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Resources for Teaching About Race and Racism With The New York Times

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A curated collection of over 75 lesson plans, writing prompts, short films and graphs relating to racism and racial justice.

The young activists who formed Katy4Justice at a Black Lives Matter protest. The young activists who formed Katy4Justice at a Black Lives Matter protest.Credit…Katy4Justice

  • March 4, 2021

The summer of 2020 was not the first time that urgent conversations about race and racism were happening in homes, classrooms and workplaces. But the energy of the Black Lives Matter protests, believed by many to be the largest in U.S. history, was unparalleled. Though the demands and chants may have echoed those heard in previous years, never before, The New York Times reported, “have the cries carried this kind of muscle.” Among American voters, support for the movement grew in the first two weeks of protests almost as much as it did in the preceding two years.

Our focus at The Learning Network is creating educational resources based on Times reporting, and as part of that work we prioritize creating resources that center conversations around race and racism. However, we appreciate that there are organizations and communities, like Learning for Justice, Facing History and Ourselves, EduColor and others you can find in the “Additional Outside Resources” list in this post, whose primary mission is to bring these conversations into the classroom.

This fall students on our site showed us how passionately they want to have these discussions. In September we introduced a forum on racial justice. Over 2,000 comments poured in, as teenagers shared their own experiences and stretched to understand the experiences of others. Some also expressed the wish that more of these conversations would happen in school. One student, Hermella, told us:

I think that schools and parents as well should start teaching kids from the beginning about racial equality, so that hopefully in the future, more people would deeply understand its meaning and grow up to respect all citizens.

Another student, Lizzy, wrote:

School had always taught me that blacks and whites were equals and that was it. I was ignorant of the problem until I chose to educate myself. I think that schools should be partially responsible for educating students on the racial injustices in the world.

Through our daily writing prompts, lesson plans and multimedia features, we take on the topics of race and racism regularly. But for teachers not sure how to navigate all of these resources, or even how to begin the conversation, we’re pulling these resources together — all in one place.

Below you’ll find a curated list of dozens of resources we hope can help. Below that, you’ll find a list of other organizations doing this work, including the Pulitzer Center, which has created a growing curriculum for using The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project. Finally, we offer a few tips and strategies for facilitating these conversations, provided by educators who are already doing this work.

We’ll discuss many of these teaching tools in our March 4 webinar on Talking About Race and Racism in the Classroom Using The New York Times. Here’s how to register or watch on demand later.

What’s Included in This Collection?

Every school day we scour The Times looking for content — articles, Op-Eds, graphs and more — that we think present rich opportunities for teaching and learning. Many of these resources naturally deal with important social issues like racism. For example, just this week we published a new lesson plan related to increasing attacks against Asian-Americans.

We’ve gone through our collection of many thousands of resources and selected recent ones we think best support teachers trying to address the subjects of race, racism and racial justice in their classrooms. These include our writing prompts (image-based Picture Prompts and article-based Student Opinion questions); our daily lesson plans (we call them Lesson of the Day); and our multimedia features (Film Club, which spotlights short films, and What’s Going On in This Graph?).

The resource list is organized into five categories, inspired by the scope and sequence outlined by our friends at Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate:

I. Identity
II. Prejudice, Inequality and Racism
III. History and Legacy
IV. Connections to Current Events
V. Taking Action

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A Conversation About Growing Up Black

In this short documentary, young black men explain the particular challenges they face growing up in America.

