Black Teacher-Authors Share Strategies for Anti-Racist Instruction and More

On Juneteenth 2020, TpT premiered “Teach for Justice: A Conversation With Black TpT Teacher-Authors,” the first in a six-part speaker series focused on anti-racist education and teaching students about identity, diversity, justice, and action. Featuring Teacher-Authors Tanya G. Marshall, Sara Fuller, and Jon Avery, and moderated by TpT’s Anthony Fowler, the discussion focused on their experiences as Black educators in America, anti-racist strategies they recommend that teachers implement in their classroom and communities, and their visions for a future education system that supports Black students and educators. Read on for some of these educators’ powerful insights.

Tanya G. Marshall
Elementary School Multilingual Teacher
Tanya G. Marshall The Butterfly Teacher

On what anti-racism action looks like: “I think it’s important that people understand that [culturally responsive teaching] is not the same thing as being anti-racist. Culturally responsive teaching is when you celebrate and affirm other cultures and races in your classroom, in your practice [and] in your pedagogy, like Ruby Bridges Task Cards, [or] celebrating Cinco de Mayo, the little things. That is not addressing the heart of racism, which is a system of attitudes, beliefs, laws, practices, that disenfranchise and hurt people of color, even to the point of causing their death. Those systems need to be dismantled, and that is what anti-racist action is, which is very different from just celebrating diversity.”

Sara Fuller
Assistant Professor of English
Fuller Teaching Resources

On how educators can amplify the voices of their Black colleagues: “There were some issues of racial slurs being written in bathroom walls on our campus, and we weren’t told about it until months later. [. . .] The leadership was deciding whether they met the criteria of racist or not. And I was like, ‘The all-White leadership? How can they be the deciders of what is or isn’t racist? In fact, for different cultures or different races, even somebody is of color, if they’re of a different race they might not know that that is a slur or a bad thing to say to somebody.’ [. . .] A couple of people sort of spoke up with me in that meeting. But I got a ton of emails afterwards, and people stopping by my office being like, ‘You made such a good point. I’m so glad you brought that up.’ And I’m like, ‘Why didn’t you say: I agree. She’s right. This is a problem’ and give me that back-up in that moment. [. . .] We’ve heard a lot about this idea of how do we amplify Black voices and these are the opportunities [to do so], right? When there are Black folks that are speaking up and giving these opinions and really critical thoughts, if you’re in these rooms and you agree, that’s a huge opportunity.”

Jon Avery
Middle School Assistant Principal
The Dapper Teacher

On how educators can go beyond the official standards or curriculum: “The curriculum is a blanket way of getting students information that they need to know so that they can move on and pass benchmarks. The curriculum doesn’t take into account the 28, the 30, [or in] some cases 35 different individuals, with different experiences and different needs outside of what you’re teaching, who are in your classroom every day. 

And I think, as educators, we have to reach the whole child — but not just academically. I need to reach you like in your brain, I need to reach your heart, and when you leave my classroom you need to be a better person. So you have to do your research. There is so much information out in the world. ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t find it’ is not an excuse. And I think for a long time, we’ve allowed educators to say, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that.’ Ask somebody. ‘Well, I don’t know where to find that.’ Start at Google. There’s no excuse for our students to not get what they need all the way around. But as educators, we have to be able and be willing to seek out different avenues and different ways of doing things.”

Missed the webinar or want to share with your colleagues? Click the link below to access the full, recorded conversation.

And stay tuned for registration information for our next session on July 24th with Jamilah Pitts, an educator, consultant, yoga teacher, curriculum designer and writer. She partners with schools and educators to provide training and thought-leadership on: anti-racist, culturally responsive, equitable and restorative practices and frameworks; anti – bias curriculum development; and wellness/yoga practices.