a teacher writes on a white board with rows of students seated behind her

Bridging the gap between antiracist activism and pedagogy


Written by Lisa Britten

Bridging the gap between antiracist activism and pedagogy

This piece originally appeared on the EDNET blog, an initiative of the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation.

What I teach and how I teach it can either contribute to or deviate from systems of oppression that impact our students of color and their families. That’s the system-level view that Leading Educators (LE), a professional learning partner with my district, has challenged me to consider as I grow as an educator. My work with LE has given me some of the most impactful, transformative, and inspiring professional development experiences of my teaching career, and I want to encourage other educators to join Equity Fellowship.

Listening to and learning from like-minded educators has been one of the best parts of my LE experience. In our day-to-day work in schools, we teachers don’t always make time for tough conversations about race and the role schools have in breaking cycles of oppression.

In some communities, these conversations can even be “too political” or threatening to one’s career. Afraid to rock the boat or alienate supervisors or colleagues, many educators read to learn about equity issues or are passionate about social justice outside of the school building but don’t bring these topics up in staff or team meetings.

It’s been affirming and refreshing to openly discuss equity in curriculum and instruction with colleagues who also value culturally and historically responsive pedagogy and who aren’t afraid to ask tough questions or interrogate systems and practices with a critical eye.

Now, I see a path forward in bridging the gap between antiracist activism and pedagogy, and I want more educators to join. I feel empowered to “be the change” for my students by combining rigorous grade-level instruction with culturally and historically responsive practices. I’ve also developed my ability to have courageous conversations with my colleagues in order to advocate for systemic change in our department, building, and district.

My job feels more fulfilling than ever because I have the tools to provide my students with an educational experience that challenges their intellect and affirms their identities, and I know that I’m not alone. Along the way, I’ve cultivated relationships with coaches and other educators from across our region, state, and nation who continue to empower and inspire me as well as encourage my growth as an educator and a human being. Let’s do this work together.

All Kent ISD educators who are ready to harness their passion for racial justice and grow as leaders for equity are encouraged to apply to be an Equity Fellow. Visit the Fellowship webpage to learn more and to applyThe deadline for applications is May 3, 2021.

About the author

Lisa Britten is a 6-12 reading specialist and literacy coach at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools.

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