Every year, the TpT community comes together for three days of learning, conversation, and collaboration at our annual conference, all with the aim of sharing ideas and learnings with each other. Some of the biggest topics of conversation at TpT Forward 2019 were around the ideas of intersectionality, diversity, and accessibility — and how Teacher-Authors could ensure that their resources support all students and give them the opportunity to succeed in the classroom. Here are a few key takeaways from some of the sessions that had Teacher-Authors talking.

Intersectionality

Sherri from Literary Sherri gave Teacher-Authors a crash course on intersectionality, and how to include it in their resources. Two tips from her include avoiding generalized statements (e.g., identifying students by singular identities such as “girls like x”), and using gender-neutral language. 

“Students who are marginalized, often feel erased. If we make them more visible, it helps. Privileged students don’t notice when they’re included, but marginalized students notice when they’re excluded.”

— Sherri from Literary Sherri

Diversity

In a joint presentation, Dr. Donna Ford and Vera from The Tutu Teacher kicked off the second day of the conference by talking about how to teach and reach students of all backgrounds. Dr. Ford gave Teacher-Authors a framework for culturally competent teaching and challenged everyone to be thoughtful about and critical of their resources. When creating resources, she urged Teacher-Authors to go beyond “safe” one-off topics like Martin Luther King (instead of Malcolm X), and to include multiple perspectives that encourage empathy and that empower students to think critically.

Vera acknowledged how being reflective about diversity can be a vulnerable exercise. But she encouraged Teacher-Authors to do the work so that students everywhere can feel like they are being reflected in resources and can have the opportunity to succeed in their classrooms. Some strategies she suggested include:

  • Incorporating a diversity of names, locations, foods, and genders 
  • Adding images that reflect a variety of races and ethnicities
  • Being critical of stereotypical terms such as “ghetto” and “tribal” 

“Be bold in the face of change. It’s never too late to affect the lives of our children.”

Vera of The Tutu Teacher

Following that, Karen Liu and Clifton Wallace from the Seller Operations team at TpT engaged Teacher-Authors in a thoughtful conversation on Zaretta Hammond’s book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain. They explored highlights from the book and considered how Teacher-Authors might apply Zaretta’s frameworks to their work on TpT. One big takeaway from the session is that, in order to best prepare themselves for culturally responsive teaching, teachers must become well-versed in not only cultural understanding but also in brain science — particularly since culture is the way in which our brain makes sense of the world. 

Similarly, Sally from Elementary Matters led a session specifically on brain-based science and learning, with the aim of helping Teacher-Authors learn how to make resources that are more effective in supporting all students. 

Accessibility

Sara from Ms Fuller’s Teacher Adventures discussed the value of making resources that are accessible — meaning, 508 compliant — for students with hearing and visual disabilities. She left audience members with tips on how to create accessible Word doc and PDF resources (so that they can read by a screen reader); how to use closed captioning while presenting during class (to aid visual learners and hearing-impaired students); and which fonts were the most accessible for visually-impaired students (sans serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica are best).

Stay tuned on the blog for more highlights from TpT Forward 2019. You can also share what you learned and check out more highlights on Instagram with #TpTForward19 and @tptevents.

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Are you a TpT Seller who is interested in coming to next year’s conference? Registration is now open for TpT Forward 2020 in Chicago!