CNVS 02_NYT Final Script_150429 Transcript Start time: 00:00:00 Rakesh: Racism means basically like… Miles: A large, a large part of uh…a race feels that they’re superior to another race and so and so not only do they believe that but they act on it. Malik: Examples would be in class sometimes I’d be the only black kids and we’d read a book like, I don’t know, Huck Finn and then there’s that uncomfortable moment…the “magic” word would come up and people look at you like “What’s his reaction?” Things like that. Miles: I was walking home from school with this one white girl and we had just gotten off the bus and we were about to, we were almost home and there were these groups of black kids that had just gotten out of school. She was like “Oh, let’s cross the street, there’s a group of black kids. I don’t want to run into them.” And so she told me…which, I don’t even know why she would do that. Marvin: I used to wear a sweatband like just to reinforce my wrist and I had a teacher come up to me and say, “You should take it off because it looks gang affiliated.” Shaq: I’ve been in situations you know where I’ve had to cross the street because I didn’t want to scare the white lady that was walking. Marvin: I would actually, it would get to the point where I would start to count how many times a woman would clutch her bag. Bisa: When I was 16, I was leaving my mom’s house in my pajamas, which had snowmen on them um, with my brother and we were actually stopped by the police rather aggressively. Jumoke: I’ve been stopped by the cops on my way between classes, because we have two separate buildings, walking from one building to the other building. As my white students in the same class walk by me. Malik: It’s kind of upsetting because we live in a world where my mom has to be afraid when I walk outside from the people that are like meant to protect me and I just, I don’t like when my mother feels like that you know, I love my mother. She should always, I want her to always be happy… Bisa: You know I walk tall, I keep my head up, very you know, try to be very articulate and and polite…um and so of course I was like “Okay I’m going to be fine because I act a certain way.” And of course that has absolutely nothing to do with it. Um, people, the way people perceive you you know, is not up to you. 00:02:06 Jumoke: My parents taught me oh you know, “Cops are your friends, you’re supposed to, you know they’re here to protect you.” But all I’m seeing is the opposite. So how can I not be afraid when I feel like I’m being hunted? When I feel like I’m there to fill a quota? Shaq: We are in a so-called free society and as a black man we literally don’t feel free. We don’t know “freedom” is. Jumoke: Every time we’re killed, the first thing you see on the news is: criminal record. Or something like that. So from the second the bullet hits us, already we’re starting to be dehumanized. Malik: Black people like myself, we don’t get as many chances as they do so you have to be aware and you have to watch out and you can’t mess up. Bisa: This was an extremely emotionally taxing process for me in terms of coming to terms with maybe…the nature of of racism in my own life and in this country and in this world and if you wait until somebody is 12, 13, 14 to put that on them…it’s…it’s really, it can be really difficult. Malik: My dad, he’s just like the honest one he’s like “Listen son, like, there are things in this world that you have to, you kind of have to watch out…” He doesn’t want me to live in fear, but he wants me to be aware. Maddox: I want people to know that I’m perfectly fine and I’m not going to hurt anybody or do anything bad. Rakesh: I should be judged about like who I, who I am and like and what kind of person I am. Marvin: My parents would tell me, especially my mom, she would tell me, you have to endure. You have to muscle through it. And like, this is no different, it’s a part of being a person of color in America. Bisa: And there’s a certain comfortability associated with that because if I know that something is inevitable then I know how to deal with it. Fortunately, I’ve had parents who have said “this is what you do.” 00:04:00 Marvin: Mom and dad, I’ll be fine because you did a good job raising me. You gave me all the resources and the time and the blood, sweat and tears to make a good man, an honorable man and the foundation to survive in this country. Myles: I want you to know that I will act in an appropriate manner and do everything that you told me to do because I do love you and I know that everything you say is for a reason and not just to talk the talk. And I love you. Credits DIRECTED & PRODUCED BY: Joe Brewster / Perri Peltz DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Rudy Valdez SOUND: Chase Horton EDITORS: Geeta Gandbhir / Clare Vance CONSULTING PRODUCERS: Blair Foster / Geeta Gandbhir / Michele Stephenson ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Clare Vance THANK YOU: Rakesh / Miles / Malik / Marvin / Shaq / Bisa / Jumoke / Maddox / Myles NYTIMES CREDITS End time: 00:04:57 Music: “Rolling Emotions,” Composed by Adam Dennis (PRS) and Bob Bradley (PRS), Library: Bruton TV Series (BTV). Track ID: BRU_BTV_0146_01301

Video player loading In this short documentary, young black men explain the particular challenges they face growing up in America.

Writing Prompts

Picture Prompt | How Would You Describe Your Identity?
Generation Z is known as the most diverse generation in American history. How would you describe your identity? What sets you apart from others in your generation?

