Tag Archives: Social Justice

I Write to Rejuvenate!

This post is written by member Dr. Kalpana Mukunda Iyengar, Early Career Education of Color Leadership Award Recipient.

dr-iyengar
MyLinh Tran, Dr. Iyengar, Mario Paman
  1. What has the award meant to you and how has it affected you?

I was thrilled to learn about the award and that my dissertation chair, Dr. Henkin, nominated me for it. I thought the award was for Hispanic or African American educators and that I did not stand a chance of winning it, because Asian Indians are marginalized in the United States. Although we are considered model minorities, we are not well represented in the literature. People now recognize me in conferences when I present in sessions and ask me if I was one of the educators of color award recipients. When I went to India in the summer of 2015, several educators congratulated me on the award. It feels good to know that NCTE recognizes Asian Indian professors.

  1. Describe an experience in your classroom.

When students from single parent families with very little economic support discuss their struggles with pursuing university education, I share my struggles with an alcoholic parent and how my mother raised me with limited resources. Students appreciate sharing such experiences with each other, and they begin to rationalize their decisions in life. On the first day of class, I always make them write on an experience that they cannot forget (happy or sad), and students enjoy the craft.

  1. What drew you into teaching?

My mother was a Montessori educator for 35 years, and she was a wonderful teacher with skills necessary for success as a teacher of young children. She served in rural schools with lack of access to drinking water, electricity, and education for girls. In addition, I had excellent teachers myself who encouraged and inspired me to achieve. Many of my teachers were quick to notice my talent as a writer and appreciated my willingness to share through writing. I think teachers can make a difference in their students’ lives if teachers put their hearts into teaching. That is why I chose to become a teacher, and I did not know that I would move to the United States and that I would not be able to give back to my people in India. However, I have the satisfaction of helping and encouraging students in the United States who may be happy in my classes.

  1. What would you like to accomplish as a teacher?

To help students, especially those who are underserved and from marginalized communities, to achieve mastery in reading and writing.

To help students understand that the teaching of writing is valuable across the disciplines and not just in English classes.

To instill the love of learning in struggling and less motivated students by incorporating culturally relevant materials and contextualized writing workshop.

To facilitate learning in less fortunate but deserving adult students in our communities.

To use the experiences that I gathered through my doctoral program and the professional development experiences at the San Antonio Writing Project for 10 years to help make our society linguistically, culturally, and socially rich.

To help students develop a love for multicultural education, help conduct research-based inquiry, and help establish socially just classrooms.

To disrupt social justice issues, including bullying, micro-aggression, symbolic violence, and “othering,” etc.

To assist aspiring teachers with the latest pedagogical and technological advancements that help teachers deliver their lessons effectively and foster analytical, inquiry-based, critical, creative, and transformative literacy skills.

To establish learner-centered classrooms that will promote interdisciplinary learning and multicultural teaching.

  1. What issues are you passionate about as a teacher?

My primary goal is to establish socially just classrooms that can help disrupt micro-aggression, symbolic violence, or bullying so that all students are happy and have access to a quality education. To mentor students so I can acquaint them with the latest research developments in pedagogy (e.g., a multimodal approach to teaching to accommodate the different kinds of learners in our classrooms). Then, help preservice teachers integrate literature from other countries of the world so all children feel welcomed in our classrooms.

  1. Describe experiences with your students and share recommendations that you feel have helped you as a teacher?

My adult students hesitate to write about experiences that they feel could expose them to ridicule or bullying. I make sure to discuss the civil discourse document that my department has provided me and to establish my classroom as a safe and healthy environment and platform for expression without fear or constraints. I highly recommend that teachers keep an open mind and let the creative juices flow in students. In addition, I allow students to write on topics they choose and topics that are culturally relevant to them until they learn how to write comfortably and efficiently. Writing workshop is the best strategy for encouraging students, especially reluctant ones, to engage in writing.

Dr. Kalpana Mukunda Iyengar is a lecturer in the department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at University of Texas at San Antonio. She teaches the interdisciplinary studies courses to undergraduate students. She is also the San Antonio and Haridwar Writing Project Teacher Consultant and works for the Center for Inquiry of Transformative Literacies.

