This summer, I have had the pleasure of attending few conferences, as I sought to recharge and reenergize my passion for our precious profession of teaching. I went to ASCD’s Conference on Teaching Excellence in Dallas, which was centered on Pathways to Equity, and shortly thereafter, I attended the National Network of State Teachers of the Year Conference in Las Vegas, which was designed to inform educators in teaching tomorrow’s leaders. The central theme I took away from both of these conferences was the need to provide students with equitable pathways to success. Every educator has a responsibility to ensure that every child, everywhere, every day has excellent instruction provided to them.
As I left both conferences, I felt motivated to learn as much as I could on the topic of equity so that I could not only be a more equitable educator, but also so that I could encourage others around me to do the same. In the field of education today, every educator has a responsibility to ensure that we are doing our part to realize this for our students no matter what is happening in our political landscape.
After the conference, I picked up a few books that would assist in these efforts:
- For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood, and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education (Race, Education, and Democracy) by Christopher Emdin. This book is a must read for all educators as Emdin offers advice for educators to take on the task of becoming culturally responsive for students in urban communities. Oftentimes, students in marginalized communities find themselves with educators who are not responsive to them and who do not look like them. For me, this book also reminded me to simply be more responsive to every child in the schools that I serve and to discover what they need in order to access the curriculum. I encourage you to seek to discover what your children need as well.
- Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez. I found this book through my desire to better understand my students who are English as a Second Language Learners. In this autobiography, Rodriguez tells his firsthand account of growing up in California and only knowing a limited amount of English, but his ability to overcome those barriers to become successful in life. I truly enjoyed reading this book, as it allowed me to understand the dynamics of language in school and how to reach children who are not native speakers of the English language. Through the reading of this story, I have learned that language acquisition should not come at the cost of assimilation of one’s culture. This is another book that I strongly encourage you to pick up for your summer reading.
- Promises and Possibilities: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline by Kelisa Wing. Okay, I know what you may be thinking, why is she recommending her own book; however, this book gives educators practical solutions to an issue that is pervasive to Black, Latino, LGBTQ, and Special Education students nationwide. The tools and strategies offered in this book do not require legislation, policy, or funding, but simply require educators to have a shift in their mindset and change their practices in order to eliminate disparate discipline systems that lend themselves to the school-to-prison pipeline. What I value most about this book is the fact that there are multiple tools that can be used and implemented in the classroom immediately throughout the book
As you seek to refine your skills this summer, I hope that you will be able to attend a summer workshop with your peers this summer; however, if you are unable to, I hope that you will read one of these books, which will ensure to provide you with tools to helping students in underserved populations and creating a true pathway to equity for your students.
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Image Illustration by: Tang Yau Hoong