Picture Prompt | What Assumptions Have People Made About You Based on Your Race, Religion, Gender, the Way You Dress, or Anything Else?
Isaiah Lopaz is a Black American living in Berlin. On a regular basis Germans ask him where he comes from. No, no, where he really comes from. He’s a college-educated artist and writer — who is frequently mistaken for a drug dealer.”

Student Opinion | What Does Your Accent Say About Who You Are?
Are you proud of your accent? Do you have favorite slang or expressions from your city or town? How important is your accent to your identity?

Student Opinion | How Do You Connect to Your Heritage?
Do you feel connected to your family and cultural roots? Or do you feel distant or cut off from them?

Student Opinion | What Does Your Unique Style Say About You?
How much do you think about what you wear and how you look? Do your clothes, hairstyle and accessories say something larger about your identity?

Student Opinion | How Much Has Your ZIP Code Determined Your Opportunities?
To what extent has where you were born, and where you’ve grown up, affected who you are?

Student Opinion | Does Your Teacher’s Identity Affect Your Learning?
Does your teacher’s identity — his or her race, gender, sexual orientation, background or other factors — influence how you relate to your teacher, how you view yourself and your abilities, or your interest in what you’re learning?

Films & Graphs

Film Club | 26 Mini-Films for Exploring Race, Bias and Identity With Students
This teaching guide provides teaching ideas for films from four different series published by The Times from 2015 to 2017.

Film Club | ‘Dancing As the Spirit of a Wild Grizzly Bear’
In what ways do people and cultures honor the natural world? This three-minute film touches on themes of honoring ancestry and acknowledging the spirit in all living things.

Lesson Plans

Lesson of the Day | ‘Just 700 Speak This Language (50 in the Same Brooklyn Building)’
In this lesson, students will consider the languages in their communities and how language can be a way to preserve culture and tradition. Then they will identify elements of culture in their own homes.

Lesson of the Day| ‘Fear, Anxiety and Hope: What It Means to Be a Minority in Gaming’
In this lesson, students take a critical look at how their own identities are — or are not — represented in games today. Then they will create a game that is representative of who they are.

Lesson of the Day | ‘Sashaying Their Way Through Youth’
In this lesson, students will learn about tween and teen drag queens and think about their own identity and self-expression by creating a Starburst Identity Chart.

Lesson of the Day | ‘The Quinceañera, Redefined’
In this lesson, students will learn about evolving ways to celebrate identity through coming-of-age traditions. Then they will reflect on the parts of their identity that are immediately seen versus those that are more hidden, and imagine their own coming-of-age celebration.

Lesson of the Day | ‘“I Feel Invisible”: Native Students Languish in Public Schools’
In this lesson, students will consider if, and how, their culture is seen and valued in school as they learn about Native American high schoolers in Montana who navigate a school system that has failed American Indians.

Lesson of the Day | ‘Black, Deaf and Extremely Online’
In this lesson, students will learn about the history of Black American Sign Language and why it is getting renewed attention today.

II. Prejudice, Inequality and Racism

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Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School

A Chinese-American teenager on what she and her friends are encountering during the outbreak.

