LP: Literature in Practice
The LP: Literature in Practice is an UnboundEd podcast series that examines texts and practices that encourage student instruction to become more grade-level, engaging, affirming, and meaningful.
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It's fascinating what educators of color historically have been able to do in this country despite deep and consistent obstacles. If you are a millennial or younger, it may not seem like there is an educator legacy that precedes you, but there is a rich one. One filled with high expectations, best practices, and resilience. Some powerful books are written about this subject (check out Episode 2), but we want to highlight a different type of text regarding this topic: a database. A database of oral histories from civil rights and post-civil rights era Black educators and students from “back in the day” where we can honor and retrieve mindsets and skillsets for providing grade-level, engaging, affirming, and meaningful instruction. In this episode, I speak with Professor Derrick Alridge, who leads the project for this database of oral history texts aptly called Teachers in the Movement. Join us as we dive into the past to pour into the future.
At UnboundEd, we pride ourselves on working to find justice in the details of teaching and learning. Instructional choices made in classrooms are included in those details, and it's important to see how policy choices impact those choices in instruction. Policy choices take place at our local level, our state level, and our national level. Depending on the equity value of these choices, this multi-filtered choice system can lead to compounded success or failure for the students the systems, schools, and staff are supposed to serve. It helps to understand the background of the politics that inform the domino effect. Sonya Douglass, Janelle T. Scott, and Gary L. Anderson help us do that with their book The Politics of Education Policy in an Era of Inequality. Sonya Douglass and I discuss the book and its ability to reveal the mechanics behind the madness and the engineering that can occur so our kids can experience democratic schooling.
We live in a country where calls to address racism in education have been responded to with book bans, parent shaming, and instructional witch-hunts, and also where these calls have prompted institutions to invest in DEI, which stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Despite intentions, this isn’t always effective because it isn’t backed by another form of DEI: Deliberate, Earnest, and Inconvenient. Without the right mirrors, mindsets, and bold maneuvers, our structures and instruction in schools end up staying stay the same. It really does take a village to get this right. One village of experienced black women educators, Sharone Brinkley-Parker, Tracey L. Durant, Kendra V. Johnson, Kandice Taylor, Johari Toe, and Lisa Williams, came together to help other villagers and villages fight these injustices in their book Humanity Over Comfort: How You Confront Systemic Racism Head On. Join us as this band of sisters and I discuss the book and explore strategic, people-centered ways we can address system-fueled inequities in our schools.
Everyday choices and systems, both obvious and covert, hold truths about how we educate our children. Recognizing these truths allows us to course-correct and expand opportunities for students to receive grade-level, engaging, affirming, and meaningful instruction. Author, speaker, and leader Lacey Robinson is a walking, talking testimony of this process. Her experience as a student, teacher, principal, and organization leader is woven together in her book Justice Seekers: Pursuing Equity in the Details of Teaching and Learning. Join me as Lacey, and I discuss the book and its purpose to help people see the power of our decisions in education and how they lend to the arc of justice or injustice in this country.
Does your image and definition of dignity align with our educational reality? This question lets us explore equity and examine the opportunities and obstacles that exist in schools, and how we can contribute to them. Research activist Charles Payne has spent decades citing dignity and indicting indignity in education, highlighting both so the people and the profession can make righteous choices about the ways we teach our kids. Join us as we discuss Dr. Payne’s co-edited and authored book Dignity Affirming Education: Cultivating the Somebodiness of Students and Educators. Together, we explore the impact of dignity-affirming programs and individuals, past and present, and their potential to shape the future of education.
The term "teachers of color" refers to educators who do not identify as white, encompassing diverse racial and ethnic groups. Despite their unique backgrounds, teachers of color share the experience of underrepresentation. With only 20% of teachers being teachers of color, they face challenges like invisibility and pressure to conform to racist education norms. Join us as we explore Professor Rita Kohli's book, Teachers of Color: Resisting Racism and Reclaiming Education, highlighting their stories, promoting self-care, resistance, and innovative teaching. Discover the collective experiences of teachers of color and their journey towards equitable education.
One of Frederick Douglass’ famous sayings is, “Once you learn to read, you’ll be forever free.” As someone who was explicitly forbidden from reading, there was inherent freedom in learning to read and the access it provided during chattel slavery in America. But what about those who are completely literate but are still psychologically jailed? When it comes to becoming literate in written English, it seems like the purpose matters a LOT. From African Americans like Frederick Douglass, we receive a tradition and purpose called “freedom for literacy, literacy for freedom.” Kimberly N. Parker and I discuss her book Literacy is Liberation: Working Toward Justice Through Culturally Relevant Teaching and nerd out on practical steps to practice “freedom for literacy” and “literacy for freedom.”
Inequities in public schools today didn’t start during the pandemic. Until we understand the complex legacy of people, perspectives, policies, and practices that inform today's people, perspectives, policies, and practices, it will be challenging to understand inequities in our systems and expand opportunities for educational justice. Dr. Camika Royal’s book Not Paved For Us: Black Educators and Public School Reform in Philadelphia is based in Philly, but it tells a widely-relatable story about public school system dysfunction, backlash, justice-seeking, and its impact on the students it is supposed to serve.
We are in an era where excitement, fear, promise, and paranoia about the capabilities of artificial intelligence are a part of everyday conversation in our society as we are steadily integrating AI into essential elements of our lives. What does this mean for how we teach, learn, and do school? Will the inequities that exist in analog instruction continue to improve or worsen as digital technologies for teaching and learning evolve? Varun Arora invites us to explore opportunities to guide AI development in a manner that enhances teacher ownership of equitable instruction, instead of replacing or negating it, in his book Artificial Intelligence in Schools: A Guide for Teachers, Administrators, and Technology Leaders.
To many, the numbers, procedures, and concepts covered in the average mathematics course are completely neutral and require no cultural considerations. But if you ask somebody like Dr. Pamela Seda, she would say that that conclusion just doesn't add up. Dr. Seda takes some time to discuss her book Choosing to See: A Framework For Equity in the Math Classroom, and we cover the best practice, worst myths, and the urgent need to deepen mathematical strengths through leveraging assets that students already have.
The beliefs, practices, and policies common in the United States school system are cultivating inequities in classrooms across the country. Activist, professor, and author Zachary Wright has thoughts about how to recognize, repudiate, and reverse these inequities. He shares these insights as we discuss his book Dismantling a Broken System: Actions to Bridge the Opportunity, Equity, and Justice Gap in American Education.
For too long, receiving an education in the United States has been a dangerous and revolutionary act for African Americans. Becoming authentically literate in the written word, history, math and the sciences was a literal and psychological escape to freedom. Exploring who led these efforts, how they led these efforts, and what we can apply from them today is important and undervalued work that can change how we do education. This is the work of author Jarvis Givens who joins me to discuss his book Fugitive Pedagogy, Carter G. Woodson and the Art of BlackTeaching.
What happens when classroom instruction is focused on building academic skills, while at the same time, teaching social justice? What's to gain when students are exposed to teaching that is student-driven and community-centered, but is also flexible, connected to other subjects, and deeply interactive? That's the work of author Lorena Escoto Germán who joins this episode to discuss her book Texture Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices.
The LP: Literature in Practice | EP 0
UnboundEd continues the GLEAM™-ification of the nation with a brand NEW podcast series, The LP: Literature in Practice. Join the host, our very own Brandon White, as he interviews the authors of today's thought-provoking educational literature. Here's a sneak peek! Episode 1 launches October 26, available wherever you get your favorite podcasts.