Reaching Toward a More Accepting and Equitable Society: The Work of the Language Arts in These Times

This post is written by members Wanda Brooks, Jonda C. McNair, and Kelly Wissman.

lamar17cover

In September of 2016, we published the first issue of Language Arts under our editorship. In this open-themed issue, we included an article exploring various genres of talk in writers workshop conferences and a reflective piece on the potential of Twitter in the classroom. Our November issue, “Diverse Books,” welcomed a range of voices advocating for more inclusive texts, including an essay by Rudine Sims Bishop, one of the field’s most widely cited children’s literature scholars, and a carefully argued take on research and policy related to diverse books by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas.  Our third issue, “Tweens,” featured artwork by and an interview with beloved author for tweens Tom Angleberger. Celebrated author Rita Williams-Garcia’s reflection on her trilogy for tweens also graced the pages, alongside renowned researchers Gay Ivey and Peter Johnston who wrote about the importance of choice and high-interest literature to promote classrooms as engaged reading communities. Our recently published “Viewpoints and Visions” issue includes articles on culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies across grade levels and contexts.

As Co-editors, we are honored to serve in this capacity and to maintain the longstanding tradition of publishing high quality scholarship focusing on language arts teaching and learning related to children of preschool through middle school age.   Within these times marked by profound political unrest and widening inequalities, we believe that the language arts have a central role to play by helping us reach toward a more accepting and equitable society.

Our collective vision for the journal entails three main goals. First, we emphasize children’s literature in a number of ways such as routinely featuring art from picturebooks and novels on the cover of the journal, publishing interviews with notable children’s book authors and illustrators, and having one themed issue annually devoted to some aspect of literature for youth. Second, we try to make even more central the words, experiences, and insights of children as they use language and literacy to navigate, make sense of, and leave their marks on the world.  For example, in classrooms and homes today, young learners are harnessing the tools of digital media to navigate the realm of popular culture while creating their own multimedia productions.  As editors, we embrace these deeply creative and increasingly complex practices of literacy by highlighting the literary, artistic, and analytic work taking place across multiple modalities and contexts. We also prioritize children’s voices and the written and multimodal artifacts young people create. Third, we aim to embed issues related to diversity and social justice throughout the journal. We also feature in the journal perspectives and research that explore the challenges and possibilities of envisioning and enacting “education as the practice of freedom” (hooks, 1994) and the vital role that the language arts may play in this endeavor.  From schools to community sites, from homes to homeless shelters, from street demonstrations to prisons, literacies can profoundly mediate and transform experiences and our understandings of them.

It is our hope that as you engage with the pages of Language Arts that the ideas contained within will inspire you, open up new avenues of thought, and perhaps even provoke a change in a classroom practice or plant the seeds for a fresh way of thinking about literacy, assessment, young children, and the possible role of the language arts to help us realize the democratic promise of education. We invite you to correspond with us on the direction and vision of the journal and to support us in our efforts to make more central the voices and perspectives of students and their teachers as they engage in this important work of the language arts.

We also invite you to write for Language Arts! Please consider adding your voice and perspectives by writing a Feature Article emerging from research you have conducted in school, family, or community settings. You might also consider writing a shorter, more conversational, piece for our Perspectives on Practice column. Visit our website for a description of upcoming calls for manuscripts, including, Reimagining Writers and Writing; Changes in Children’s Literature; Youth Culture(s) and Childhood; Life Lessons: Autobiographies, Biographies, and Memoirs.  Click here for the full calls: http://www.ncte.org/journals/la/call and here for manuscript submission guidelines: http://www.ncte.org/journals/la/write

Reference

hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York, NY:                   Routledge.

wandabrooksWanda Brooks is an associate professor of Literacy Education in the College of Education at Temple University.  She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses related to reading theories and literacy instruction.  Her research examines the literary understandings of diverse middle school youth who read African American children’s literature. 

 

jonda_mcnair_photoJonda C. McNair, a former primary grade teacher, is a professor of literacy education at Clemson University in South Carolina. She specializes in literature intended for youth with an emphasis on books written by and about African Americans.

 

kelly-wissman_headshot-6Kelly Wissman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning at the University at Albany-SUNY. Across her scholarship and teaching she explores how children’s literature, writing, and the arts can create more humanizing and equitable educational spaces. 

Literature and the African American Read-In

AARI_180To be recognized as an official African American Read-In Host, it’s easy as I,2,3:

  1. Select books, poems, speeches (anything) authored by African Americans;
  2. Hold your event during the month of February; and
  3. Report results by submitting an African American Read-In Report Card.

The first step is to choose a piece written by an African American author. NCTE has a Resolution on the Need for Diverse Children’s and Young Adult Books.