“Everyone knows Chinese people are disgusting.” “They’ll eat any type of animal.” “They’re dirty.” That’s what my classmate said, just days after the Coronavirus outbreak started in the United States. It felt like a stab to my chest. I’m Chinese-American, and this is someone that I’ve gone to school with for almost three years, who I consider a friend. But it’s no wonder that she feels this way. “An obscure virus arising from a meat market in eastern China.” As the Coronavirus spreads, there’s another virus spreading that we need to be talking about. “A woman who’s Asian says she was punched by another woman in midtown Manhattan and she accused her of having the Covid-19 virus.” “I don’t want him [inaudible] me. Tell him to move.” Young Asian-Americans like me are feeling hate infect every part of our lives. “And I’d like to just ask the Chinese for a formal apology.” Not only do we have to be afraid about our health. But we have to be afraid about being ourselves. Class basically just started. One of the girls said all Chinese people were disgusting. And so I literally like raised my hand up and was like “I’m Chinese.” She didn’t even say sorry. She didn’t. She just like blew past it I guess. And then she like kept going on about it. I never knew it would happen to me, especially at this school. Good morning. Morning. Yeah, basically this Chinese restaurant was like texting their customers saying none of our staff have been to China. We have no contact with the Coronavirus. Please like like, come back to us. And people were like making fun of it. There are thousands and thousands of cases in Italy. But no one’s boycotting Olive Garden. No seriously like, no one is boycotting a mom and pop’s pizza place. Like it’s the same thing. Historically, pandemics have stoked xenophobia. In the 19th century, people spread rumors that Irish immigrants carried cholera, and tuberculosis was known as the “Jewish disease.” In 1900, when a Chinese man supposedly died of the plague in San Francisco, Chinatown residents were forcibly quarantined by police, while white residents were allowed to leave the area. It seems like since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak schools have been a Petri dish for racism. It’s dangerous to normalize behavior like this for people my age. So you just spoke with the other student. So can you tell me what happened? She understood my frustration and anger. They didn’t really mean to say that. And they were actually making a generalization. And so she apologized to me basically. And I really appreciated it. Coronavirus may have originated in China. But the disease doesn’t discriminate in the way that people do. It’s extremely important that people have accurate information on how to stay safe. So we can kill this virus without spreading another one.

Video player loading A Chinese-American teenager on what she and her friends are encountering during the outbreak.CreditCredit…The New York Times

Student Opinion | How Much Racism Do You Face in Your Daily Life?
Do you feel very aware of your racial identity in your school or community? How often do you experience discrimination?

Films & Graphs

Film Club | ‘Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School’
How is the coronavirus pandemic bringing out fears, stereotypes, xenophobia and racism?

Video | A Racist Attack Was Caught on Camera. Nearly 45 Years Later, It Still Stings.
This Times film features a clip from a 1976 documentary about a hateful attack on a group of Black children in New York City. You could use the video with our Film Club Double-Entry Journal.

Lesson Plans

Lesson of the Day | ‘What Students Are Saying About Race and Racism in America’
In this lesson, students will read what 36 teenagers think about these important, complicated, personal and often painful topics and then reflect on what they think as well.

Lesson of the Day | ‘Can Biology Class Reduce Racism?’
In this lesson, students learn about misconceptions related to race and genetics — and why correcting them matters.

Lesson of the Day | A Rise in Attacks on Asian-Americans
In this lesson, you will learn about racism against Asian-Americans, which has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, and consider what you can do to stop it in your school or community.

Lesson of the Day | ‘College Made Them Feel Equal. The Virus Exposed How Unequal Their Lives Are.’
In this lesson, students will read about how the pandemic has affected one college class. Then they will reflect about what, if anything, the coronavirus crisis might mean for society and equality.

Lesson of the Day | First Encounters With Race and Racism: Teaching Ideas for Classroom Conversations
The Times partnered with Youth Radio to ask teenagers across the country, “What is your earliest experience dealing with race?” Included here are four of their stories, along with related learning activities.

III. History & Legacy

ImageValerie Segrest, who works at the Native American Agriculture Fund, said more families need to have discussions at the Thanksgiving table about where their food comes from, and what its nutritional benefits are, especially with younger people. Valerie Segrest, who works at the Native American Agriculture Fund, said more families need to have discussions at the Thanksgiving table about where their food comes from, and what its nutritional benefits are, especially with younger people.Credit…Chona Kasinger for The New York Times

Writing Prompts

Student Opinion | How Have You Learned About Slavery?
What have you learned about slavery at home or in school? In your opinion, have you received a robust and accurate education about slavery in the United States? If not, what has been lacking?

Student Opinion | Does the United States Owe Reparations to the Descendants of Enslaved People?
The idea of economic amends for past injustices and persistent disparities is getting renewed attention. What do you think should happen?

Student Opinion | How Should We Remember the Problematic Actions of the Nation’s Founders?
New research finds that Alexander Hamilton, like other founders, bought, sold and personally owned enslaved people. How do we reconcile this history with the contributions they made to this country?

