“Create new product.” These three simple words empower teachers to broaden their reach and enter classrooms across the world. Back in 2007, when I started posting resources, I thought it was simple. Take the resources that I created for my classroom, create a preview, and click “share.” Done.
Over time, as I’ve grown as a teacher and leader, so have my thoughts on posting resources. Make no mistake, the effort to provide equitable resources is not rooted in trying to make everyone “happy.” Instead, it’s rooted in an honest effort to ensure all students can achieve success with the materials regardless of their identity. This means that the resources I create should uplift and amplify student experiences, without furthering inequity or mistruths. I found that I must consider who I am highlighting in my product, how students will engage with the resource, and if the resource can be modified for learners with special needs.
To assess accessibility, for example, I consider who is able to effectively engage with the resource. If I am creating a resource designed for Google classroom, I still take time to consider what this might look like for students who have processing or sensory issues. This might mean providing a printable companion to the resource. Now, when determining whether or not I choose to share my resources, I think: “What does equity look like in this resource?” And when creating, I consider two questions:
- 1. Who is being centered in the resource?
- 2. What can I do to help students access what’s in the resource?
It’s a tall order. And it’s (in my opinion) the distinguishing factor that defines a great teacher entrepreneur. It’s the humanity of the work we do, and ensures that we are giving as many students as possible the opportunity to be their best selves and reach their goals.
“With great responsibility comes great power,” says Uncle Ben from Marvel’s Spider-Man. Yep, incredibly cliche, but also true. The responsibility of creating resources for classrooms around the world is huge! The onus of ensuring resources are equitable and inclusive rests on us, the creators. In short, equity refers to having systems and/or procedures to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity for success, regardless of their background. To be clear, equity in resources is not limited to a specific grade or subject area. Anytime a resource is published, there are implicit messages within it.
Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
Teachers and content creators: to help you guard against negative bias, I’m sharing a few common pitfalls to consider before posting resources. Avoiding these will not only increase your reach, but also ensure that a greater number of students are being served.
- Only seeing your classroom – Remember the best resources can go global. People of color represent the global majority. Therefore, it’s important to consider this when using clipart or creating names in stories or word problems.
- The competition mentality – Try to avoid spending too much time looking around at what’s already out there. Instead create something that fills a void and/or represents a historically marginalized perspective.
- Doubt – Anytime we publish a resource it’s natural to doubt if it’ll be accepted. If you are being true to you and providing something that fills a gap, people will buy your resource, and talk about it.
- Subject avoidance mentality – There is opportunity to consider diversity in the majority of our subjects. From art to math, if we step back and think about representation, there are always places to include diverse thoughts and materials.
For any given content area, there are questions that creators can ask that are best practice. Below is a table of quick questions to ask before posting a resource:
Being a teacherpreneur provides teachers a platform to contribute their content expertise with tens of thousands of students. These students are not monolithic and will become the next generation of leaders. They deserve to have an educational experience that values difference as a strength. Taking the time to reflect on the questions above is a step in the right direction.
These books helped me in my journey and I hope they can help you in yours:
- Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond
- We Got This.: Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be by Cornelius Minor
- “Multiplication is for White People”: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit
- Black Appetite. White Food.: Issues of Race, Voice, and Justice Within and Beyond the Classroom by Jamila Lyiscott
About Tanesha B Forman
Tanesha hails from the sunny city of Miami, Florida. She attended The Florida State University where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Special Education. She’s been in the education game for 14 years and absolutely loves it! She’s spent the last five years teaching at a charter school in New Haven, Connecticut. When not teaching, Tanesha enjoys spending time with her husband and 1-year-old son.