The African American Read-In Toolkit provides a variety of resources to help support both individual hosts and hosting organizations implement and promote African American Read-In programs. Included in the toolkit are a number of booklists including one that was crowdsourced at an NCTE Annual Convention.

The September 2016 #NCTEchat was on the topic of Black Girls’ LiteraciesDetra Price-Dennis compiled a list of Black Girls’ Literacies Resources that were shared during #NCTEchat.

Tune in to the Text Messages podcast episode #weneeddiversebooks to hear about recently-published YA titles that celebrate diversity in a range of genres. There’s something for every reader here: comic book superheroes, Civil Rights history, love stories, humorous essays, poetry, artwork, and stories of suspense.

What titles would you add to these lists?

“Potholes in My Lawn ”: Developing Hip-Hop Literacies in Suburban Schools

This post is written by NCTE Member Lauren Kelly. 

On Monday of this week, Nancy[1] approached me in the hallway. “I’m obsessed with Wings,” she said. “The show from the 1980s?” I asked, confused. She laughed. “No, Macklemore.” Ohhhhhh.

LaurenKellyThe excerpt above comes from a journal that I kept to document my reflections and experiences in teaching a Hip-Hop Literature and Culture class in a racially and socioeconomically diverse suburban school district. However, Nancy was not in my hip-hop class. The week before this interaction, I had shown the video for the rap song “Wings,” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, to my 10th-grade English class, of which Nancy was a member. Nancy and most of her classmates would not be characterized as urban youth or hip-hop heads. Yet, classroom engagement with this hip-hop text had an impact on them. In this same journal entry, I begin to reflect on the implications of Nancy’s words:

The video that I had showed in class caused this student to go home and revisit it. And not only revisit it, but engage with it to the point where she had watched it repeatedly, and it was now her favorite video. Ohhhhhhhhh.

This journal entry documents the significance of media literacy, and specifically hip-hop literacy, for diverse learners in diverse areas. Most heretofore studies of hip-hop education focus on urban schools or schools with a majority student of color population. While hip-hop pedagogy is certainly a critical component of culturally responsive teaching in urban areas, it also has a great deal of value in non-urban communities. Hip hop offers a powerful cultural and literary resource for teaching and learning generally. Students who do not actively consume or identify with hip-hop music have much to gain from a classroom study of hip-hop music and culture. This should not be presented or exploited as a study of “the other,” but rather as a study of history, culture, and society. For example, learning about the physical and social conditions that gave rise to the beginnings of hip hop in 1970s New York includes discussions of urban planning, race, class, power, struggle, and hope.

For students outside of urban areas who engage with hip hop as entertainment, a critical study of hip-hop texts can open up avenues for discussion and reflection on individual identity as well as cultural and social identities. Such discussions can play an important role in equity and diversity education. With the recent controversy over cultural appropriation, including criticism of popular White rap artists such as Iggy Azalea and Macklemore, it is critical that those from historically privileged populations engage in dialogue around the implications of White and middle-class consumption and performance of hip-hop music and culture.

One year, during a week-long unit entitled Appreciation vs. Appropriation, I encouraged my 12th-grade English class to grapple with these tensions. This group of 27 students from diverse backgrounds responded to potential examples of cultural appropriation, including Kendall Jenner’s “bold braids” and Nicki Minaj’s “Geisha” photo shoot. While some students were unfazed by the topic and accusations of appropriation, other students felt deeply hurt by the ways in which they saw their identities being appropriated for entertainment or commercial purposes. Without a space to engage in these discussions, many young people may remain unaware of the implications of their actions while others continue to feel oppressed by them. Thus, hip-hop literacy is not simply about engaging youth of color; it is an approach to teaching for equity and social justice that spans geographic, economic, and racial borders.

Lauren Kelly is a teacher, researcher, and Doctor of Philosophy in English education. She taught high school English for ten years in New York and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Education at Boston University. Her research is focused on critical hip-hop literacies and social justice teaching. Lauren is also the author of “Hip-Hop Literature: The Politics, Poetics, and Power of Hip-Hop in the English Classroom,” published in the May 2013 issue of English Journal.

[1] Pseudonym

A World Where All People Are Safe And Valued

GSEA/CEE-SJ/LGBTQ Advisory Committee Response to Orlando

the palms of a young man put together patterned with a world map and a rainbow flag. Source: A World Where All People Are Safe And ValuedWe, the members of the CEE Commission on Social Justice in Teacher Education programs, the Genders and Sexualities Equality Alliance (GSEA), and the LGBTQ Issues in Academic Studies Advisory Committee stand in solidarity[1] with the broader LGBTQIA and Latinx communities and all those affected by the recent tragedy in Orlando.