Student Opinion | Should We Rethink Thanksgiving?
In a year of a pandemic, racial reckoning and a tense election, how should we celebrate? How should teenagers hold the complicated history of this holiday alongside the devastation and loss of this year?

Student Opinion | Do You Think the World Is Getting Closer to Securing the Promise of ‘Never Again’?
In the years after the Holocaust, the phrase has come to represent a universal goal to prevent future genocides. Are we moving in the right direction?

Student Opinion | What Role Should Textbooks Play in Education?
Does your school use textbooks for teaching and learning? Are there certain subjects for which you think textbooks are important?

Films & Graphs

Film Club | ‘What It Means to Be Black in America’
In 2020 The Times published a collection of six short films for Black History Month. How do these films help us learn about, recognize and celebrate Black American lives, culture and history?

Film Club | ‘116 Cameras’
This film follows Eva Schloss, a Holocaust survivor and stepsister of Anne Frank, as she participates in an interactive hologram project to preserve her story for conversations with future generations.

Virtual Reality Film | Memorials and Justice
This lesson plan features a 360-degree documentary, in which students will travel with Audra D.S. Burch, a New York Times correspondent, to the Mississippi town where Emmett Till was killed.

What’s Going On in This Graph? | Racial Diversity by Neighborhood
How has racial diversity in American neighborhoods changed since 1980?

Lesson Plans

Lesson of the Day | Learning About Slavery With Primary Sources
In this lesson, students will use primary sources from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to better understand the history of slavery in the United States.

Teaching Guide | Teaching Japanese-American Internment Using Primary Resources
In this lesson, students use original Times reporting and other resources to investigate the forced internment of Japanese-Americans.

Teaching Guide | Still Separate, Still Unequal: Teaching About School Segregation and Educational Inequality
Although many students learn about the struggles to desegregate schools in the civil rights era, segregation as a current reality is largely absent from the curriculum. This teaching resource uses Times articles and Op-Eds to investigate the issue.

Lesson of the Day | ‘Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories.’
In this lesson, students will learn how textbooks from California and Texas reflect deep partisan divides, and consider whether history can ever be neutral.

Lesson of the Day | Front Page History: Teaching About Selma Using Original Times Reporting
A lesson that encourages students to become historians — to read original Times reporting on the Selma, Ala., marches and uncover important distinctions between primary and secondary sources.

Text to Text | ‘Why Reconstruction Matters’ and ‘Black Reconstruction in America’
In this lesson, we pair Eric Foner’s Op-Ed essay “Why Reconstruction Matters” with an excerpt from W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1935 book “Black Reconstruction in America.”

Teaching Guide | Teaching About Charlottesville With Resources from The New York Times
A roundup of Times articles, Opinion pieces and videos related to the events in Charlottesville and their aftermath, as well as teaching resources from The Learning Network and other educational organizations.

Teaching Guide | The Death of Michael Brown: Teaching About Ferguson
Ideas, questions and resources from our audience, The Times and around the web for addressing the events of summer 2014 in Ferguson, Mo., in the classroom.

Resource List | Celebrating Black History With The New York Times
Recent and archival articles, essays, photographs, videos, infographics, writing prompts, lesson plans and more.

Lesson of the Day | ‘Rural Montana Had Already Lost Too Many Native Women. Then Selena Disappeared.’
In this lesson, students will learn about the crisis of missing Native American women and the response from communities, law enforcement and politicians.

Lesson of the Day | ‘Missing in School Reopening Plans: Black Families’ Trust’
In this lesson, students will learn about how historical racism contributes to Black families’ distrust in school districts.

Lesson of the Day | Moving On Up: Teaching With the Data of Economic Mobility
Students will explore economic mobility using The Upshot’s interactive tool that allows users to create their own data visualizations.

Lesson of the Day | ‘Will American Ideas Tear France Apart? Some of Its Leaders Think So’
In this lesson, students will learn about French people who want to center conversations on race, gender and post-colonialism and those who fear such conversations threaten national identity and unity. Then they will consider if, and how, these tensions exist in their community.

Lesson of the Day | ‘When the Monkey Chants Are for You: A Soccer Star’s View of Racist Abuse’
In this lesson, students will look at racism in European soccer and explore ways to address and remedy the problem.

