So much of teaching today seems to be dominated by the optics of what is engagement for the purpose of having students living in poverty and or BIPOC kids learn. Yet, I feel that lost in the discussion of what engagement is the voice of scholarly authors who have spent a lifetime considering how BIPOC folx have learned historically and how their resistance to oppression was forever intertwined with their objectives for long term literacy.
As teachers, one of the greatest objectives set before us is how to fix the ‘achievement gap’. It’s really not a gap, according to Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, its an education debt. She is absolutely correct.
The perspectives around children raised in poverty or in urban districts is constructed around the deficit thinking that Black and Brown kids have always been historically unsuccessful. This type of thinking has us forever trying to find ways to ‘catch kids up’, without really examine our own complicity in the systems that keep certain populations of students down.
If the greatest challenge before teachers today is dismantling the power structures that uphold white supremacy in our educational institutions, then why are we not reading and discussing this issue from the perview of black and brown researchers in order to bring about substantive change?
As we think about a return to school in the upcoming weeks, I ask you, what reading have you done around improving your personal practice. Pinterest is not PD unless it is leading you to thinking more critically about WHY you do WHAT you do in your classroom. TPT may have thousands of resources, but if you aren’t strong in your pedagogical perspective? You won’t be able to vet the resources for what would actually aid students. It just becomes a battle for what ‘looks cuter’ on a bulletin board. Actually changing outcomes is about how we are doing our teaching. Not what it looks like in a photo. If we want to learn more about teaching the global majority? Why are we not reading BIPOC scholars on how to best tackle the education debt?
With this in mind, I’d like to share a few books with you that I think could be impactful in not only framing your perspectives about the trajectories of students of the global majority, but also texts that will have you critiquing what we’ve always been told is the way to teach kids who are struggling to grow academically. These books are not in any particular order, but reading a few of these each year would help your pedagogical growth so much!
These books will offer you an opportunity to think critically about identity, culturally responsive teaching, socio-emotional learning, internalized bias, systemic inequity and the historical resilience of BIPOC folx, written by BIPOC folx. I challenge you. Tackle this reading list and remain unchanged in your paradigms. It will be impossible. I promise you that.
Cultivating Genius by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad
Why we can’t afford whitewashed social-emotional learning by Dena Simmons Ms. Simmons has written several articles on socio-emotional learning over the years for several online publications and is also writing her first book due out in 2021. Socio-emotional learning strategies without an anti-racist lens is just another way to entertain white saviorism. She will certainly challenge your thinking on the why behind our collective work and strengthen your resolve to continue to be anti-racist in your classroom community building and your perspectives on teaching. Check her out, for sure!
Here are some other books that have been particularly resonant for me these last few summers. I highly encourage you to read through these texts and grow as a learner and a leader!
Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks
An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
We Want to do More than Survive by Dr. Bettina Love
Multiplication is for White People by Dr. Lisa Delpit
En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students by Ofelia Garcia
Teaching for Black Lives by Rethinking Schools
An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz
Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum
Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies by Django Paris and H. Samy Alim
This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell
Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People by Helen Zia
You’ll notice that I didn’t provide affiliate links to Amazon here. That was intentional. I’ve left some links for Black owned bookstores below. Please click on any of the links provided and seek out these amazing authors from a Black owned shop.