Our parent organization, NCTE, has issued a statement affirming the need to stand with those who are grieving as well as resources to ground this supportive work. And, in order to contribute to the critical resources that NCTE has already shared, our GSEA offers the additional resources included in this link: Resource Repository NCTE GSEA. This is meant to be an evolving list, and we invite NCTE members to share additional resources.

As advocates, researchers, teacher educators, and teachers dedicated to equity in and through education, we take this moment to reaffirm our dedication to a safe and just world for all. We reaffirm our commitment to social justice in all spaces, especially in and through K-12 classrooms and teacher education.

“We believe that classrooms and other learning spaces are ideal sites to make sense of our social worlds and to promote democratic participation and understanding while resisting violence and hatred.” source: A World Where All People Are Safe And ValuedWe believe that classrooms and other learning spaces are ideal sites to make sense of our social worlds and to promote democratic participation and understanding while resisting violence and hatred. In the face of such violent hate crimes, we stand united in strength and resolve. To honor the lives lost in Orlando, we aim to move our mission forward collectively, working to reconstruct systems that build more equitable social arrangements for all people.

 

We pay tribute here to those critically injured, those mourning the loss of loved ones, and those whose lives were lost in Orlando:

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

“Social justice” is a term often used in our field, though what it refers to is, at times, amorphous. We in the Social Justice Commission, Genders and Sexualities Equality Alliance, and LGBTQ Issues in Academic Studies Advisory Committee agree with Moje (2007) that there is a distinction between socially-just pedagogies and social justice pedagogies. If a practice is socially-just, then all youth/people have equitable opportunities to learn. Socially-just practices, however, say little about the systems of power and oppression that privilege some at the expense of others. It is not enough to work for a more diverse representation of people privileged in current systems of power.

We must work for social justice–the questioning and eventual reconstructing of these systems. Though there is much we do not know about the tragedy in Orlando, it is clear that healing, understanding, acceptance, and dialogue are needed to create a society and world where all people are safe and valued.

Additionally, on the back of this tragedy in Orlando, which took place only one month ago, we again find ourselves mourning the loss of more innocent lives. The recent events in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas are painful reminders of the need for our commitment to dialogue, healing, and understanding, as well as substantial social change for justice, which is at the core of the work we all do. Our society broadly recognizes the tragedy that is the murder of Dallas officers Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarippa, Michael Kroll, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens, and we have much work to do in terms of valuing the lives of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.

I“We reaffirm our commitment to challenging educational practices that normalize violence, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other systems of privilege and oppression.” Source:A World Where All People Are Safe And Valued n this statement, we reaffirm our promise to work for changes in our society that emphasize the value of all human lives. We commit to being a part of community efforts that work for peace and changes that ensure the safety, respect, and inclusiveness of all LGBTQIA individuals, people of color, queer people of color, allies, law enforcement officials who stand on the right side of justice, and the many other intersectionalities and transectionalities that exist within our communities. We reaffirm our commitment to challenging educational practices that normalize violence, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other systems of privilege and oppression.

It is worthwhile to remember that this year our Annual Convention theme is advocacy. The meeting offers a number of resources and support systems, and on the program you will find many LGBT strand and social justice themed sessions that offer suggestions for advocacy inside and outside of our classrooms. We urge you to participate in these sessions and to attend our business meetings to obtain critical resources and continue these discussions.

As we look towards the future of our social justice work situated within NCTE and teacher education, we are drafting new resolutions. Currently, there is a resolution on strengthening teacher knowledge on LGBTQIA Issues, but we believe we can do more. We welcome feedback from members of the NCTE community as we draft, and we invite collaborators. We are here to support your work for social justice, and in our work together, we know we will emerge stronger, more resilient, and more visible in our goals of teaching for a safe and just world.

If you wish to contact us for support or additional information, please contact the following:

NCTE GSEA chair, Nicole Sieben (dr.nicolesieben@gmail.com)

CEE-SJ co-chair, Noah Golden, (ngolden@chapman.edu)

LGBTQ Advisory Committee chair, Toby Emert (temert@agnesscott.edu)


REFERENCES

Moje, E. B. (2007). Developing socially just subject-matter instruction: A review of the literature on disciplinary literacy teaching. Review of Research in Education, 31(1), 1-44.

[1] We stand in solidarity as a collective, from a wide range of individual identities that include being members of and allies with these broader communities.