Lesson of the Day | ‘How Black Lives Matter Reached Every Corner of America’
In this lesson, students will use more than 200 photographs to learn about the protests that swept across the United States last year in late May and June.

V. Take Action

Clockwise from top left: Alliyah Logan, Vicki Zheng, Obrian Rosario, Chassidy Titley, Toby Paperno and Stephanie Pacheco. Related ArticleCredit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

Writing Prompts

Student Opinion | What Are You Doing to Change Your School?
Are there things about your school district, administration, curriculum or culture that you want to see change? What are you and your peers doing to make that happen?

Student Opinion | How Should Schools Hold Students Accountable for Hurting Others?
When there are incidents of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia or just plain bullying in a school community, what should a school do? What does justice look like?

Student Opinion | How Should Racial Slurs in Literature Be Handled in the Classroom?
We look at whether the school context — the student body, teachers and larger community — should affect the way that books addressing race and racism are taught.

Student Opinion | Is Your Generation Doing Its Part to Strengthen Our Democracy?
Before he died this summer, the civil rights leader John Lewis challenged us all to “redeem the soul of our nation.” How can you and others your age help?

Films and Podcasts

Film Club | ‘Meek Mill: Prisoners Deserve a New Set of Rights’
Meek Mill, a multiplatinum hip-hop artist and an advocate of criminal justice reform, describes how a disproportionate number of men and women of color are treated unfairly by a broken criminal justice system.

Podcast | ‘Nice White Parents’ Discussion Guide
This companion guide invites families, students and educators to have a conversation about the goals of public education in America, and the relationship between race, social class and a quality education.

Lesson Plans

Guest Post | Ideas for Student Civic Action in a Time of Social Uncertainty
A five-step process for giving students agency in taking on issues they care about.

Many students wrote about The 1619 Project for this contest, including Louise Dorisca, one of this week’s two winners.

Below is a list of select outside organizations that help educators facilitate conversations about race and racism in classrooms:

Pulitzer Center | The 1619 Project Curriculum
This collection of reading guides, classroom activities and other resources offer educators different ways to bring The 1619 Project into the classroom.

Facing History and Ourselves
Facing History has a collection of teaching strategies that can support conversations about race and racism in the classroom. Additionally, their Race in U.S. History resources have lesson plans and curricular units, including “The Reconstruction Era” unit.

Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance)
Learning for Justice’s Social Justice Standards offer a framework for anti-bias education and lay out specific goals for each grade level. “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery” is a comprehensive guide for teaching and learning about slavery with customized lessons for all grade levels.

Center for Racial Justice in Education
CRJE trains and empowers educators to recognize and dismantle patterns of racism and injustice in schools and communities. You can access resources on their website and request trainings.

EduColor
EduColor mobilizes advocates nationwide around issues of educational equity, agency and justice. We amplify the works and ideas of students, educators and communities of color through supportive on- and off-line networks and professional development.

#DisruptTexts
This crowdsourced, grass-roots effort is led by teachers to challenge the traditional canon and create a more inclusive, representative and equitable language arts curriculum.

The Anti-Defamation League: Resources for Educators, Parents & Families
ADL’s Education Department provides educational programs, training and resources for grades PreK-12 and university settings. Its anti-bias and bullying prevention programs assist educators and students in understanding and challenging bias and building ally behaviors.

The Choices Program
Engaging, history-based curriculum for history and current issues courses. One example resource is this unit: Racial Slavery in the Americas: Resistance, Freedom, and Legacies.

Rethinking Schools
In addition to publishing a magazine, Rethinking Schools also offers curriculum: “Teaching a People’s History of Abolition and the Civil War.”

Stand for Children’s Center for AntiRacist Education
Launched in 2021 “to respond to the enormous number of teachers who want to contribute to ending racism in their schools and in society, but say they lack the tools, resources and professional development to do so.”

#USvsHate
This organization is about embracing inclusion and justice for all in our diverse schools and society. Our messages insist publicly that all people are equally valuable.

Zinn Education Project
The Zinn Education Project promotes and supports the teaching of people’s history in classrooms across the country. The site includes free, downloadable lessons and articles organized by theme, time period and grade level.

In preparation for our March 4 webinar, “Talking About Race and Racism in the Classroom Using The New York Times,” we created two short videos featuring educators sharing advice about how to get started doing the work of having “deep conversations” with students.

The videos feature three members of our 2020-21 Teaching Project cohort: Claudia Felske, a high school English teacher from East Troy, Wis.; Sarah Garton, a high school social studies teacher in Saint Paul, Minn.; and Hannah Lipman, a middle school language arts teacher in Louisville, Ky. They are joined by Jamilah Pitts, an education consultant who supports educators in being able to engage in work that is rooted in antiracism, equity, and wellness.

Below, we have embedded those videos for teachers looking for inspiration or support. Reflection questions follow each video — but we caution that exploring these questions is far from simple, and that teachers interested in doing this work should also turn to the outside resources we list above.

How Four Educators Prepare for Conversations About Race and Racism in the Classroom

Here are some of the suggestions and questions raised by educators in the video:

Suggestion No. 1: Start with yourself: What do you believe about race, racism and racial equity, and where do these beliefs come from?

Suggestion No. 2: Understand historical context: How does history help contextualize what is happening in the world today?

Suggestion No. 3: Gain a better understanding of your students: How do your upbringing and life experiences affect what you believe and understand about your students? How do you connect with your students and their communities?

Suggestion No. 4: Practice self-care: For educators of color, these topics might be deeply personal, and even painful, because of your identity and lived experiences. What do you need to do, as a human being, to take care of your own well-being?

Suggestion No. 5: Use authentic sources and literature: Do the books and sources you use in your classroom expose students to multiple perspectives from diverse backgrounds?

Suggestion No. 6: Be vulnerable: To what extent can being “real” with students about your own related life experiences — and being willing to make mistakes, and even apologize when appropriate — help to create a learning environment conducive to discussing a range of issues, including racism?

Suggestion No. 7: Create class community and trust: How can you be really intentional in creating a positive classroom culture with clear norms where all students feel a sense of belonging?

After watching the video, choose one or more of the suggestions above to reflect on, either in a journal or in discussion with colleagues. And then consider, what is one suggestion that you can imagine incorporating into your practice? And, what are the challenges you envision when digging deeper into this work?

Strategies for Facilitating Conversations About Race and Racism in the Classroom

Here are the strategies mentioned in the video:

Strategy No. 1: Start with a temperature check: If you want to have an understanding of the classroom tone, consider starting with a brief writing exercise responding to the question, “How do you feel about having this conversation?”

Strategy No. 2: Provide different options for participation:

  • Give students time to journal and reflect privately before opening up to a class discussion.

  • Allow students to talk to someone they are comfortable with in class.

  • Consider using a fishbowl discussion, with students engaging in a discussion in the inner circle while those in the outer circle listen and reflect.

  • Engage students in online written discussions, as long as they identify themselves and there are clear ground rules.

Strategy No. 3: Using sentence stems: Sentence stems like, “I feel…,” “I think…,” “My experience is…,” or “My opinion is…,” can open up conversation and empower students to share their experiences. Similarly, giving students sentence stems with which to disagree (“I disagree because…”) can provide opportunities for students to share multiple perspectives and navigate difficult moments.

Strategy No. 4: Allow students to clarify their statements: Give students the space to learn from each other and also call each other out, but with the follow-up question, “What do you mean when you say that?” to ensure that the call-out is not the end of the conversation, but the beginning.

Strategy No. 5: Address language directly: Recognize the importance of language and the ways language has historically perpetuated racism and harassment. If a student uses language that is harmful — if possible, turn it into a teachable moment to learn about the history of what makes that language problematic.

Strategy No. 6: Keep learning as you go: Continue to read and learn with colleagues or within other community spaces. When you make a mistake, find a way to repair and address the harm that has been inflicted.

Are you already using any of these facilitation strategies? Are there any strategies that you would like to incorporate in your teaching? And, based on your own experience, what do you think is missing from this list?

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